Wednesday, February 23, 2005


EuroUpdate: Cole Mining

Professed 'Caniac' stormshaman translated an interview that Hurricanes forward Erik Cole gave to German newspaper 'Morgenpost' in late January.
(You can find the full article translation at this linkage)

Erik Cole isn't known to be the brightest light in the chandelier, but it's interesting to read his comments, nonetheless.

Morgenpost: Why is it so hard to find a solution?

EC: Since the last lockout, the players have had it pretty good. If somebody had done something three or four years ago, the NHLPA would have gone to the owners and agreed to financial restraints. But now we're at a point where the Commissioner has made promises to new ownership groups that he intends to keep. But I don't think that a salary cap [should be] the first solution. A luxury tax system would definitely be the best. If that doesn't work, then a salary cap [should be tried] next.

There should be six teams that bring in the majority of the League's losses. They account for 75 percent of the losses. In addition, the numbers that the NHL has publicized [are probably] way too high. [(note: I am probably translating this incorrectly, because the way it comes out isn't making that much sense to me.)]

The League could have inflated a few numbers a little, but [I don't think] that applies to every team. There are a few that are struggling in their markets and have lost money. And there are teams that throw around their money irresponsibly. But is there a system that can help [everyone]? I don't know. The New York Rangers shell out so much money--80 million dollars. And then they [turn around and] say, that they have the biggest losses.

Morgenpost: Does that influence the NHLPA in the negotiations?

EC: Absolutely. If six teams are responsible for the majority of the losses [NOTE: I think that "losses" in this case refers to payroll, but please do not quote me on this], then perhaps it would be best to punish these teams for it. Then maybe they will change their ways. Despite that, the League wants a general solution. If Bettman talks about cost certainty for all, then that means that with a salary cap he's guaranteeing a minimum profit for the owners. But that should that be? Most [of the owners] didn't get rich because they own a hockey team. They got their money elsewhere. For many owners the NHL's a "second-hand" [i.e. hobby -- ed.] business.

Morgenpost: But from the point of view of the fans, one can also ask what makes it so hard for millionaires to [show some moderation].

EC: When somebody comes to a point where they can't better their situation, then that person won't work quite as hard as he can anymore. A salary cap can have an impact on quality. The NHL currently has the worst TV contract of any professional league in North America. It'll be hard to improve it if [we] don't play. That's another tool for the League to show the public how bad the situation is. Not just that we're losing a lot of money. Now we won't get a good TV deal anymore. But why did Bettman agree to that contract if it's so bad? I believe there could have been a better contract, but the League just didn't work hard enough [for one].

Morgenpost: What bothers you the most about the whole situation?

EC: That the League says that they need to negotiate, and the players have no interest in negotiating. But with December's proposal of a 24 percent salary rollback we've made an honest attempt to salvage the season. People realized then, that the other side won't deal, and that the League is trying to make it look like the players have no thought of the sport or the fans. If this was a strike, then people can blame us. But we're locked out, and the European leagues are profiting from it. The product here is getting better [because of the NHLers playing here]. Should there be no season this year in the NHL, the next one could be gone too. Then even more NHLers will come to Europe. And they will quickly forget how it is in North America, because things here are pretty nice. The Lockout could well lead to everyone wanting to go to Russia soon, because they pay a lot of money [there].


So, let me get this straight, Erik

1. If you have a salary cap, you won't work as hard? You won't compete as hard? That's one of the mose asinine things I have heard in quite some time. Do you not compete to win EVERY SINGLE GAME? If not, I would not want you on my team.
2. Maybe Bettman could NOT get a better TV deal because nobody would ever give the NHL a better TV deal. When the NHL broadcasts on ESPN or ESPN2 are being outdrawn by Poker and Lawn Darts, that really tells you something.
3. Russia may pay a lot of money to a FEW stars, but that gravy train won't last in the long term. Do you think the Russian Oil Barons are going to keep spending millions on their teams when they charge about 25 cents a ticket? (Ok, I'm exaggerating, but not by much).
4. I agree that the European leagues are profiting from the presence of the NHLers, but you forget that many NHLers are playing in Europe for deep hometown discounts.

Erik Cole should also realize that European teams wouldn't exact be beating down the door to sign a player of his type of calibre. Cole could also use a few basic economics lessons.


In other news...

1. Martin St. Louis has left Swiss team Lausanne to return home to Tampa Bay. His wife is 7 months pregnant and he wants to be there when the bun pops out. He *might* return to Lausanne during the playoffs.
2. Kristian Huselius and Henrik Tallinder, 2 of 3 Swedish players involved in that recent alleged-rape scandal, have signed with Swiss teams (Rappeswil-Jona and SC Bern, respectively). It's typical for (alleged) criminals to duck to a neutral country like Switzerland, isn't it?
3. The Czech Extraleague had a day off yesterday, but the Slovak Extraleague played a full slate of games. Here are the stats...

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