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.


Sigh. 

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.

Sigh.

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...


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Gary Bettman is a Diabolical Madman Who Must be Stopped

Part one of a series that will continue as long as this man is allowed to continue to wreak his own brand of havoc upon hockey fans and humanity at large.

Anyone who calls themselves a fan of hockey no doubt had some pretty strong reactions to the news that Gary Bettman announced yesterday that if a new CBA isn't reached by September 15th, the owners will engage a lockout against the players, ending the 2012-2013 before it starts. If this were to happen, it would be the second lockout the NHL owners have forced upon players and fans in less than 10 years, the third time under the eyes of Gary Bettman, and the fourth the league has suffered since 1992. 

I'm going to say part of that again because it bears emphasizing: If there is a lockout this upcoming season, it would be the third time that Gary Bettman, a man hired to run the NHL and end labor disputes, has allowed or caused a lockout to happen. 

There is a question that is no doubt on the mind of a lot of hockey fans, bloggers and pundits out there: Is Gary Bettman out of his fucking mind?
Short Answer: Yes. Long Answer: Fuck yes.
(Bruce Bennet - Getty Images)
To put it another way: why would Gary Bettman threaten a lockout will still over a month until the deadline? I've come up with a number of possible reasons why he decided to issue this statement. I'm going to rate them on the Patented Third Round Draft Pick Screwball Scale. "What's the Patented Third Round Draft Pick Screwball Scale?". Glad you asked! the 3RDP Patented Screwball Scale rates the decisions made by individuals against the known behavior of other characters.

For example, a Screwball rating of 1 is equal to that of Nicklas Lidstrom, who is so god damned sane and reasonable it almost drives you to the point of insanity. A rating of 5 on the Screwball Scale is roughly the equivalent of the bastard love child of the Coco Puffs Bird and the Trix Rabbit.

Paint me like one of your French girls.
I just want to point out that I take Bettman's threat of a lockout seriously, if for no other reason than he's done it twice before in the NHL. But also because it has to be a serious threat - even if he had never done it before, he can only make the threat if he honestly intends on following through. If he doesn't, then on September 16th the NHLPA gets whatever it wants. 

After the break, we'll discuss why I think he may have made the announcement and how crazy he is if that is the reason.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Inside Track: Howard Contract Extension Talks

What follows was put together by dedicated readers Nick and Michelle. At least I think they're dedicated readers. No, I'm sure they are, otherwise why would they volunteer to write for it. I'm fairly confident that they read this blog regularly and are constantly sharing it with friends, family and strangers. 

Anyway, I asked them to undertake this project after a spirited Twitter debate and they came through with gusto. The links on their names will take you to their Twitter feeds and I highly recommend following them as they're fun people. Photoshop Extraordinaire Josh Howard provided the photoshopping duties, and clicking his name will also take you to his Twitter feed. Everything that follows is their work, edited by yours truly and approved by the authors.  -Mike
------------------------------------------------

Like many of you, we’re suffering through the doldrums of another off season and it hasn’t been an easy summer for any of us. We’re Cup-less, devoid of the trademark star signing of years past, and were only given an odd signing or two. (Mikael Samuelsson? What's next Kenny, Brett Lebda and Andreas Lilja? We're kidding, please don't do that)

As many of you know the Red Wings are also preparing for NEXT offseason when a number of players are entering free agency, including Val Filppula and one James "Tiberius" Howard. Lucky for you, our tinfoil wearing Wingnuts, we managed to get a bug into General Manager Kenneth Mark Holland’s office at Red Wings HQ. Double Agent Ty Conklin planted the wire under the pretense of plunging the private toilet located in Ken's office.

What follows is the transcript of a top secret conversation between Ken Holland and Jimmy Howard's agent, Lee Gleader. We hope you find the information as interesting as we did. Enjoy.

The Scene:

Ken Holland sits in an over sized leather chair behind a desk that's littered with Tic-Tacs, golf tees, and a calender that looks rather empty save for numerous golf times penciled in. Lee walks into the room looking remarkably like Jimmy Howard wearing a Ty Conlkin mustache and dark sunglasses.

Security cameras had been disabled during this highly classified meeting,
but thanks to a hacked traffic camera and some strategically placed mirrors,
Josh Howard was able to give us a sneak peak at Jimmy Howard's Agent
Editor's Note: Contract negotiations are long and arduous, so settle yourself in, grab a drink and then hit the break.

Monday, August 6, 2012

What is this I don't even: Off-Season Randomness

It's been that kind of off-season. We expected there to be big things, and there has been - unfortunately all of the big trades and free agent signings have been by people other than Ken Holland. It's hard as a Red Wings fan and it's hard as a blogger. Trying to find things to write about when it feels as though there's nothing to write.

We have to keep ourselves from going after each other's throats, to keep our criticism constructive and coming from a place of love and admiration for our Red Wings. And most importantly, we need to keep our spirits and morale up.

Which is why I'm happy to share with you 
Jiri Hudler's Korean Pop Star Doppelganger

This morning in my daily grind of browsing the Internet for porn employment and hockey news, I came across the following .gif and was awe struck.

Pictured: Jiri Hudler getting the news on the Detroit River of his Calgary contract
"Is that fucking Jiri Hudler!?" I exclaimed. I went over to Winging it in Motown to investigate and was in for the shock of my life. The bad news is that it isn't Jiri Hudler. The fantastic news is that it's his Korean Pop Star Doppelganger who goes by the stage name PSY and that was a clip from the music video to his International Internet hit song "Gangnam Style". And thanks to EuroCap over in the WIIM comment section, I was able to bask in the glory that is this video.

Brace yourself. 
You didn't brace yourself, did you?