Isn't It ironic?
Alanis Morissette once sang with her perfect 1990s voice “Isn’t It Ironic?”
Well, it’s 2012, and I have a new verse for her: “It’s like a lockout, when you want to get paid.”
Somehow, I don’t think Morissette will rewrite her song, despite her Canadian heritage and one-time fling with hockey fan Dave Coulier — but it doesn’t make the current NHL lockout any less ironic.
(Oh, and by the way, how about that intro for some retro-90s memories?)
The NHL owners have locked out players with aspirations of taking a bigger piece of the pie and the players aren’t giving in because they want to keep their pockets lined.
Meanwhile, no one stands to make anything if no games are played.
We’ve been down this road before, and much too recently. In fact, the lockout that canceled the 2004-05 season is still extremely fresh in the memories of many fans who reluctantly stuck with the NHL when it returned for the 2005-06 season.
I’m not sure that will be the case if another season is lost due in large part to greed.
You see, to the common fan, all the lockout represents is an argument between millionaires and billionaires. It’s ridiculous, when you think about it, considering so many in our country are struggling to make ends meet.
The way I see it, there’s something majorly wrong if the two sides can’t come to terms without missing regular season games — which is about to happen, again.
According to Dave Molinari of PG+, “The NHL has lost 1,698 regular-season games since 1992 because of labor disputes. That’s more than major league baseball (938), the NBA (504) and the NFL (zero) combined. Interpret those numbers however you wish, but it is striking that hockey has had so many more games wiped out than the other major team sports.”
And what’s so frustrating is that, following the last lockout, the NHL seemed to have found the right recipe for success.
Attendance is up, television ratings are up, popularity is spiking, and parity is at its peak.
Or maybe I should have written that in the past tense, as I fear a lot of those positives could vanish if the NHL shuts down for an extended length of time.
The problem, at it’s core, though? The owners need to be saved from themselves.
With a salary cap and floor system in place, no team is permitted to spend outside of a regulated range. That allows the low-income teams to build from within and retain their stars without having to overspend in free agency.
But they didn’t follow that simple philosophy. Look no further than the “State of Hockey” for the perfect example.
Earlier this year, Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold was a front-runner in the “fix the NHL” brigade.
“We’re not making money, and that’s one reason we need to fix our system,” he said, according to the Star-Tribune. “We need to fix how much we’re spending right now. [The Wild’s] revenues are fine. We’re down a little bit in attendance, but we’re up in sponsorships, we’re up in TV revenue. And so the revenue that we’re generating is not the issue as much as our expenses. And [the Wild’s] biggest expense by far is player salaries.”
And yet Leipold’s Wild were the biggest players in free agency three short months later, targeting and signing both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to $100 million contracts.
See the irony there?
Or maybe it’s idiocy?
Either way, I, like most fans, don’t care much for millionaires bickering with billionaires about money. I care about hockey, and unfortunately, it looks like it will be a long time until I see my favorite team in action.