Caught in the CBA Crossfire

 

As I read and keep up on the “progress” of the NHL and NHLPA collective bargaining agreement talks, I can’t help but become upset, and at times, angry. Why? It’s because we have two sides that are “duking out” some sort of agreement that involves millions and millions of dollars. Figures many of the average NHL hockey fan cannot even begin to conjure up in his/her mind. Figures that many of us fans can only see if we ever won a lottery. It’s not because I am bitter about how much money the owners, the league and the players have in their pockets, or how they live their lifestyles. I’m upset and angry because, the two sides (NHL and NHLPA) aren’t the only ones that are affected by a possible lockout.

My concerns go to the people who have jobs in the arenas, the office of various NHL franchises and those that have ties with the NHL and/or franchises. People like you and I that work for a living to provide for ourselves and our loved ones. What happens to them during all this? As I dropped my 15 year old daughter off to work this morning, I got thinking about all those that will possibly be affected. My daughter works special events for various event companies and also for the catering company I own. It is very similar to many that work at Rogers Arena and many of the other arenas across the league, they make a living working the games and special events that happen.

CBA Talks between the NHL and the NHLPA hold up more than revenue sharing percentage quibbles.

The NHL has 41 regular season games a year, a handful of pre-season games and possibly some playoff games for the arena staff to work. An average salary in Vancouver would be around $14-16 an hour and about a six to eight hour  shift for such events. Let’s ballpark that to $105 a game per employee. Over a the course of the regular season of 41 games that’s $4,305 in wages per employee. Multiply that by about 150 people it becomes a cumulative approximate total of $645,750 of wages for the people to help run the NHL events of the arena.  The NHL league minimum is $525,000. The difference between one NHL player earning the league minimum and 150 NHL arena employees is $120,750. It is not a whole lot of difference is it? The $120,750 is also divided by 149 more people than what the low end of what a players makes in the NHL.

While the NHLPA may be losing wages throughout this whole ordeal, many of the players have hazard pay, strike pay, whatever you want to call it. What about the arena workers? Many are forced to seek other means employment in a day and age where having a job is harder to come by each and every passing day, no matter what education and work experience one may have. There are only so many jobs to go around.

So when the owners and the players decide to put the fate of the average people in their hands to bargain about billions and millions of dollars, “Joe” at the concession stand is going to go and look for a new job to cover the 41 games he will not be getting paid if there is an NHL lockout to cover the $4,305 he will shorted on his salary for the year. NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman makes a base salary of $5,529,490. I get it, he has a lot of responsibility, more so than a guy that runs a concession stand at your local NHL arena when it comes to the league, but “Joe” has responsibilities as well. “Joe” has bills to pay, put a roof over “Joe’s” head and mouths to feed. I know that $4,305 is just a suit in Gary Bettman’s closet, but that’s 1.5-2.0 months of wages to “Joe”.

NHL Commission Gary Bettman wants a deal done by September 15 or the league will lockout the players…and fans.

As a season ticket holder for the Vancouver Canucks, I’ve gotten to know some of the arena workers over the years, a few of them I consider friends. Although, the ones I do know are very capable of finding other employment in the hospitality and service industry, it bugs to me to think that they have to even do such a thing. It also bothers me to know that fans who have paid their hard-earned money to purchase ticket packages for the Vancouver Canucks and other teams year in and year out are again held hostage to negotiations between the NHL and the NHLPA. That’s three times in Gary Bettman’s tenure as NHL Commissioner. That’s three times too many in this fan’s opinion.

As many fans all around the league hope for a better outcome of these negotiations between the NHL and the NHLPA, many of those could possibly be affected by an impending lockout are now forced to find different avenues to make a living.

So my message to the league and the players’ union is: Keep quibbling over percentages of millions of dollars each side gets, but get it done soon. You are not the only ones affected by this dark cloud looming over the NHL’s upcoming season. Some of us (fans) are getting tired of the constant threat of a lockout or a strike. So while you drive your luxury cars to your meetings, some of us are just wanting to make sure we have money to put gas in our cars or to buy a transit pass to make our way to work…that is, if you allow us.
Justine Galo

twitter: @Aviewfromabroad

 

Contest: Skate with the Canucks at Rogers Arena

Update: This contest is now closed! Congratulations to Kailey Ransom, the winner of our Sun Life / Vancouver Canucks “Skate with the Canucks” contest. Kailey won via Twitter! She’ll have the chance to skate at Rogers arena with three friends, Canucks players and alumni.

On Saturday, January 14th, 2012, Sun Life Financial is sponsoring Skate with the Canucks. This event will give fans a chance to skate with current Canuck players as well as alumini at Rogers Arena. The Vancouver Canucks and Sun Life Financial were kind enough to offer one CanucksCorner.com reader and up to three of their friends a chance to participate.

This is obviously a great opportunity for any Canucks fan and there are two ways you can enter via CanucksCorner.com:

  • Leave a comment below and tell us how you became a Canucks fan. (1 entry)
  • Post the following on Twitter (1 entry):

RT to enter for a chance to Skate with the #Canucks at Rogers Arena via @VanCanucks & @CanucksCorner http://tinyurl.com/8a5fbx7 #CCSkate

The deadline to enter is Saturday, January 7th, 2012 at 12:00 noon. A random winner from the total number of entries will be drawn and announced soon after.

Good luck!

Please note:

  • All participants must provide their own helmet and pair of skates.
  • At least one member of the 2011/2012 Vancouver Canucks and Canucks Alumni will be on the ice at the event.
  • Official and additional eligibility rules can be found here.

Game One Brought…

The Stanley Cup Finals have finally started with the Canucks winning in the dying seconds of the third period on a Raffi Torres goal from Jannik Hansen and the heads-up play of Ryan Kesler.  When I was at Rogers Arena last night, I felt an energy in the building that hasn’t been felt in a long, long time. Game one showed me a few things to indicate where this series could go.

Last night, I saw some good things, ,some bad things and certainly some odd things.  Regardless of the strange happenings throughout the arena last night, the hometown team gave their crowds something to cheer about.

Oh, Bite me!

Bergeron and Burrows showing what a French Kiss is all about in hockey- Photo Credit: Globe and Mail


Alex Burrows got into a little scuffle with Patrice Bergeron last night which led into an alleged biting of Bergeron’s finger. Bergeron and Julien complained to the refs, who didn’t see the incident, about Burrows and wanted him tossed out of the series for a game or two. Who knows, perhaps Burrows was in the middle of a sentence in their chirping when Bergeron shoved his finger in Burrows’ mouth? Maybe that’s a way French-Canadians chirp at each other. Who knows, all I know is the NHL didn’t seem to think it was suspension worthy, despite what some members of the media think. Ask yourself Pierre Maguire, if Gord Miller shoved his finger in your mouth during an argument, what would you do?

Confetti

After Game 5 of the Western Conference Final, the braintrust at Rogers Arena thought it would be a good idea to have confetti fall all over the ice surface after the game winning goal.  I wonder if the brainiac who decided it would be an awesome idea ever put on a pair of skates? I don’t think so. It was nearly impossible for the players to skate around to celebrate the victory and it could have resulted in a potential injury to one of the players.  It was a poor choice of celebration fodder.  How poor? So poor that last night, I managed to take a picture of a pile of confetti atop of the cover of the walk-way of the visitors bench. Not only that, an official on the ice had to pick up a stray piece of confetti as it floated down to the surface. I am guessing the brain trust at Rogers Arena and the Canucks front office might want to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Well, at least I hope.

Confetti atop the visitors bench entry way cover. - Photo Credit: Justine Galo


Officiating, yet again

So 12 penalties were called in the first  and second periods, but none in the third. I would say about 1/3 of those penalties called were pretty weak ( going both ways) and they should have just the teams play a little more. It would have made for a bit more of an exciting game and given it a much better flow.  The NHL officials are yet again, consistently inconsistent.

Great Goaltending

Both Tim Thomas and Roberto Luongo have shown why they are both up for the Vezina trophy last night. Although I am sure, both would gladly concede the regular season honour to one another to win the Stanley Cup.  Thomas dazzled the crowd with his acrobatic saves and his aggressive style.  For a small man, he certainly covers the net very well, and for some of the Canucks in the early goings of the first period, too well. He set an NHL record for best save percentage in the regular season of .938. He broke a record held for 11 years by Dominik Hasek (Buffalo Sabres) at .936. He also can thank a post and crossbar aiding him and his team last night. Despite the late heroic goal by Raffi Torres he stopped 33 of 34 shots by the Canucks. He also faced better scoring chances than his counter-part, Roberto Luongo.

Even though Luongo didn’t have to be as acrobatic as Thomas, he was perfect and acquiring his third shutout of the post-season, posting a 36 save effort for the night. His rebound control, and his efficient movements had Luongo help his team to this win. For those doubting Luongo in the earlier part of this post season, since Nashville, he has been stellar. Maybe just maybe, his critics might start showing him the respect, that I believe he deserves. Mr. Dangerfield, he is not.

Signage

Saw some really cool signs last night, some good, some dirty and but most creative.  There was a couple of long banners passed around Rogers Arena last night that had “Go Canucks Go”

A banner is being used like "The Wave" passed around Rogers Arena- Photo Credit: Justine Galo


And of course, the Cup Final banner was hung from the rafters at Rogers Arena. I managed to get an excellent picture of it from my seat.

Stanley Cup banner hangs from the rafters in Rogers Arena: Photo: Justine Galo


It was a great way to start the series, and I look forward to the upcoming games. I anticipate  the drama that builds, the signs that come in, and the play between two very good hockey teams.

Justine Galo

Twitter: @Aviewfromabroad

Profiting off Passion: How Much is ‘Too Much’?

It’s the Stanley Cup Finals, and everyone who has an avenue to make some ‘extra’ money off this series is unashamedly doing what they can to profit off people’s enthusiasm. From ticket scalpers to season ticket holders. Hell even airlines are boosting prices from Vancouver to Boston and vice versa to get in on the short term profit margin markups. Everywhere you look in the Lower Mainland (and probably Boston too) everyone is looking to make a buck or two off this playoff run. So I ask, how much is ‘too much’?

Some say it’s ‘smart business’ ,  others say it’s sheer unadulterated greed and some don’t know what to think about all this. They want, but can’t have, so they look to see who can be around to take the blame… errr I mean responsibility.

Stanley Cup Finals. Be there or bust...your wallet. Photo credit: Prediction Challenges



So tickets went on sale to the general public for the Stanley Cup Finals in Vancouver and Boston today via Ticketmaster.  Between two cities that are passionate about hockey and both have a very big season ticket holder base, these tickets that were released were harder to come by than the next sighting of Haley’s Comet. So fans are testing different avenues to obtain their Stanley Cup Finals tickets. Online ticket brokers, Craigslist ads, and local secondary brokerages are where fans are turning to get their tickets. But at what price? Many on twitter say too much. Others are pointing at the teams’ owners to take the blame for selling too many season tickets so single game tickets are harder to get for the general public. The real question is, what is a Stanley Cup Final game worth to you?

Canucks Nation

Rabid fans will be asked to pay big bucks for SCF tickets Photo Credit: Justine Galo



When looking for tickets for a member of my spouse’s extended family, who wanted to watch a SCF game with his son from Winnipeg, I was shocked and appalled by some of the prices people were asking for their tickets to Games 1 and 2. The thing was, I was not surprised.  I am not surprised that greed has taken over so many out there and unfortunately have to ability and avenue to gauge fans who want to watch one game and share in the experience with all the others at the arena.  The River Rock Club Section at Rogers Arena have the SCF seats sold to the season ticket holder for roughly $500 a piece.  I know this because one of our  sections of season tickets is right in those seats, which we sold to friends at face value. These seats are being advertised on Craigslist, StubHub.com and other ticket brokerages between $1700-3000 per seat.  I don’t care how some people spin it, but that’s more than at least a 200% mark-up of the value of the ticket. To me, that’s gauging and that’s fueled by the greed the world is built on these days.

It’s bad enough that the ticket vultures are going to be getting fat off the cup finals, but now even airlines are getting in on the game. An insider who works for the ticketing department of Air Canada said that during these two weeks or so, flights between Vancouver and Boston will be hiked up in price to boost their profit margin from the SCF.  I know it’s ‘smart business’ and it’s common that tourism industry hike up their prices for special events, but this is a first I have heard that an airline would do such a thing to accommodate die-hard hockey fans who travel with the team just to make a buck.

"In Greed We Trust" Photo credit: Red Tree Times



So Vancouver and Boston, be prepared to see an increase in  prices in your bars and pubs,  the hotel rates, the airline tickets, the cost of a ticket to a game so others out there can profit from your passions.  Do I think it’s right? The business side of me says, “It is what it is.” The conscience in me says  it’s abhorrent. But I know one thing, I will choose carefully (maybe not wisely) where my put my Stanley Cup Final dollars but I have my limits, as do many of the Bruins and Canucks fans watching this series intently.

As someone I know always says, “Vote with your dollar”. If you don’t buy those over priced tickets, merchandise or airfares, maybe the greedy bastards will think twice before they profit off our passions. The power is yours.

Justine Galo

@Aviewfromabroad

Writer’s note: I own season tickets and I do believe I have the right to ask for a good return on the re-sale of my tickets for the regular season and the playoffs. However, I don’t condone mark-ups that are more than 150% of the ticket value.