Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

The doomsday clock continues to tick toward the inevitable cancelation of the 12-13 season

I see that the lockout doomsday clock now reads 11:50 PM. After the Board of Governors meet to tacitly approve the cancelation of the 2012-2013 season, some progress may be made in a last-ditch effort to save the season...

But I doubt much will get done until the last bit of leverage Gary Bettman, Bill Daly and the Board can take off the negotiating table is gone, and we're talking about no NHL hockey taking place until October 2013 at the earliest.

The owners want nothing less than a retroactive bailout for the last recession (let's be honest: it seems *almost* as likely that morons of equal magnitude in Washington D.C. will hurl all of us over the "Fiscal Cliff" because neither party can behave like their members are over the age of 10), at least a billion dollars of concessions going forward, a back-hacking of the CBA to severely limit player mobility and essentially "idiot-proof it" to save owners and GM's from themselves, and someone in the room wants to cripple the teams that have handed out "lifetime contracts" despite the fact that those teams constitute a majority of the Board's votes.

The players want to protect their livelihoods, and after so many have "given at the office" to supposedly "fix" the game once and for all in 04-05, the vast majority of their ranks doesn't want to surrender somewhere between 15-25% of the paychecks promised to them, their free agent mobility or another billion bucks going forward...

Especially given that, as several wise sports economists told the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa, without addressing the fundamental issues plaguing the NHL's current 30-team business model, there will almost certainly be a fourth lockout six-to-eight years from now, and you can be sure as hell that it will kill the game. Players won't take the NHL seriously anymore, and even the die-hards like me will leave hockey behind if another "work stoppage" is held and the players, businesses, average working folks and especially the "Greatest Hockey Fans in the World" like you and me are held hostage yet again by the nuclear commissioner, the militant billionaires who run the show and their appointees on a Board of Governors that is still stuck in a, "Break labor at all costs!" mentality that was last relevant in the Alan Eagleson era.

Federal mediators can't do diddly squat when both sides are as dug in as they are.

Ted Lindsay had it right and had it wrong, to some extent: we fans might want to start criticizing by name, because if a Red Wings player were to channel some of his anger at Gary Bettman toward Mike Ilitch and Jimmy Devellano, who've run their team like a family but have tried to stick their hands into their players' wallets three times now and twice over the past eight years, they could be traded away, just as Jack Adams banished Lindsay to Chicago for trying to start a players' association.

Fans like you and me can start to question the commitment of our favorite teams' owners to the game given that Wings fans will have seen two less seasons of Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk's magic, at least one-and-a-half seasons minus Steve Yzerman, and, most likely, not just one-and-a-half seasons which Nicklas Lidstrom should have been playing in, but also Lidstrom's astute decision to call it a career because he knew he was going to have to hit the re-set button for the third time, and would have to spend a full year training for a season that never was at 42 years of age.

That's Mike Ilitch's fault and that's his Board of Governors representative Jimmy Devellano's fault just as much as it is Gary Bettman's, Bill Daly's or the fault of each and every one of the 29 other NHL owners and their BoG members, but if someone as plain-spoken as Ian White were to say that, he'd find his ass in Columbus as soon as the next CBA is eventually signed in what will probably be March, April, May or June of 2013.

As such, putting players and owners in a room wouldn't do much of anything other than give Bettman a PR edge he desperately wants as he prepares his second speech explaining why he and the Board have canceled yet another season. If the players say, "What the hell?" to their own owners.

Those kinds of statements are so dangerous to players' livelihoods and the homes they've made for themselves and their families in their current NHL homes that even Roman Hamrlik (hey, he's entitled to his opinion, too--unlike the owners, the players don't have gag orders slapped upon them, and their union is at least semi-democratic) probably couldn't bring himself to make them.

The players *can't* state facts and condemn their own owners for holding them, the fans who pay to watch the players play at the owners' rinks and so many businesses and employees of both big-name sponsors and small sports bars and memorabilia shops all hostage for the sake of nuking the village in order to save it.

We can, however, and as far as Bettman's concerned?

Bettman has done a remarkable amount of work to help grow the game and grow its revenues outside the scope of his owners' need to scratch the itch that is raising ticket prices on fans, regardless of whether their teams are winning, losing or spending to the cap. Bettman's accomplishments are many and he, Daly and the NHL have "grown the game" economically and otherwise by leaps and bounds since the last lockout...

But every time that the Board allows Bettman to work on a collective bargaining agreement, he inevitably goes down the path of mutually assured destruction, gleefully wiping out all the progress the game has made, setting it back a decade or more for the sake of winning a legal argument.

And that's where I want to warn some of you of the legal persuasion to stop reading, because I'm going to say some unflattering things about lawyers now.

I've sat through more than a few Social Security Disability hearings and a Workman's Comp hearing where nothing less than the quality of friends and family members' lives were at stake, where their respective financial solvencies and abilities to take care of themselves and their families were on the line, all because of illnesses or injuries that they were not at fault for incurring. Each and every time, I've witnessed the lawyers involved for both sides reduce living, breathing people to arguments that the lawyers had to win, or at least "lose least."

It's both amazing and chilling to witness such arguments play out in court: just as surgeons who deeply care for their patients begun to gleefully cut into so much malleable meat when their "cases" roll into the operating room, and tell their groggy patients fish stories about the highlights and lowlights of procedures as soon as they're done, even the most kind and selfless lawyers seem to transform themselves into prize-fighters, slinging personal flaws and potentially exploitable skills around in an all-out war, with the sole goal of winning the day reducing the cilents whose interests they represent into afterthoughts.

You can practically smell the testosterone in the room when this happens, and while such rhetortical conduct makes as much sense as watching a player slam an opponent with his back turned toward the boards into the second row of seats behind the glass simply because the puck is there, with blood and gore and injury resulting over the battle for a vulcanized disc of rubber, that's more or less what happens. Or, if you're a Red Wings fan, you might remember this, and I've seen its equivalent happen in court because three lawyers chose to one-up each other instead of screw over a man whose quality of life had been irrevocably changed, and changed toward the negative, despite their stated goal of f***ing him over instead:

 


That's where we are right now, metaphorically speaking. The entire lockout is about punching someone in jaw with the intent of breaking it simply because one sees a vulnerability to exploit, and in this case, Gary Bettman's playing Tom Kostopoulos. For the third time over the course of his tenure as commissioner.

In my opinion, Commissioner Jawbreaker has earned each and every insult fans hurl toward him, including the insults that fans like you and me might be afraid to hurl toward our own teams' owners--those owners seem to resent the people who help them make so much money because we give them our disposable incomes, just as Bettman seems to openly resent and perhaps plain old hold contempt for the people whose ticket receipts at least constitute a majority of the $3.3 billion to which we are given neither voice nor the "partnership" which the players have realized they'll never be a part of--because we, like the players, are afraid that the teams to which we've pledged our allegiance, the teams we've professed our faith and the teams whose fellow fans have yielded friendships, communities of like-minded individuals and sometimes even de-facto families will disown us, telling those who speak up against the Ilitches and Devellanos of the world that someone less blasphemous would gladly have our seat and gladly buy our jerseys and t-shirts.

We don't want to be told to get bent, even though the conduct of our respective teams' owners sure seems to indicate that we are valued as less than the grass Devellano suggested that he and the players much upon at the owners' "ranches."

So, from me to you, Gary, from me to you, Bill, from me to you, Board of Governors, and from me to you, Mr. Ilitch: suck it up, and if you can't take the insults, bite me.

I am a Detroit Red Wings fan who is very proud of the bias for and allegiance toward the team whose logo I was wearing on my chest and my head more days than not from the age of 13 up to this lockout. I'm damn proud of my team, the players who play for the Wings, the coaches and management who run the ship, the city the players, coaches and management represent (I was born in Detroit, so it's "my" city, too), the community of friends and adopted family being a Red Wings fan have given me and, when I'm healthy, anyway (and I'm not thanks to a depressive episode I'm battling right now), a job, and a community of fellow fans to which I am responsible.

But I am pissed off as all f***ing bloody hell get out on a personal level, and I'm pissed off most selfishly not because so many Metro Detroit and Michigan businesses are suffering, not because so many average people who depend on 41 nights' worth of work at the rink or business outside of it pay their bills, not because a soon-to-be-bankrupt City of Detroit and the city of Ann Arbor were promised a Winter Classic and lead-up events that won't be bolstering their economies this year, and not because I've found that me and my fellow die-hards, the fans who spend the most time, energy, effort and especially money following "our Wings" are the ones who feel most betrayed by, taken advantage of, resented by and maybe even held in contempt and hatred given your conduct.

Even though you're arrogantly and stupidly damaging the foundations of your business interests by pissing off and shaking the faith of your most ardent, passionate supporters, to me, that is not your worst sin, though it's pretty God-damned close.

I started watching the NHL in 1991, and I fell in love with it immediately. I'd never found a sports comfort zone in my life, and suddenly, at 13, and after my dad had tried to find his incredibly dorky, nerdish, geeky and socially awkward son "fits" with the Tigers, Lions, Pistons, Michigan basketball and football, his beloved Penn State and even golf, the son who George Malik with no middle name knew was his best friend, and spoke "sports" most readily with, could share a passion for hockey. My dad was a basketball and football man, but suddenly he was watching every Wings game he could with me, he was arguing with me whether Steve Yzerman or Sergei Fedorov was a better player, and he was setting me on the path that's led me to being the wannabe-hockey-blogger that I am.

I didn't know it at the time, but my most faithful player companion would be the player whose brilliance I didn't really recognize until long after my dad passed away eight months after he took me to my first Wings game. In 1991 and 1992, Nicklas Lidstrom was a skinny, gangly kid from Sweden who showed flashes of remarkable talent and seeing-eye playmaking ability, but as he skated with Brad Marsh and Brad McCrimmon on the Wings' second pair, Yves Racine and Steve Chiasson were supposed to be the Wings' puck-moving future (yes, Bryan Murray, not Scotty Bowman, laid the foundation for the puck-moving and puck-moving-from-the-defense-on-out style of play that the Red Wings would be playing today).

But sometimes the person you first fall in love with isn't the person that captures your heart in real life, and in hockey, while Sergei Fedorov was roaring up and down the ice, Nicklas Lidstrom kept making safe and simple plays over and over again, setting up goals and scoring a few himself with that heavy cannon of a shot and utterly remarkable passes that made up for the fact that Lidstrom was never particularly fast skating forward, but instead, could move laterally and backward like a frickin' ballerina.

Lidstrom's sometime partner, fellow rookie Vladimir Konstantinov, was the one rattling the boards with massive checks and getting kicked out of the Wings-Blues game the night before Detroit traded for Blues goalie Vincent Riendeau because Konstantinov took a penalty and ended up skating toward the locker room instead of the penalty box because he skated away from a fracas flipping off the crowd. Lidstrom was simply steering players into the boards or swiping pucks off their sticks like a neuroseurgon wielding a five-and-half foot-long Montreal Graphite 99 model scalpel.

As I came to appreciate the subtleties of the game of hockey and the ebb and flow of play, more and more regularly, I came back to watching Lidstrom make all those plays fans supposedly weren't astute enough to notice, and he became my favorite player. Just as importantly, and perhaps more importantly, while Fedorov started blowing off fans and earned something of a reputation as a diva in the locker room and a bit of a self-important celebrity in the community, Lidstrom was himself, a young man who understood that putting in time and effort improving one's skills after practice and in the weight room, combined with a little patience regarding one's role on the team and some sense of one's place as a representative of the team in the community off the ice would probably yield longer-term rewards.

Wings fans know what happened as Fedorov's hot flame burned and began to flicker during the latter half of his tenure with the Wings, and what player and person Lidstrom became. Wings fans also know that what the media's said about the man who was supposedly incapable of giving a "quote" could actually be if you talked to him: in fact, Lidstrom was one of the more intelligent and articulate people on the planet if you pulled him out of his shell, and he was indubitably a "good egg" from shell to yolk. Having met Lidstrom when I was a blogging nobody sneaking into a press conference and as a fan as well, I can confirm as much...

But Lidstrom the player's subtle brilliance gave me an appreciation for the intricacies of hockey that I don't think I ever would have developed if I cheered for another team or rooted for another player as much as I rooted for Nick.

He won four Cups with the Wings and surely cemented his place in the Hockey Hall of Fame--and Joe Louis Arena's rafters, too. He wore a patient alternate captain's "A" for ages, and didn't buckle under the weight of what was once Steve Yzerman and only Steve Yzerman's captain's "C." He gave rise to the sometimes ridiculously consistent on and off-ice work ethic that the Datsyuks, Zetterbergs, Filppulas, Kronwalls and Howards now possess, and helped instill the sense of community responsibility that Ken Holland and Mike Babcock now hold their players to (and the kind of responsibility they're hammering into the heads of Riley Sheahan and Brendan Smith right now).

He could have won more. The community of Red Wings fans could have won more with him. I wonder what the 94-95 Red Wings would have looked like in the Stanley Cup Finals if they'd had a full year to mature with Igor Larionov and Slava Fetisov in the fold, what the 03-04 Wings could have done had Ray Whitney found a home, Derian Hatcher tried to push that wonky ankle and had Chris Osgood come home a season earlier, and perhaps had the Wings been able to squeeze one more post-Bowman season out of Brendan Shanahan and Steve Yzerman.

Now I wonder what the 12-13 Wings would have looked like and how they would have performed if Lidstrom didn't have to approach last summer's disappointingly long off-season understanding that Bettman, Daly, the Board, and even Jimmy Devellano and Mike Ilitch were going to stop at nothing to win their little rhetorical war with Donald Fehr and the players, and that the owners believed that 43% of nothing was worth much more than 43% of $3.3 billion, especially given that the NHL truly is a lockout away from destroying itself given the path it's currently on.

Nick knew how to anticipate plays, personnel moves and trends ahead of time. It's what allowed him to last for 21 years and 20 seasons with the Wings (19 full seasons and one half season).

Those numbers could have been 22 and 21, and if a season-long lockout wasn't evidently inevitable to Lidstrom last May, maybe he would have chosen to skate for one final season in a Detroit uniform.

It would have been amazing to see him lead the team out in front of over 110,000 people at Michigan Stadium on January 1st. Or to have seen how one of the best players to ever play the game led the team in the locker room on the HBO 24/7 series.

Wings fans weren't given that opportunity, and neither was I. I am a blogger, a monogamous hockey fan, someone who's believed that the NHL was the best league in the world and that the Detroit Red Wings were and are the best hockey team in the world for over 20 years now. I've made hockey my life's passion and my professional pursuit.

My career as a hockey fan and now a hockey blogger is one in which I can say that Nicklas Lidstrom's career almost surely ended prematurely, and if only for that, never mind the devastating blows to my fellow Wings fans, my birthplace city, region and state's economy, the everyday people and big businesses alike who depend on hockey to get by, the Red Wings organization, hockey fans and "hockey people" all over the NHL and the league as a whole...

I will never, ever forgive Gary Bettman, Bill Daly, the Board of Governors, and yes, Mike Ilitch, Jimmy Devellano and the Detroit Red Wings.

When the Board meets on December 5th, they'll agree to nix the season. We've got somewhere between two or three weeks' worth of public posturing and private negotiations before the league that's locked out fans twice before chooses to nuke the village in order to back-hack a CBA they sacrificed an entire season to essentially write for themselves as NHLPA turncoat Ted Saskin nodded in agreement to just about everything Bill Daly and Proskauer Rose's Bob Batterman suggested back in 2005.  Instead of addressing the fundamental issues with the league's current 30-team business model, it's most likely that the NHL will kick the franchise inequity and occasional, "We can't make it in this market no matter how hard we try" problem down the line, probably toward lockout #4.

That ain't right.

And not being able to see this any more just pisses me off:

 

Thanks, Gary. Thanks, Bill and the Board. Thanks, Mr. I and Jimmy D.

Assholes.

Update: One more thing. It's incredibly ironic and incredibly sad that this had to come to pass, and incredibly stupid that we should have known this season was nothing more than a, "SEASON NOT PLAYED" stamp on the Stanley Cup when Devellano said this back on August 17th:

 


I guess so. I guess so.

That's why this will be the first Christmas since 1991 when I haven't asked for any Red Wings stuff, and am adjusting my wardrobe to ensure that I don't have to grab a red shirt until after all of this stupid, stupid and completely unnecessary labor war ends.

I wanted a #5 jersey. I really did.

If the Red Wings' players, coaches, management and prospects weren't such good people, maybe I'd have better sense and simply leave my shirts, hats and jerseys in the closet for good.

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Comments

petshark's avatar

Great post. The NHL and I aren’t on speaking terms now either.  Thank heaven for other leagues.

Feel better.  I hope writing helps, it helps me.

And you were 13 in ‘91? I feel so ooooold! (Not really but I think I should.)

Posted by petshark from Nor Cal, and on Twitter @petshark47 on 11/29/12 at 10:01 PM ET

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I started watching the NHL in 1986-87 and could only watch the first period of EDT games on 9 or 50 back then. The game might have grown, but its also been watered down by the expansion and fact that some teams are playing in front of OHL crowds. That is a Bettman strategy that has grown the game, but at the tremendous cost of 3 lockouts. Face it any other commish would have helped teams to move from non-traditional, unprofitable (to the team anyways as the parent corps probably still are revenue positive) Southern markets into cities like Seattle, Quebec, Hamilton, Vaughn, etc. They would have also realized that the fans are not the things you value on in slogan either.

Lifetime contract punisher is probably being sponsored by Toronto’s rep via Burke.

I hope that the nuclear option punishes the NHL as fans move on as do talented players that decided Europe and the KHL certainty while the NHLPA doesn’t cave. I just hope Wings fans realize that this lockout cost them some of the remaining great years of an NHL superstar and probably one more year of #5.

Posted by dca on 11/29/12 at 10:51 PM ET

Chet's avatar

great writing GM, but I stopped 1/4 through. i won’t buy a bagel at LAX in case a dime goes to Delaware North. it’s time someone used wikipedia and google to expose every affiliate of every NHL owner’s portfolio. though uverse i don’t have to pay the NHL for most (nonexistent) games, and i will never support my la area local teams live, be it parking, beers, etc. i used to get kings tix for free, buy food and a few rounds for guests, etc.

now bieber has a better chance of getting me to staples. never mind tv. lets make a statement.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 11/30/12 at 06:16 AM ET

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The owners want nothing less than a retroactive bailout for the last recession (let’s be honest: it seems *almost* as likely that morons of equal magnitude in Washington D.C. will hurl all of us over the “Fiscal Cliff” because neither party can behave like their members are over the age of 10), at least a billion dollars of concessions going forward, a back-hacking of the CBA to severely limit player mobility and essentially “idiot-proof it” to save owners and GM’s from themselves, and someone in the room wants to cripple the teams that have handed out “lifetime contracts” despite the fact that those teams constitute a majority of the Board’s votes.

The players want to protect their livelihoods, and after so many have “given at the office” to supposedly “fix” the game once and for all in 04-05, the vast majority of their ranks doesn’t want to surrender somewhere between 15-25% of the paychecks promised to them, their free agent mobility or another billion bucks going forward…

You keep saying things like this, George… and it explains why you feel the way you do.

The problem is, it’s incorrect.  Worse, it’s overwrought.

From the player side, assuming 3-5% growth, we’re talking about them making what they were making last year in 5 years, tops.  For you to characterize their position as one of ‘protecting their livelihood’, while I’m sure that phrase looked nice on the back of a union flyer, badly missates the reality of the situation and the actual impact of the concessions sought.

For instance, if the players end up taking a 50-50 deal with no make whole tomorrow, a guy making 1 mil would have a salary line that looks like this:

877k
912k
949k
987k
1.03 Mil.

And we already know the league offered a couple hundred mil in make whole.  And that’s assuming 4% revenue growth.

That’s not ‘threatening their livelihoods’, George.  Hell, if the ‘livelihoods’ comment is anything more than a canard, then step up and support a graduated exemption from escrow and make-whole on both ends of the spectrum.  Let the guys making less than 3 mil be exempted from escrow and receive full make whole, and let the guys making 6, 7, 8, 9+ mil pay a heavier share of escrow and receive less makewhole to protect their ‘brothers’. Further:

the vast majority of their ranks doesn’t want to surrender somewhere between 15-25%

... is a factually wrong statement. Going from 57% to 50% is a 12.28% drop, so the reality is barely half of the top end of the range you made up, fully beneath the bottom edge of the range, and even that amount abates fairly quickly over time.

Next, characterizing having UFA rules moved back by one year is hardly “severely limit player mobility.”  That’s crazy talk.  Like, literally crazy talk.

Seriously, people here need to start waking up to the realities of the financial structure of the NHL and hang their ‘Union and Proud’ hats at the door.  Business groups need to operate buildings with favorable lease agreements and have 40-70 concerts a year in venues to actually turn profits.  That’s how warped the NHL’s financials have become. 

That’s why the NHL always ends up with cheap, flawed owners.  That’s why the NHL always ends up having to drive the NHLPA’s face into the dirt at every CBA negotiation.

Unfortunately, there’s little reason to suggest Bettman et al are capable of addressing the core economic issues of the NHL, especially as long as they continue to be stupid on a galactic scale in their attempts to force NHL hockey into so many non-traditional markets at once.

That doesn’t mean those core economic issues don’t exist, though.  I just hope, eventually, you and others get to the point where you’re able to admit that.

You’re going to find yourselves incredibly hurt, disappointed and disgusted until you do.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 11/30/12 at 06:27 AM ET

gusoline's avatar

HiHD,

My issue with your stance is you appear to believe that it should be the players that bail out the owners rather then the owners stepping up and solving the issues themselves (revenue sharing, relocating to profitable markets, etc).  Even if I agree with your take on the financials (And I believe the truth is somewhere in the middle) why should the employees be the ones responsible for the bad business decision of the owners.  They made bad decisions when they decided to support the expansion plan.  They made bad decisions when they let the league fall of the ESPN map and were relegated to the fringes of TV.  The may be making individually bad decisions in the running of their franchises.  Hell, maybe they made a bad decision to buy a franchise in the first place.  In no way does the fault or the responsibility lie with the players.

The individual franchises, like any business that is poorly run, should be allowed to fail if it is not viable.  Then,  If more teams go bankrupt, the league would not be able to continue propping up failed franchises and eventually the contraction and relocation would happen regardless.  True, this would also hurt players as there would potentially be less jobs, but the overall product should improve.

In my opinion, the owners signed contracts and short of bankruptcy, they should be required to pay those contracts.  If the league isn’t viable the way it is, the league needs to re-structure for the long term, not simply keep demanding to lower contracts that they agreed to in the first place.

Posted by gusoline on 11/30/12 at 07:38 AM ET

Guilherme's avatar

Next, characterizing having UFA rules moved back by one year is hardly “severely limit player mobility.”  That’s crazy talk.  Like, literally crazy talk.

No, not crazy. Very reasonable, actually, considering most players won’t even reach that extra year.

http://www.quanthockey.com/Distributions/CareerLengthGP.php

A typical career of an NHL player can be summarized with one word. Its short! Over half of all NHL players play less that 100 games during their career and for approximately 5 percent of players, their first NHL game is also their last. If we look at this from a different angle, long careers are extremely rare. Only 4 percent of players (that’s 1 out of 25) dress up for more than 1000 games.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 11/30/12 at 07:50 AM ET

Stevis's avatar

From the player side, assuming 3-5% growth, we’re talking about them making what they were making last year in 5 years, tops.

Following up on Herm’s post, most of these guys won’t be around in 5 years to see the salary re-inflation.

Posted by Stevis on 11/30/12 at 09:14 AM ET

LivinLaVidaLockout's avatar

A typical career of an NHL player can be summarized with one word. Its short! Over half of all NHL players play less that 100 games during their career and for approximately 5 percent of players, their first NHL game is also their last. If we look at this from a different angle, long careers are extremely rare. Only 4 percent of players (that’s 1 out of 25) dress up for more than 1000 games.
Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 11/30/12 at 07:50 AM ET

I keep seeing this posted in places, and it’s just not a fair metric.  What if we took out all the players who are really just “AHL players” or “injury call-ups” and don’t account for them?  If we include every “Darryl Laplante” in this calculation, we’re not really looking at an NHL-er’s career length at all, because they weren’t really an NHL-er to start with.  I can’t click on the link at work to see if it explain’s anything more, but if you take every time there is a “Lidstrom” who players 1564 career games, and 18 “Darryl Laplantes” who play 20 career games, that by itself gets you to an average of 100 career games for the 19 players.

And there are far many more “Darryl Laplantes” who play in the NHL for a few games than there are Lidstroms.

Posted by LivinLaVidaLockout on 11/30/12 at 09:28 AM ET

LivinLaVidaLockout's avatar

I keep seeing this posted in places, and it’s just not a fair metric.  What if we took out all the players who are really just “AHL players” or “injury call-ups” and don’t account for them?  If we include every “Darryl Laplante” in this calculation, we’re not really looking at an NHL-er’s career length at all, because they weren’t really an NHL-er to start with.  I can’t click on the link at work to see if it explain’s anything more, but if you take every time there is a “Lidstrom” who players 1564 career games, and 18 “Darryl Laplantes” who play 20 career games, that by itself gets you to an average of 100 career games for the 19 players.
And there are far many more “Darryl Laplantes” who play in the NHL for a few games than there are Lidstroms.
Posted by LivinLaVidaLockout on 11/30/12 at 09:28 AM ET

And to be fair Guilherme, my argument seems to make your point, but my point is - many of these players aren’t “NHL players” to start with.  If the league decided to use scabs instead, these are the same players who would see their NHL career lengths increase haha..

Posted by LivinLaVidaLockout on 11/30/12 at 09:32 AM ET

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What is the mean NHL career is more appropriate discussion than the average in terms of length of a career. What the average does tell us is that there is a tremendous risk in attempting to make a career as an NHLer, because most guys that try, fail miserably.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 11/30/12 at 09:45 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Well to be fair, career AHLers and fringe fill-ins have built-in shortcuts to UFA that dominant NHLers don’t have.

If you’re not worth getting into a bidding war over or worth the tiny raise required by a qualifying offer, then you can find yourself a UFA at age 23 or even earlier. Of course, you’re also likely to find yourself an ex-pro in short order, but at least you made it to UFA five years earlier than the next 50-goal scorer will!

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 11/30/12 at 09:46 AM ET

NIVO's avatar

well football will be over in February, that will come soon enough. Then its gonna be a long long dull period until August for more football. Seven months of boring, because i’ll be damned if i watch gheyseball for one second. I hate it, its so bad you can actually see old ladies crocheting in the stands.

Posted by NIVO from underpants gnome village on 11/30/12 at 09:55 AM ET

TreKronor's avatar

This pro-union talk has gotten pretty obnoxious.

Posted by TreKronor on 11/30/12 at 09:56 AM ET

Mandingo's avatar

This pro-union talk has gotten pretty obnoxious.

Posted by TreKronor on 11/30/12 at 09:56 AM ET

You realize your screen name is the national emblem of one of the most unionized countries in the world, right?

Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 11/30/12 at 10:03 AM ET

TreKronor's avatar

Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 11/30/12 at 10:03 AM ET

Oh yeah.  Sweden was extremely unionized until the change in government in 2006.  It’s still greatly unionized by most standards.

Posted by TreKronor on 11/30/12 at 10:09 AM ET

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the owners stepping up and solving the issues themselves .... relocating to profitable markets, etc.

I think we will see this happen as soon as a new CBA is put in place. The owners stand to make a killing over the next five years by correcting all of the mistakes they have made over the past ten. If they can cut the players share of it, it will be that much more in their pockets and they want it to happen in this CBA or it will be too late to cry poverty.  With bottom dwellers like the Islanders and Phoenix already getting a big boost through quasi re-location or batshit crazy politicians offering them public money like candy the NHL has already made massive in-roads.

That leaves Seattle, Quebec and Toronto metro as potential areas for either expansion fees or re-location fees. Nice to see the NHL manages to move out of a failing ATL market and still get re-location fees that went to the owner’s pockets without having to divvy it up with the players.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 11/30/12 at 10:14 AM ET

gusoline's avatar

This pro-union talk has gotten pretty obnoxious.

Posted by TreKronor on 11/30/12 at 09:56 AM ET

I don’t think of it as pro-union, I think of it as anti-stupidity.  The owners and league have continuously made stupid mistakes including many of the current player contracts.  On the player side, those contracts aren’t stupid - but the fact remains that they should be considered a legally binding contract.

You can argue that the union’s tactics in this negotiation are questionable, bordering on stupidity, but that is beside my point

Posted by gusoline on 11/30/12 at 10:30 AM ET

TreKronor's avatar

Posted by gusoline on 11/30/12 at 10:30 AM ET

I can’t disagree with that, as I think it’s absolutely astonishing that some of the owners have the desire to roll-back salaries. 

What ticks me off is the salary cap and the salary floor.  Some teams have to spend money they don’t have just to make the salary floor (which creates one of Bettman’s favorite words: “parity”), and some of those teams are the ones who want to roll-back salaries.  Whereas some teams want to spend as much money as they would like on salaries, without burdening other teams to pay for it.  The teams who can’t afford to make the floor are the ones who have, in part at least, created this “union vs. owners” situation. 

My disgust is less with the union and more with the people who are siding with the union, and saying all the owners are horrible people.  No doubt, there are some horrible owners who have a management team which doesn’t seem to understand how to run a business and thinks they can spend more than they can afford.  A hand-full or two of bad owners shouldn’t determine an individual’s perception of the owners as a whole.  Unfortunately though, it has appeared thus far that the bad owners are getting more of what they would like than the good ones. 

At the end of the day, everyone wants to play hockey.  However, each party wants to “win” more than the other.  How could you fault them - everybody involved is highly competitive. 

 

Posted by TreKronor on 11/30/12 at 10:50 AM ET

SnLO's avatar

I’m in agreement that it is not up to the employee (players) to be responsible to fix the poor decision-making and management of each of the clubs. If a franchise / business fail, then too bad; should’ve made smarter decisions. It is not the responsibility of the rest of the league to continue to prop the franchises that don’t act responsibly. Maybe they should be relegated into running an AHL club instead.
Also, I don’t care if NYR can outspend every team twice over; they’ve proven that with the highest payroll they still can’t make the playoffs. The league needs to abolish the salary cap and revert to a free-market system of player employment. Who cares what the players earn. That is between the employer and the employee. If a player can make $10m playing for one team or $5m for another, it’s his choice to make. If the $5m club can’t or won’t pay, then don’t. If they do, then do it. But don’t come crying because you couldn’t afford it. If you can’t compete, improve your situation so you can compete. Illitch did it with Detroit.
The current argument is over the disparity of club value. Well that certainly didn’t happen overnight. Many owners seem to expect their business value to grow simply on the basis of its existence. The only way that can happen is for the value of the league to grow, and it seems is that being attempted through revenue sharing and expansion. The next logical step is for the players to be employees of the league as opposed to each individual club. What’s more is if the league is going to compete globally for the best talent to maintain the high quality standard of play, the league needs to provide compensation commensurate to the talent or risk losing the player to another league and the league as a whole slip gradually into irrelevancy.
If an owner really wants more value for the franchise, it is best through investment in the club and the community. Grow a fan base. Become the desired entertainment. Business 101 stuff. This current administration is a sham and certainly none of that.

end of rant.

Posted by SnLO from beyond the M-1 on 11/30/12 at 10:50 AM ET

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it has appeared thus far that the bad owners are getting more of what they would like than the good ones

The problem is there is no way to determine objectively, who are the “good” owners and who are the bad. According to the NHL, the lockout was unanimous and the owners have agreed to a system that allows 8 Board of Governors to determine the fate of all 30.  You can’t agree to a system and then say it isn’t your fault when the system doesn’t work for you.

It has nothing to do with being horrible people, although I get the feeling Jeremy Jacons is but, more to do with many owners hiding behind 8 owners to allow them to do their dirty work. All of the owners will reap the great rewards by what is being pushed by the hawks and therefore they all wind up in the same boat.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 11/30/12 at 11:10 AM ET

TreKronor's avatar

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 11/30/12 at 11:10 AM ET

Absolutely - it’s really quite subjective, depending on ones viewpoint.  What appears to be quite apparent, however, is that the Toronto Maple Leafs are doing everything right… smile

http://espn.go.com/nhl/story/_/id/8686644/toronto-maple-leafs-first-franchise-valued-1-billion

Posted by TreKronor on 11/30/12 at 11:19 AM ET

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Toronto Maple Leafs are doing everything right…

For the owners,  yes, For their fans ..... not so much since1967.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 11/30/12 at 11:20 AM ET

joedaiceman's avatar

George - it is not really a difficult concept, but perhaps for someone that has wrapped himself and others in the cloak of victimhood it is. People that own the busines have every right to make a fair profit and right now they do not except for a few teams. If the majority of teams can’t make money, you cannot attract owners and without owners you do not have a game. The economics are what they are and cannot be denied.

I’m alway amused by the weird reaction from those that always benefit from the work and risk of owners. They never can accept that they are part of the problem, it is always those greedy capitalists. Time to look in the mirror players and get over yourselves. You feel bad because your supposed contracts aren’t going to be honored? That makes me laugh. I feel worse for the 22 owners that are loing millions of dollars per year but still put on the game, pay the players, pay the hot dog vendor, pay the guys that scrape the ice and never hear a thank you.

George - you can suck it. I grew up in Michigan and there are millions like you. Holy crap.

Posted by joedaiceman on 11/30/12 at 11:39 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

People that own the busines have every right to make a fair profit and right now they do not except for a few teams.

Prove it.

I feel worse for the 22 owners that are loing millions of dollars per year

Prove it.

pay the hot dog vendor

Yeah, the players and the owners share that expense.

 

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 11/30/12 at 11:51 AM ET

Stevis's avatar

I’m alway amused by the weird reaction from those that always benefit from the work and risk of owners

Please remind me how many owners have been concussed during the course of any NHL season.

Posted by Stevis on 11/30/12 at 11:57 AM ET

gusoline's avatar

Posted by joedaiceman on 11/30/12 at 11:39 AM ET

Wow, talk about the language (or clothes) of a victim.  Those poor owners being sucked dry by the greedy players.  Too bad the owners didn’t have anyone to protect them from the financials that were in place when they bought the teams, too bad no one was able to give them advice on how to build a successful franchise, too bad no one told them not to offer those contracts under the CBA in place at the time. I could go on, but you said you are sick of the language if a victim.

Posted by gusoline on 11/30/12 at 12:02 PM ET

Mandingo's avatar

George - it is not really a difficult concept, but perhaps for someone that has wrapped himself and others in the cloak of victimhood it is. People that own the busines have every right to make a fair profit and right now they do not except for a few teams. If the majority of teams can’t make money, you cannot attract owners and without owners you do not have a game. The economics are what they are and cannot be denied.

I’m alway amused by the weird reaction from those that always benefit from the work and risk of owners. They never can accept that they are part of the problem, it is always those greedy capitalists. Time to look in the mirror players and get over yourselves. You feel bad because your supposed contracts aren’t going to be honored? That makes me laugh. I feel worse for the 22 owners that are loing millions of dollars per year but still put on the game, pay the players, pay the hot dog vendor, pay the guys that scrape the ice and never hear a thank you.

George - you can suck it. I grew up in Michigan and there are millions like you. Holy crap.

Posted by joedaiceman on 11/30/12 at 11:39 AM ET

I have been continually astounded, reading the comments on this web site and others, at how much so many hockey fans despise the players that make up the sport they supposedly love.

Jesus Christ, what a bunch of bootlickers with daddy issues. You people sound like you’d rather pay to watch the owners play bridge and drink scotch than watch hockey.

Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 11/30/12 at 12:09 PM ET

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it is always those greedy capitalists

I love capitalism. the kind where I compete in an open market. not one where I can cap expenses, but charge consumers whatever I want.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 11/30/12 at 12:57 PM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

I have been continually astounded, reading the comments on this web site and others, at how much so many hockey fans despise the players that make up the sport they supposedly love.
Jesus Christ, what a bunch of bootlickers with daddy issues. You people sound like you’d rather pay to watch the owners play bridge and drink scotch than watch hockey.
Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 11/30/12 at 12:09 PM ET

This ^^^^^
The owners created this feckin mess. Fuch the owners!

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 11/30/12 at 01:00 PM ET

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own the busines have every right to make a fair profit

Talk about victim hood, now it is a right to make a profit? Wow, new constitution must have been written before thos bankruptcy laws came into place.

I don’t believe these great titans of industry would have invested 100s of millions of dollars without first performing due diligence before buying a franchise to ensure that they had a business plan that could earn a profit.  If they didn’t then they are victims of their own stupidity or vanity.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 11/30/12 at 01:01 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Gosh those owners risk it all to bring us NHL hockey. I for one am grateful that there is SOMEBODY out there willing to risk IT ALL so that I can watch hockey.  I mean..

hold on a second…  is that…?

Oh hey, Marc Savard… could you lay back down for a second? Yeah, sorry buddy, but I’m trying to make a point about how much risk the owners take so that your greedy ass can bring me NHL hockey.

Thanks, bud.  Now, where was I?  Oh yeah.

I just hope that Stan Kroenke can SOMEHOW make a living despite ALL THE RISKS he’s being forced to take by these greedy players. He’s just….

Damnit, Yzerman. Get out of my light!  I don’t care how much cartilage you have left in your knee, move faster. I’m trying to make a point here!

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 11/30/12 at 01:53 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

Posted by joedaiceman on 11/30/12 at 11:39 AM ET

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 11/30/12 at 01:57 PM ET

SnLO's avatar

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 11/30/12 at 01:53 PM ET

I’m sorry JJ, but that argument has no merit. Especially when held against the soldiers and seamen who risk and have lost limbs and more for a less than 1% of the league minimum just to earn a living (for the sake of perspective). NHL players receive uber compensation to play a game that does carry a risk of injury, but they choose to continue to accept that risk for the money. They are not at fault for that decision, but it is their choice; just the same to accept a $10m contract over a $2m contract. Just like an owner offers a $10m contract when he can only afford a $2m contract. Nobody held a gun to their head to make that choice. The players accepted the risk of injury for the money just the same as the owners accepted the risk of a failed venture for the money. So I don’t feel they are owed anything beyond what is promised because they are willing to risk their quality of life to make money playing a game. If the money being promised isn’t enough for them to accept that risk, they have the choice to not do it.

Posted by SnLO from beyond the M-1 on 11/30/12 at 02:19 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I’m sorry JJ, but that argument has no merit. Especially when held against the soldiers and seamen who risk and have lost limbs and more

Then the owners need more money because they take all the risks argument has exactly the same amount of merit because those guys aren’t fighting to bring us something quite as important as freedom.

The players accepted the risk of injury for the money just the same as the owners accepted the risk of a failed venture for the money.

This is EXACTLY MY POINT.  Both players and owners take risks, so the argument that one side takes all the risk is bullshit.

 

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 11/30/12 at 02:29 PM ET

SnLO's avatar

This is EXACTLY MY POINT.  Both players and owners take risks

Apologies, I must have missed that was your point and read it to be only one sided to the other extreme.

Posted by SnLO from beyond the M-1 on 11/30/12 at 02:33 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Please see latest post for response to “victimhood” and owners’ rights.

http://kuklaskorner.com/tmr/comments/a-little-ranting-and-raving-from-crazy-george

I like Mike Ilitch. I want him to make lots and lots of money from the Red Wings. I hold no grudges toward the billionaires who own hockey teams for being billionaires, and I begrudge them their desire to earn profits as much as I begrudge the players for being millionaires.

Ideally, I’d like everybody in the mix to make tons of money, and as a paying fan, I’d be very happy to hand over some of my discretionary income to Mr. Ilitch and his employees if he had chosen to allow his Wings players to skate at the Joe this season.

My frustration toward the owners and comes from their decision to lock out players and fans three times now, and to continue to select a negotiating representative who collectively bargains via only game-canceling and season-threatening methods.

They’ve locked out everyone three times now, and the last time around, Bill Daly very literally wrote the CBA with Ted Saskin nodding along. The CBA worked as it was intended to, and any errors in terms of addressing the league’s 30-team business model and helping its franchise along were not due to the NHLPA putting up any sort of fight during the last round of collective bargaining.

Yet we find the owners blaming the players for their problems again, the owners reneging on contracts they’ve chosen to sign players to, and many teams choosing to cause significant economic damage to the communities in which they operate for the sake of “retrenching” via another lockout instead of bargaining in good faith while splitting a little less of $3.3-plus billion in revenues than they’d like to take in.

And if I saw myself as a victim, given that I deal with chronic illnesses which are mine to deal with and no one’s fault—you’d better believe that there are millions and millions of people who deal with the same thing, and worse, and I *#$%@& know that. I’m not special in any way, shape or form when it comes to dealing with a chronic illness—if I truly saw myself as a victim of depression and anxiety, I would have given up this blogging business a long time ago to keep the covers over my head in bed instead, and it’s entirely possible that I would have attempted or committed suicide, joedaiceman.

I’m not dead, and that’s by my choice. If you have a problem with that, go *#$%@& yourself.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/01/12 at 12:29 AM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.