Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012 -
I knew I liked Jaromir Jagr. Not just because of the leadership he instilled through the higher ranks of our Flyers' dressing room or how he seemed to aid Claude Giroux bloom throughout his career season in 2011-12, but because.....well, because Jagr gets it. He's got a good, stable head on his shoulders and an appreciation for things that may exceed the beguiled minds of his younger counterparts.
According to Bettman and the NHL Owners, the Players' Association has until this Thursday to accept the League's 50/50 proposal in order to salvage an 82-game schedule. Bill Daly makes it blatantly clear that the Board of Governors is not interested in playing anymore verbal ping-pong with the NHLPA --
"(I'm) not sure there is any reason to meet if there is nothing new to say. Our position was communicated to the union pretty clearly last Tuesday and then again on Thursday. If they have a desire to meet with regard to the proposal we have on the table, they know how to reach us."
I can't imagine that there are any players sympathizing with the Owners' representation.
Or are there?
The ex-Flyer (now Dallas Star) Jaromir Jagr addressed the Czech sports media on Monday and shared some of his advisement regarding the NHL Owners' position --
"Only a few make some money, they face huge competition in American football and baseball. The baseball competition is getting into its playoffs, so, one competitor is gone, and the interest will switch to something else. And that something else is hockey."
When asked to comment about Ovechkin's threat to stay in the KHL and how #8 believes the Owners are trying to "cheat" their employees, Jagr outlined his opinion pretty clearly --
"Cheating? I don't know what he meant by the word. When someone owns something and wants to make as much as possible, you can't call that cheating. You'd have to call a half of the world cheaters. It's simply business.
"True, they need us to do the business, but still, they own it. And another thing: hockey is not the main thing for most of the owners. They make their money elsewhere. Unlike us, hockey players. They set the rules, no doubt about that."
As Puck Daddy points out, Jagr is an owner of a hockey club himself. During this unfavorable NHL lockout, Jaromir's returned to his home country and joined up with his Czech Extraliga team, the Knights of Kladno. Thus, you might be inclined to say he's coming from a biased perspective.
Biased? Or savvy business sense?
“I’m very sad that this situation has happened,” Jagr said of the dispute between the N.H.L. and its players. “I don’t have many games left in the N.H.L., and it’s kind of sad for me, but I understand it’s for the future of the game.”
"I understand it's for the future of the game."
How can you NOT respect that? Against the fact that his time in the NHL is extremely limited, he's managed to disassociate any selfish requisites that might be in jeopardy (like his fresh 1yr, $4.55M contract with the Stars) and recognize what the NHL needs, despite the combined greed from both the League and NHLPA.
Now, I know all the arguments against this. The Owners signed the Players to these absurd contracts, and they should honor those contracts. I agree, but it's a messy situation. It's just not that simple any longer. Everyone's got to face the facts that 1) The Owners don't seem to want to budge from their proposal, and 2) Without some sort of cut off the tops of players earnings, a handful of Clubs may not make it past this decade without financially crumbling. Lesser teams means lesser roster spots for players.
Yes, we can credit that to the Owners' brilliant idea of spreading an Expansion & Relocation project into failed hockey markets. But there's nothing we can do about that now.
"Just move teams to Canada!"
It's not that simple, chief. It really isn't.
Like I've said before; there are no winners in this labor dispute, and there won't be when it's over. The fans are exhausted from this emotional rollercoaster and the constant rhetoric from the parties' flagships. And although each side has shown their willingness to accept concessions, it simply hasn't been enough. There has not been any initiative to take responsibility for this lockout. Mainly the Owners' hesitancy to honor their players' contracts.
But I'm also calling out the players.
Earlier today an interview with Devils star forward Ilya Kovalchuk hit the internet. Like his Russian comrade Alexander The Great, Kovalchuk is now on the "I'll stay in the KHL" wagon --
“Basically, I don’t rule out staying in Russia in the case of a reduction of our salaries in the NHL. I just don’t understand why they needed to sign such contracts. Or they were just hoping to cut the percentage later? I believe that the contracts must be respected and this is a fundamental question. There’s no way the head of the [NHL Players’] Association and the hockey players will agree on the wage reduction.”
Who in the hell is this guy to puff out his chest about respect? It almost seems like yesterday when the entire hockey planet was put on hold because this ignoramus was battling the NHL over his 15yr, $100-Million contract extension with one of the League's financially struggling Clubs!
The New Jersey Devils are broke. They're in the red, and I ain't just talking about the colors on their sweaters. When Kovi and Devils GM Louis Lamoriello stretched every fiscal loophole on the former CBA two summers ago, the Club was (and still is) on a financial nosedive. Attendance was abysmal, and private revenue streams took a backseat to the cost factor.
Sure, the Club's owner and general manager were aware of this, and unless Kovalchuk was completely blind to reality......HE KNEW IT, TOO.
And this son of a bitch wants to play the respect card?
Hey, I get it. If my boss were to offer me a one-million dollar raise in my salary, I'm pretty sure I'd take it. But that absolutely does NOT negate my responsibility as a company asset if I knew my employer couldn't afford the increase in pay.
It takes two to tango, Kovalchuk. Although most of the onus falls on Louis and Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek, it doesn't mean you're just some innocent variable in the equation.
In fact, Kovalchuk's 2010 extension may possibly be the LARGEST reason why Owners are asking for a CBA that protects them from their general managers!
The Players and every head on the Board of Governors are full grown men, yet the finger-pointing and foot-stomping are proving to be childish antics. There are many individuals to blame, but ultimately the entire NHL, as a body, must distribute and accept the blame. Then secure the responsibility of correcting the wrongs.
Jaromir sees this. Time for the NHL to get the moves like Jagr.....
....I apologize for that
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