Roy MacGregor begins a piece on the free agency sweepstakes with “Oh the obscenity, the obscenity.” Isn’t that clever? What do you suppose will follow that kind of opening? Could the reader possibly get a reasonable take on player salaries or the CBA negotiations? Is it remotely possible that a reader might actually learn anything?
Uh, no. We can expect a story Gary Bettman will love, and MacGregor does not disappoint.
It will be said, and has been said many times before, because it is true, that the owners have only themselves to blame for such foolishness. But given that the players are now partners in the NHL revenues and the fans still buy the tickets, there’s more than a bit of extra blame to go around.
I don’t really understand what MacGregor means by “extra blame” to go around because the players are “now partners in NHL revenues”. He blames the players because the Canadian dollar is so much stronger and the league is producing more revenue? That’s outrageous. The players have no control over league revenue except for the fact that the players generate every penny of it. Why is there even talk of blame? There is nobody to be blamed for the Parise and Suter contracts. The players earn their “obscene” sums because they have skills people will pay even more obscene sums to watch them play.
If anyone deserves blame for today’s contracts, it is Gary Bettman. The CBA is his baby and the owners are forced to spend “obscene” amounts. The player share is set by the collective agreement. All the negotiations between team and player do is decide how the player share is divided. If Zach Parise’s share was less obscene, another player or players must get a more obscene share. And as ridiculous as it may seem to MacGregor, the players would get a lot more money absent Bettman’s CBA.
The initial perception was that the players lost that battle [in 2004] and lost badly, though in retrospect it is hard to see exactly what players did lose.
No, it is not hard to see what the players lost, and if MacGregor finds it so, he is incompetent. He does not understand the business he covers. Instead of the market deciding what the teams spend on players, the CBA now sets salary levels. Not only has that cost the players a ton of money over the past several years, it strips them of all leverage going forward. They will give up even more money this time around. That, of course, will not make player salaries any less obscene to Roy MacGregor or to an awful lot of fans. But is MacGregor being fair?
The players generate the revenue. Nobody pays to watch Gary Bettman or Jeremy Jacobs push paper or collect money. What does Gary make? What does Jacobs pull down? Do they make obscene amounts? Where is the MacGregor story about their salaries? The fans pay that freight too. And the players don’t just generate revenues for the NHL. The players star on the most profitable television programming in Canada. Hockey players generate revenue for the CBC, TSN and Sportsnet. I can watch hockey on six different television channels. Does Don Cherry make an obscene amount? Or Bob MacKenzie? How much money would they make if the fans weren’t willing to watch players play, listen to nonsense rumours and argue about players?
Or how about the Globe and Mail? Does hockey and stories about hockey players produce revenue for the newspapers? What does Roy MacGregor make on the back of the players who make such obscene amounts? Hockey players feed Roy MacGregor’s family. Do the players think Roy MacGregor is a whiny ingrate who can go fuck himself? Probably.
Now that’s an obscenity.