Speaking of free agency math...

Well, since we have a gap here until something else interesting happens or I come up with some other off the wall topic, I was wondering if it's too soon or even relevant to discuss everyone's final thoughts on the lockout. In general, considering that there seemingly was no consequence to the NHL, owners or players for having a lockout, I'm starting to think that having a lockout at the end of each CBA will now just be an event that is used by everyone to get a bit of a reset and sorta start over. From the players, they lose some money, but it also gives extra time to heal up from injuries, get some extra training in and if you are in the upper echelon of players, you get to take a paid European vacation to play some hockey. From the owners side, they also lose money while games aren't being played. However, coming out of the lockout, they know they will have a lower salary cap and will get some level of clawback. The fans, of course, get bitter and uppity at being taken for granted, but as TV ratings and league revenue show, we have every reason to be taken for granted. We WILL come back, no matter what and the NHL knows that. Put all that together and we know the script for the end of the next CBA. Kinda shitty, but I think that's exactly how it goes.

Here in Vegas, my friend and defensive partner Joey was quite outspoken against the players and after many spirited debates, I came to agree with at least part of what he is saying. At the center of his way of looking at things is the reality that ultimately, the players will and even MUST lose something to get the season back underway. And while it is distasteful to give something up, another reality is that it is guaranteed that a handful of stupid rich owners will promptly drive all salaries sky high again. Therefore, it is ridiculous for us as fans to be held hostage by a relatively smaller number of players who are looking at making perhaps 45 million over a career instead of the 50 million they were promised. Factually, there is a lot of reality in this outlook. Players WILL give something back to end lockouts and owners WILL promptly recreate the situation that caused the lockout. Looking at what just happened with the buyouts and subsequent resignings this summer, it seems almost like there wasn't even a lockout.

At the start of the lockout and even after, I had quite a bit of bitterness towards the owners. When Craig Leopold cry's poormouth and then signs the contracts he did I feel like the owners SHOULD be punished for their stupidity. A contract is a contract. When you sign one, you should honor it and the fact that owners bitched the players were making too much just didn't sit well with me and still doesn't. Their fear, of course, is that if they don't outstupid the other owners, they will lose out on getting the players they think they need. Not every owner acts this way, but the ones that do go to such a ridiculous extreme that everyone else pays the price for it. Offer sheet on Weber anyone? Though the cap puts a teeny teeny bit of restraint on owners, the get out of jail buyouts rewarded here will probably also be an expected thing of the future. Think about it, some owner could sign a ridiculous contract this year and still jettison it next year. As messed up as this line of thinking is, I'm almost hoping Lecavalier gets bought out again and earns more money for not playing then he does FOR playing.

By the end of the lockout, I pretty much hated both the players and the owners and wanted them both to just STFU and finish their money spat and start playing again. After hearing tweets like Roy's about his Lamborghini and seeing the skilled players abandon their union partners here to go play hockey elsewhere, I lost a lot of respect for the players. Ultimately, the top players and the owners with the deepest pockets have a lot in common, they will get what benefits them the most and the rest of the owners and players will live according to whatever the top agrees amongst themselves. Pretty much like the real world. Surprisingly, I thought the players walked away from this deal in much better shape then the owners did. Teams that signed long term deals, like the Hawks and others, are still in trouble for contracts they didn't buy out. It worked out great this year for us. Four years from now? Who knows. I have to admit I don't have much to bitch about as I was one of the sheep who came running back, especially when the Hawks got off to such a good start. While I still retain a lot of high falutin thoughts about the morality of it all, I've kind of come to accept that lockouts are probably going to be necessary from here on out.

Talk amongst yourselves.

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  • I was just at a hockey pro shop not far outside of Chicago (not enough in the city), to buy some new skates, and it was really freaking busy. No one was available to help me. Keep in mind that this was a Wednesday afternoon at around 1. I was shocked.

    Luckily, I started working at a pro shop when I was 14 and knew the ropes, so I pretty much helped myself. But, the guy working there said it has been this busy since the Hawks won the Cup, and that the same thing happened in 2010. New fans, new kids wanting to be Patrick Kane and Johnny Toews, buying new equipment. It is a good thing for hockey. I will wait an extra 30 minutes for hockey.

    You bring up something that I think has been on all of our minds at some point in recent weeks. The lockout, and how we are now supposed to feel about it. Listen, I think curbing some of the wall street, corporate "free market" greed is long overdue, and I also think that regulation to do so is coming (very slowly). Sorry if regulation is a scary word for you (I understand), but it is necessary and coming, so let's just make it smoother and talk about how to do it, not whether or not we should.

    With that said, I know, it doesn't even feel like there was a lockout given some of the deals made. This is most likely the result of a huge money making season for the NHL even in a shortened one. There is money to be made in this sport. These finals were the most watched in history. Maybe Sports Illustrated had something right when they put the Hawks on the cover for saving hockey.

    Like you said, we all came running back. So what to do about all the greed and idiocy that allows a small percentage of people to profit while others carry the burden? Social evolution. This problem is far beyond hockey, and I need to keep my faith in the sport (not anything else), just the sport, and it was the sport and hard work of many players that rewarded this sport this year. Our job is to keep promoting social memes that stand for the common good, and ethics that promote a healthy system. No one does anything alone, and we can't fix the NHL crap. But, if enough people start thinking a certain way, and that catches on, and people start acting accordingly, we will see change.

    No one builds anything alone. Everything requires influence, and anyone near the top is standing on the shoulders of everyone below them. Any good system creates a balanced flow of capital, pure and simple (in a consumer economy, people need money to consume). Be the change, preach a better way, and if and when it catches on, things will change. For now, I will enjoy my hockey games, and the growth of the sport. Hopefully that growth will suspend a future lockout.

  • In reply to Hostile Hawk:

    After having a front row seat at the Board of Trade while the financial world lost its freaking mind, I welcome regulation and strong regulation at that at. Free markets and sports are supposed to be about competition. To be human, however, is to hate losing and typically, this spawns a willingness to skirt the rules if it will bring an advantage that the opponent doesn't have. The cap was supposed to block deep pocket teams from just buying a cup or always overpaying for top free agents. But, just like regulations in the real world, the consequence for skirting the cap really wasn't that big of a deal. And since we as fans aren't willing to punish them by shunning them wholeheartedly and hitting their pocket book, they have no incentive to change.

    I think most social change has happened when people organized an effort that made it financially painful to continue bad behavior. I welcome the growth of the sport as well, but I fear it will contribute to more bad behavior when the shared pot of loot is substantially bigger down the road. Like you, I hope a different attitude is in place when the next CBA ends.

  • As a Canadian, I am no stranger to regulation. It protected us somewhat from the worst banking excesses but rule skirting is a way of life. Greed is the creed. To me it comes down to the fact that you can not legislate common sense. Owners will always spend stupid amounts of money on players. They are the game's worst enemies. Think Luongo's deal. What were they
    thinking ?

    Players get what they can because the money is being made off their efforts and you are an injury away from making squat.

    I rest my hopes on more franchises realizing success is about development of as many draft choices that you can acquire and being smart about how many franchise players you award the substantial cash rewards required to keep them.

  • In reply to Pilotefan:

    I like your third para. I've never been rich, but since my early thirties, thankfully, I can't say that there has been a period where I didn't know where my next meal was coming from. As a broker, I made three times what I make as a hospice nurse and what I've learned is that when I made more money, I felt much less secure then I do now and I bitched a lot more about taxes and people "making a buck off me". Outwardly, I look at these guys and I think, "When you make 5 million dollars a year for five years straight, would another 2 million a year have made any real difference in the way you live?" Inwardly, if I was in their shoes, I tend to think I would believe the question is irrelevant and that the only thing that matters is I deserve it.

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