Friday, January 28, 2005

"what I know for certain is that owners cannot restrain themselves"

Ken Dryden, the current MP for York-Centre, but previously an NHL executive, lawyer and of course pretty damn good goaltender offers a bit of interesting insight into the current mindset of the NHL ownership group. Dryden offers up some vital topics for discussion in an article from Friday editions with the Sun newspaper's Robert Tychkowski.

It would seem that history is forever repeating itself in the Groundhog Day world of the NHL, Dryden recounts how he was supremely annoyed when Eddie Giacomin was offered 175,000 by the Rangers (funny how the main culprits never change eh!), setting the scale of goaltending off the rails in the early 70's. Dryden knowing that he was a better goaltender than Giacomin, chose to sit out a season to press his case for more deserving remuneration. Putting his idle time to work, he worked on his law degree and then in the next season signed a better deal than that which Giacomin worked under. A lesson to be learned that eventually the players get their value, because the owners can't help themselves.

Of course Dryden himself would contribute to that spiral of insanity that has become the NHL, with his big money offer to Mats Sundin in the nineties. More recently the Leafs have accumulated high profile players at big budget prices, sending the salary structure ever upward while their less financially blessed brothers have auctioned off their players, traded them away or just let them wander off onto free agency boulevard.

His comments were given an interesting echo today from the world of baseball, the Pittsburgh Pirates ownership group, expressed complete mystification at the self destructive tendencies of their own collection of owners. Kevin McClatchy, the managing general partner for the Pirates warned that baseball was turning into a two tiered kind of league, one where the rich teams get richer and load up on the names of baseball, while others in the smaller markets try to get by on a low payroll and of course lesser known players. Now doesn't that sound awfully familiar? McClatchy said that far too many teams were spending themselves into bankruptcy, he went on to wonder how teams that only a few weeks ago were claiming financial distress, were now signing these free agents at ridiculous wage levels. Echoing the comments of Dryden, McClatchy says he guesses that "these guys just can't control themselves."

Dryden who is one of our more scholarly ex athletes, has of course written a number of books about our game and been involved in numerous think tank like sessions on how to improve the game. He's given much study to the question of what ails hockey so when he speaks we should probably cock and ear and give a listen.

As for the current impasse he simply states that the current situation is just plain embarrassing, as the possibility of a completely cancelled season becomes a very real possibility. His comments to the Sun paper are quite succinct as he says, "someday the lockout is going to end, so it may as well be sooner than later."

Wise words! Too bad it seems that nobody seems inclined to listen. Maybe he should be in the room with the players and owners, a nice third party with a voice of reason certainly could find a use right about now, don't ya think?

No comments: