Saturday, October 30, 2004

Bumped players in Europe not at all happy with newly arrived “scabs”

The fraternity of hockey players is taking a bit of a kick these days in the solidarity department, while fellow NHLPA members debate the merits of holding fast against any kind of salary cap. The players in Europe that are getting bumped by the new refugees aren’t talking cap, their talking about being fed up with crap!

The 236 odd new arrivals have bumped a similar number of formerly gainfully employed players onto the unemployment rolls. And the situation is not sitting well with some of the newly laid off.

And while the NHL stars come to Europe for what amounts to beer money in their world, the folks that were calling the European leagues’ home are crying foul. Corey Hirsch seems to be taking the point on this battle on behalf of his recently unemployed brethren, in an exchange of e mails with Ottawa Sun columnist Chris Stevenson, Hirsch explains how the vast majority of North Americans that relocated to Europe did it to continue their careers and make some money in a game that they love. To have that taken away by the folks that “made it in the NHL” leaves a lot of them with a bitter taste in their mouths.

The new arrivals who are parking in Europe while things sort themselves out back in the NHL, don’t seem to be aware of the damage they may be doing to the players recently released. In a season to season league, performance in one year normally dictates whether you are invited back the next, the layoff of the North Americans puts their very careers in jeopardy normally when they need the money the most. When the lockout ends and the NHL resumes the vacationers will go back to salaries well in excess of the European league average, yet the now replaced players may find that their careers come to a crashing end.

And that has the now bumped players talking about returning to North America should the NHL re open with replacement players. Feeling that they have nothing to lose Hirsch says that they would just be doing what the current NHL players are doing to them.

It makes for a cautionary tone for Mr. Goodenow and the NHLPA, should the owners wait out the union until next year, there’s a very good chance that a pool of players will readily be ready to go to work, having been sent to the sidelines by the NHLPA’s very own players. The NHL stars currently taking their skates in the European leagues may very well have opened up a can of worms from which not good will come.

The logic of the recently unemployed makes sense, in any other strike/lockout situation the workers do not go over to another company and take the jobs of those that are already employed. They take the odd jobs to tide one over until the lockout or strike comes to an end, they work the picket lines and promote their cause.

They generally don’t create misery for other workers who were only trying to earn a living. The move by the NHL players that relocated to Europe, in effect makes the newly unemployed two time losers! They lost their dreams of NHL glory and now they’ve lost their fall back plan to play the game and still make a decent living. Make a person that bitter and you may reap what you sow!

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