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CBA venting day at VLM: not who is right or wrong, but who is annoying you the most in this ongoing saga?

We all need to just vent sometimes, and today is one of those days for me.  But rather than vent myself (OK, maybe I will, just a bit…), I want to provide a forum that will allow VLM readers to share their views on where things stand - to you - in the current CBA mess.

The last I heard on Wednesday (and hey, I’m probably out of the loop, there may be new “news” by now—though not much has seemed like real news on that front to me lately, at least not since the two sides thought they were being so progressive a week or so ago…) was that our friend Bill Daly rebuffed the NHLPA’s olive branch to at least sit down and talk again this week.

No doubt still posturing, and figuring that they (the owners, that is) were so magnanimous last week, Daly evidently declined the invitation, saying that since the players rejected the owners’ proposal of last Tuesday—and the PA has not made a worthwhile offer since, though that is a disputed claim, of course—there is really no point in getting together.

Well, as people like to say, that’s just lovely.  Why bother talking, eh?  I mean, what good could communication possibly do in a relationship, right?  Wasn’t this a “partnership” somewhere along the way?  In my line of work, I’ve always tended to recommend that when a client is having an issue, they need to communicate about it, often directly with the party/parties they have issues with.  But clearly I missed the updated memo that communication is a bad idea.  Evidently the best thing, when a relationship is going south, is to sit, stew, and think all kinds of nasty things about how the other side has messed up your life and your plans.

And along the way, make sure some well-planted public comments are made to incite your “partner” in the relationship even more, thus ensuring that a peaceful, thoughtful solution becomes a virtual impossibility.

So much for my wish that some good, old-fashioned, all-night, cigar-chomping, shirt-sleeves rolled up marathon bargaining sessions could maybe, just maybe, produce—if not an actual agreement—some enlightened thinking, a bit of momentum around creative solutions as to how these guys can cut up billions of dollars worth of cash among what is beginning to feel like a bunch of greedy (and yes, agents, I’m including you…), spoiled children.

But these guys can’t even agree to do be in the same room, as weeks go by with no agreement in sight.

As I’ve asked on Twitter, what business in the world pulls their product off the shelves every few years for up to a year at a time and expects to be a credible business going forward?  But these people do.  They just assume that we dumb consumers will keep coming back- and so far, we have.  It boggles the mind.

Look, I understand that, say, in a marriage relationship that is irretrievably damaged, at some point, talking won't solve the genuine issues.  A broken relationship may have to see both parties, sadly, move on.  But these two "sides" (if we have hockey again some day) can't divorce.  They have to work together in the future.  Trust will matter.

Yet they know this, and they can't even find the time to talk.

Both sides are so stuck on their “problems” (owners think some of them are losing money; others aren’t making enough…players feel they have been asked to “sacrifice” once too often.  Both sides maybe need to get outside their rich little comfort zone and see parts of the world—including their own backyards, where everyday people truly are suffering and sacrificing, so these millionaires and billionaires can grasp what those words actually mean…)

But I digress…

Do we need hockey?  No, we love it, but we have lived without NHL hockey before and we will all survive—and thrive—quite nicely, thank you.

Will Beavis and Butthead (you decide which side is which) ever come together and forge a new agreement?  Maybe more importantly, will they be able to do so before every last, living, breathing hockey fan has determined that we no longer wish to spend time following the “exploits” of idiot owners and players who are so hopped up on themselves and their self-perceived importance?

They don’t think it can happen, but as one of the outstanding commentators here posted recently…these guys are playing with fire this time around.  They kicked us around in 1994-’95.  They killed an entire season just a few short years ago.  They’re doing it again now.  At some point, even the most loyal fan…well, let’s just say a lot of us may still be “fans”, but if you kill the love someone has for something, you’ve really killed the relationship.

And these guys—both sides, are doing just that.  We may follow the players again, and the teams they play for, but will we ever feel the same about them again, now that we see the curtain pulled back from these “Wizards of Oz” and see that these individuals are remarkably, stunningly, astonishingly, disdainfully self-centered?

I mean, we all are.  We all operate out of self-interest.  Virtually everyone does.  I get that.

But the owners—and yes, in my mind, the players as well—have taken greed to unconscionable levels in this very public spat.

Anyway,  enough of my venting.  I’m not asking if you think we will have a season.  (I believe it has already been killed, in terms of the integrity of the season.  How are we supposed to believe, as ever-gullible fans,  that an 82-game season—spread out for proper rest and recovery for the athletes—can be done properly in less time (for reasons other than money)?  And why is a shortened “championship” season acceptable? Would we think the Barclays Premier League had a real “champion” if they only played 16 regular-season fixtures instead of 38?  C’mon.

I’m not even asking who you think is most to blame for these shenanigans.  (There's lots of blame to go around, for sure….)

By all means opine on all that if you want, but what I’d really like to hear from you today is:  who or which side is annoying you the most at this point?

Maybe it was the Jim Develanno comment (the long-time Red Wing executive) of a few weeks ago.  For me it might just be the implausibly stupid (and never-ending) Bettman-hating comments from so many of these players via Twitter.  And these guys are adults?

But it’s your forum.   What is the most annoying thing to you right now….?


  1. I wrote the following the day after the Lockout began... it seems that tomorrow might just be the day to implement these ideas:

    After weeks/months of providing options, seemingly unconsidered by the owners and players, that might prevent the need for a work stoppage of any kind, while attempting to address key problems for both acknowledged sides in the CBA ‘negotiations’… I have come to the conclusion that it is time to engender a solution for the ignored party that made all this prosperity possible. For the sake of the fans, I am providing an insight into my own intentions that have been clarified by the realization of another lockout in the NHL.
    Here is my:

    NHL Lockout – Fan Manifesto

    Whereas it is self-evident that the ongoing support of fans, for NHL hockey, have been taken for granted in the current NHL Collective Bargaining/Lockout situation, the following shall be enacted in my life:

    Recognizing the desire to experience Common-Interest Unity (Community) in my life, I will forgo further participation pertaining to the corporate exploitation of that desire WHEREVER I perceive its presence in my life.

    This specifically pertains to my pursuit of current information through such means as Corporate TV stations (and their websites – Yes I’m speaking to you NBC, ESPN,, Sportsnet, TSN and the CBC), thereby removing a source of revenue-building pursuant to my presence in such venues. My departure from your corporate perpetuation of the ‘lockout story’ REMOVES your ability to use my presence in your venues for the sale of your advertising dollar-extracting potential.

    I believe you Corporate Entities still obtain Nielson ratings through selected representative households, therefore, this message is especially for such households that have submitted to such monitoring – please consider voting with your actions (that are recorded in that Nielson box – if they still do it that way).

    Everyone else can ‘vote’ online with your absence from those kinds of sports websites (above referenced) and, perhaps, by sending a few well-placed letters delineating your intent to boycott the items/products that seek to be enriched on the backs of people influenced by your propaganda piggybacking on our game - PeteCam found “a link to a page listing all NHL corporate marketing partners”

    As a result of the observation that the NHL has managed to co-opt much of my ‘love of the game’ and has effectively enclosed my interests within a world they control, I choose to break the boundaries of your impositions and will expand my outlook beyond both the NHL (and my favourite sport).

    I, rather, choose to spend time (where I could be fretting about the selfish negotiations that would bring back the NHL) recovering my own participation in local community activities… they cost less and can provide more satisfaction than the NHL.


  2. When I watch kids playing and developing their life (and game) skills, it really matters not which team wins, rather that each one has a participatory opportunity to grow into the kind of people I’d like to have in my town… there’s less a sense of loss (when your team loses) and more a sense of win in any situation as a result of active participation in local community events (if I allow myself to perceive them).

    I will go to games at the local rink and support the kids who still play for love of the game… they might never reach the NHL, but they may just become wonderful members of the community in which I live… AND I can have a direct impact upon their lives to boot!
    I will use funds that could have been spent on NHL Jerseys, caps, mugs or ‘what-have-you spent your money on?’, and begin actively supporting the fundraising of kids in the local community.

    I might even expand my world beyond hockey and support other worthwhile sports and activities. Music enhances my life, so I will look to help people who are learning their musical craft. I will also participate more in every area myself (and, definitely, watch less of other people doing the same on the screen).
    If I continue to expand my horizons beyond the ‘win-lose’ game of sports (and CBA negotiations), I may experience, once more, the joys of non-competitive pursuits. Co-operative pursuits are so fulfilling!

    In the alternative, perhaps the best we gain from all our attention to sport and ‘our team’ is the temporary fleeting joy of a temporary victory that would be memorialized under a silver cup - A great memory of a long commitment of each one’s time, energy and caring when it is finally fulfilled (where someone else’s dreams were crushed in order to fulfill one team’s actual, and our own vicarious, accomplishment).

    It is possible to have lasting victories where everybody wins. Perhaps I am ready to be less connected to victories that require others to lose…

    The NHL might find that an army of motivated people (who no longer limit their perspectives to a limiting world that the NHL has created) may actually be found to diminish the very Hockey Related Revenues over which you people are fighting. Are League revenues actually “UP” or has the value of the US dollar actually fallen so precipitously (as they inflate their money supply multiplicatively –if not exponentially) that the Canadian dollar has apparently gained beyond a par value.

    Unlike what Mr. Fehr would tell the people who hired him, this is not evidence of a 7+% growing increase of value in a league that defies the fundamentals of the economic crisis in which we are living rather, it is evidence of the very fact that you people are actually part of the foundationally greedy world economic problem that will eventually implode – if you keep doing what you always do.

    In such a case, how will you pay those guaranteed contracts to the players who presume to deserve such things?! This is not fear-mongering, rather a sober evaluation of where you’re headed. When you go over the cliff (helping to take the rest of us with you), what will you do for a living?

    Bankruptcy comes upon all in such a system as we find ourselves participating – if that diminishment happens in the NHL, where is the contract that will pay you in our absence?

  3. Perhaps it is not too late for you to step back from the brinkmanship of your negotiations and, after looking at the bigger picture, find a way to save the game and all the work you’ve put into this enterprise while remember those who make it possible. Let your negotiations (from both sides) honour the people who make it possible for you to have a wonderful life!

    Owners should recognize that their game should be played in their rinks that come from the funds they have accumulated, not from the public purse… this has altered the landscape in such a way that costs do not factor in how the people have already invested in your game. Honour your debts to these creditors.

    Recognize actual costs, then share your bounty with one another honestly and with equity!
    Even if I just become more apt to spend MY (not your) HRR funds somewhere else and it happens that others ‘catch the vision’ for the same idea - Do you not think that such actions could diminish the size and scope of the very world the owners have come to ‘control’ (and in which you players are seeking to take ‘your share’)?

    It may be time for the NHL (&PA) to reset your thinking because, beyond a certain point (like the average wage of the people who watch you), the share that both of you ‘want’ - is actually ours (and that of the communities in which we live).

    Just because you reach into our living spaces and pockets with your well-researched ability to move us to buy your product, does not mean you actually deserve the ungodly BILLIONS that you are extracting from others… you are really not THAT special… Now – are you?!

    A word for your consideration – Perhaps both advertised sides of this dispute could step back and find out whether the cash cow you’re milking is healthy enough to produce the funds you want to extract from us.

    What if you are contributing to the demise of the very golden goose over which you are fighting?

    What if WE really can’t take it anymore?
    We do like you players and your skills… but not THAT much.

    Perhaps my life will become (or be restored) to a more well-rounded perspective that will put you in your rightful place – that of an unnecessary service that is entirely dependent upon my interest for its survival.

    Thank you for diminishing my interest in you because of your squabbling over millions, while I wonder if I’ll reach my first million sometime in this decade (now, my sixth) – your minimum salary gives you that in 2 years. Boy did I pick the wrong focus in life, that is –

    IF the money you extract from us has been done with care and honour.

    If not so done, perhaps you people should realize you’re just distracting us, while participating in the same large-scale extraction of (and from) our lives and resources that ultimately serves none but the few psychopaths that would decimate our world to satisfy their insatiable appetites.

    Perhaps you could choose to be beloved for the GAME you play well and ignore the bigger picture - and that, it would appear, is something you are also quite good at.

    Rant endeth...

  4. There's a tremendous amount to think on in your posts today, InTimeFor62. I won't try to address the many and diverse (and well-made) points that you direct at all sides in this dispute. Hopefully this outlet provided a forum to share your worthwhile thoughts- and allowed you to vent a bit, as well! Thanks, InTimeFor62.

  5. "who or which side is annoying you the most at this point?"

    Let me put it this way:

    The only thing more annoying than the lockout is the endless sportscast discussions of the lockout.

    Every day, be it Blue Lunch or somewhere else, I can easily hear an hour of talk about the lockout. It's gotten to the point that I can't listen or watch TV or radio live. I have to record or grab a podcast and forward to the part where they stop talking about Fehr and Bettman.

    I just wish one sportscast would say: "The lockout is still not settled, so we have nothing to say about that... but we've got lots of highlights from the rest of the hockey world...KHL, AHL, WHL, OHL, and QMHL..."

    I've gotten to the point of questioning myself about spending so much time on being a sports fan. In the grand scheme of things, being sports fan really doesn't have that much meaning. It's just entertainment and there are other forms of entertainment.

    In fact, I feel a little bit guilty about how much time I have spent on this activity. I have come to the conclusion that I should pay less attention to hockey and devote more of my free time to developing some really rare and unique expertise in one particular area of my profession. In the grand scheme of things that would have more meaning than the NHL.

    Mr. Bettman and Mr Fehr need to realize that they shouldn't stop the entertainment long enough for us to ponder whether there are more meaningful things to do with our time.

  6. I saw that someone on Twitter today said that they can't stand listening to Hockey Central or one of these mid-day hockey shows anymore, either, I think for the same reasons you mention, DP. It's just so much talk about the same old, discouraging topic.

    I wanted to give people a chance to vent today. Like InTimeFor62, you did much more than that- you provided thoughtful comments that a lot of us can relate to. Thanks.

  7. I might find it impossible to answer your question without inserting some sentiment on the lockout, and who I blame most for it. In the end, I have a hard time separating who annoys me most with whom I have the most disdain and mistrust.

    That said, Bettman and Daly do in fact annoy me the most. Just a couple days ago, I posted that I felt as though the two sides were finally talking the same language, and they may finally be able to hammer out a deal. What I was too naive to see, however, was that the NHL was not really negotiating. They were putting an offer out there, take it or leave it. Say what you will about players being overpaid, greedy, and out of touch with reality. That does not change the fact that they simply cannot accept a proposal that takes, takes, and takes, with nothing given in return. That is Contract Negotiations 101. Unless the NHL could show proof that the league as a whole is losing money instead of making money, it makes no sense whatsoever to demand the players' signatures on the dotted line on a deal that gives no concessions to the players.

    To fit my response in the framework of why Bettman and Daly annoy me, it is because they have been patently disingenuous. I can get past the focus group they hired to gauge fan opinion, and I can see through the general posturing that occurs on both sides of the table. For the NHL to put this offer out in such a public fashion, smiling and trying to sell the public on a notion that this offer is too good to be true, is the most dishonest thing we have seen yet. Admittedly, they gave a good sell to the casual fan who hasn't kept up on all the details. All it was, however, was a power play against the union, meant to turn fans against them.

    I do believe the NHL wants this ended, and of course they would love a full 82 games of revenue to flow in this season. But they are not prepared at this point to negotiate anything fair with the players. It is more important to the NHL to squeeze as much out of this contract as they can, than it is to give the fans their hockey.

  8. Both sides are equally annoying to me. I do not appreciate the NHL and the NHLPA talking down to us in an effort to garner support. The CBA should not be about winning or losing but about what is best for the sport.

    I resent that the players are trying to sell the fallacy that they are a put upon union being bullied by greedy owners who wish to take away money that is rightfully theirs. I know of no union that allows their members to hire independent agents to negotiate for them individually. The purpose of the NHLPA is to negotiate a framework under which the players can then go out and get the best deal for themselves.

    I resent players who suddenly become fan friendly when they want something (ie public sympathy for their position in order to exert pressure on the owners).

    I resent the owners who try to spin their 50-50 proposition as eminately fair (what could be fairer than 50-50?) but are vague on 50% of what (HRR has not been completely defined).

    I resent the owners who give out ridiculous contracts and then cry poor.

    I resent the owners, players and agents whose greed has caused ticket prices to increase approximately 5200% over the past 60 years despite a dilution of the product (Leafs prices for an upper level seat have gone from $1.50 to $79: 1962 to 2112).

    I resent the two oily Bozos who seem to have turned this into personal contest. I am sick of seeing their faces, I am sick of hearing their blather. They are not serving their principals well and are not in any way acting in the best interests of the game or their clients, the fans.

    You are spot on, Michael in saying both sides are playing a dangerous game. It was Jim who commented that "If they throw away another season hockey will survive, but just barely". I totally agree. I sense an undercurrent of resentment that was not present formerly. InTimeFor62 has summed up my thoughts (and I suspect those of many others) in his thoughtful comments above. Time is running out for both sides to salvage their product. Even if they were to come to agreement today it would take an enourmous amount of damage control to retain their fan base.

  9. I hear you loud and clear, Pete. You always have a thoughtful perspective on the subjects we discuss here, so I can't take issue with what you are saying with regard to the owners/Bettman/Daly and the way they are conducting a very peculiar approach to negotiation. Thanks for chiming in.

  10. You've covered this topic thoughtfully and well, PeteCam. Yes, I think you're right, it was Jim who made the comment I was referring to in my post. And agreed, InTimeFor62's impassioned comments touched me as well.

    I saw reference to a post elsewhere that the issue is not greed, but simply "business" and negotiation tactics. That may be accurate on one level, but what fans "see" and "feel" is, in so many ways, more important than the "reality" of the process, if indeed it is just "business" having to be business.

    This will linger not only with players and owners for a long time, and possibly damage relationships and trust there, but it will linger with us, the fans, as well.

    Thanks PeteCam.

  11. Hi Michael,

    During the last lockout, despite my intense dislike for Gary Bettman, I could see that change was required. The league got pretty much everything that they wanted that time around.

    Since then we have been subjected to that annoying little man reminding us constantly of the remarkable job that he has done. Despite having a finite amount of seats, attendance managed to rise month over month, year after year. The Winter Classic, that ridiculous game played in often dangerous conditions which doesn't resemble hockey in the slightest, was second only to the Superbowl in interest. Record revenues were achieved annually. The shootout had the world on the edge of their seats.

    The owners managed to sign absolutely ridiculous contracts for no reason other than they could. They created the CBA and then broke into focus groups to see how they could work around it. The capologist was born. And in the background Gary was holding a press conference trumpeting yet another landmark season.

    I don't care how long they are out or if they ever come back for that matter.

    Want I do want is for the owners to be on the hook for every nickel of every stupid contract that they have signed. I want contracts that get buried in the minors to count against the cap. I want all of the back diving contracts to count against the cap regardless of whether or not a player is still active. Then and only then will these idiots stop breaking the system. And perhaps we won't have to have scheduled lockouts anymore.

    I have already found other things to do. If I want to watch hockey there are tons of junior teams in the area. The hockey is good, it is affordable and we don't have to put up with a commissioner that is bigger than the game.



  12. Hi Mike,

    Most annoying thing, especially in the last week, has been the inconsistensy of the NHL's message. At various times Daly has said there's a deal to be made within the framework of the players latest proposal. Then Bettman or Daly turn around and say that last Tuesday's deal is the their best offer. Which is it?

    These morons (excuse my language), NHL and NHLPA, are now 200 million apart per season. Over the life of a 6 year deal that amount to 1.2 billion. Does it make sense to lose 3 billion in combined revenues for this?

    My 16 month old daughter knows (i tested it) that she's better of taking 4 cheerios instead of 5 when the alternative is none at all. Why can't these guys?

  13. I agree that the owners should have to pay out all the contracts they originally signed in good faith, Brad (cbh747).

    You've hit the nail on the head with your comments. The more we all find other things to do with our "leisure" time (or turn it into more useful time, perhaps!) the better.

    If more of us, myself included, just ignored this mess, they both may get a message...

    Thanks Brad, well said.

  14. Your last sentence is gold, Alex- and says it all, and simply. Thanks.

  15. Michael
    Terrific post including many well thought out comments. Leaves little to add. Would like to think NHL and Players Association follows this blog, but certainly doesn't seem so.

    Only thing worse than constant lockout analysis, is what we here in USA are going thru with Obama/Romney. In reality, we have been having presidential race for 4 years, not 90 days like Canada.

    Here is topic I haven't seen discussion on. It would appear that the 'real' fan has been cast aside in favor of the corporate fan by all major sports (I took a look at cost of renting a box in ACC - wow!!). While I occasionally benefitted from such an arrangement in my Toronto days, when you look at it objectively, did I really deserve it over the real diehard fans who increasingly can't afford to attend a game. How many of VLM followers actually attend NHL games?
    I wonder how the corporate tickets would sell if they were no longer tax deductible??? Note: many governments becoming insolvent here in USA.

    I am not worried about no NHL hockey, I have just joined Netflix and there are many movies I have not seen before.

    Most of us will survive without hockey.

  16. I so concur with your reference to the reality of politics in the United States, RLMcC. I remember when Clinton was first elected, watching one of the PBS weekly public affairs shows. Within weeks of his taking office, they were already debating what he had to do to get elected THE NEXT TIME. That's a constant in U.S. political coverage, it seems.

    And you're absolutely right about "real" fans. That's why I've tried to say here that every kid that ever listened to a game on his little transistor under the pillow at night, or bought hockey cards, contributed and now contributes to the revenues these two sides take in. But they could not possibly care less about "real" hockey fans, because we're small potatoes compared with the corporate money.

    But corporations, while made of up individuals, rarely have "heart" when it comes to cheering for and truly supporting teams. There is no passion.

    I'm with you, as these guys push us closer to the cliff, we really will live happily without it. Thanks RLMcC.

  17. michael as a hockey historian, maybe you can enlighten me... prior to the lock-out a few years ago, and the current one... when was the last huge NHL strike? i mean, i don't recall hearing my dad talk about how the leafs didn't play for a year here and there in the 60's/70's, and those players certainly weren't being paid multimillion dollars. so where did this transition from entertainment to a full-on business/lawyer/$$$-machine?

  18. You pose an important question, Alex C....I don't have the academic credentials like true sports historians, but as I recall, beyond the hockey realm, things changed when Curt Flood (in baseball) challenged the reserve clause after he was traded in the late 1960s. He was absolutely right, though the courts did not support him, if I remember correctly. Then there were incidents like (owner) Charlie Finley missing contract offer deadlines, which helped trigger free-agency and players like pitcher Andy Messersmith started the charge to fee-agency. (I think an arbitrator's decision was in there somewhere as well).

    In hockey, agents like Alan Eagleson joined the fray in the late 1960s. The WHA led to a further surge in player contracts.

    But I sense your real question is simply: when did hockey become mostly a business, as opposed to a sport? I guess TV, money, agents, ego, historical distrust, disingenuous owners and a generation of "me first" kids from well-meaning parents have conspired to lead us to where we are. And I know I'm missing lots of other influences and turning points, as well.

    Short answer, Alex- I'm not sure when it happened. But it's not changing back....Thanks.

  19. thanks for the information michael! i remember the MLB strike in the mid-90's and being so disappointed (since the blue jays were still a powerful team at the time... when the strike was over it seemed they lost their energy/momentum (and a few key players of course)). baseball was never the same for me after that.

  20. I'm personally past any dismay. Or rather, I never truly became annoyed because the current situation is what I fully expected, back when the poor, struggling owners were throwing insane money at free agents this past summer, now saying the salaries are out of hand. So I'm definitely not pro-owner, although generally not much pro-player, either. Although views like Valtteri Filppula saying he's not worried too much over losing some pay at this point, as long as the future CBA would be a long one. Now that's something I can agree with.

    But I don't really care at this point, for several reasons. Partially because I'm not deprived of hockey, I was following the Finnish league before NHL, and I still do. Also, had the Leafs come off a strong season, I'd probably feel a bit more distressed about the lack of NHL, but oh well...

    So NHL can come back when they are good and ready, I wouldn't want anyone to feel pressured or anything. I'll get my hockey fill from Finland and with the occasional Marlies game, and as I also follow a few European soccer leagues pretty closely, I'm going to be just fine.

    As to would a shortened season be acceptable for me? Sure, as long as there were enough games, say, at least around 60% of the regular season and full playoffs. Comparing a shortened NHL regular season to Premier League doesn't really work, as the latter doesn't have playoffs. It's just the season, and the most points win the big one.

    And by the way, loved the Beavis and Butthead analogy, that's about the size of it.

  21. PeteCam has an excellent overview for you in today's post, Alex C. - check it out!

  22. And there is so much good soccer right now that there is plenty to follow in one's leisure time, CGLN. (I agree with your point about the Premier League...I was probably just trying to create an example on the fly...not the best one!)

    I do hope it gets settled at some point, but I think a lot of people won't ever quite "feel" the same, even if the games resume.....Thanks for chiming in on this one, CGLN.

  23. What likely annoys me the most during this whole saga is the amount of people I know who continue to say there is 'no hockey' on and make no effort to watch other leagues like the AHL, CHL and yes even the KHL. Those options certainly aren't as easily accessible or pretty as the NHL is on television, but in this day and age they are readily available across many pages on the Internet.

    At this point I have resigned myself to desiring that they wipe out the entire season so I can exclusively focus on the Marlies. They don't get the attention or viewership they deserve during your regularly scheduled NHL season despite being in such a hockey hotbed. This is a unique opportunity to watch Leafs prospects grow where we would normally wait until they have grown to be NHL ready before we've ever given them a second look.

  24. Thanks RJ- the current situation with the Marlies reminds me a bit of the way things were in the early '60s, when the Leafs had two junior "farm" teams - in St. Mike's and the Marlies - just down the street (in fact, they often played games at the Gardens, Sunday double-headers, etc...).

    You're absolutely right- there is some very good hockey out there to enjoy....

  25. I'm not really a historian either, but as to Alex's question about when did it become a business, it kind of always was I think. I mean I think we romanticize it a bit, the old days, but it kind of always was about making money.

    In the 1970s, you had guys like Ballard, installing smaller seats to get more butts in the Gardens, painting the old reds 'gold' to create a new price level, etc. And Bill Wirtz in Chicago keeping home Blackhawk games off TV in order to try to ensure the Chicago Stadium was always sold out (instead of people being able to watch for free at home).

    But even back in the day... players were bought and sold, contracts purchased or sold to minor league teams. Tex Rickard only really got into owning a hockey team to try to fill dates and make gate money when he didn't have boxing scheduled at Madison Square. And the hockey team wasn't any priority, as evidenced by the way the Rangers were booted from MSG every spring to make way for Ringling Brothers circus (which was a huge money maker for MSG).

    I think it's mostly because we have such access these days. It's a long way from the days when newspaper reporters basically wrote whatever soft story was fed them by the PR department.

    As for who I am disappointed in... no one specifically anymore. I think I am resigned to the NHL being out for a year at least, They may prove me wrong, but I doubt I'll be any more excited about a 50 or 60 game season. I really don't hold the NHL in high regard... yes there's the history and all that, but I kind of have a disconnect now between the Leafs of my youth (the Sittler-McDonald-Salming years and the Clark-Olczyk-Gilmour-Andreychuk-Sundin years) and the way the league is now. Then again, maybe i am just more nostalgic for the past and disheartened by the present and future.

  26. No question there was always a business component to the NHL, Mark, and as you cite, it was mostly owners who were looking out for their own interests and had little loyalty toward most of their players. You're right, Chicago had regressive ownership. Gordie Howe didn't know he was not paid as well as some teammates and other lesser NHL'ers when he was still the best player in hockey in the late 1960s. The owners ran over the players and kept them in the dark.

    As for the present, you touch on on a sentiment that may create a disconnect for many fans going forward. A lot of us may find it hard to have the same "feeling" for players and teams after we have seen the display of greed from both sides.

    Thanks Mark.