Perceptions by Gerry Warner
October is almost upon us and, OMG, it looks like another October without NHL hockey – hooray! It may even be another winter (and spring) without NHL hockey. Double hooray!! Personally this 50-year hockey fan has had it with NHL hockey and most of Canadian hockey for that matter.
Ever hear of that famous five-letter word that begins with ‘G’ and ends with ‘D?’ Of course you have . It’s “GREED,” which among other things, my Webster’s New World Dictionary defines as “excessive desire for . . . wealth” and “desire for more than one needs or deserves.”
Pretty rich, eh? (pun intended) “More than one deserves.” Let’s run the numbers and see how this applies to the NHL.
I did a little research on Uncle Google and this is what I found. Way back in the 2008 – 09 season (the most recent per- game data I could find) when the maximum NHL salary, according to the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) was $11.3 million, this worked out to (big pause) $138,292.68 per game. Yep, that’s almost $140,000 every time a NHL player suits up for 60 minutes of hockey. Nice work if you can get it and more than 600 NHL players would be getting it now if they weren’t so greedy.
And the numbers keep going up. In the 2011 – 2012 season, the highest paid player was Shea Weber of the lowly Nashville Predators, who made a cool $14 million for 82 games of hockey. (and I do emphasize “game” here) But I think you’re getting my drift.
These numbers are nothing short of obscene.
In a world where the average per capita income in developing countries is only $846-a-year and just over $7,000-a-year in the richer developed countries (UN figures) making almost $140,000 for 60 minutes of hockey is unfathomable. No wonder it’s said that one per cent of the world’s population control 99 per cent of the planet’s wealth. Whatever the case, something is very wrong when sports figures (not just NHL players) can make way more money than doctors, scientists and other professionals who actually do something meaningful for society.
And of course I’m not implying that the malaise of the NHL is solely the players’ fault. The team owners, who created this cockamamie system, are equally to blame as they try to manipulate the players’ salary cap to their own advantage. Pretty crazy when you consider that 18 of the 30 NHL teams lost money in the 2010 – 2011 season (see Forbes.com) with the Phoenix Coyotes filing for bankruptcy in the 2009 – 2010 season and now owned by the NHL itself.
In short, the NHL is a house of cards ready to tumble, much like the rest of the world’s economy, except that in the NHL it’s a “union” of millionaires scrapping with corporate owners while the fans in the seats and boxes can pay more than a thousand dollars-a-game to watch this idiocy. And since when do millionaires belong to a union? Unions are supposed to be for oppressed workers, which is hardly the case in the NHL.
Where’s it going to end? I don’t know and I really don’t care. At least in this town we’ve got great junior hockey to watch at an affordable price and more of us should start warming the seats or we may lose this precious franchise someday. The great thing about CHL major junior hockey is that the players are young and hungry and play their guts out every game because they haven’t been corrupted by NHL salaries yet.
When I think of greed and the NHL lockout, two famous quotations come to mind. One was made by Ivan Boesky, the junk bond king of the 80’s who said in a 1986 Berkley commencement address: “Greed is all right . . . Greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself.” And, of course, the other one comes from the Bible, 1 Timothy: “The love of money is the root of all evil.”
Gerry Warner is a retired journalist and a Cranbrook City councillor. His views are his own.