Saturday, December 29, 2012

Snap Shot Post: An Unexpected Surprise

I went to check the mail and there was a package. I knew some of my family had stuff to mail me, so I figured it was that. Looking at the address label...I don't have any family members named Michelle. This is odd. Traverse City? I don't have any family living in Traverse City.

Actually I'm wrong. I do have family living in Traverse City, and her name is Michelle. She's just not a blood relative. She's part of my Red Wings family. Friend, podcast partner in crime, vicious Todd Bertuzzi defender Michelle

Kind of blurry picture, but it reads: "Please enjoy some Winter Lockout cookies. Don't worry, the Leafs one isn't authentic, so it doesn't taste like bitter disappointment"

Christmas hockey cookies and a Maple Leafs zinger? I really have some great friends and the Red Wings really have the best fans.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Dollar Hotdog Power Hour Podcast: Episode 4

It's time for more Mrazek boners and Samuelsson hate! This is Episode 4!
I decided the logo needed to come back

In this installment myself, Kevin and Michelle have brought in our good friend Josh Howard. They give me a nice update on the performance of the Grand Rapids Griffins, we all take some shots and share some thoughts on Riley Sheahan's Super Drunk performance, take turns venting our frustrations on the collapse of CBA negotiations and the continued lockout, and Kevin calls everyone stupid.

Also, find out about Michelle and yanking her crank and enjoy an awkward conversation about Hebrew National Hotdogs.

As per usual, you should totally follow them all on Twitter, and check out Kevin and Michelle's blogs. Josh does a lot of work for Winging it in Motown as well as doing movie poster work for Nightmare on Helm Street.

I've hopefully gotten a bit better with balancing volume and sound quality, although you will hear me receive an instant message about 10 or 15 minutes in. Regardless, we hope you enjoy it. Share it will your friends, family and complete strangers. They'll appreciate it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Diverging from Hockey: The Newtown Shootings

I'm sure there'll be people out there who feel as though I have no business writing and commenting on the tragedy that happened in Newtown, Connecticut. "You're a hockey blogger! Why does your opinion matter!? Shut up and talk about hockey and lockout!". Well, I'm also a human being, for starters. I'm also a teacher. My wife is a teacher. My sister-in-law is a teacher. My grandmother was a teacher. My mother works at a secretary in the high school I graduated from. Did I mention I was a human being?

It doesn't make me an authority on gun control, mental health services, or politics. But I do have perhaps a better understanding than some people on all of those things, and I'm certainly entitled to share my thoughts on it. Sure, last night I recorded a podcast, but posting that today seems trivial and stupid. I'll post it soon, to be sure, because we do have to get back to our lives. But I wanted to take the time to consider what happened today, and hopefully the handful of people who read this will take some time, as well.

1) Anyone who says "Now is not the time to talk about gun control" is an idiot: Technically, they're correct, because the time to talk about gun control was really before these shootings happen. Certainly to say "We need to ban all guns because of Newtown" is being insensitive and is really not intellectually sound. But to also say we shouldn't talk about gun control because that would be insensitive in this time of tragedy is even more intellectually unsound. And it's really dishonest. Equally dishonest are people who say people are going to "use this tragedy to justify taking away gun rights!" as if that is somehow uncommon or unacceptable.

We "use tragedies" to justify things all the time. We used September 11th as a reason to enter into two wars in two countries. We used it to justify the PATRIOT Act. There are intellectual ways to argue for and against those policies, but let's not forget they were motivated, at least in part, by an emotional response to a tragic event.

So yes, let's "use this tragedy" to talk about gun control. Now is the time to have these kinds of discussion. We cannot keep putting it off.

2) I don't care what the discussion yields as much as I care about the discussion: I doubt that a serious discussion about gun control is going to come to the conclusion that we should have more guns and looser restrictions. However, if that is the conclusion we come to as a nation, and if that conclusion comes from a place of informed discussion with facts and statistics and expert analysis, so be it.

Those who we might characterize as "pro-gun" - which isn't really accurate because there's people who like guns who want tighter restrictions - have to be comfortable with the possibility that gun laws need to be more restrictive and could become more restrictive. Meanwhile, "gun control advocates" - which is also not entirely accurate - need to be comfortable that the laws could move in the opposite direction. However, the fact that you might "lose the argument", so to speak, is no excuse to avoid having the argument. If you oppose having this argument, for any reason what-so-ever, you are a coward and your argument is invalid.

3) Alongside the conversation about guns, we need to have a conversation about mental health: There are people who argue that guns are simply tools, and the violence doesn't come from the guns but from the people wielding the guns. I personally don't totally buy that argument, however it isn't completely wrong either. Yes, there is a mechanism called a safety on a gun that prevents it from firing, however anyone who has ever fired a gun will tell you that for that to happen, the shooter has to decide to shoot, and they have to mechanically operate the trigger to make the gun fire.

Misfires do happen, and they do occasionally cause injuries and death, but certainly cannot be considered in today's tragedy.

I think we can all agree that in order for someone to walk into a school and start shooting, that person has to be mentally ill or deranged in some manner. Whether it's manic depression, schizophrenia or extreme and misguided religious zealotry, nobody of sound mind would do what was done today. It is entirely possible that this person's weapon of choice is irrelevant. Maybe he was so fucked up in the brain that he would have used an axe, or a knife, or a bomb or whatever to do the terrible things he did.

We have to decide, as a nation, that recognizing people in mental and emotional trouble and getting them help will play a major role in curbing violence. Whether it's due to physical trauma or just emotional and mental illness, if we truly want to keep these things from happening, if we want to stop families from collapsing and relationships from exploding, we have to do a better job of treating people with mental illness distress.

Part of this is going to be creating an atmosphere where people who're suffering have to be comfortable with acknowledging their problems. Especially men. If your leg is broken and there's people around to help you,  you have no problem asking for and accepting help. If your brain is broken, there have to be people around to help you, and you have to be able to ask for help. Otherwise, your leg will turn to gangrene and you'll die, and your mind will turn to darkness, and a lot of people can die. Or you can die. Either way it doesn't end well.

4) Anyone who interviewed a student, or allowed an interview of a student to happen, or showed an interview of a student on TV or the Internet should be ashamed of themselves

These are children. Elementary school children. They were just shot at. They had classmates, parents, teachers and administrators shot and wounded and killed. As many as 30 people died, and these kids, to one degree or another, were witness to that.

Whoever thought, "I should shove a camera and a microphone in their face, mere hours of it happened, and asked them to share their story" is an inhuman monster. That goes for the so-called journalists who did it, to their superiors who authorized those interviews and aired them for people to see, to the parents who allowed their child to be exploited that way.

People should lose their jobs. Parents should be slapped. We're adults, we're supposed to protect children. And while I won't say you failed to do so with regards to the shooting, you certainly failed to do so by exploiting them - which is what these interviews did, they exploited children - in an effort to gain ratings or notoriety.

I don't care that you needed to tell the story, or wanted to bring perspective to the events. You exploited a child. Get fucked.

5) If you are scared, upset, disgusted or enraged by what happened today at the school, you have a very limited set of options

First and foremost, you need to find any way you can to send your love and support to the victims, their families and the community in Newtown. I'm sure the American Red Cross will probably offer services to the area, and hopefully there will be other charities and such offering aid. I'm sure information will be forthcoming of ways you can send assistance. Do so.

Second, you need to be in contact with any elected official that represents you on the state and federal level. Don't know who represents you in the United States House of Representatives or the United States Senate? Well now, you have no excuse because I just showed you how.

To find your state representatives, go to your state government's website or fucking Google it. Let them know that they need to develop gun control laws and mental health services that will address the desperate needs of your state and of this country.

Finally, if you or anyone you know, is suffering from depression or seems to be entertaining sincere or extreme thoughts of violence, please find help. The American Psychological Association has information about dealing with a myriad of problems, including a button that says "Find a Psychologist".

There are people who love you and care about you, and professionals who just want you to be healthy and happy. Let them help you. It could save your family, it could save your friendships, it could save your life and the lives of other people.

And if you still aren't convinced that we, as a country, as human beings, need to react to this, I'll leave you with this thought: There are parents of the estimated 18 children who were murdered today who will, at some point, go to their closet, the trunk of their car, their attic or basement - somewhere in their home - and have to sift through the gifts that they had intended to give their now dead child for Christmas, or Chanukah or just because they loved their son or daughter. And they will have to decide what to do with those gifts instead. In what reality is this something that we, as a species, are comfortable with?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Gary Bettman is a...Oh, you know.

My first post after moving from Colorado, and it has to be like this. It's sort of a mixed blessing, I suppose. On the one hand, I want nothing more than to hear that a deal has been reached and that NHL hockey will be returning to us shortly. On the other, if that were to happen mere days after I leave my home state of Michigan, thus meaning I'd miss out on potential Red Wings games would infuriate me.

In a way, I guess that's sort of symbolic of this whole ordeal, because it seems like no matter what happens we're fucked. Please allow Eric Cartman convey to you how I feel as a hockey fan.

I actually waited to write this because I was livid as things progressed last night and this morning. It was just beyond comprehension to me, so I turned to a buddy of mine who runs his own business - he's a great source of insight into the business world. I posed the following hypothetical question to him:

Let's say you were in a business negotiation of the gravest importance - without a deal you cannot operate your business. The negotiations seem to be going well; progress is being made and compromises appear to be happening. Then one side wants to bring in someone to help round out of the negotiations, and you think that guy is a dick. You just absolutely cannot stand him. Would you continue to negotiate or would you end the talks and pull all of your offers and compromises?

His exact words were that if negotiating a deal, even given the circumstances and the fact that the other guy is a gigantic asshole, were essential for him to conduct his business, "I don't see how I would really have a choice." Meaning that he would absolutely negotiate. 

It would seem that despite that very obvious conclusion, that the National Hockey League felt very differently last night. After Wednesday everybody walked out of the room feeling very positive and those happy vibes cascaded over hockey writers and fans across the continent. Then suddenly everything turned to shit. As details emerged we learned a couple key facts: The PA suggested that they have federal mediators return to the talks, no doubt to help bring compromise to some sticky points of contention that had been brought closer but still not finalized. The NHL said no. The PA also requested that Donald Fehr - AKA the guy they hired to represent them in these negotiations and who is ultimately responsible in presenting offers from the NHL to the PA to vote on - be brought into the room. The NHL said no to that, too, saying that doing so would be a "deal beaker". 

Essentially, the NHL wanted to keep anyone out of the room who they felt they could not manipulate, bully and intimidate into taking the deal they wanted the players to take. The message the owners have sent to the players and fans is crystal clear: the goal of having even a partial season of hockey is secondary to the goal of breaking the union, especially the union that is being run by Donald Fehr. They don't want to negotiate if that guy is in the room, because they think that guy is a dick.

And for the record, he is kind of a dick. (Savulich/News)
There seemed hope when the owners compromised on the "Make Whole" provision - meaning that any money that players would lose in the first two years of the new CBA due to changes in cap space or other contract changes would be reimbursed by the league. However the owners attached to that compromise three demands that they deemed of the highest importance and were non-negotiable: Limiting contracts to 5 years, the length of the CBA would need to last for 10 years, and no more than a 5% variance in players' salaries from year to year. 

This is the equivalent of going to your employer and demanding to be paid the money they agreed to pay you, and your employer agreeing to pay you the money they signed a contract agreeing to pay you, but in return...

I really am beginning to wonder if there aren't owners orchestrating this whole lockout as a means to cover up their damned near fraudulent contract signings. I'm looking at you, Craig Leopold. You spend $98 million a piece of two guys, negotiating outside of good faith knowing full well that you can fuck those guys out of that money with an extended lockout and a punishing CBA. Entice them to sign with your garbage team and then bust their contracts down because "We're not making money...we need to fix how much we're spending...[the Wild's] biggest expense by far is player salaries". It's no wonder when you type in Craig Leopold's name into Google, the fourth auto complete option is "Craig Leopold Hypocrite".

So please, NHL owners, please buy me a $1 Hotdog and one of those giant "We're #1" foam fingers. I'd at least like a cheap meal and a souvenir of the evening where you guys fucked me. At least a souvenir besides a sore asshole and shattered hopes and dreams. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Wing's Fan's Goodbye to Michigan

As I've mentioned on Twitter and on our excellent podcast, the Dollar Hotdog Power Hour, I am moving to Colorado, as my wife and I chase down our dreams of starting our teaching careers. It's a hard notion to wrap my head around. I've lived in Michigan my entire life, and I'm about to pick up and move on.

Never again will I be able to locate where I live simply by pointing to my palm-side up right hand
I was born in 1984 in Lansing, Michigan. From birth to age 19, I lived and grew up in Holt, Michigan. I moved up to Mount Pleasant, Michigan to attend Central Michigan University in 2004, turning 20 in November of that year. From then to this day when I start the process of relocating to Colorado, I have been in Mount Pleasant.

However, around 1993-1994, I gained my dual citizenship. Well, I guess my tri-citizenship. I'm an American, and proud to be one. I was a Michigander, and pretty content with that. But, around that time, I also became a proud and fervent citizen of Hockey Town.

This is Hockey Town's flag. It kicks your flag's ass.
So before I move from Michigan, and start the next chapter of my life in Colorado - the desolate hockey waste land where I'm not entirely convinced they have a professional hockey team - I want to give some thank yous and acknowledgement to the best hockey team to ever lace up the skates. After all, tomorrow is Thanksgiving.

Thank you to Mike Ilitch and Ken Holland. While I know I hold a great deal of animosity towards you both during this lockout and this past off-season, that hasn't erased from my heart the memories of the fantastic hockey teams you both have dedicated yourself to providing. I hope once this lockout is over, we can go back to great hockey and unconditional love and respect.

Thank you to Scott Bowman and Mike Babcock, for proving that the guy behind the bench matters a great deal. You helped to mold together a cadre of players, skill sets and egos into a more than formidable hockey team. You both came from outside Detroit, but have both left your mark on the team and fans. And I'm pretty sure you could both murder me with your bare hands.

Thank you to Oh Captain, My Captain Steve Yzerman. You scored goals. You back checked. You blocked shots. You did everything that you could have asked of a man and more. You did so with dignity, poise, honor and class. There is quite possibly nobody who has meant more to this team and to the fans than you.

Thank you to Kris Draper, Darren McCarty, Kirk Maltby, Joey Kocur, Drew Miller, Justin Abdelkader, Patrick Eaves, Darren Helm and so many more of the "energy guys". The Detroit Red Wings of the past 20 years would not have been the unstoppable, amazing hockey teams without your sacrifices. The quality and character of the Winged Wheel is not only defined by the contributions of marquee players, but by the blood and sweat donated by men like you. The Grind Line. The "Energy Guys".

Thank you to Ken and Mickey and Larry "This Is a Guy Murphy" for being the first place I turn to when I want to watch Red Wings hockey. I sincerely pray that when I buy my hockey television package that I am not punished by watching Red Wings games called by other networks. I want all of my guys from Fox Sports Detroit and the Call Sam Studios.

Thank you to Budd Lynch. Just...thank you, sir. You will be missed.

Thanks to my parents who encouraged me to play hockey, to watch hockey and to love hockey. They bought tickets, took me to games and taught me so much about life beyond the rink.

Thanks to Ty Schalter for helping me get started with the blog and the Twitter. Good luck working for the Bleacher Report. Totally go read The Lions in Winter for top tier Lions commentary.

Thanks to J.J. from Kansas, Graham, Jeff at Winging it in Motown, Rob, Michael and Chris over at The Production Line, and Tyler at The Triple Deke. You guys have, indirectly or directly helped shape me as a blogger and Tweeter. While I'm not done doing either, you guys deserve acknowledgment.

Thanks to Michelle, Josh Howard, Peter, Nick, Kevin, Josh "Whoabot", Andrea and so many more people who have made Twitter a fun and interesting place to be. Thanks to the, as of the time of writing this, 110 people who think I'm interesting enough to follow me on Twitter. I hope to earn many more.

Thanks to Third Round Wife Pick for being her and for tolerating me.

And finally, of course, thank you to Nicklas Lidstrom. The man who this blog was named in honor of. The man who guided me on playing defense without ever meeting me. The Perfect Human. The greatest defenseman in the history of the NHL and the Red Wings organization. Thank you.

Be sure to give thanks to those in your life and in the world of hockey who mean a great deal to you.

One of many great things about being a fan is that it knows no boarders. It doesn't care about time zones, international date lines or municipalities. It transcends all of those things, through time and space, and travels with us wherever we go.

So rest assured, while I may be leaving Michigan, and while I may never again live in Michigan, I will always be a proud, devoted and passionate citizen of Hockey Town.

And I am going to troll the FUCK out of Avalanche Fans.

Fuck, yeah!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dollar Hot Dog Power Hour: Ep. 3

Before I move to Colorado, I wanted to have one more podcast with Kevin and Michelle and talk about some good ole Red Wings memories. We also had the pleasure of having with us, all the way from Ireland, Peter "Fish Kin", another one of the Detroit Red Wings Twitter Three Musketeers.

As per usual, you should totally follow them all on Twitter, and check out Kevin and Michelle's blogs. Peter can be found over at Octopus Thrower.

We talk about the best of times, the worst of times, players we love and hate, and I take a cheap shot at the state of Michigan. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Dollar Hot Dog Power Hour: Ep. 2

Once again as a way to distract ourselves, this time from the looming cancellation of the Winter Classic, we decided to record another Dollar Hot Dog Power Hour Podcast. So I sat down with Kevin and Michelle again for fun and shenanigans. This time we invited to join us one of the Three Musketeers of the Red Wings Twitter Community: Nick.

You should absolutely follow them all on Twitter, and check out Kevin and Michelle's blogs. It's good times.

On last night's podcast, we discussed the place of sexy women in hockey, talked a bit more about the Griffins, Nyquist and Mrazek, shared some thoughts on Justin Abdelkader and others, and finished up with some Hot Dog related questions from Josh Howard. Which, by the way, my apologies to Josh Howard for thinking it was the other Josh. I wasn't disappointed that it was Josh Howard, just incorrectly informed.

This pod cast goes from serious and normal to deranged and disturbing very quickly, so... ENJOY!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Relics of My Hockey Fan History

I was home visiting my folks the past couple of days, and when I do that I tend to rummage through stuff to look for lost relics from my younger days. This time I went on a bit of a mission - to find relics from my hockey past, with one item in particular. It was a successful treasure hunt: i found a number of items from my JV level team, the Muddogs. An old hat, a jersey and some other paraphanalia. But then I started finding gems that I had long forgotten, and eventually my mom helped my find the piece de resistence. Let's take a look at my goodies., not THOSE. The Red Wings stuff I found. Perverts. 

First off, I'm going to admit this one might actually belong to my brother. I have no recollection of how it original came to be in my (or his) possession. Until he can make a claim to it, I'm going to apply the legal precedent of Finders Keepers. Either way, it's cool that our family has a signed photo of Igor "The Professor" Larionov

I'm also not entirely sure how I came into possess of this. However I'm fairly certain that someone had it in a locker room during a practice or game for some reason, and I probably totally stole it. It needs some signatures though.

Another item I'm not sure of the exact way I came to own it, however this one I'm assuming was purchased by myself or as a gift. Keith Primeau was my first favorite Red Wing. In fact, a huge reason I prefer to wear #15 is because of Keith Primeau. When I went to get started in my first roller hockey league in middle school, they asked me what number I wanted to wear. I proudly said "55!" because of Primeau. Then was informed their jerseys only went up to 15. Since it was the closest to 55, and I think 5 was taken, I took 15 and never looked back. Also, promptly after taking an interest in the Red Wings and Keith Primeau, he was traded.

Don't tell me that doesn't look like "Keith Ass". 
I think it's supposed to be "Keith P. 55"

But that's okay, because I came to love the guy we traded for him. The guy whose signature is still the greatest signature I own. Because my dad secured us tickets to a charity game hosted by Dave Coulier. Because apparently Uncle Joey from Full House is from St. Clair Shores, played hockey in high school and is a Red Wings fan. Who knew?

Slated to appear at the charity game was, as I recall, such illustrious Red Wings as Oh Captain, My Captain Steve Yzerman, Sergei Federov, Darren McCarty and Brendan "An Incident Occurred..." Shanahan, the man who Keith Primeau was traded for. If my memory serves me correctly, Yzerman showed up for a few shifts, maybe a period at the most. Federov didn't show up at all. But both McCarty and Shanahan stayed for the whole game.

I went skipping down to the glass, hoping to get a souveneir - I just barely missed out on getting the stick he used during the charity game. Instead I hung over the glass the Detroit Red Wings calender I brought with me for just this very reason.

I don't know why he signed it over Federov's face. Maybe he hated Federov. Maybe he wasn't paying any attention (most likely). But I assure you that is Brendan Shanahan's signature. And while this may be my memory trying to maintain a whimsical and magically ideal story, but I am 99% sure that it was the last thing he signed for anyone before skating off. 

I was so fucking stoked. 

But looking at it today, I noticed something amazing and wonderful, and this being Third Round Draft Pick, I would be remiss if I didn't point it out.


I'd love to see pictures or hear stories of your wonderful hockey fan memories, whether they be joyous, confusing or bittersweet. Post or tweet me pictures or stories, and maybe we can do like a collection or something. Honestly, I think The Production Line has one of the best ever. But I want to hear yours. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Inaugural Podcast: The Dollar Hotdog Power Hour Podcast

In trying to keep spirits alive, I've been thinking of doing a podcast. Without games to break down, without trades and signings to discuss and strategies to analyze, this lockout has been excruciating  I can't watch and read about hockey and the Red Wings, so I've lost one hobby. Now I can't even write about it, thus killing another hobby. I could write about the lockout, and honestly I should be, because it is important, but it just gets me angry.

Both sides are showing themselves to be obstinate, although there was been some significant movement. And I tip my hat to the NHL for being the first ones to really move. And I shouldn't be writing about CBA negotiations, I should be writing about hockey. Granted, a podcast won't fix that entirely because there's still no Red Wings hockey to talk about. But at least it'll be something new and different for me to do.

I've invited Michelle of Twitter and blog fame, as well as a fellow up and coming Red Wings blogger and Tweeter Kevin to collaborate with me on this project. I'm hoping to get more voices in to keep it fresh and interesting, and I want my handful of readers to submit questions or topics of conversation for us to discuss. We want to be responsive to what you want to hear.

So kick back, grab something to drink and tune in. We hope you enjoy it so we can keep doing it. Follow us all on Twitter and we'll let you know when we're going to record next so you can submit ideas, and for general hockey and Red Wings commentary. Please check out both Michelle and Kevin's blogs and keep coming by here.

Also, I want to apologize for the poor audio. Being new at this whole thing and not having the ideal equipment to do it, there were some feedback and audio issues that I hopefully got resolved later on. I hope you'll give me the chance to get them worked out, and I hope Michelle will forgive me for fucking up her early segments. In general, it doesn't do justice to Michelle or Kevin. The quality of their words was above and beyond better than the quality of my recording. All the more reason to follow them both on Twitter and read their blogs!

Let's Go Red...aww I'm sad. Go Griffins!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Investments by Mike Ilitch

I've been debating the lockout with people all around the Intrawebs. There's one guy in particular who I go back and forth with. He supports the owners, and understand that the reason he supports the owners is because he thinks they have the upper hand when it comes to power, and he wants the players to fold quickly so the lockout will end quickly. While I share his goal, I think he's terribly misguided in his process.

One of the arguments we've had is whether or not the owners undertake any risk by operation their hockey teams. I submit that they do not. If you look at who owns the teams in the NHL, there is virtually no one whose livelihood depends on the success of their team. The only person whose money doesn't come from some multi-million or billion dollar enterprise is Mario Lemieux who co-owns the Pittsburgh Penguins. Otherwise, every team is owned by a multimillionaire or billionaire, or a conglomeration of them in some manner.

This caused me to start playing with some numbers, and I wanted to see the kind of money that Mike Ilitch has and has locked up in his Detroit Red Wings. And it started to get interesting. Check it out.

In 1982, Mike Ilitch bought the Detroit Red Wings for $8 million dollars. Good chunk of money. If we adjust that for inflation using a website that does all the hard work for me, we discover that $8 million dollars in 1982 is roughly the equivalent of roughly $17.8 million dollars. It ends up with a lot of numbers and a decimal so I'm rounding.

Forbes Magazine estimate the values of NHL teams. It's an estimate, since the NHL won't release the exact numbers. But seeing as that's one of our best guesses, we're going to use that. In 2010, Forbes estimated that the Detroit Red Wings were worth $300 million dollars. Mike Ilitch's worth is valued at somewhere around $1.7 Billion dollars, earning him the spot as the 238th richest person in the United States and thus allowing me to picture him as Scrooge McDuck.

This is why Josh Howard should do the photoshopping
He's not actually Scrooge McDuck, but he's got a lot of money. And to be fair, he's owned the team for 30 years, invested a ton of money into making it into a world class organization with a rich history of some of the best players to ever lace up the skates, including Oh Captain, My Captain Steve Yzerman and Nicklas Lidstrom. 4 Stanley Cups, a 20 year playoff streak. The man deserves a return on his investment. What kind of return?

Well, if we go with the number adjusted for inflation, $17.8 million, in 30 years Mike Ilitch has earned a return of 1,685% on his investment, an average of about 56% a year, or $10 million dollars. If you go with the non-adjusted number, it's about a 3,750% return on his investment, or an average of 125% a year. He didn't earn those exact numbers every year. I'm sure in years they won the Cup he made a shit ton of money, and in those Dead Things years, it was less prosperous. Plus the seasons cancelled in part or in total due to work stoppages or lockouts. 

But still. That is a ridiculous amount of money and a ridiculous return on his investment. But it still means that the Red Wings only account for about 18% of his total net worth. Assuming he sells the team for $300 million, and I'm betting he could get WAY more money than that for the Red Wings, he would have had to have lost $9.773 million dollars per year in order to just break even. As long as he only lost $8 million a year, he would still turn a profit from selling the Red Wings at $300 million.

And just how much money is $300 million dollars? I'll let The Triple Deke explain it:

The point is, to anyone who supports the owners and think they struggle more economically than the players do: no they don't.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The FSD Drinking Game: Red Wings Edition

During this lockout, we have to find things to make us happy. Lovingly thinking about the hockey we're missing brings bittersweet tears to our eyes. A big part of hockey as a Red Wings fan is getting to watch games on television with the best damned commentators in the business: Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond. Also, Larry Murphy and some other people at Fox Sports Detroit. I've partnered up with Kevin from over at Octopus Thrower and we've come up with a little something for you Wings fans out there for when we finally get our hockey back.

We give to you: 
The Fox Sports Detroit Sportscaster Drinking Game: 
Red Wings Edition

It's simple. As you're watching your favorite hockey team, keep an ear tuned to the guys in the booth and Larry between the benches. You'll notice motifs and colloquialisms that make the broadcast that much more fun and special. As you watch, follow the directions listed below. In true form, it's no so much of a "drinking game" as it is providing you with an excuse to get as trashed as you possibly can, as well as providing a system to facilitate that goal as quickly as possible.

We'll be surprised if you can even make it through the pre-game coverage. Possibly giving a whole new definition to "pre-gaming". Enjoy!

It is highly advised that you attempt this game on a full stomach
(Photo: Kevin Nannini)
Take One Drink:

-Anytime Larry Murphy uses the phrase "This is a guy" during his analysis of a player.
-Mickey Redmond chastises the referees for not dropping the puck fast enough on a face off
-Larry Murphy bungles his way through commentary that, while accurate, is embarrassingly bad and/or obvious
-When Shannon Hogan/Ryan Field talk and you actually listen to what they have to say
-Larry Murphy EMPHASIZES every OTHER word WHENEVER he TALKS.
-Mickey mentions wood sticks and not the composite sticks that always break.
-Mickey talks about a player that loses his "hat".
-Anytime Ken Daniels elongates his vowels during his play-by-play. Doesn't count when he yells "Scores!" after a Red Wing goal.
-If they try to show a highlight and either queue up the wrong highlight, don't show the section the commentators wanted to show, or the video sits there paused for a solid second or two before playing.
-Anytime that stupid BELLE TIRE tire with creepy arms and legs starts talking
-Ken Daniels references "old time hockey" to try to goad Mickey into reminiscing
-John Keating says "Ken Daniels, Mickey Redmond, Take it away!" before they cut back to Ken and Mickey.
-Mick refers to you, the viewer, as "gang".

Take Two Drinks:

-Anytime John Keating makes a terrible pun in the pregame show or intermission interview.
-Anytime Ken Daniels mentions someone who played in the CCHA
-Larry Murphy bungles his way through commentary that, while accurate, is embarrassingly bad and/or obvious AND Ken Daniels responds in a tone where you can tell he's obviously exasperated.
-Anytime Mickey uses the phrase "Ginger Ale"
-If Mickey Redmond cannot answer the Red Wings trivia question correctly
-If Larry Murphy interrupts Ken and Mick
-When the guys attempt to figure out what the fuck penalty is being called and why
-When they "throw it back to the guys in the Call Sam Studies" for an update about something that isn't Red Wings hockey
-Mickey mentions Glenn Hall painting his barn instead of going to training camp.

Take Three Drinks:

-If Mickey Redmond refers to a Red Wings player as "kid", "kiddo" or some other nickname indicating the player is young, and that player is over the age of 30. 
-When Mickey accidently drops a "hell", "damn", or other minor curse word.
-If Mickey Redmond answers the Red Wings trivia question correctly
-If you actually see Larry Murphy drinking from his "water bottle"
-Anytime someone compliments Mikael Samuelsson's hockey abilities (5 drinks for Kevin) 
-If Larry Murphy interrupts Ken and Mick and adds nothing of value to the conversation
-If you can tell that Mickey is having to physically restrain himself from calling bullshit on the referees. Also yell at the television.
-Whenever Ken, Mick and Larry get the reviewed call wrong, or if they refuse since the replay operators are high most of the time.

Special Dispensations:

-Whenever "1 Dollar Hot Dog Night" is mentioned, you take a drink and then make a movie reference that hasn't been relevant in the past 10 years. (Ex: Ace Ventura, The Mask...any Jim Carrey movie ever, really)
-When Mickey scribbles a John Madden-esque telestrator diagram, take a shot and then yell "BOOM!" as loud as you can.
-If Mickey says "Ay-yai-yai..." take a drink for every syllable
-Whenever anyone says something about Gustav Nyquist, smile and remind yourself how lucky you are to watch him play on the Wings.
-Anytime they show an old picture of Mickey Redmond, bask in the glory of the mutton chops.
-If they bring that guy who was apparently a goalie, but he's so forgettable that I can't remember his name, to give analysis during the period breaks, turn on something else.

And finally:
-If Mickey Redmond uses any of his patented catch phrases such as: "Bingo-Bango!", "OH BABY!", "Holy Jumpin'..." or "Holy Mackrel!" then pound the bottle because you just won the fucking game.
-If at any point you find yourself really missing the guys over at NHL on NBC, kill yourself.

So there you have it. Just like any good drinking game, you can feel free to add your own rules and addendum  Hopefully we'll all get a chance to try this out really soon.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Jim Devellano is a Diabolical Madman?

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Red Wings fans got some interesting news the past couple of days. Red Wings Senior Vice-President Jim Devellano gave an interview, in which he answered questions about the NHL's CBA talks. The response to that from the NHL was swift - they fined the Detroit Red Wings an undisclosed sum, however the figure thrown around the Twitterverse and Blagosphere was $250,000.

The reason for the fine as shared by the League was very explicit:
"The Detroit Red Wings' organization and the League agree that the comments made by Mr. Devellano are neither appropriate, nor authorized, nor permissible under the League's By-Laws," said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. "Such comments are neither constructive nor helpful to the negotiations."
Quick sidebar, Mr. Daly, "constructive" and "helpful" mean the same thing. But that's not the point. The point is I'm going to say something that might shock the collective minds of my readers: The NHL had every right to do what they did and given the situation, they were absolutely ethically right in their decision. Curious as to why? We'll get to that but first I want to address a complaint I've seen voiced on Twitter and elsewhere on the Internet. "What about freedom of speech, NHL!? You can't just go crushing Devellano's right to free speech!" Actually yes, yes they can.
"Congress shall make now law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press..." (Bold text mine)
The United States of America is a wonderful and free place to live. We have wonderful rights and liberties that a lot of people don't enjoy, and the freedom of speech is one of them. However, the 1st Amendment only truly protects us against the government infringing upon our right to free speech. It offers little to no protection against private companies or organizations from silencing free speech. And in general, our right to free speech isn't inalienable. You can't yell fire in a crowded theater, you can't have graphic violence, nudity, sexual content or vulgarity on television or the radio, and you can't threaten to kill the President of the United States. The National Hockey League has every right and authority to punish one of its employees for something they've said without violating that employees Constitutional rights, with a handful of exceptions.

"Right, Jefferson, a painting of us is going to be used on a hockey blog.
And women will be allowed to vote someday, too. Idiot."
Now that I got that civics lesson out of the way, I said that the NHL were right in their decision to fine the Red Wings for Devellano, and I stand by that comment. Because here's the thing: The NHL has By-laws preventing League or team officials from commenting on the Collective Bargain Agreement negotiations. The only two people who are allowed to speak to the media on the matter are Gary Bettman and Bill Daly, which is why they're the only two you've heard anything from. I'm guessing the most that anyone else could say on the matter would be "All I can say is I hope we come to an agreement soon. Beyond that, you'll have to direct your questions to either Gary Bettman or Bill Daly." And even then, that first part could get you in hot water.

It doesn't matter that what Devellano had to say were mostly supporting the NHL's position during the bargaining agreement. If you allow those comments to the media by team officials, then you open the door to all comments and the last thing the League wants to do is to have a GM or team owner come out and undermine the League's bargaining position. If they don't punish Devellano for his comments, then next week the owner of the Buffalo Sabres could come out to the press and say that he's willing to reduce the League's demands if it'll end the lockout.

In that regard, the League was absolutely correct to fine the Red Wings. I think people should be allowed to say what they want without reprisal, most notably criticizing the League, League officials and the referees. But if thems the rules, then thems the rules.

What about the content of Devellano's words? When asked about the huge contracts like, among others, Shea Weber's, Devellano confirmed the existence of something many have speculated actually existed. After mentioning the salary cap forces teams to make decisions about salaries, he goes on to say, "They (Philadelphia) operated within the CBA and it's totally legit to do. Having said that, I will tell you there is an unwritten rule that you don't do that, but they did..."

I'm not a legal scholar or expert, but I do know that there are federal laws preventing collusion within an industry. It came out of J.D. Rockafeller and others working with railroads and other major industries to artificially fix prices. Which is effectively what this unwritten rule among the owners is doing: by agreeing that they won't use offer sheets on restricted free agents you are preventing the player market from better determining the value of of that players' labor. Does Shea Weber get the contract he does if Philadelphia never makes an offer sheet? Certainly Nashville was negotiating from a position that was informed by that unwritten rule. They felt confident that nobody would make an offer for Weber and so there was no real sense of panic to negotiate or capitulate to Weber's demands. Conversely, would Weber have landed an even bigger deal had he been an unrestricted free agent on the open market? Probably. Does this meet the legal definition of "collusion" and have the NHL owners violated federal law? I don't know. But it seems like if Congress can spend time and energy investigating steroid use in MLB, they could have the Justice Department look into this.

Other of Devellano's have gotten a lot of attention and flak. He basically tells the players to shut up and take the League's offer of a 10% swap, with the players taking 43% of hockey-related revenue and the league taking 57%. But more upsetting to many were his comments about the fans' intelligence and the value of the players. "It's very complicated and way too much for the average Joe to understand", says Devellano about the negotiations and the details of the CBA, "...The owners can basically be viewed as the Ranch and the players, and me included, are the cattle. The owners own the ranch and allow the players to eat there."

I'm not the smartest hockey fan out there, but I'm a pretty bright guy. And I think if the League and the players were more forthcoming with unbiased information and financial data, the fans could make a much more informed decisions and comments about the situation. Furthermore, this is further evidence of the owners and League officials having a hard time connecting with fans.

I can't imagine the players are going to take kindly to being compared to cattle. Granted Devellano includes himself in that category, but there really isn't much of a comparison to be made there. For starters Devellano is still working and drawing a salary from the Detroit Red Wings, whereas none of the players are (save for Patrick Eaves). It also conjures up more negative images of greedy owners without humanity, who view the fans as walking dollar signs and the players as cattle being lead to slaughter. Next time Sidney Crosby is forced to play through concussions, maybe he'll just view it as being "tenderized".

Nicklas "The Tenderizer" Kronwall

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Gary Bettman is a Diabolical Madman Who Must be Stopped Part 3

The continuing story of a misfit turned commissioner of the Nationa Hockey League. If you haven't yet checked out Part 1 and Part 2 of this saga, you should do so.

Two days until the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires, we got more tough news from both the NHL and the NHLPA. In a way, it was more the same. Two sides pointing fingers at the other side, making small tweeks and concessions in their offers, standing strong and united against their foe, and largely engaging in hard line tactics designed to stall, bring us up to the deadline, and force the other side to break.

I haven't heard a whole lot in terms of details from other sides. I admit I may have missed them, but I'm not hearing the details. What I am hearing is the NHL hasn't moved at all off their unfair offer, if you believe the NHLPA, and that the NHLPA hasn't moved at all off their unfair offer, if you believe Gary Bettman.

As some of his comments came filtering in via the Twitsphere, I still feel like the NHL knows that it's in the wrong here. Or at the very least, that they're less right than the players. They're continuing a lot of the same messages as before: the players' are costing us too much money (while we continue to hand out record contracts), the teams need more money, and just like last time there were messages coming in that really stood out to me. 

This struck me as an odd thing to say, because this is the system that the NHL and its owners implemented. Why is it a bad thing that the players have become comfortable with the system that you designed, pushed upon the players during the last lockout, and have been operating under since the 2005 lockout? I would think that you would desperately want the players to be comfortable with it. It sounds to me like the owners and the NHL got exactly what it wanted. They're behaving like a spoiled child. 

Okay, that's crap. You gave the players an extra 1% of HRR with your last proposal. Granted, we're talking about millions of dollars here, but I wouldn't call a 1% change significant in this context. The unemployment rating dropping by 1% is much more significant than this. The United States' GDP increasing by 1% more would be dramatic. 

Granted, I think these negotiations can and ultimately will come down to a percent (or a fraction of one), but that's what happens when you're trying to divide up a financial pie. If the NHL went from offering the players less than 50% of the HRR to offering them more than 50% of the HRR, I would characterize that offer as dramatic. As it stands, they're acting like their offer is hot shit on a silver platter when in fact their offer is cold snot on a paper plate. 

I understand this perspective from the owners. And it's not entirely an unfair perspective to have. But the league is already making more money than the players. Current player salaries total to roughly $1.777 billion dollars across 658 signed players on the rosters of the 32 NHL teams. This means the average NHL player is making around $2.7 million dollars. That means that the league getting 43% of hockey related revenue is not enough to cover the $1.777 billion in player salaries, plus all other operation costs.

But this flies in the face of the NHL admitting on its own website that 2011 was the "Best-Ever Business Year" that was "Highlighted By Record Revenues". That's not a quote from some assistant accountant buried in the article, by the way. That's the headline of the article. Every year since 2006 has seen record revenues, including 2011. Every measurable area of growth (sponsorship, TV viewership, merchandising, etc) saw an increase.

So if record revenues for 5 straight years and 43% of the HRR is not enough to maintain the league and the teams, how could it possibly have been the "Best-Ever Business Year" ? Why are more teams not suckling on the teat of the NHL to stay alive, instead of only the Phoenix Coyotes? How can team owners be offering record contracts to restricted and unrestricted free agents when they know that their share of the money isn't going to be enough to satiate their lustful spending habits? And why do the players have to make sacrifices to curb the bad decisions of their bosses?

Comments? How about "Fuck you!"? How's that for a comment? Quick side note: I mean that at Bettman, not at Allan Walsh, who I have no quarrel with. Below is a comprehensive list of all the people who want to make a deal and play hockey more than Gary Bettman

  • Me
  • The players
  • The people who work at Joe Louis Arena and other hockey arenas 
  • The broadcasters, press and bloggers who cover hockey for a living and/or hobby
  • The owners, general managers and employees of the various team organizations
  • Bill Brasskey, a fictional character from early 90's Saturday Night Live skits
  • The fans
  • Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
  • Every man, woman and child who has existed, currently exists, or will sometime exist in the future in every conceivable and inconceivable world, galaxy, universe and reality who is not Gary Bettman
Because you know what is the really telling truth about responding to Bettman's comment? "No one wants to make a deal and play hockey more than I do" - except you never played hockey, Gary. You went to school, and got a law degree and became a lawyer, then worked for the NBA and then became the NHL commissioner. No where in there did you play hockey. And if you did, it obviously didn't have much of an impact on you. 

I admit that Bettman isn't the only guilty one here. He is the messenger for the Board of Governor's and represents the wishes of those who own the teams. He is largely doing their bidding and on top of that, the players could probably be more flexible in their demands without completely abdicating their bargaining position. That being said, when Bettman comes out and says he asked for a show of hands today as to who is willing to lockout the players, I imagined the meeting looked something like this.

You're all assholes. I want my Red Wings hockey, dammit. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

What Chris Kluwe Means for Sports

We were treated to something special over the past few days. Chris Kluwe, the punter for the Minnesota Vikings, has been attracting a great deal of attention around the Internet and elsewhere. This isn't the first time he's gained notoriety. He's very active on Twitter with sharp, witty, funny comments about football. He's an avid video gamer, having sunk numerous hours into World of Warcraft and other games. Thus proving that if you're adept at time management, you can be an athlete and a gamer.

Future Olympians? No, I said if you're adept at time management. These three
are not adept at time management. Also, they're cartoon characters.
This most recent bout of awesomeness started when Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo had the audacity to do what Kluwe and scores of Americans do on a regular basis: voice his opinion. He spoke out in favor of a ballot initiative in Maryland that would legalize same-sex marriage. Maryland state legislator Emmett C. Burns Jr. penned a letter to the Ravens requesting that they punish Ayanbadejo for voicing opinions about a political topic.

Pictured: The smallest ball Kluwe has to deal with on a regular
basis. (Photo: Tom Dahlin: Getty Images)
Chris Kluwe wrote this to Burns. And that's when shit got real.

Kluwe's retort is scathing. There is just something utterly delicious about a football player having to give a lesson on the Constitution to an elected public official. It's even better when that black elected public official has to be reminded of the political activism ingrained in our sports history. And he didn't even give any mention to the pioneering women in sports fighting for equality in athletics. So obviously Chris Kluwe is a chauvinist. (He probably thinks all girls are noobs who are bad at video games.)

The whole thing was all kinds of awesome, but I think I appreciated it because I means something else as big as the message it conveyed:

Your profession does not, and should not, prevent a human being from contributing their opinions the debates of their time.

Kluwe's posts really force us to confront something that is true within this country. We claim to like it when our athletes and celebrities voice their support or condemnation for things. In fact we expect it. We want them to be "moral leaders" and "positive role models" for our children. However, when they come out and voice an opinion on something we disagree with, such as gay marriage, then we want them to shut up and not voice their opinion. We justify it by saying, "They're just a celebrity/athlete, and what do they know!?"

Even I am guilty of that at times, but I've come to understand a very important distinction. I don't mind when celebrities share their opinions, so long as they do so in a way that is intelligent, well argued and rational. Example: During the DNC, Lindsay Lohan said on Twitter to the Obama feed that, "We also need to cut them (taxes) for those that are listed on Forbes as 'millionaires' if they are not, you must consider that as well." Which is just stupid. She seems to be indicating that there are hundred thousand-aires who are wrongly characterized as millionaires. She also seems to believe that the U.S. Federal Government chooses which income tax bracket you belong in based on Forbes Magazine and not on the tax documents that Lindsay Lohan has apparently never seen.

See, it's stupid. It's the difference between intelligent, well-informed commentary and the dense yammering of someone who just wants our attention.

More after the break

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Gary Bettman is a Diabolical Madman Who Must be Stopped Part 2

The continuing story of a misfit turned commissioner of the Nationa Hockey League. If you haven't yet checked out Part 1 of this saga, you should do so.

Today the NHLPA and the league met again, and once the short meeting was over, both sides took to the media to explain why there is still no CBA yet. Twitter was abuzz with sound bytes from Gary Bettman. As the Tweets came in, I found myself getting angrier and angrier with each one. It was like getting punched again and again, only instead of being hit with a fist, I was being hit with a concentrated ball of stupid and bullshit. Let's get started, shall we?

I guess that's why the NHLPA's counter offer was just a white sheet of printer paper with the words "NEW CBA: EXACTLY LIKE THE OLD CBA, SIGNED THE PLAYERS" in crayon, right? Why won't you acknowledge the fact that the NHLPA offered up an interesting and thoughtful counter offer that contained a lot of stuff you didn't like. Hell, you basically did admit that after they made their offer, and now you're back peddling. 

I'm not saying that the players don't have concessions to make; I've been explicit that they do. However Bettman seems completely unwilling to accept any responsibility on behalf of the league to make concessions and compromise. It just reeks of hypocrisy, a motif of the league during these CBA talks, that you negotiate from a position of complete immobility and a refusal to compromise and then publicly accuse the other side of operating under a near identical negotiation strategy and blame them for the gridlock.

This is at least partially positive. It sounds like perhaps the league is willing to increase the level of revenue sharing among teams, which is definitely progress. But Bettman's inability to understand why there's so much focus on revenue sharing either shows him to be an idiot or a liar. This would almost be the same as Donald Fehr coming out and claiming, "We don't understand why the league is focusing so much on player salaries". 

It's sort of a major sticking point for the other side, Gary. And you know that. So again, you're ether lying when you say you don't understand why there's so much focus on revenue sharing, or you're just dense. Either way, you have no business being in a position of authority. Despite what our political process in this country tries to each us, people who are stupid and dishonest should not be in charge of making decisions.They should be used as fodder to embarrass us on reality television shows.


Roughly how I felt
Really, guy? Let's go down the list and see where we're at here: Shea Weber, $14 million, Zach Parise, $12 million, Ryan Suter, $12 million, Sidney Crosby, $12 million. Some of the largest, most lucrative contracts ever in the history of the NHL were signed this season. They were signed by the teams you're representing, Gary.

I understand the flip side to this argument: that if they didn't offer those players those monster contracts, then they would have lost those players to other teams who would have offered them those contracts. That's very explicitly true in Shea Weber's case because that's exactly what almost happened to Nashville. I'm not absolving the players of their responsibility here. They're culpable to the salary situation, but so are the teams.  There's something to be said when a guy like Jiri Hudler can get $4 million dollars a year. Maybe the money needs to be scaled back a tad. 

"Hi Craig!" Photo Credit: Hanna Foslein -Getty Images
But if that's one reasonable point for the league, there's still a dozen reasonable points being made by the NHLPA. Perhaps the league needs to take an Alcoholic Anonymous' approach and come out and admit they have a problem. "Hi, my name is Craig Leopold and I'm a Signing Players to Giant Contracts While Simultaneously Complaining About the Size of Player Contracts Addict, and I need help"

I think it's safe to say that for the most part, I'm on the side of the players. I feel that they are the most integral part to the whole sports-fan dynamic that they should be getting the biggest pieces of the pie. That being said, I do try to objectively look at what's on the table and I try my best to consider positions from both sides to these CBA negotiations. I recognize that if the teams are completely hosed, it also makes having a league almost impossible. Since my goal is just to be able to watch hockey, I try to keep a level head. Then I read stuff like this.


I was beside myself with anger when I saw that comment. I just kind of stared at my computer screen in awe. The kind of mentality on display by that comment is akin to the kind of mentality that's on display by a husband who just beat the shit out of his wife. Am I trying to say that angry hockey fans who might miss out on a season are as bad off as the victim of domestic violence? Yes No, I'm not. I'm talking about the mentality of the abuser.

Bettman apparently thinks that he can abuse the fans and then make it all better by telling us how great we are. No, you can't beat someone and tell them the dinner they cooked was delicious. It doesn't make everything okay. It doesn't forgive the abuse. It doesn't heal the scars, whether they be physical or mental, that you have inflicted upon us. All it does is make it explicitly clear that we are in this relationship for entirely different reasons. We are in this relationship for reasons that are based on love and dedication and passion, and you are in this relationship for reasons that are hurtful, destructive and selfish.

I think what this comes down to is simple. When I attend a Red Wings game, or buy Red Wings memorabilia, or when you get ad revenue from my watching the Red Wings on TV, I thought the money I was spending was to pay the players, the officials and the people at the arenas and operating the television equipment. Because they are the ones who provide me with world class hockey entertainment, customer service and hockey commentary (except for Pierre McGuire). 

I didn't realize that my money went to pay Gary Bettman to be an abusive asshole. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Detroit Sports Survey Results Plus Ranting

As you may recall, Mike Florek over at The Detroit Hustle conducted a survey of Detroit sports fans. After weeks of compiling and crunching the data, he released the results to us and they're pretty interesting and occasionally surprising. He's given a breakdown and you can check out Part 1 and Part 2. As I read through those posts, there were some really intriguing facts that caught my attention.
  • The responses came from 26 separate countries, meaning we have Detroit fans in roughly 13% of the countries on this planet. Not sure if that's simply due to military personnel being deployed abroad or if people in other countries just love tuning into to watch Detroit's teams. Either way that's pretty cool.

  • Despite the Red Wings being the 3rd favorite Detroit team, behind the Lions and Tigers respectively, Detroit fans did acknowledge the prominence of hockey and the Red Wings by voting Sidney Crosby the most hated player on another team as well as voting the Red Wings the best coached AND best managed Detroit team.

  • My vote for most over-rated Detroit player took #2. Hear that, Johan Franzen? Get your shit together unless you want to make #1 next year. Pretty sure the only reason Ndamukong Suh took 1st place is because of The Stomp. 
Now, for my ranting because there was something that kind of pissed me off. Pavel Datsyuk is the 4th best player in Detroit sports. That's right, the guy who is regularly voted by his co-workers to be the best in the NHL is only the 4th best player in the Detroit sports community. He was beaten out by the Lions' Calvin Johnson (#1) and the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera (#2) and Justin Verlander (#3). I know this might seem like a petty thing to say, but this just proves how much name recognition and popularity plays a role in these things and how stupid some people are.

That's right, if you voted for anyone other than Datsyuk I'm saying you're stupid, and let me explain to you why.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

CBA Negotiation Highlights

Earlier we heard tell of the National Hockey League Players' Association counter offer regarding the new Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. While the precise details in their entirety have not yet been released, the little bit we did hear of brought rays of hope. The players offered something along the lines of what many expected and what many have thought would be fair.

Essentially the players agreed to cap and potentially reduce their share of league revenues. The current salary cap would say in place, there would be no changes to free agency or the draft, and the teams would have to increase the amounts of revenue. This deal would be set for three years, with an option for a fourth. At that time, revenues levels would return to their current arrangement. Basically the players would give the league three to four years to prove that they can improve the financial situations of floundering teams and make the league as a whole better, or presumably those teams would be left to die and everything would go back to how it currently is.

Crosby attended the CBA meeting on Tuesday because, "Surprisingly enough it makes my head hurt less
than the concussions the NHL pressured me into suffering for the good of the league
I suffered through some freakish accident that the NHL is in no way libel for"
Image Source: NHLPA
There's no reason to believe that the league will simply agree to the offer. Even if it's 100% fair and both groups benefit equally, you almost can't agree simply out of principal. They will agree to the things they like and they will barter to change things they're less happy with. The exact revenue numbers, contract lengths, salary caps and floors could all still be haggled over. But I do think it's fair to say what the players offered is far and away a better place to start negotiation than what the league offered a month ago. 

The league is going to sleep on it tonight and hopes to be able to respond in full when the two groups meet together again Wednesday. Hopefully more details will come, but I was happy to hear that everyone seemed positive. Granted, during major negotiations both sides try to put out a positive message to the public, but nobody walked out pissed off. Or at least, pissed off enough to let the media know about it. So there's at least that. 

All that being said, the real highlight of all of this should be for those of you following me on Twitter. Which you should totally being doing. I created the hashtag #CBAStickingPoints to Tweet a bunch of fictional and humorous points of contentions between the two groups. What hilarious things could I think of that both sides were arguing for and were possibly holding up progress? Below are a few from Twitter, re-worded a bit since I have more than 140 characters to play with, as well as some new ones.  If you want to share your own, post them in the comments or Tweet them to me. Don't forget the #CBAStickingPoints hashtag!
  • Players are willing to acknowledge the NHL Awards show as "The bee's knees" but were not willing to go so far as to call it "The cat's pajamas"
  • The league is insisting on broadcasting the 2012-2013 Stanley Cup Finals on a tape delay like the Olympics since that worked out SO well.
  • The players are demanding that no NHLPA member is forced to be in a commercial with Corey Perry ever again. 
  • Whenever the Stanley Cup is won, both teams are required to be present on the ice during the presentation and must shout up at booing fans, "Come on guys, that really hurts Gary's feelings when you do that!"
  • The league wants to have greater control over the social media interactions between players, the media and fans, calling it the "Tim Thomas Clause"
  • Serious questions loomed over the meetings as it could not be agreed as to who would be responsible for being HockeyyInsiderr's source for the 2012-2013 season.
  • In order to create a more clean cut, attractive league the players would be forbidden to grow playoff beards and would instead all just share Shea Webeard and Henrik Zetterbeard's facial hair come playoff time. 
  • Talks were temporarily gridlocked after Zach Parise announced that he would like to speak to the two groups and everyone sat waiting for hours for him to finally make an appearance. 
    • From Twig over at Nightmare on Helm Street: "Parise's fiance insists that Zach push to have all NHL games played in Minnesota for her convenience."
  • More gridlock as Shane Doan arrived to speak and proceeded to wander from chair to chair, idly standing by the representative from each and every team for about 10 minutes at a time.
  • The league would like Jonathan Toews to be legally obligated to blink from time to time during interviews. Chicago's representative and the PA agreed on the condition that Jimmy Howard fall under the same jurisdiction.
  • The Winnipeg delegation was said to be pushing heavily to host the next Winter Classic game, and requested Philadelphia as their opponent because, and I'm quoting, "Fuck Ilya Bryzgalov, that's why."  
And finally...
  • While the specific details of the Player Association's offer may have been acceptable, I have just learned that the league has rejected the proposal due to it being written using Comic-Sans font. 
I hope you had some chuckles and if you've got any good #CBAStickingPoints to share, I'd love to see them. Hopefully we're on the road to a new CBA and avoid a lockout and having to suffer the loss of our season and our Winter Classic. Because we all know what the result of that will be...