Kukla's Korner

Petshark: Talking Stick

Who really gets locked out?

Those who wage wars rarely fight them.  That is something we all know but in the modern western world we like to forget how many people are subject to the whims of the fortunate few.  Those facts don't jibe with our notion of the free pursuit of happiness and all that.  We know it's a jungle out there but when folks get put out of work, have their lives tossed around like poker chips on a table they aren't even sitting at, it still stings.

Mark Purdy wrote a piece for the Mercury News about what an NHL lockout means for interested parties who are not involved in the negotiations.  In it, he calls said interested parties "stakeholders."  Wow but that sounds more mighty than it is.  Satellite businesses may have a stake in NHL games, but I wouldn't say they hold that stake.  It seems more like they can mine it until the real owner--the NHL-- shows up to put in a parking lot, or empty that lot by locking out the players.  The people who choose to enter the conflict are rarely the ones who really get hurt.  If they were, they might choose differently.

A recent Twitter hash tag illustrates the problem while also being pretty funny: #lockedoutFlyers.  It describes various ways Flyers might spend their time during a lockout.  Many of the suggestions are the kinds of jobs that people could lose if the lockout goes forward:

@FlyGoalScoredBy: "Giroux driving Amoroso Bread delivery truck. All bread mysteriously delivered with cheese. #lockedoutFlyers"
@hewish: "Zac Rinaldo wrapping burritos at Chipotle #lockedoutFlyers"
@FlyGoalScoredBy: "Bryz selling cell phone covers at one of those wagons in the mall. #lockedoutFlyers"

I can't decide if that is ironic or not.  Of course many players would spend a lockout in the AHL.  News of players being put on waivers for that purpose is coming in, though not yet from the Sharks.  David Pollak speculates that waiver activity may help finalize some contracts:

@PollakOnSharks: "With NHL-NHLPA agreeing on rules for sending players to AHL w/CBA expiring, expect new contracts for #sjsharks Sheppard, Petrecki, Kennedy."

275 players showed up for the NHLPA meeting in New York today.  That's nice.  I imagine there are a lot of people who might have liked to be there, might have had something to say, people who can't be there because they aren't part of the NHLPA.  Folks who work for the concessioners, the local eateries, the arena staff.  All the satellite businesses that rely on the games to keep them going.  People who haven't had a contract offered to them ever in their working lives, people who would consider a guarantee of work for more than a year to be a giddy boon.  People who can't appreciate the finer points of revenue shares and salary limits, the lowest of which would be just fine for most folks.  Oh, they can understand these details, they just can't believe anyone would quibble over them like this.  Such people might want to say "pull your heads out of your asses and get back to work."  Since those folks can't be there, it is good to have a fair showing from the players.

A few weeks ago I listened to a man talk about a union dispute he was involved in, listened to him complain that he had been working without a contract for almost a year now.  I nodded and frowned sympathetically while thinking "wtf century are you living in?  You expect promises from your employer beyond paying you for work done (if you can even expect that)?  Wow." The NHL complains that it has been losing money lately, that more teams are in the red than there were some years ago.  No shit.  Have they not noticed the staggering economy in the US?  Are they living in that same bubble as the above-mentioned union member?  We're in competition with underdeveloped nations now, people!  Nations that can use slave labor and have no qualms with working children to death!  The world ain't what it used to be, okay?  You can't get blood from a stone and so forth.

I am sure all those locked out interested parties would like to be in the room with the owners too.  There is a lot that a lot of people would like to say to these guys face to face, and it isn't "we feel your pain." Yet the Sharks are skating.

@LadyStanley: "New faces: Gogol, Vlasic. On the ice: Cheech + 1-5-8-9-10-12-19-21-22-29-31-39-40-44-61-62-85"

They may be locked out of their nice dressing room and away from the training equipment soon, but they're skating.  I still sympathize more with the players than the owners, but the NHLPA isn't completely powerless.  I can't just go all soft because our guys are out there, working away like the sky isn't falling.  The players could, if they felt like it, throw themselves on the grenade for those who have no say in these negotiations.  They could say yes to everything, give those intransigent jerks whatever they want.  I don't know if I would do it, but the option is there.

@RenLavoieRDS: Gary Bettman: "we are not going to announce something dramatic after the board meeting Thursday."

Somehow, the only announcement that I would find "dramatic" would be a resolution.  Announcing failure in negotiations just doesn't have the dramatic oompf it once did.

Save your souls, NHL.  This game you are playing has real stakes, stakes that aren't measured in mad money.  Just because the people getting hurt are used to living on the edge doesn't make it okay to push them over.

Filed in: , San Jose Sharks, | Petshark: Talking Stick | Permalink
  Tags: flyers, lockout, nhlpa, rant, stakeholders


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About Petshark: Talking Stick

Native of Northern California.  Hockey fan since 1998... sort of... there's a hiatus in there that I still can't explain.

I want to know about anything and everything related to the sport and the spectacle.  I watch, I react, I write it down.

My interest in the Sharks was initially a matter of geographic convenience and regional loyalty because that seemed to be how it worked.  I had no prior interest (at all-- AT ALL) in professional sports of any kind.  When I met hockey, it might have set off a chain reaction of general sports fandom.  It hasn't, I don't think it will.  At all.

Since then, that interest developed into full blown (mostly sort of usually almost completely) exclusive loyalty to the Sharks.

I started blogging a couple years ago on wordpress. I still occasionally put things there that I don't think fit here because they are not about the Sharks. Wherever my words wander, here on Kuklas Korner, they will (usually) hang on to a teal thread.

I can be found in cyberspace on Twitter @petshark47, or emailed at talkingstick@petshark.net