Monday, February 14, 2005

Captain should go down with the ship

Yahoo! Sports: "There has been more talk ever since the league sent out a memo to its 30 teams on Friday releasing the gag order on owners, GMs and team executives, not only allowing them to talk about the lockout to the media but also giving them the green light to reach out to players if they wanted. This appeared to be a move to circumvent the union leaders, hoping GMs could start a groundswell among their players to put pressure on Goodenow to accept a salary cap."

Does this sound familiar? Um, yes. Over a month ago I suggested that the league's real game plan was to break the players' union. To repeat what I said then:

The league might think it's going to break the players' union, but it is slitting its own throat. Very few fans will pay to watch replacement players drawn from farm leagues, obscure European leagues or the Juniors. It just will not fly. Hockey will go on, but I have my doubts about the National Hockey League. It's too bad too. A league with so much history and tradition is about to die because of imbecilic management.

The NHL will look for replacement players or strikebreakers, but what is needed is either replacement league management or a replacement to the NHL itself. Bettman's statement above demonstrates what is all too clear: he is a businessman but not a lover of the game. The NHL needs a commissioner who is both. I add my voice to those who think that Wayne Gretzky would do a fine job.