TORONTO - Not sure how I feel about the NHL Labour Dispute, and possible lockout, other than total and complete apathy — which is surprising given that I consider myself a hockey person.
The problem is, I’ve become less than enamoured with the style of play in the NHL (such as the lack of room for any offensive creativity), and for that reason am hardly sitting on pins and needles waiting for a deal.
My attitude is: Wake me up when the damn thing is over. Until then, life goes on. If I want a distraction from the agony of day-to-day life, I’ll drive over to the Centennial Park greenhouse and try to get Angel the cockatoo to squawk something politically incorrect.
There’s one thing I’m pretty sure of, though. If the players and owners held their meetings at the Red Roof Inn in Toledo, Ohio, rather than in fabulous downtown Manhattan, they actually might get something done. The pressure from the media alone would force a compromise.
Until then, it’s all about posturing and whining and posing for pictures and trying to justify greed. The millionaire players want more money and the billionaire owners want more money.
I actually have a good laugh listening to the two sides plead their case, and when a deal is finally struck, I’m looking forward to NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr cracking a smile. My contention is Fehr’s head will not explode if he attempts to smile, although my buddy Lou believes otherwise.
With apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein (not the former Leaf), here are a few of my favourite things about the NHL labour dispute:
1. Watching the players stand behind Fehr decked out in T-shirts and jeans. It’s like they’re saying, “Look at us. Times are so tough we can’t afford a decent shirt.”
2. Suggestions from both sides that they’re taking a stand “for the fans.” An insult of epic proportions. Yet the players and owners actually say this with a straight face.
3. Witnessing the wonderful solidarity of NHL union brothers such as Sidney Crosby when they announce that, if there’s a lockout, they’ll go play in Europe. It’s like a guy telling his miner pals in Wawa to enjoy the picket line while he’s off in Florida working for his brother-in-law.
4. The word escrow. It’s now etched in my brain. A buddy of mine recently asked me what escrow meant. I naturally explained that escrow was “an arrangement made under contractual provisions between transacting parties, whereby an independent trusted third party receives and disburses money and/or documents for the transacting parties, with the timing of such disbursement by the third party dependent on the fulfilment of contractually agreed conditions by the transacting parties, or an account established by a broker, under the provisions of license law, for the purpose of holding funds on behalf of the broker’s principal or some other person until the consummation or termination of a transaction.”
I mean, how dumb can some guys get?
5. Really looking forward to those lockout shows the Canadian sports networks are throwing together on the eve of the Sept.15 deadline. They’re being presented like Cecil B. DeMille extravaganzas, with titles and everything. Rogers Sportsnet presents The Greatest Lockout Story Ever Told, starring Charlton Heston as Doug MacLean and Anthony Quinn as Nick Kypreos. Crossing my fingers that Sportsnet opens its show with the Juul Haalmeyer Dancers. Seriously, though, I am looking forward to these lockout shows because there’s nothing more exciting than watching 12 white guys in suits sitting around looking glum.
6. Excited about the fact that, come January, the Leafs will NOT be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.
7. Love hearing players say, “We just want to play hockey.” Really? Hey, I know some guys who have ice time a couple of days a week at Moss Park Arena. For $20 bucks, you’re welcome to come over. There aren’t a lot of groupies, though there are some fabulous babes hanging around in the park behind the rink. But if you really want to play ...
8. Finally, looking forward to seven guys from every Toronto newspaper covering the Raptors-Utah Jazz game on Nov. 12 at the Air Canada Centre, and somebody asking Jonas Valanciunas who is favourite Leaf was growing up.