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Groundhog Blog: Locked Out!

For me, this is the first lockout since I'm regularly watching hockey and also the first since I'm a Sens-fan. So this is a new phenomenon for me. I do have some thoughts on the whole dispute, but that's not what I want to write about. Reading about the whole NHL vs. NHLPA dispute however I've come across some sentiments around the interwebs about the locked out players playing somewhere else. That, I do want to write about.

The gist of these opinions seems to be: "How dare these spoiled millionaires take the jobs of hard working players in other leagues!"

I have some objections to that.

First. What those people are actually saying is that once NHL'ers are locked out by the league, they've lost the right to play professionally, period. Because they'll always take somebody else's spot. No matter what. Say there are 5000 payed hockey jobs available worldwide. From one season to the next, the NHL has a lock out. Suddenly there are only 4300 jobs available to the more or less the same 5000 players. Hockey is the same as any other line of business. Barring ongoing contracts (and the space they take), the best workers/players will be offered a job somewhere. That's the way it works. What would be the alternative? Should they all start their own 'amateur' league and all play there for free* until the dispute is resolved? 

Second. They may be millionaires, but that doesn't imply they're spoiled or not working hard. Sure, there are whiners among those millionaires. Sure, some of those millionaires tend to take a regular night off. But do you really think there aren't any whiners, enigmas or lazy guys in the AHL, SEL or KHL? Apart from the KHL, the wages are considerably lower than in the NHL, so if they choose to play somewhere else, they take a huge cut in pay. Add to that, the real chance they have to pay for their own insurance and you see they aren't better compensated for the same amount of work than those whose job they 'steal'. Millionaires? Definitely! Spoiled? Maybe, but they're not treated that differently. 

Third. Are the locked out players the actual problem here, or is it the other leagues with their teams? If none of the teams in other leagues would sign locked out players or if the other leagues would prohibit that, there wouldn't be a problem, am I right? Are the players to blame then, for taking someone else's job? Or are the leagues to blame for allowing or even encouraging it?

This is all well and good, but it's still a problem.

The way I see it, is that you have a certain range of quality in players on one hand. And on the other hand you have a range of quality in leagues. Once the NHL (temporarily) isn't there anymore, you still have the same range in players, but the range in leagues has taken a cut. The best players (NHL'ers) look to play in the best available league. For several reasons (location, league rules etc.) they don't all flock to the same league. If those leagues allow locked out NHL'ers to play there, it's too bad for the players they replace, but they simply aren't the best available anymore.

There should however in my opinion be rules to regulate all this. The first rule would be about the term of the contracts. Other players (non-NHL'ers) have to commit for at least a year. So should the locked out players, once they choose to play in another league. Maybe there's a scenario where all parties are better off when there's, by exception, a term of half a season. But otherwise players should commit for the season. I don't know what that means for an ongoing NHL contract if a new CBA is in place within a year and NHL games are played this season. But if it has quite severe implications, perhaps players won't sign somewhere else lightly. Nor will too many, so the disruption of other leagues is limited in that case. It could also put some pressure on the owners. Imagine Pittsburgh without Crosby and Malkin or the Minnesota without Parise and Suter, because of a breach of contract.  

The other rule should be that players are treated equally when finances or other terms of employment are concerned. Same wages, same taxes, same insurance premiums etc.


I'd like to give a quick view from another perspective. The whole lockout could not only be a threat, but also be a huge opportunity for some European leagues, where teams don't sell out every game. If I were a league executive, I'd try everything in my power to get as many NHL'ers (preferably stars) to my league as possible. Attract as many subsidies, sponsors, merchandise sellers and advertisers as possible to finance it all. Go all in and try to put the sport on the map. Get as many on the bandwagon as you possibly can, in that year. Argue that the best hockey in the world is played in your league. People will come! **  I'd go...


*) If those games would be televised, they'd have my blessing ;-)

**) On second thought; that strategy doesn't work in Phoenix and Florida. But it still could work in some European countries, I guess.

Disclaimer: I'm European, so I'm not as entrenched in the North American sports (and/or customs) as most of you are. I blame all flaws in my logic on that :-) But I'd like to hear your opinions anyway, let me know in the comments or on the forum.



Sens Call-ups - Episode 3: Momma said Lock You Out!

WELCOME EVERYONE TO THE SENS CALL-UPS……ok, we really can’t keep that up.  Well, well, what’s to say about what’s going on in the NHL?  In one word NOTHING!  In episode 3, we talk about what we have heard about the CBA negotiations (or lack there of) and look at the teams that have lost money and what, in our humble opinions, needs to be done to change that and get the game back on the ice.  Looking at the signing bonus payouts and other loopholes, we touch on who is getting paid and who isn’t. 

Bingo looks like it will be a great point of interest for the year as well as the AHL as a whole.  We look forward to hearing stories of who will shine in the farm team and how the international hockey atmosphere will look. 

Kardinal looses it over the Cyril Leeder speech and we give our kudos to those team employees who have either lost their jobs or are on reduced work arrangements.  Comparatively to other teams who state that they haven’t laid anyone off, these are the people most affected by the lockout. 

The new OHL rules around fighting seem interesting and effective.  Will the NHL look at it?  Will they even consider it for themselves?

No SCU podcast is complete without a little Whiskey Tango Foxtrot action on the length of contracts vs. the league CBA demands.  Some make sense, others don’t.

We wrap things up with a little house cleaning and Pan announces the winner of the SCU Contest Prize!  Thanks all for playing and we’ll have more as time goes by. 

We look forward to having the actual game to talk about and hope that this lockout comes to an end sooner rather than later.  Don’t forget, this is a show for the fans, by the fans, and with the fans, so please – CALL UP!

Sens Call-ups - Episode 3: Momma said Lock You Out!


Big Whiny Tunes: NHL Lockout Edition

The negotiation talks slow and the die hard NHL hockey fan grow uncomfortably more frustrated.  A small band of fans have created a music album to express their frustrations.  Including new hits including: “Hey Mr. Commissioner”, “the Mika Ballad” and “the Day the CBA Died” along with classics such as “Be Redderer” Big Whiny Tunes: the Lockout Edition hits the airways. 

You may need to listen to these again, and again, and again as there might be a lot of extra time on the die hard fans’ hands coming up. 


Big Whiny Tunes: NHL Lockout Edition


Sens Call-ups - Episode 2: The Golden Gawd Demands Another Episode!

So let it be written so let it be done!  We’re back with a second summer show, as how can you really let news like this go by without talking about it?  That’s right folks!  He’s coming back!  Your fearless leader, the blonde Adonis, the Golden Gawd is coming back for at least one more season (or eight more depending on which Call-Up you ask).  Driven by leadership, the love of the game, the team and the city, the NHL's current longest serving captain will be back in a Sens uniform at season’s start, plus this happens without a contract extension or more money being thrown at him.  That’s the definition of leadership right there.

We also touch on the future of leadership beyond Alfie and the drastic change from previous years with now having a clog up on offence while shockingly looking thin on the blue line and try to fill these spots with the prospects that are coming up. 

Around the league there has been some noise with Nash finally moving to the Rangers, Nashville getting their hands tied with an offer sheet and we talk about other big names on the move.  All of this is of course dependent on the CBA being finalized in time for hockey to start.

Pan gets heated over recent Tim Thomas comments and Kardinal goes a little Whiskey Tango Foxtrot on the topic of the Raffi Torres suspension and appeal.  We read our first e-mail from a long time groundhog and launch our very first SCU contest.

We’re looking forward to the start of training camp and pre-season and hope to hear from you soon via e-mail, the forums or twitter. 


Sens Call-ups - Episode 2: The Golden Gawd Demands Another Episode!


Sens Call-Ups - Episode 1: Game On!

Welcome to the first episode of Sens Call-Ups!  In this episode, we break through a lot of nervous energy and talk about the summer that was and what’s on the horizon starting with the cup winning champs and some controversy within the Canadian media around the playoffs and a look back as to how the Sens did in their first round contest. 

We talk about the awards ceremony and discuss as to what effect being nominated for the coach of the year may have on MacLean and his relationship with the refs.  Also we look at who’s in and who’s out in free agency and who has re-upped with the Sens.

Touched on are the newest draft picks and look at Cody Ceci and the Senator’s pledge to look at local talent.  We go into some detail about the trade in acquiring Marc Methot for a great guy in Nick Foligno.  Losing Nick and his wife from the community is a big loss, but we wish him all the best in Columbus.  Oh, and Figs better stay away from Anderson when he plays here!

We have our very first special guest to discuss the potential need for new enforcers.  No, not Wayne Gretzky!  Not Brenda Shannahan, and definitely not Mats Sundin!  WE HAVE PUDDLE DUCK!

After a quick look around the league to talk about other big name signings, we look at the CBA offer by the NHL and, although worried, are hopeful for hockey next year. 

We’re excited and looking forward to hearing from you, the listener as Sens Call-Ups is not only made by the fans, for the fans, but is to be made WITH the fans.  We’re looking forward to hearing from you via e-mail and twitter and are eager to hear your suggestions and comments as to what you’d like to see on the show.

We’ll be back up around training camp and pre-season, but until then, CALL UP!

Sens Call-Ups - Episode 1: Game On!