There are a number of things that are currently annoying me and since misery loves company I thought I’d share them.
The Nashville Predators. Yes, they are a hot stove topic. I feel sorry for the fans in Nashville. They seem to be working so hard and getting no where. If you look at the current landscape it makes you wonder exactly what they would have to do to keep the team there at this point. They cling to the 14,000 number like a drowning man while the local buyers up the ante to 16,000 and two other buyers seem bound and determined to move their franchise to another locale. For all those people out their beating up the fan base in Tennessee you need to stop. It’s not the fans that are at fault but all the other people in that region who have failed to fall in love with our sport. The fans there deserve an NHL franchise, unfortunately there’s just not enough of them to warrant it despite their desperation. My biggest irritation at the situation stems from the phrase “Non-traditional Market.” I can’t remember a phrase being repeated so many times in such a derogatory manner. What is a traditional hockey market? Philadelphia? There was NHL hockey here in the 1920’s then nothing for 40 some years other then lower level league teams. For 30 years the NHL market consisted of six teams, are those the traditional markets? There’s no tradition of hockey anywhere else. So Montreal, Toronto, New York, Boston, Chicago and Detroit are the only traditional markets? You never hear this in other sports. It’s insulting and arrogant and it demeans the sport we all love. The fact that it’s become a crutch to teams and their fan base is amazing. “We can’t compete because we’re a small market team in a non traditional market.” That’s why I lost a season of hockey, so that the Detroit Red Wings aren’t spending 45 million dollars more then the Pittsburgh Penguins. They can only spend 16 million more now. They closed the gap with the salary structure.
The owners and their CBA. You said you needed it. You said you were losing money. You refused to budge until you got what you wanted. You locked out the players. You vilified them as greedy and destroying the game. You said you wanted a level playing field with healthy franchises that all had an equal chance to succeed. You wanted to stop the bleeding and heal the game. You said you were pricing the fans out of the game and needed to control ticket prices. You wanted a “partnership “ with the players association. You got exactly what you were asking. You lied. You said if the players accepted 54% of the profits that everyone could make money. Two years into this CBA and the league looks the same as it did before you shut it down. Players are leaving Edmonton and Buffalo. Free agents are coming to play in New York and Philadelphia. Nashville is having a fire sale. Columbus is still floundering. These all seem to be management issues and not related to escalating salaries and greedy players. Your accounting practices have been revealed to be completely bogus as the salary cap has risen from a twisted armed 38 million to over 50 million dollars. Now granted, some of that is the rise of the Canadian dollar but not that much. There’s no way you tell me today, any more then you could convince me then, that the Philadelphia Flyers were losing money in 2003. After this summer are we going to start hearing about greedy players ruining the game again? I already hear it from other fans. Your 54% that you said you needed will now pay the NHLPA more then they were making before the lockout. Ticket prices are escalating almost across the board. Hockey jerseys will now cost twice as much as before. I think everyone with a brain should be able to accurately point the finger of greed.
The Buffalo Sabres Front Office. Oh, I’m going to hear on this one but it’s not the reason you may think. This is about Vanek. I know, I know, Kevin Lowe is the devil. Yesterday Al Stratchen wrote an article for Fox Sports that tackled this very subject. What was the deal with the owner and general manager calling the GM of another club and telling them not to make an offer to their RFA? That doesn’t seem fair to Vanek. If I was him I’d be angry, really angry. He’s a free agent, restricted yes, but a free agent. He’s allowed to negotiate with every team in the league. Buffalo management was directly interfering with his ability to maximize his earning potential. In any other business it would be a source for litigation. In the NHL and Buffalo it’s not only viewed as good business practice but when it doesn’t work, it’s a source of threatened revenge against the club that tendered the offer sheet. Why is this kind of juvenile behavior allowed to continue? Shouldn’t the disheveled NHLPA do something about this? I know I would. You can’t laud a “partnership” with the players then actively try to suppress the money an individual can make then thump your chest about it like some pumped up pro wrestler at a press conference.
When I get a sufficient head of steam again I’ll let you know…