Players hurt their own cause

STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 12:17 PM ET

Unwittingly, and with the blessing of the Players' Association, the brainwashed and herd-like membership of the NHLPA has established its value in the kind of free market system it is looking for -- and it isn't much. Take away the odd $1 million player in Russia and what you have is a limited marketplace outside the NHL that pays little more than 10 cents on the dollar for most pro players looking elsewhere.

There are few other financial options for the 700-plus members of the NHLPA -- and the union itself has been party to the salary bar being lowered by a non-responsive financial market.

If players were nervous about a 24% rollback back in December, just wait to see what a not-so-brave new world unveils? Twenty-four percent may seem like Nirvana compared to what awaits the struggling players.

THIS AND THAT

If the eventual cancellation of the NHL season means it's the last we ever see of Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow, that can't be a bad thing ... Goodenow's legacy has been making the player stronger and the game weaker; Bettman's legacy as NHL commissioner is less positive: Revenues have gone up, profits have gone down, and the game droned itself into submission ... If this season is nullified, so too are the contracts of Maple Leafs' Gary Roberts, Joe Nieuwendyk, Alex Mogilny, Bryan McCabe, Brian Leetch and Tomas Kaberle. In other words, the Leafs would have an old Ed Belfour, Owen Nolan, Darcy Tucker and not much else to start out with ... I cancelled the NHL network this week, just before it was about to cancel me ... My Olympics always includes Brian Williams and Don Wittman.

HEAR AND THERE

So Rafer Alston wants an apology, although he didn't say from whom. And Jason Giambi apologized, but he didn't say for what. Can't we just put these two together and call it a draw? ... Yep, those salary caps are killers for the players. Alonzo Mourning never sets foot in Toronto, gets bought out for $10 million US, and will end up playing wherever he wants to finish the season. Yep, if I was a player, I'd be fighting large against that kind of oppression ... The last time the Raptors paid so much for so little they ended up with Lenny Wilkens as coach ... The Raptors have one of the best PR people in all of pro sports but clearly they're not learning or listening to Jim LaBumbard. How else do you explain both general manager Rob Babcock and president Richard Peddie refusing to answer questions about Mourning and the next day his buyout is being reported on ESPN. Cheesing off the local media in troubled times is no way to win friends or build trusts.

SCENE AND HEARD

From the department of pro football ain't what it used to be: When the Browns next play the Bears, the coaching matchup will feature Lovie vs. Romeo ... And tonight on 60 Minutes, Jose Canseco will reveal Mike Wallace used to be on steroids ... And this from talk show star Jay Leno: "Do you realize that Tom Brady now has more rings than Kobe Bryant's wife?" ... My two favourite Malones, Karl and May Day, are both officially retired now ... The Raptors have a better chance of finding Jimmy Hoffa than turning him into an NBA centre ... The Arizona Diamondbacks would like to find a home for overpaid pitcher Javier Vasquez. Might he fit in to the plans on the suddenly well-heeled Blue Jays?

AND ANOTHER THING

Wonder how Andy Reid, the sports columnist turned coach, would have written about the Philadelphia Eagles' lack of time management skills in the final quarter of the Super Bowl? ... I hate numbers like these: Vijay Singh earned more money in ending up No. 1 on the PGA Tour last year than the combined career earnings of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Johnny Miller ... Three years for Arland Bruce III. If he had been the fourth, maybe he could have gotten a fourth year from the Argos ... I would truly wonder about Sean Avery's views on the lockout and eliminating European jobs in the NHL if I had any idea who Sean Avery was ... Canseco writing a book reminds me of the Mike Smith line when 5 penned his autobiography years ago. "Now," said Smith, "he's written one more book than he's read." ... And hey, whatever became of the 48th Highlanders?


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