Please! $3.3 Billion - Labour Conflict?Saturday, September 15, 2012 by: Mac Headrick
The following press releases are listed in today’s edition of the Globe and Mail.
“Coyotes sign captain Shane Doan to four-year deal worth $21.2 million.”
“Stars sign Lehtonen to five-year $29.5 million deal.”
“Bruins sign Milan Lucic to three-year extension worth $18-million.”
Also consider the following facts. In the past seven years hockey grew from a $2.1 business to $3.3 billion annually. The average profession hockey player earns $2.45 million a year. As of today the owners (billionaires) have been unable to reach an agreement with the players (millionaires). We now have a work stoppage as the players have been locked out and the upcoming hockey season could be cancelled.
I actually find the above situation hilarious. How can an industry with so much money have a work stoppage? I realize Canadians generally are very passionate about professional hockey and the prospect of our national past time being suspended will cause some angst.
I am not among those who care about professional hockey. This was not the case in the 1960’s. I followed my team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, with unflinching desire. I continuously urged my father to buy Jello and Bee Hive Syrup so I could collect hockey coins and pictures of my favourite Leafs. Saturday night during hockey season in the country was focused on Hockey Night in Canada. Now if the game of the week featured the Toronto Maple Leafs versus the Montreal Canadians the event took on national importance.
Hockey expanded in the 1970’s. Harold Ballard became the owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Play-offs which were composed of two rounds concluded in April but now stretch on to mid-June. All the above has resulted in my losing interest in the sport. Presently I focus on football, NFL followed by the CFL. Of course if you are a Toronto Maple Leaf fan you seldom have to worry about playoffs.
I watched the press conference that presented the owners perspective as represented by Gary Bettman and the players executive director Donald Fehr. These two guys are intelligent men and well respected by their employers the owners and the players. Below I am going to sum up what I heard.
First Gary Bettman; the owners believe the players are getting too much of the revenues, blah, blah, blah.
Donald Fehr: the players deserve the percentage of revenues they now get, blah, blah, blah.
My position is if these two sides cannot figure out how to divide an annual $3.3 billion dollars pot then shut it down. Cancel the season. Life will go on. Junior hockey and the AHL can provide entertainment to help Canadians survive the winter. Hockey is just a game. Football has the Grey Cup (November) and the Superbowl (February). There is the NBA and baseball starts in April. We can survive without hockey.
I do not support or care about the owners/players. I do hope both sides reach an agreement. The reason for this is I care for the thousands of employees and businesses that depend on hockey to make a living.
I am going to reverse my apathy towards hockey slightly now. It is true I do not follow it closely or watch the playoffs. This winter in January or February there will be a Saturday night that Linda and I will find ourselves at home. There will be nothing on television worth watching. By coincidence the Toronto Maple Leafs will be playing the Montreal Canadians. The reality is I will be sitting in front of the 52 inch plasma watching a game in which I do not recognize the majority of the players. In my mind I will drift back to the mid 60’s and Calabogee Road. In front of a black and white television the Headrick clan will be glued to the set. Dick Irwin Jr., Howie Meeker and Brain McFarlane are providing the play by play and colour commentary. The Leafs might even win the game.
As I see it even thought I enjoy sports, the bottom line is hockey is just a game. If billionaires and millionaires cannot figure out how to divide annual revenues of $3.3 billion then perhaps it is better to shut it.