Thursday, August 16, 2012

Playing With Fire

For those of you who don't know, I live in the Pacific Northwest and it is one of the most beautiful places you can find in America to live in. But sometimes there's a price for living in such a scenic area and that is fire season.

Forest fires are one of the most frightening experiences a person can go through because you never know what happens when you're dealing with a wildfire. A shift in the winds, a lightning strike, human carelessness or who knows what can turn a beautiful forest into a raging inferno faster than anyone can believe.

A wildfire just might be the perfect description for what the NHL and the NHLPA are stirring up with their labor negotiations. Like a wildfire, nobody knows what kind of damage will happen to the sport if it goes through another lockout.

As I said before the offer was even made by the NHLPA, it was doomed before it even got across the table. And as much as I criticized the original offer made by the NHL to the players; I have to do the same to the NHLPA for their offer was a joke plain and simple.

It was as I said yesterday designed to look pretty but when you went into the specifics it was empty and I can't blame Gary Bettman when he says:

"There's still a wide gap between us with not much time to go," Bettman said Wednesday.

"I do think it's fair to say that the sides are still apart -- far apart -- and have different views of the world and the issues," he added.

I am not going to sit here and say that I knew the specific details of the players offered because I didn't. What I did know was the intent of the NHLPA and that was to try to win the public relations battle for the fans and media.

It worked on the hockey media and on many a blogger as it was an offer that on the surface avoided confrontation; it kept the basics like the salary cap and willingness to reduce the percentage of revenue that the players received.

I want to support the players because I do know how short of a span most of them have to make any money in their career. But I can't sit here and look over the player's offer and say this was fair.

It wasn't and just like the owner's first offer to the players; it was designed to be rejected almost immediately. If I thought eliminating arbitration and demanding that the players put in 10 years of service before eligibility for unrestricted free agency was ridiculous then so is asking the owners to put limits on how much they can pay for coaches, general managers and other non-related playing staff.

Offering teams the opportunity to sell part of their salary or options to give teams in financial distress the chance to get extra draft picks makes no sense other than to cause a divide among NHL owners. Increasing the amount of revenue sharing is also another way to cause division among NHL owners.

Unlike the hockey media or bloggers who cover hockey I totally disagree that if there's a lockout this year that there would be a good chance to salvage part of the season. No it will actually be the opposite as the moment a lockout begins then out will come the egos along with the nastiness.

Once a lockout starts then like a wildfire it will go out of control with no real way to determine how soon it will end and who will pay the price. It's time for both sides to stop acting like kids playing with matches and sit down to work out a real not a pretend collective-bargaining agreement.

It's time for both sides to consider others besides themselves whether they be arena workers who will lose out on paychecks or the fans once again watching the sport they love be damaged over egos.

Gary Bettman

I have to admit that I was surprised at how few people were upset over how much Gary Bettman makes as Commissioner of the NHL. Even more surprising was those who actually supported the commissioners salary.

But what disappointed me was that those who did support him pointed at the television deal that Gary Bettman got for the NHL. It was as if people forgot about the current situation with Phoenix Coyotes and their ownership issues.

People forgot how many teams like Atlanta and Columbus did not deserve franchises in the first place. That overexpansion on Gary Bettman's watch has led to a dilution of product in the NHL.

You want tell me Gary Bettman is worth $8 million when on his watch we have had two work stoppages and are about to face a third that he deserves his salary be quadrupled?

I'm sorry on this issue I can't understand how anyone could justify giving Gary Bettman $8 million in salary while asking the players to take a second pay cut in eight years.

I can understand people supporting James Dolan and quite honestly I really didn't have a problem with how much he makes. I don't think he's worth it but I understand in his world that's what you pay a CEO or chairman.

Gary Bettman sorry unlike Cablevision, the NHL is on shaky ground in several cities while on his watch. If you wish to reward somebody for doing a horrible job and endangering the sport then I'm sorry I think you're dead wrong.

Just do me one small favor and keep Gary Bettman away from matches and away from the forests of the Pacific Northwest please.

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