SUN Hockey Pool

NHL going for broke?

TIM BAINES, DON BRENNAN, BRUCE GARRIOCH AND CHRIS STEVENSON, SUN MEDI

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

BRUCE GARRIOCH: Take a look at the rinks lately. There are more empty seats in some places than there are fans.

CHRIS STEVENSON: I don't think the reckoning for the NHL is coming until next year since most of their commitments are in place for this year. If we don't see a pretty substantial recovery in the next 12 months, the day of reckoning for some franchises -- like Phoenix or Nashville -- is coming, I think.

DON BRENNAN: Who's to know what the real numbers are with billionaire owners? Really. I don't know. Chris doesn't know. Bruce doesn't know.

STEVENSON: No, we don't, Don. But it's going to be interesting as some of these owners take a beating in the real world how many will keep cutting cheques to subsidize their NHL teams. So many pressing economic issues. I'm worried about finding a parking spot in downtown Ottawa after a snowstorm in the middle of a transit strike.

TIM BAINES: Maybe NHL players should ask their union reps to negotiate in a clause where they can set their own schedules and get eight sick days during the course of the season.

STEVENSON: The whole city of Ottawa got thrown under the bus and the bus isn't moving. Just like the traffic.

GARRIOCH: They cancelled all the talk about hockey-related issues at the board of governors meetings because this is a pressing issue. I was mystified why their financial experts didn't want to make any predictions.

BRENNAN: I especially thought it was a good point that Bruce put forth on Off The Posts, our popular blog at ottawasun.com. Why are these governors crying about financial crisis from an expensive hotel in Florida? Don't give me that crap about the rooms being booked last year, either. Did this problem sneak up on everybody? If so, these people are not as smart as I thought.

BAINES: We've been talking about the day of reckoning for a long time. They've been putting Band-Aids on those franchises for years. Fill up your tank with gas and we'll give you free tickets to tomorrow's game. Buy a burger, get free tickets. NHL teams in the south are giving tickets away. It hasn't stopped teams from handing out ridiculous contracts ... yet. But players may get their first dose of reality next year. I sure as hell hope Scott Boras isn't representing any NHL free agents ... or none of them will get signed.

GARRIOCH: I got a Coke out of the fridge in the Phoenix arena one time and it was good for two Coyotes tickets. I was tempted to take it outside and give it to a kid. I really was. But, of course, the fact I was too lazy to move overtook me.

BAINES: It's not the owners who spend to the max of the salary cap that have to worry, it's the saps who are being told they have to spend to the salary cap minimum. At the next NHL meetings, those owners won't be at The Breakers, they'll be at a fleabag motel on the outskirts of town.

STEVENSON: With the media, apparently.

BAINES: Hey, it could be worse ... you could be a hard-done-by bus driver ... Or somebody waiting at a bus stop right now.

STEVENSON: Or looking for a parking spot.

BRENNAN: May I express the personal opinion that I feel sorry for absolutely no one who goes on strike?

GARRIOCH: The point about the hotel was a good point by me. Seriously, it's bad optics. I hope Bettman didn't fly there in a private jet. I did see him on Jet Blue, once, though.

BAINES: Bruce, far be it for you to pat yourself on the back. I'm surprised you haven't sprained that wrist a couple of times.

GARRIOCH: It's hard to be humble when you are right so many times.

STEVENSON: If the financial Armageddon does arrive, it's going to be interesting to see what happens to those six- and seven-year deals everybody has been handing out. Can you say firesale?

GARRIOCH: The budget is set for this year and ticket sales are still strong. (Senators owner Eugene Melnyk) will spend to the cap, but nobody will be getting six-year deals. If the guy can afford to sink $40 million into a soccer team, then he can still spend on this team.

STEVENSON: And don't forget another $100 million or so for the stadium, Bruce.

BAINES: Maybe he's rethinking that soccer bid right now.

GARRIOCH: He should be.

STEVENSON: I also hope for Marian Hossa's sake the Wings win the Cup because otherwise he is going to be the poster boy for the new NHL. He turned down about $90 million to sign for one year. What might he get offered next summer?

BAINES: In these times, billionaires can become millionaires ... and millionaires can become just like Don.

STEVENSON: Hey, he's staying in a ritzy hotel in the Windy City. Not bad. He doesn't have to go through a tank of gas looking for a parking spot.

BAINES: Ritzy hotel, expensive? Uh, Don ... you didn't get the memo?

BRENNAN: The Sutton Place Hotel in downtown Chicago was only costing the Sun $194.59 for the night until I had to get an extra high speed internet block at $9.99. But I didn't go over my per diem too much last night. I only had three Michelob Ultras and a plate of fries at The Cheesecake Factory, then only a couple more Ultras at Tavern on Rush and a couple more at The Whiskey. Of course, I needed a night out to unwind after all the work i had done earlier. Now, I ask you, isn't a day in the life of Don a lot more interesting than talking about the "economic situation" of a game played by billionaire owners?

STEVENSON: Good job, Don. You stimulated the brewery industry in the U.S. ... and your bladder.

BAINES: The Life of Don would be a roller-coaster of drama, romance, comedy, tragedy, horror and mystery. Not necessarily in that order.

BRENNAN: Hey that's actually funny, Tim. I knew if we did enough of these, some of my wit and humour would rub off on you.


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