Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Ask and You Shall Receive

Earlier today, one of my favorite posters, Anonymous, asked for some comments on Jeremy Roenick's remarks about hockey fans, or really more accurately "to" hockey fans. Now, at first I had no idea what anonymous was talking about, so I had to look it up. Here's what he said:
""I will say personally, personally, to everybody who calls us spoiled - you guys are just jealous... We're trying to get this thing back on the ice and make it better for the fans. If you don't realize that, then don't come. We don't want you in the rink, we don't want you in the stadium, we don't want you to watch hockey."
He also said this:
"If we would have signed that deal in February, in terms of what we're getting now, we would have looked like heroes. Right now we look like a bunch of idiots. The deal in February beats the (expletive) out of the deal we're gonna sign in July. It's unfortunate we had to go through a whole year to realize the (expletive) that was going on. We've hurt our league, we've hurt the reputation of our league and the integrity of our league by sticking up for something that might not have been the right thing to do."
As to the first set of comments, which I think were actually second chronologically, but they're the first comments I ran across, I think he went a little overboard rhetorically. Obviously it's not very good business strategy to tell all of your customers to piss off. But quite honestly, the one hockey discussion site that I used to visit until I couldn't take the stupidity any longer were all VERY anti-player. It was all the fault of the greedy players, and sure the owners signed offered the deals, but it's the greedy players who accepted them. And as long as there are rogue teams like the Rangers and Capitals and St. Louis Blues (mid-90s version) signing players to huge contracts, how can teams like Calgary and Tampa Bay compete (pay no attention to the most recent Stanley Cup Final). And the owners are sure to lower ticket prices as soon as salaries go down, because they're all such benevolent human beings. Gag me. And let's face it, fans are jealous. Hell, I'm jealous. But I don't begrudge those guys what they make. It's how the market works. Everyone likes to trot out the "but teachers and firemen only make....." B.S., but (and I say this as someone with a family full of teachers) until 16,000 people per night pay $30 to watch my brother teach, he shouldn't be making as much as a pro-athlete. They have skills that society values for entertainment, and they're paid accordingly.

Essentially what we had last year was a group of owners saying "oops, we broke the system, and the only way to fix it is to have you guys bend over and let us shove a new labor agreement up your asses." The difference between this and the baseball strike, however, was that the owners had leverage. They actually had screwed up the system so bad that some of them actually were probably telling the truth about their losses. But this was never about getting a fair deal. This, and every other labor negotiation in professional sports (except for maybe basketball) has been about one thing and one thing only - busting the union.

But I digress. I think the second group of quotes is a pretty accurate statement. Much as I hate pretty much all of them, the owners hung together, passed up some very good deals that would have salvaged the season, got the players to capitulate on a number of issues, and now stand poised to sign a deal that really makes the union their collective bitch, assuming of course that hockey survives.

The irony in the stance taken by the pro-owner fans is that the deal really solves nothing. Ticket prices may come down initially, but that's not due to lower labor costs. It's due to lower demand, the result of practically destroying the league. And the lament that the low revenue teams couldn't compete because perennial cup hoisters like the Rangers were going to steal all of their players will just be sung to a different tune. As a Kings fan, this really pisses me off, because they've got a bevy of young, talented players in the pipeline. If those guys pan out, they'll be gone because of the cap. What's the point in building for the future if it means you're forced to let some of your best players go due to the salary cap? It's gonna hurt when it happens, but there will be some serious schadenfreude when guys like Visnsovsky, Gleason, and Brown are shipped out because of cap restraints. Be careful what you wish for.

I'm of two minds about the (hopefully) upcoming hockey season. On the one hand, I love hockey, and I love the Kings, so I'm looking forward to it with great anticipation. On the other hand, hockey still has huge problems, including owners who are far too short-sided to make real improvements to the game, like increasing the size of the ice. No long term vision for the sport. And with the new labor deal, I'll have a hard time finding any part of the last shred of respect I had for management.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Anonymous rocks!