Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Won't you please come to Chicago..

As we write this Trevor, Harley and the rest of the band of six are sitting down over coffee and snacks to try and salvage whatever would be left of an NHL season.

The meeting arranged by Trevor Linden on Monday is perhaps the last gasp on a season that for all we know may already have been cancelled in all but official announcement.

Yet hope springs eternal one assumes, though the concept of what is rumoured to be a 28 game regular season followed by possibly as much as 28 playoff games seems rather hard to wrap ones mind around. The players make the bulk of their salaries on the regular season, the playoffs are the gravy for the owners the chance to shovel the extra cash into the vault for a flurry of free agent signings in the off season. So one wonders what possible benefit there would be for those that Trevor represents.

If the owners are adamant that a salary cap (or as Gary would say cost certainty) is the only way to save the league, and the players are equally dis-inclined to accept that concept we wonder where the middle ground of a deal may be.

The fact that the two sides have at least arranged a cup of coffee has all the writers, broadcasters and fans of hockey thinking that there may yet be life in the league. Is it more wishful thinking than any actual sense of hope?

Are we desperate enough for hockey that we would accept a 28 game schedule as a legitimate test of a teams ability and readiness for the playoffs? What about scoring records and draft positioning. Should there be an asterisk beside each category this year should the players get back on the ice?

How tempting would it be for an astute General Manager to just tank the upcoming season, finishing last and thus winning the Sidney Crosby sweepstakes? 28 games of ineptitude is not too much to ask for if you're looking at a franchise player up for grabs in June! Your owner and fans would hail you as a genius if somehow your team couldn't win a game this year, damn lock out eh, never got that team chemistry going!

The idea of hockey coming back in the form of one of those round robin minor hockey tournies we see at spring break (and at 28 games it's not much more than a glorified pee wee tournament eh) doesn't do a lot for the perception of being a major sport.

But no doubt should Trevor and Harley report back that progress has been made, we'll no doubt cheer them on. But should we not ask them to look at the larger goal of fixing the game for good and not some slapped on band aid solution. Better to lose a season and set the game right, than to rush back to the same old same old, only to go through this all again in a couple of years.

This surely must be the last get together before we realize that the season is gone. The question we should be asking both sides is why they didn't start these little exploration sessions back in November? Perhaps then we would have been watching the standings today instead of watching to see who is left standing!

No comments: