Friday, July 15, 2005

Its Over! Who won? Not the fans!

The hockey lockout seems to have ended amid speculation as to which side gained or lost the most. Perhaps Wayne Gretzky said it best, "At the end of the day, everybody lost." First blush looks like a defeat for the union. They never wanted a salary cap, turned down a NHL proposed cap of $42 million and now seemed to have settled for a team cap of $39 million. Additionally, all players currently under contract will have their salaries rolled back 24%. If that is not enough no one player can account for more than 20% of a teams total payroll which basically means that no player can make no more than $7.8 million this season. Now you know why Lord Bettman is smiling. He brought the union to their knees. Why didn't the players union accept the deal in February that would have put the cap at $42 million? The players did come away with a better (for them) free agency system. Starting next summer players with 8 years will be unrestricted and in 2007 players with 7 years in the league will be unrestricted. But this one could be a hollow victory with the salary cap and team limits. The bidding will not be as widespread with teams and players knowing they can't exceed 20% of a payroll. There will be plenty of mercenaries but maybe not too many buyers. What this does to the fabric of the league is unknown and what's more doesn't seem to concern the owners or Lord Bettman. It's all about money, not hockey. So us purists will have to find another outlet. Also remember that there will be no national TV except for NBC's minimal late season telecasts. Couple all this with the proposed rule changes and hockey may not resemble the game that was born over 80 years ago. But that's another story line.

ICINGS: A sad note on the death of Ranger great Alex Shibicky, who played for the Rangers 1935-1946 losing three years in WWll serving in the Canadian armed forces. A very good winger who scored 110 goals and a total of 201 points was one of the leaders of the 1940 Stanley Cup Champions. He played on a line with the Colville brothers, Neil and Mac and the line was known as "The Bread Line" as in our bread and butter. He is credited with being the first player to use the slap shot in 1937. There are only three survivors left from that team. Clint Smith, Alfie Pike and Otto Dutch Hiller. Shibicky was 91. God bless and condolences to the family.

Alex Dimitri Shibicky [] photo
Matthew 'Mac' Colville []

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