Thursday, October 14, 2004


Chris Chelios: Dishin' It to the MAN!

No, Chelios isn’t tossing dishes around in a restaurant, but he is mouthing off about Der Komissar Bettman and the state of the NHL.

Now, what is it with these loudmouth American players?

Brett Hull, Mike Modano, Jeremy Roenick, and Bobby Holik (Yes, he is American) have all publicly whined about one thing of another in the past couple of months and have made themselves look rather foolish in the process.

Still, we appreciate the honestly and their quotes made good copy. Keep it comin’...

As for Chelios, he had a few choice words about the current labour situation, and I have a few choice words for him (as if he cares...)

"You know, I don't speak for Mr. Ilitch, but I don't think he wants anything to do with this, and a great indication of that is Gary Bettman won't let (the owners) talk," Chelios said this week. "How can an owner that's not in favor of this have no opinion and not speak his mind? The guys who know how to run their teams, they should let them speak. What do you want, to be fined $50,000 every time you open your mouth? It's ridiculous. Bob Goodenow's not stopping us from talking."

I agree that Bettman looks rather ridiculous fining his employers $250,000 or $1million for saying what is on their mind. I can see the reason for Bettman telling the owners to shut up (as to not hurt their bargaining position), but it seems overkill to be laying out incredible fines against the people HE WORKS FOR!

On the other hand, Chelios should know that the NHLPA isn’t exactly the bastion of Free Speech. Look at the comments made by Steve Thomas and John Madden regarding Salary Caps. The very next day, Goodenow sent a few of his heavies to their respective homes, and then we were subjected to NHLPA-prepared statements about how ‘They’ (Thomas, Madden, the rest of the PA) would never accept salary caps and their comments were taken out of context, blah blah blah blah blah.

“Gary Bettman has put the league in this situation," Chelios said. "A guy who doesn't do his job shouldn't be there. ... He put hockey where it shouldn't belong. You get rid of six or seven teams that don't belong where they are. ... Some states just aren't marketable, some cities. Hockey's not a national sport in the U.S., and Gary Bettman doesn't have a feel for that. That's my opinion."

An American saying the league is in trouble in poor markets has more weight than a Canadian on a soapbox railing against teams in Carolina and Phoenix. It certainly doesn’t help to market the game when the players say such things, however, and maybe Goodenow should tell Chelios that these type of comments only make it harder to market to the US fans (Thus, decreased revenues and decreased salaries).

Still, Bettman isn’t the only one to blame (He can’t control the actions of the Rangers, Flyers, or any other team without screams of collusion), and Chelios and the PA aren’t blameless, either.

Reminded contraction would cost the players jobs, Chelios didn't flinch. "Well, it'll cost jobs, but it'll make the league a better league," he said. "There's a lot of players -- especially a lot of guys that come over from Europe -- who are average players. Make the league a better league. The league was a strong league 10 years ago.

If you ever wanted to see the true colours of the NHLPA Guild, then Chelios has exposed you to them.

A real union:

1. Wants to protect the number of jobs of its members as much as possible. A real union will look at the economics of the current marketplace, and make concessions to ensure that their employer can profit in the long term while keeping the jobs of the unionized employees. Air Canada employees had to make salary concessions in order to keep as many jobs possible for their peers, and they realized that if they didn’t take salary cutbacks, the airline would probably fold and NONE of them would have any jobs.

It’s obvious, with the comments or Chelios and even Goodenow, that the NHLPA is purely concerned with the ability of its top stars to make as much as humanly possible. Pushing up the top salaries makes it easier for the lower employees to make larger salaries and for the agents to make killer commissions.

Notice how easy it is for a star like Chelios to dismiss the ‘average’ player because Chelios knows his job is safe?? How would you feel about this if you were a borderline 4th liner like, say, Brad Chartrand or Jarkko Ruutu? Would you really support your union if they don’t care about your jobs? Do you think Ruutu and Chartrand would have steady NHL jobs in a 24-team NHL? Not bloodly likely. If the NHL wanted to bust the NHLPA, just contract 6 teams and watch a good portion of the membership get a little ticked off.

2. Cares about the safety of its employees. The NHLPA has never fought for safety enhancements that might protect the players from injury and even death. Visors, Helmets, Seamless glass with give, etc...the NHLPA has never taken a forward position on these elements to protect their membership. A real union would care about its membership and the NHLPA would work to ensure safer working conditions in a very unsafe environment. Even the Major League Baseball Players Association fought with their owners to put padding on outfield walls amongst other safety issues.

And, to complete Chelios' outstanding knowledge of the business world...

"It's a business, and you take chances. Nothing's guaranteed in business. Teams come and go. You saw what happened to Minnesota. You see what happened to Cleveland in football. One of the best football cities there ever was, with the history in Cleveland, and they lost their team for a couple years.

"So that's just the nature of the beast. If some teams have to go or you can't make it, then so be it. The players aren't going to feel it as much as the owners."

Cleveland didn’t lose their football team because of a lack of fan support (Far from it), and Minnesota didn’t lose the North Stars due to a lack of fan support. Those teams left due to a lack of public funding for new stadiums, and nothing else.

And sure, businesses fold and go bankrupt all the time, but why would the employees of a company want their own company to be hurting? You don’t hear workers at the Ford Auto plant say “If a few plants fold, it will serve Ford right for bad business practices.”

Chelios may not feel the effects of a 24-team NHL, but many of his ‘peers’ would. The NHL cannot be considered a true union when there is such a disparity between the Chelios’ and the Chartrands’. Trust me, Chelios, the players will definitely feel the affects if the NHLPA is unwilling to help the NHL owners correct some of their problems.

Right on man.

Almost every comment from every player that I've ever read indicates that they do not understand the basic principles of economics. It could be because most of them never got to go to college, or it could be because they don't live in the real world. Either way, good on you for showing Chelios' absurd position.

I read his quotes the day before and was astounded by what he had to say.

I also think it's telling that at 42 years old and at the very end of his career, I don't know that Chelios can really speak for the majority of players. I'd LOVE to hear what all the fourth line grinders of the world have to say about the lockout.

*smashes dishes around the place*


Lonny Bohonos, Ex-Canuck and Ex-Leaf comments on the lockout. It looks like he's perfectly willing to be a replacement player. I bet quite a few guys like him and Todd Elik and Steve Kariya would have no qualms replacing the NHLers if push came to shove. A lot of these guys have been booted out of their Euro teams thanks to the NHLers going to Europe.
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