As the most recent NHL lockout lingers on, the only thing that surprises me more than the intransigence of the owners is the number of people in Winnipeg who are firmly in their favor.
Without question, there’s plenty of blame to go around on all sides.
Yes, the players make gobs of money. More than the average person on the street can comprehend.
So do the owners.
Revenue is growing at unprecedented levels. The owners are making money hand over fist.
And it is the owners who decided to shut the league down in order to get even more.
In past disputes between players and owners, there were justifiable reasons on each side.
Players held out for the right to be able to have more freedom to choose where they wanted to work. This is a right that most of us take for granted. With a limited window of opportunity to enjoy the fruits of a career at the NHL level, who can blame them for wanting to be able to ply their trade with the team of their choosing at a salary dictated by a free market system?
By the same token, owners have every right to ensure that their business remains economically viable. They have invested large sums of money and are entitled to reap the rewards from that investment. The “cost certainty” that the owners fought for has enabled all of the league’s franchises to thrive on and off the ice.
This dispute has no such honorable motives.
This lockout is about nothing more than pure, unadulterated greed.
The NHL’s owners, including Mark Chipman, are playing us all for suckers. And I know that I’m not the only one who is utterly disgusted.
The day after this past season ended, I called my television service provider and proudly cancelled my NHL Center Ice subscription. I enjoyed watching the Dallas Stars, but I’m not coming back.
Yet, many fans in Winnipeg paint Chipman as an innocent victim and cry foul because the players have the audacity not to capitulate.
Chipman is not innocent. His vote counts the same as hard-liners like Jeremy Jacobs in Boston. He is no more or less responsible for the current lockout than any of the rest of them.
The players are giving in. But they’re just not giving in as much as the owners would like. Led by stronger leadership than they’ve ever had in their history, they’re not just going to fold like a house of cards.
The longer the lockout goes on, the more entrenched each side will become. It could be years before the stalemate is broken. Both sides are digging in like soldiers on the western front in the Great War.
In the meantime, as far as I’m concerned, Gary Bettman, Mark Chipman and Don Fehr can all join hands and jump in the nearest lake.
Don’t bother hollering for a life preserver.