Well, the election’s over. Did you choose voting or death? I
filled out my provisional ballot and wore my “I voted” sticker like
it mattered. And now all anyone can talk about is what grand high
poobah Bush has planned next for this country.
Lost in all the chatter about foreign policy, taxes and health
care is a much larger issue. I still can’t watch the Colorado
Avalanche on television.
The National Hockey League chose this most convenient week to
announce that the NHL All-Star game is canceled for this year.
According to ABCNews.com, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said, “This
season is likely to slip away.” It could be a long time before a
Canadian tooth strikes the ice in anything other than a drunken
curling match now.
Why have the sweet sounds of frozen rubber hitting human flesh
been silenced? Well, I could blame the liberal bias in media, as
that seems to be the cause of darn near everything today, but the
real problem is greed.
Just like the Major League Baseball strike of 1994 that nearly
crippled baseball, the issue here is that the players and owners in
the NHL cannot agree on monetary issues. The real heart of the
argument is the notion of a salary cap. For you misguided young
souls who don’t watch “SportsCenter,” a salary cap simply requires
that every team in the league carry a payroll no higher than a
certain number (around $75 million in the National Football
League). A salary cap helps ensure a more competitive league, with
no team having the ability to do it Yankee-style and buy league
title after league title.
The NFL has a salary cap, and look at what has happened: The
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the perpetual doormat of the league, won a
Super Bowl; the Oakland Raiders go from conference champion to
personal whipping boy of the Broncos in one year; competition is
exciting and fresh and every town knows that its team has a chance
every single year.
Hockey is dying for a salary cap. The sport is losing appeal in
America and is being relegated to the status of a niche sport, much
like lacrosse or squirrel wrestling. The main problem is that teams
in major TV markets such as Chicago and New York are horrifically
bad, and have been for some time. People don’t watch a team that
sucks, especially in high-competition markets such as New York
A salary cap isn’t a magic fix, but it is a step toward ensuring
more equal competition. I love the Avs, but they are one of those
teams that spend more cash than others to win hockey games. It’s
time to level the playing field.
But the players are resisting a salary cap like Marilyn Musgrave
resists equality. The players want money and, because of the
sport’s dwindling popularity, the owners can’t give it to them.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, the average salary of a NHL
player is $1.8 million per year. With the current TV contracts and
other sources of revenue, salaries in that range cost the owners in
excess of $250 million per year. I weep for no billionaire, but a
system that costs a business a quarter of a billion dollars a year
I am sorry that Joe Sakic’s new gold-plated rocket car may have
to come without the laser cannons, but hockey cannot continue under
the current system, and the players’ greed and stubbornness is
keeping that from happening.
Since hockey players seem to think that they are in such dire
need of more money, help a hockey player this holiday season and
send one some canned food, warm blankets and a clean pair of socks.
Send it to: Attention: (Name of needy player); Colorado Avalanche
Hockey Club; Pepsi Center; 1000 Chopper Circle; Denver, Colorado;
Matt Hitt is a sophomore theater major. His columns run every
other Monday in the Collegian.