Well it’s always hard to follow up the main event and for Bob Goodenow, following Gary Bettman proved to be a hard row to hoe. Bettman handled his time in the CBC bear pit quite nicely on Tuesday, exhibiting a sense of humour and a smidgeon of humility for the first time in memory. He handled his audience participation sessions well and for the most part presented the League’s point of view quite well. With his performance receiving a few kudo’s from fans and median the bar was set rather high for the NHLPA’s chief spokesman. On Wednesday night, Goodenow enjoyed the same format as the Bettman experience, but found the audience to be a tad snarly and the video taped portions to be less than enthusiastic for his position.
For the most part the consensus seemed to be that the players were being greedy, unwilling to play for a million dollars when they could get another 3 or 400,000 in the old days. Goodenow probably can report back that at the moment, the public is buying the league’s argument that change must take place. Whether that’s an accurate decision or not is to be determined, but for the moment if we we’re going to assign hats to this showdown, Goodenow would be the hombres in the black one.
Peter Mansbridge once again did his honest broker thing, urging Goodenow to pick up a phone and contact Bettman to get things rolling again. It was a suggestion that Goodenow gently deflected back into Petey’s domain. The labour leader looked a tad uncomfortable as countless young folks from minor hockey teams would pop up on video and wonder why they couldn’t watch hockey anymore and instead will be left with rehashed Hollywood movies. No doubt they never covered nine year olds and their wants in Labour 101.
With fan after fan doing their own math, the numbers kept coming up that the average hockey player makes more money than the average fan and with that the sympathy card quickly disappeared. For Goodenow it’s a loser’s game, his players make good money playing a game that most Canadians would kill to have a chance to play. Considering the insanity of previous contracts where relatively average players were given huge salaries, the idea of holding out seems lost on most. The best Goodenow could offer up on Wednesday was that the owners strategy of a lockout was a misguided one, a reply that while admirable didn't win over too many viewers.
Sure the owners were the authors of their own misfortune with their profligate ways, but when the chickens come home to roost, the fans don’t seem to care who has to bend, as long as somebody does and fast. In this case the assembled group on Wednesday seemed to suggest that the players need to take the pain, it they wish to keep playing.
When he reports back to the membership he’s going to have to tell them, this is one labour dispute where they’ll be on their own. The public may not necessarily come down on the side of the owners, but they’re finding a fair amount of fault with the player’s position. And no amount of Public Relations is seemingly going to change that perception.
With the screen fading to black the CBC completed it's in depth coverage of the early stages of the dispute. Calling in at times the thoughts of Martin O'Malley and Rex Murphy to re-inforce for us love of hockey and our frustration at it's current state. Sadly with two sides so far apart, there will be lots of time for CBC News to put together many more reports about our game.