Tuesday, October 19, 2004


A Slovakian Chink in the NHLPA's Armour

(This is Jes Golbez, and I approve this message...)

Given the lack of real hockey news of late, the press was quick to jump over Juraj Kolnik's comments regarding the lockout:

"This is really hard for the young guys," Kolnik told the press. "They don't care how much they're going to make. They just want to play. The guys making $10 million want to make even more. That's a little crazy. Why do the young players have to (suffer) for that?"

Of course, as is usually the case, Juraj Kolnik was chased by the NHLPA heavies and quickly retracted some of his comments with the good "My English sucks" excuse.

"As a locked-out player, I was just frustrated, I just want play hockey," Kolnik said before skating for the AHL's San Antonio Rampage against the Edmonton Road Runners.

"I've had time to think about my comments and I know for sure that I would not play in the NHL again until both sides come to an agreement. I would not be a replacement player."

To be fair, one can understand how Kolnik may have confused the issues. After all, not that many people actually understand the implications of legal impasse, let alone a young Slovak still having difficulty speaking English.

"English isn't my first language and that was a problem"

This comes on the heels of ex-Leaf and ex-Canuck Lonny Bohonos openly declaring he would become a replacement player after seeing his European job taken by NHL players.

"I understand what they're fighting for. I used to be one of them. I never cared much for the business side of hockey but I've got a family to feed. I've got to get the best deal I can get."

Perhaps a year from now, when the NHL may open its training camp doors to anyone who will enter, Lonny Bohonos will gladly compete for a job.

"One hundred percent," he said. "I can tell you that right now. If they want me to be a replacement player, I'll play."

With the highly-paid stars like Chris Chelios seemingly OK with the idea of contracting teams, you can bet that the tweeners and fringe players can't be feeling a whole lot of solidarity with the NHLPA.

As TSN's Bob McKenzie puts it so well:

Let's just say this: if there's a soft spot for the NHLPA in terms of solidarity, it will be at the low end of the NHL food chain, the 100 to 200 lowest paid players, the so called marginal guys who populate roster spots 16 to 23 on any given NHL club.

These guys aren't stupid. They know where they stand and they know if NHL franchises are lost due to an extended lockout, they'll feel the pinch before anybody else. They can read, too. They've seen Chris Chelios' and some other big-name players' comments about contraction maybe not being such a bad thing.

Now, as I was reading my daily roll of websites and weblogs, I came across Ben Wright's take on the current NHLPA Executive committee, and he pretty much sums up my thoughts perfectly:

...the NHLPA is governed by Bob Goodenow and an executive committee made up of seven players- Trevor Linden (president, Canucks), Daniel Alfredsson (Senators), Bob Boughner (Avalanche), Vincent Damphousse (Avalanche), Bill Guerin (Stars), Arturs Irbe (Blue Jackets), Trent Klatt (Canucks), all who make over seven figures when they play (although Boughner and Klatt both make below the league average) and who have mostly seen better, richer days. Irbe, Guerin and Damphousse have all had lavish contracts and are winding down their careers. Linden is nearing the end of his career and Alfredsson is probably nearing the peak of his while Klatt and Boughner are both the kind of players who are one bad injury or one bad season away from the waiver wire. Do any of these players have the best interest of the first, second or third player in mind, or the interests of the AHL journeyman who just wants his shot? I doubt it.

As per my comments before, it is well established that the NHLPA is purely concerned with making sure that the 'Stars' are able to earn exhorbitant amounts of US currency. If Bobby Holik makes $8 million a year, it makes it that much easier for a player half as good as Holik (Of which there are many) to make a good salary.

Still, with such a disdain for the number of jobs available, it's no small wonder that the guys like Juraj Kolnik, who would have trouble gaining a spot in a 24-team NHL, are speaking out.

I should point out that Kolnik would be earning $700,000 US$ if he were to be playing in the NHL this year. Before he speaks out too much against the NHLPA, he should realize that he could never hope to earn that kind of money if the NHLPA had not battled so well to inflate salaries. Superior players like Jiri Dopita and Richard Kral certainly don't earn $700,000 US$ to play in the Czech Extraleague.

inflated?!? how can the nhlpa inflate a mutally agreed upon salary structure arrived at in a market enviroment?,

wow. bttman has someone else snowballed.

the INFLATION and danger in teh league is that buttman funded this current strike by allowing 4 fringe teams into the league. they gave him 320 million to do so. the strike fund is over 300 million. figure it out. buttman also PERSONALLY saw too it the just expired cba was extended to allow the war chest to be filled.

NOW everyone, even the players, have figured out buttman scammed four cities and that the nhl is too big. Meanwhile the fact that buttman destroyed the game AND set the stage for the unsubstainable leage size is somehow chelious fault.

it would be funny if it wasn't so seedy
Basic Economics: Unions create an environment that does not allow the free market concept to work and inflates salaries to an artificial true mean. This is true in any unionized environment.

If the NHLPA didn't exist, the overall salaries in the NHL would be nowhere near where they are now.
I am terribly saddened to read that one of my "Slovak Brethren" had wilted so quickly to the union thugs. Would a much stronger Slovak Bondra or Demitra give in that quickly? (or do they tote the company line too?)

Actually, It's a sad fact that after reading about my family's history in "Slovakia: a struggle for survival" by Stanislav Kirchbaum.... the Slovaks have been conquored by basically every empire that ever marched through Eastern Europe.

Oh well... be proud and strong my Slovak brothers! Stand up for what you believe in! Slovaks are supposed to have heart!
Hey Michael,

I'm still waiting for the day when you join the Slovak army and take up arms against the imposing Hungarians who want their land back from before World War I :)

the Slovaks have always had a small population compared to their surrounding empires and enemies, yet they have managed to procure their own country and maintain their culture and language. I think that speaks to the strength of the Slovaks. Trust me, they are much better off than the Rusyn (Ruthenian) minority (of which my family is from) that doesn't have its own country and has people spread out in 4-5 different countries (Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine, Hungary, Romania)

As for Kolnik, he's bowed down to the NHLPA pressure just like a lot of the 'stronger' vets like Steve Thomas and John Madden. Kolnik is a young guy and probably wasn't ready for the media firestorm that would surround his seemingly innocent comments. He probably didn't expect (I don't know why) the media to jump on his comments as if he was leading the charge to break up the union.
basic economics?!!? WHAT??? i'm likely the only economist here (m.a. from university of missouri, st louis thank you) a union is there to conter balance the unfair advantage the employers have in most situations. that holik is paid 8 million is the owners choice. there isnt a single contract over the league minimum (and hte league minimum is the ONLY salary the nhlpa's has effected outside of market influences)that ownership did not accept.


if the ownership is now crying about their pocket book after over spending. tough.

and if the ownership conned 4 cities to join MERELY to fund a war chest, the nhl is doing ome SERIOUSLY illegal stuff and a successful lawsuit would fold them in a flash.

no wonder buttman gags the owners so they don't talk at all.
Hovoríte po slovensky? Are you Czech or Slovak? I like your blog, you've carved out a nice little niche for yourself, it seems.
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