NHL owners, players completely out of touch with the real world

Bill Daly, deputy commissioner of the NHL, speaks to the media in New York November 11, 2012....

Bill Daly, deputy commissioner of the NHL, speaks to the media in New York November 11, 2012. (REUTERS)

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:59 PM ET

It figures the shrill whine of the blowhards in the NHL labour dispute would reach a crescendo just as Grey Cup week gets into full gear.

Because if there’s one thing we’ve learned about hockey players and owners it’s that they live in a bubble, insulated from the outside world by thick wads of green, and oblivious to the collateral damage their little fights cause.

Arguing over the hard-earned dollar of the blue-collar fan like school kids pulling at opposite ends of a toy, they’ve now resorted to stealing headlines and attention from something that represents this country far better than they ever could.

With individual players earning more than entire CFL rosters, NHLers obviously don’t have a clue how good they’ve got it.

Likewise the owners have a good amount more money than brains if they can keep locking out the stars of the show, expecting them to protect the owners from themselves.

And who’s protecting the real victims in this?

Never mind the $100-per-seat fan who is obviously doing just fine if they can afford a ticket.

How about the person who scans the ticket, or the one who pours them too many beers?

I talked to one at the Neil Young show last weekend and heard things were getting grim for some.

He said it’s only going to get worse, as our downtown arena has just one event booked for the month of December.

Think the players or owners give two hoots about them?

Nah, they’re too intent on gouging each other for as much as they can, neither side willing to blink in a poker game for the elite, not to mention the out-of-touch.

For a time it actually appeared NHL boss Gary Bettman had successfully called the players’ what-do-we-do-now bluff by suggesting maybe a two-week break was in order.

Players’ boss Don Fehr obviously hadn’t expected that, and the next thing we know the union had put together an actual offer, written in a language at least resembling the one the league had been speaking.

Don’t want to bore you with the nuts and bolts, but suffice to say it was the first real movement by the players, who until Wednesday had been playing a smoke and mirrors game with their promise to eventually take a 50-50 split of revenue.

Of course, it’s still nowhere near the slice of flesh the owners want from them, at least in the short term, and Bettman made that perfectly clear.

You could almost see the players’ shoulders sag from here, as their so-far best shot was turned aside with all the cool of a Vezina winner handling a wobbly point shot.

“The majority feel disappointed that we didn’t get a more positive response,” Ron Hainsey of the Jets, one of nine NHL players at the talks in New York, told me in a text message after the players held a conference call, Wednesday night.

If I were the players, I’d go a little further, then.

While they’re no longer insisting on the same guaranteed money, they’re still not willing to equally share the pain from lost revenue during the lockout, calling it an owners’ lockout.

Well, boohoo to that.

Who’s going to make up the lost salary for the arena workers or the people working the parking lot pay booths?

That question is so far outside the player-owner bubble they don’t even hear it.

For those who still care, there is one sliver of hope in all this.

With the greed on both sides as deep-rooted as it is, they’re going to keep trying until the bitter end. After all, what bank account can’t use a few more million in it? You know, as a cushion for the inevitable tough times ahead.

It’s getting down to the nitty gritty if they want a meaningful season of 50, 60 games (feel free to wonder why, then, you have to pay for 82 every other year).

So the shrill cacophony is sure to continue until the point of no financial returns.

From this seat on the bald Canadian prairie, I only ask one thing.

Can you do us a favour and keep your mouths shut for the rest of Grey Cup week?


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