Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Donkey Land
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Dater's a bit overdramatic at times, but here's a pretty good blog that shows the frustration even beat writers are feeling over this whole thing.
Gary Bettman shows exasperation over stalled (again) NHL CBA talks
I took my share of grief for doing so from some players and some others affiliated with the NHL Players Association today over some tweets that might have seemed, at first glance, as if from the public relations office of Gary B. Bettman.
“Traitor Dater”, one of them called me. It’s fine, I understand. Can’t please everybody all the time. Been called a lot worse.
But, sorry, it’s the way I felt today. Tomorrow could be totally different. But today, I was on the NHL management’s side. Yes, that means I was on the side of this man:
(pic at the link)
That’s Jeremy Jacobs, the inspirational owner of the Boston Bruins, the man who reportedly made employees of his organization that received 2011 Stanley Cup championship rings pay the income taxes on them. (I checked with lots who got them from the Avalanche, in 1996 and 2001, and that never happened).
But, as much self-loathing as I feel currently taking the same position toward a labor dispute as this man, I have to do it.
I want to keep this brief, because most serious readers of this blog probably know all the details from today. But a couple of added comments from me:
- If it’s true, as Bettman said in his address tonight and which Donald Fehr alluded to as well, that the pension plan is now the biggest issue for the NHLPA, a couple things: 1. Why was it only two days ago that the NHLPA agreed to restore the pensions (or more technically, a “senior assistance plan”) of its older members – coincidentally, right after Damien Cox of the Toronto Star and James Murphy of ESPNBoston.com came out with stories documenting the hardships of legends of the sport like Milt Schmidt? Here is a 94-year-old man who helped build the NHL, living in an old-folks home, admitting that he very much needed the $12,000 a year stipend that threatened to be cut off if no CBA agreement was reached. Sure thing – it was high on the agenda of the PA all along, just a coincidence that it happened right after those stories came out. Uh huh.
2. If Donald Fehr was truthful in saying how close the sides were in his press conference tonight, why did he want to bring in federal mediators earlier in the day? Does that sound normal, bringing in mediators when you’re really close? We’ve heard some spin on this matter since from NHL players such as Ron Hainsey, but the old cliche remains true: this doesn’t pass the smell test. Hainsey essentially says, “Hey, we’re just dumb players, we needed the mediators to come in and wrap up this deal.”
Ron, can I ask a dumb question here: Why do you employ such a smart guy like Donald Fehr, if mediators – not him – need to come in and close a deal?
3. Look, I’m not saying Bettman isn’t without suspicion here too. We’ve all been burned too many times before in him professing doom and gloom, only to magically re-appear with a better offer. But when he said the “make whole” provisions for this season were “off the table” now, I have no reason to doubt him. The players believed his off-the-table proclamations in 2004-05 were just bluffs, and we know how that turned out.
4. Why are players so hung up over contract-length issues? I don’t have the exact numbers on this – yet – but my initial review of contracts throughout the league reveals this: only about 7 percent – SEVEN percent – of all current league contracts are five years or more in length. I’m probably off by a percent or two.
You really want to throw away your season over this, NHL players? Over an issue in which only seven percent or so of the membership benefits?
Why is Cody McLeod sitting home, making no money, fighting for this issue? More important, do you think any future player is going to come back and thank McLeod for sticking up for him on this issue? Not gonna happen. Just ask Milt Schmidt.
5. Some people I know in the biz, who really truly love this game, basically are at the point of tears now over this. This lockout has torn some people up. People whose livelihoods depend on this game are literally in tears, their frustration just immense.
And that’s another reason why I had an anti-NHLPA/Fehr day. That passive-aggressive, soulless look on his face as he delivered tonight’s news brought some people to their knees in frustration. As I wrote before, I’d love to see Fehr actually have to be a union leader for a real, honest-to-goodness union from the reality-based community. Maybe then he’d show a little human emotion over the hardships this whole thing is causing a lot of people. Many times, I’ve thought: “The fans and the media care more about this than the principals involved – and they don’t deserve us.”
Yes, the same can be applied to Gary Bettman, and anybody who has read me for a while knows I’ve ripped him hard before too.
But at least Bettman looked like he cared tonight. Was he acting? Maybe, but it it didn’t seem like it – and he definitely looks like he’s aged some in the last couple months over this.
The NHL Players have to ask themselves, really and truly: you still think this is worth it? You really want to keep playing chicken with these guys, when they have shown before they’re willing to go off the cliff? Does it always have to be about the last goddamn dollar, always?
I feel so embarrassed for myself sometimes that I’m still jerked into feeling like I should care about these guys, when really all I want to do – and I know I’m not alone – is say:
“Shame on every last (bleeping) one of you.”