Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Sunday Soapbox: Quit Yer Bitchin'!

In any given week there are usually one or two stories in hockey, or the sports world in general, that are guaranteed to annoy, confuse, amuse or just plain piss me off enough to talk about.

Rather than continue to inflict these meaningless rants on Beloved during our daily commute (although I will miss the eye rolls), I thought I'd explore them here in a new feature I'm calling The Sunday Soapbox. Like it? Hate it? Think I should just do everybody a favour and get the hell off the internets, leaving them to people who know better? Let me know in the comments.

This week: Stupid contracts, the salary cap, and how it's ALL YOUR FAULT!

Yes, I know. The numbers are ridiculous, even obscene. Five million a year for Brian Rolston. $7.4M for Hossa. Mats Sundin leaving twenty (Twenty!) million dollars on the table while he wanders through whatever passes for a purgatorial Swedish desert trying to find himself. Then of course, there's our own favourite (former) whipping boy, Wade Redden, who gets to underachieve in Manhattan for the identical number of Bahamian pesos he sucked out of Emperor Eugene's wallet last year, and if everything holds true to form this coming season, he'll actually deserve roughly half of it. And even I'm having trouble coming to grips with living in a world where Sean Avery can make four million a year for being, well, Sean Avery. But seriously folks, everybody needs to calm down.

As predictable as a Leaf-less May, the hue and cry has gone up, with the two main arguments seeming to be that a) these crazy contracts are proof that the lockout and resulting salary cap has solved nothing and that b) it means that the poor, innocent fans will just be gouged even more in order to pay for ownership's inability to control their own baser instincts (the third argument, that Gary Bettman is actually the Anti-Christ will be taken as a rhetorical given and will not be argued here). In rebuttal to both of those arguments, I offer a thoughtful and heart-felt "Bullshit! Pull your heads out of your asses!"

The salary cap is working exactly as it should. I ask you, in the pre-lockout world, what would have stopped say, the Rangers from offering Campbell $100 million or maybe $200 million rather than the $56M-and-change he'll be getting in Chicago? Nothing. And not because Campbell, or any other player for that matter, is or is not inherently worth that kind of money (nobody is), but because the Rangers, without the cap, wouldn't have to worry about the rest of their roster.

And that's the beauty of the salary cap. You want to blow ten or eleven million dollars on one player (Vancouver)? Fine. Fill your boots, I say! But that means that your third and fourth lines are going to made up primarily of rookies making the minimum, or washed up has-beens on the downside of their careers. Either way, come April, when the ice gets smaller, the hits get harder and the balls get bigger, I'm probably happier my team spent some cash on the bangers and grinders on the last two lines than on buying Mats Sundin a walk-in humidor for a few extra wins in December.

Then there's the complaint that these salaries will somehow cripple the fan's ability to attend games. Here's a newsflash for you. That ship sailed quite some time ago. And if you're looking for someone to blame, look in the mirror.

I'll be the first to admit, my economics background consists entirely of one semester of Grade 12 Intro to Econ where I spent more time trying to see down the top of the cheerleader sitting next to me than taking notes on Malthus' Theory of Sustainability, but even I managed to grasp the basic premise behind the principle of Supply and Demand.

The salary cap, and resultant player salaries, are tied to league revenues. As the take goes up, so does the cap. Therefore, it logically follows that if the cap has gone up (and it has...about $17 million in a scant four years), then somebody is willing to pay for it. Is it me? Hell no. I haven't been to a live game in three years. Can't afford it. Does that piss me off? Hell no. Why should it? I can watch just about every game on t.v. (and see more than I would if I were there in person). I still shell out for pay-per-view games. I still buy the t-shirts and ball caps, and the car flags will continue to fly from my windows. And if I can hazard a guess, I would assume that most of you do likewise. Yet, when I watch a game from SBP, I don't see too many gaps in the crowd, do you? And it's those butts in the seats that tells me I'll have a team to agonize over, cry over and otherwise obsess about for years to come.

From bread, to milk, to cars, to houses, to hockey tickets, the price a supplier can charge for any given commodity is dictated by the maximum dollar amount a given market will pay for that commodity (well, everywhere but in Toronto...but that's another subject altogether). So if you find yourself bemoaning the fact that those spoiled bastard players are making too much, or that those greedy no-good owners are screwing you, look around and make sure you're not telling them that that's okay. Because until enough people stop doing that, nothing will ever change.

And you don't need a hot cheerleader to tell you that, although it helps.


Anonymous said...

SLC, if you want to get reactions, you need to put out unreasonable posts.

And what about that new D-man we just signed to a 2 year contract? I'm just surprised The Bryan gave a contract to a Canadian who wasn't born within a 75 km radius.


Senators Lost Cojones said...

SLC, if you want to get reactions, you need to put out unreasonable posts.

You might be right WRowanH. Next up: "Alfie's Secret Crushing Fetish and Why This Makes Me Happy!"

As for Mr. Smith...I am inappropriately excited beyond all measure.