First, full disclosure: I am a unionized Federal Public Servant, which in some circles affords me slightly less respect than a syphilitic goat in a Scottish whorehouse. This fact alone may even cause some of you to stop reading this all together, which is fine. To those fine folks I will bid a fond good day and wish them nothing but the best as they return to their semen stained copies of Atlas Shrugged. But before I do, I would simply remind them that Ayn Rand was an odious troll of a human being who, had she not been possessed of a thundering hypocrisy and stayed true to her own "philosophy", would have ended her days living out of a cardboard box behind a dumpster eating nothing but expired cat food and dead rats.
Now then, with that out of the way, to the matter at hand. Where does our very own Barbadian Bwanna stand amidst the Commissar's third attempt at breaking the NHLPA? Slavering enabler? Reluctant tower of party lines? Active resistor of the League of Super Evil? Who the hell knows, 'cause he ain't talkin'. So in that spirit, let us engage in wild speculation shall we?
As Dave alluded to so eloquently yesterday, the current zeitgeist, when not openly hostile, isn't exactly friendly toward trade unions of any kind. I must say this sentiment baffles me, fuelled as it seems to be not by sound economic arguments over whether unions enhance or detract from any given industry's bottom line (and there are good arguments on both sides of that debate), but by the naked envy of the groundlings. Popular sentiment goes something like this: I don't have what you have, so you should have everything taken away so we're both miserable. Just be thankful you have a job, even if it means a lifetime of licking the boots of your benevolent overlords who would so generously provide nothing but subsistence wages if they thought they could get away with it. Or, as applied to the lockout, "just shut up and play". It makes no sense, and it really, really pisses me off, but there it is. And nothing, nothing makes an owner like Ed Snider or Crazy Charlie Wang or the faceless killbots that make up the unholy alliance of Rogers/Bell Media go all tenty-pants faster than hearing the baying hordes hurling that kind of invective at their "cattle".
Which brings me to our own Benevolent Emperor and Overlord: The Euge.
Largely (and rather astonishingly) silent since the lockout began eleven days ago, he has given us no inkling as to whether he stands with those who would consider a player like, say Daniel Alfredsson as merely a replaceable widget in the Big Machine that is the National Hockey League, or if he's on the side of the Resistance coming from inside the NHL Board of Governors. Because a Resistance there must be.
How else to explain the schizoid run up to the September 15th deadline?
How else to explain that at the same time as the Commissar was demanding the PA accept a five year cap on all contracts, the Wild were signing Parise and Suter to thirteen years each? Thirteen! Each!
How else to explain the Commissar lamenting how the system was "broken" while simultaneously twenty-nine million dollars in contracts were handed out in September alone, of which $21M went from the LEAGUE OWNED (!!) Phoenix Coyotes to Shane Doan the day before that same league slapped the padlocks on the doors citing an inability to make a profit under the current conditions?
How to explain any of that? Either the BOG is divided as to the line Bettman is spewing at the behest of a cabal of more powerful teams (I'm looking at you Boston, Philly, Rangers and Leafs) but have nevertheless agreed to keep their collective yap shut for now, OR they are functionally retarded and utterly incapable of policing themselves, in which case all sharp instruments should removed from their immediate area lest they engage in grunt filled scissor fights between money orgies. So which is it?
Look, it's easy for us to look at the mind boggling amount of money involved in this billionaire vs. millionaire bunfight and wholeheartedly wish a pox on both of their houses. But take away the dollars for a second and focus on the principles.
The players didn't cause this. The players didn't force the last CBA down the league's throat. Quite the contrary, it was the league doing the forcible fellatio. And now the league is saying "Whoops, our bad. We think we screwed up the last time so we're giving ourselves a mulligan. Do over!" The players didn't flatly refuse to entertain the idea of playing under the terms of the old CBA while this one was being negotiated. The players aren't the ones "negotiating" by constantly moving the goalposts. The owners are. And one of those owners is our very own Eugene Melnyk, ensconced though he may be in his cone of silence.
And so, to The Euge I would say this:
Since you saved the team from bankruptcy lo these many years, you've managed to build up an enourmous font of good will in Hockey Country, your Excellency. Don't piss it all away now by coming down on the wrong side of this. Do us all a favour and slap some sense into these asshats.