Sunday, August 30, 2009

NHLPA Unrest Spells Trouble

**Editors Note: At 3:45 am Monday, Darren Dreger Tweeted that Paul Kelly was fired by the NHLPA. This is just foolish. But then again, a LONG time ago someone in this business for a VERY long time told me "They're hockey players, not brain surgeons." I think they just proved that.

Do we REALLY have to go through this again? As fans we were already deprived of a year of hockey in 2004 due to a dispute between labor and management. Could there be another "work stoppage" in our future? Should the PA back to it's militant tactics, that's what I'm afraid of.

Read the history of the NHLPA and Alan Eagleson and you will be amazed. When Eagleson was carted off in handcuffs, the NHLPA was turned over to Bob Goodenow, a man about whom I have nothing good to say. Wait, let me think: okay, maybe without him, I would have never become interested in the business side of hockey and the Players Association.

While it made for some interesting reading, Goodenow's militant stance vilified him. Besides telling the players to prepare for TWO years without hockey, he was less than fan friendly. Those of us who PAID for tickets so the players could have those big bucks salaries were of ZERO importance to Bob Goodenow. I really didn't know what I hated him for more.

TWO years? Can you imagine being out of work for TWO years? Can you imagine being wihtout NHL hockey for two years? Do you know how many careers were adversely affected by that work stoppage?

Prior to the the fall of 2004, you would see Goodenow sitting with Gary Bettman at games looking very cordial. There were photos of him going to meetings seemingly ready to negotiate. It was a facade. The players finally paid Goodenow off to leave and then Ted Saskin was left to negotiate the new CBA so the players could get back to work.

As an aside, has anyone even heard of Bob Goodenow since he was paid $2.5 million to leave? He took the money and went so far underground, even Google can't find him in the last two years.

Not long after, Ted Saskin was also sent away with some suitcases full of player's money. I guess they really needed someone better in HR over at the PA. Because their hiring record really blows.

When Paul Kelly took over the "Association," it looked as if they finally got the train back on the track. Oddly, I have not seen anyone photos of Kelly and Bettman being all chummy-chummy the way I used to see when Goodenow was Director. I don't think Kelly likes the camera as much as Bob did. But Kelly was eloquent during interviews and seemed to get his points across, even when they seem slightly askew of the league's way of thinking.

So now there's a meeting going on in Chicago to vote on Paul Kelly's leadership since May of 2007. Thirty players making up the executive committee will vote. I'm very curious to know who those 30 players are. Another side note, you know Garth Snow was a union rep and so is/was Dwayne Roloson. Is it a goalie thing?

At 4:27 pm, Darren Dreger Tweeted that the meeting was to last about seven hours.

Who the heck calls a board meeting for seven hours? That's not a meeting, it's a slumber party. At 9:38 pm his tweet said they were "grinding it out." At 10:30 pm he Tweeted "Paul Kelly is waiting outside the boardroom....."

I'm concerned. All I know is that both TSN and The Hockey News have very good articles on this tug of war. I think every fan should read them. Because truth be told should there be another war between management and labor, once again we will lose.

How the NHLPA (which really isn't a Union in it's truest sense) can believe that they don't need to work constructively with management (owners) is simply beyond me. Years of mismanagement by the PA have put them in this position. They are finally at a point where they have someone who is trying to look out for the players AND work with the league at the same time. It's called COMPROMISE and it's what makes the world WORK.

When you think you hold all the cards and become belligerent to those signing the checks then everyone loses. Should the Players Association fall apart once again, you can be sure it will be the fans who will pay the price sooner or later.

Can hockey stand to suspend operations again? I don't think so. Should the NHL have to shut its doors, as passionate as we are, we won't be fooled again. This better get fixed before it gets bad.


Dominik said...

As you say, it's pretty disheartening.

For the life of me I can't imagine what the upset faction of the NHLPA is thinking about Kelly.

But as a lifelong NHL fan who's father reared him on the sport since birth, if they screwed up again, I can honestly say I'd be done. I've other hobbies and interests, which aren't subject to the whims of squabbling millionaires.

Anonymous said...

In this economy just how much stress can the NHL stand? Gary Bettman has his hands full fending off Jim Balsillie. He has other franchises in financial distress. And now the players association is upset with Paul Kelly. I sincerely hope this is not a move toward militancy.