Thursday, April 21, 2005


NHL: Replacements are not the answer!

After yesterday's NHL Board of Governor's meeting, it's obvious that using replacement players is no longer a viable option for the NHL.
Story Link

The official statement from the NHL:
What we have said consistently is, we're planning on having a season.

That doesn't change. We're planning on opening on time. That doesn't change. What we're making clear, though, is the circumstances under which this will come about: We're still planning on going forward, we're still planning on opening a season on time, but we're making clear that we're not going to open on time if we don't have a new CBA with our players."
Is the NHLPA pleased about these developments?

According to a LEAGUE source, they wouldn't be...
"That's a huge blow to the union's stance," said a league source last
night. "I really believe that Goodenow felt if the league decided to
use replacements, it would have been devastating for (NHL) revenues.

"How could you possibly sell season tickets and advertising to people using replacement players? It just wasn't going to work. The union would have loved to have seen it because I firmly believe that using replacements would have had the league knocking on the doors of the real players to get a deal done."
Any time a LEAGUE source talks about what the NHLPA is thinking, you know the opposite is probably true.

Really, why would the NHLPA care one way or another if the NHL decided to use replacement players? If the NHL isn't playing AT ALL, they aren't making ANY revenues. If the NHL does use replacement players, it would ultimately blow up on them and they still wouldn't be making any worthy revenue (not to mention destroying the product).

Even the teams in non-traditional markets like Carolina and Nashville know replacement players won't fly. The only players available as replacements would be the grumbly ex-NHLers like Lonny Bohonos and UHL-type players with absolutely NO connection to the NHL. Why pay NHL prices, or even $20, to watch low-quality hockey when you can watch junior hockey, ECHL hockey, AHL hockey, or even real UHL hockey, for the same or lower prices? If the Canucks ever resorted to using replacement players, I doubt many are going to choose the faux-NHL over the Vancouver Giants. If people wanted to watch lower quality hockey, they would watch the AHL! Given the AHL's extremely weak ratings in Canada on TV (They won't even air playoff games since they don't make enough $$), how do you expect replacement players to draw the interest of the viewing public?

The fans might cheer for laundry, but we cheer for GUCCI quality threads, and not cheap Taiwanese-made Black Market knock-offs.

If the NHLPA doesn't use this as another reason to stall negotiations, then this news is actually good for the fans. Maybe the NHL can focus on 'negotiating' with the players and the PA rather than contemplating stupid business moves that don't move the sport forward.

As Bob Goodenow put it:
We have stayed out of the replacement player debate since we thought it was a poorly conceived and ill-advised strategy," said NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow. "Finally, it appears the League has come to realize it would be bad for the fans, the sport and the business. The NHL should focus its efforts on reaching an agreement with the players."

I'm not the only one pleased with the news that the NHL has had some sense knocked into them. Check out the Hockey Bird's latest rant on this issue. It looks like he still has a lot of passion invested in the negotiation process, while others like me have moved on to baseball, curling, or bocce ball.

I see this as a sign that at least some of the owners have had enough of the stupid poker game here and want an end to the lockout. This is of course good for us. It is also bad for Mr. Bettman. He has not delivered to the owners what he's promised and will now (I hope) come to an agreement with the NHLPA. Upon reaching this agreement the owners will see that the lockout could have been much shorter if not avoided all together. I'd expect Donald Trump to make a cameo and say, "You're Fired". Bye bye Bettman, don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

Amen. These negotiations aren't going to negotiate themselves into a settlement. It's time for Bettman and Goodenow to let the games be played on the ice and not in the boardroom.

Oh, they wouldn't even be able to use ex-NHLers as replacements. They'd have to get guys that haven't even so much as been scouted by an NHL team--which means that all the replacements would be at best SPHL/UHL/CHL/whatever type of guys.

Way more trouble than it's worth--thank GOD sanity prevailed at that BoG meeting.
At one site where I moderate the concensus is that the replacements would be playing for the love of the game. I have argued that the quality of hockey would decline, some just don't see it that way. Personally I think it was the right move, a give if you will by the NHL to spur some movement on likage by the PA. Of course I could be wrong

Mark "KB in Kelowna"
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