NHL labour talks? Don't know, don't care

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman at a press conference in Toronto on Wednesday, August 15, 2012. He...

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman at a press conference in Toronto on Wednesday, August 15, 2012. He referred to a "wide gap" still remaining in the labour negotiations with the NHLPA . (Veronica Henri/QMI Agency)

STEVE SIMMONS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:41 AM ET

There will be no daily update and analysis in this space about collective bargaining issues and the pending lockout in the National Hockey League.

The reason? I don’t care enough about it to render any meaningful opinions.

I can’t make a case for the rich owners and management, who shut down the game for an entire season, got their cost certainty, fixed little in the process, can’t police themselves, charge too much for tickets and take their massive audience for granted.

And at the same time, I can’t make a case for the players, almost half of whom are disposable, roster pieces that can easily be replaced, except they are protected by their guaranteed contracts. Almost anyone who can skate in the NHL is paid $1 million a year. Most are paid more. The sport and its fans would be better served by the Hollywood model: The stars are way overpaid, the extras make next to nothing. And really, when you see Mike Komisarek or Ales Hemsky being paid $45 million combined, well, you understand why ownership and management needs to find ways to police itself.

One more thing about the coming months of daily analysis and speculation about the CBA: Almost all of it will be nonsense. When the NHL went back to work after its most recent lockout, the mainstream thinking was that the NHL won, got its salary cap, got rid of Bob Goodenow. And all was well. The reality: Ted Saskin kicked the NHL to the curb, the players won as they always do, and the franchises that couldn’t make money under the old system still can’t make money today.

Frankly, I don’t care how they choose to eventually divide up their billions. I care about hockey. I care about watching and covering NHL games. The rest, the daily play by play: If you care, you can read about it elsewhere.

THIS AND THAT

The release of Cory Boyd reminded me of the trading away of Arland Bruce by the Argos. It’s supposed to be addition by subtraction, but you never wind up replacing the high-end talent you thought you had no room for in the first place ... The Argos were 3-3 heading into Saturday night’s game in Calgary. By default, almost, that makes them Toronto’s best sporting franchise ... During the Olympics, Dwight Howard was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. Before the Olympics, Steve Nash signed in L.A. That gives Los Angeles a Stanley Cup championship team, two contending NBA teams, the Dodgers and Angels in wild-card races and a sporting landscape that includes Kobe Bryant, Howard, Nash, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Matt Kemp, Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Drew Doughty, Jonathan Quick, USC, UCLA and if you’re not jealous — and never mind the weather — I am ... One of my favourite Olympic stories: An athlete inadvertently walked on to a media bus and was asked to leave because he didn’t have the proper credentials. Rather than argue, he flashed the gold medal around his neck. The security people smiled and let him stay on the press bus.

HEAR AND THERE

In watching replays of the 100-metre replay race that broke Canadians’ hearts, and then stopping it and starting it a few times, it sure looks like the Americans and Trinidadians — the silver- and bronze-medal winners — also stepped on lines in their lanes and could have been disqualified. In reality then, the second-, third- and fourth-place finishers in the last all could succumbed to similar disappointment the Canadians faced ... Drug testing aside, a Jamaican-born sprinter has finished first in the 100 metres in five of the past seven Olympic Games, but Usain Bolt is the only winner to have represented his birthplace. The others, Ben Johnson (1988), Linford Christie (’92) and Donovan Bailey (’96) represented Canada and Great Britain ... The Canadian medal that didn’t get enough play in London? The high-jump bronze won by Derek Drouin. When you consider that world-class Canadian high-jumpers such as Mark Boswell and Milt Ottey didn’t win Olympic medals, it makes the Drouin accomplishment all the more impressive ... And the worst performance by a Canadian athlete at the Games: Hammer-thrower Jim Steacy of Saskatoon. He had three throws and faulted on all three. How’s that for an Olympic dream?

SCENE AND HEARD

Firing Bobby Valentine makes no more sense than hiring him in the first place. Never mind the internal turmoil on the Red Sox and a season full of injuries. The Bosox are outplaying the Blue Jays. But then, their starting staff has basically been in place almost all season long ... The tennis was so terrific at the Olympics you hardly noticed that Rafael Nadal wasn’t there. Wonder if it can hold up through the U.S. Open without Rafa ... This is how you know you’re behind the times, as I seem to be: The English Premier League season has begun and you seem to be the only person you know who couldn’t care less about it ... I’m no scientist but that Manitoba study that indicated that 50% of all minor hockey players have had concussions or concussion-like symptoms in hockey seems like bunk to me. I’ve coached minor hockey for more than 20 years, the last 14 of those seasons in contact hockey. Of the 240 kids I coached over 14 seasons, I remember seven concussions we had to deal with. That means my teams were at less than 3% and nowhere near the 50% they’re talking about in Manitoba.

AND ANOTHER THING

Roberto Luongo wants to play in Florida, whenever the NHL resumes play. The Canucks are still asking for more than the Panthers are willing to pay. Eventually, this game of musical chairs will come to an end. And Luongo won’t be in Vancouver. But will he be in Florida or in Toronto? Time will answer that one ... Nice to see Jay Triano back on an NBA bench in Portland and even happier to see that he will shortly be named Canada’s national team coach. The big challenge for Triano and Steve Nash — a challenge that doesn’t necessarily exist in any other country — is convincing Canada’s best young players to play for the national team ... The Maple Leafs are about to become the first team to not make the playoffs through two lockouts ... Amazing watching Linas Kleiza play for Lithuania at the Olympics, where he was a scoring star. And he’s just another guy in the NBA ... Here’s an NFL problem: Their regular officials make all kinds of mistakes and miss all kinds of calls during the season. Imagine how horrible the officiating will be with replacement referees? Pass interference — which I can’t figure out on any given Sunday — is about to become evern more mysterious ... Happy birthday to Darryl Sutter (54), Woody Williams (46), Dave Dunn (64), Jimmy Watson (60), Anthony Munoz (54) and Bobby Hebert (52) ... And hey, whatever became of Lori-Ann Muenzer?

steve.simmons@sunmedia.ca

HAVE A SAY

It isn’t often a hockey fan has power of any kind, but the season-ticket holders in Detroit and Toronto do have some power for a change. They can say no to tickets for the Winter Classic. They can protest the upcoming lockout legitimately by just saying no to buying the seats being offered their way. And the public can get involved also, those who apply by lottery for tickets at the University of Michigan. This is a rare opportunity for fans to lash back at mistreatment by the NHL. It won’t happen, of course. But wouldn’t it be nice if it did? The NHL season is all but certain to not start on time, but will magically find a way to be in play in time for its big show on Jan. 1. Why not send a message and make The Big House the big empty house on New Year’s Day? Why not take a stand?

CANADIAN OLYMPIC COMMITTEE WOES

Marcel Aubut is in the business of being Marcel Aubut, which he happens to be pretty good at. But he has an internal problem on his hands that didn’t get a whole lot of play during the Summer Olympics. The Canadian Olympic Committee, of which he heads up, is in a state of internal chaos, trying to control far more than its mandates maintains. While Aubut is trying to be Olympic chief, trying to bring NHL hockey to Quebec, trying to politic a seat for himself on the International Olympic Committee, longtime employees of the COC are either disgruntled or wanting out and many long-term volunteers of Canadian sport will not take part in another Olympics under the current tight controls of the COC. At the same time, major media outlets returned from the London Games less impressed with the COC than ever before. Aubut loves nothing better than to put on a happy face, shake the right hands and maintain all is well. The truth is: All isn’t well. And the one gold medal in London has nothing to do with the internal difficulties.

RICKY JUST LOSE THOSE NUMBERS

On June 22, Ricky Romero was 8-1 and heading for what seemed was another terrific season. Since then, his status as a big-time pitcher is in question: He is 0-9 over the past two months and that should be alarming for the Blue Jays, until you look around baseball and see that Romero isn’t the only struggling star in the game. Tim Lincecum, two-time Cy Young winner, is having the worst season of his career with the San Francisco Giants. He has fewer wins than Romero, more losses and an earned run average of 5.45. How does that make sense? Jon Lester is having the worst season of his seven years in Boston. Heading into Saturday’s start against the Yankees, he was tied with Romero in losses, had three fewer wins and a better earned run average at 5.20. The reason that so many fine pitchers are having horrible seasons is difficult to explain or understand. But at least Romero and the Blue Jays can take solace in one thing: In this season of woe, they are not alone.


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