Nov 072004
 
Authors: Matt Hitt

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

City.

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

is insanity.

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;

80204.

Matt Hitt is a sophomore theater major. His columns run every

other Monday in the Collegian.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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