Friday, March 03, 2006

NHLPA Adds A Couple Deck Chairs

The NHLPA has a long history. Throughout most of existance it has been ineffective in helping out the players. For example, right now one issure being worked on is how to lower the salary cap. This leads many to wonder why the NHLPA exists.

Right now, the biggest NHLPA task appears to be keeping Ted Saskin's job. The strategy appears to be pre-emptively removing reasons that players will get unhappy with leadership (which sounds good in theory - but actually leads to trying to reduce the salary cap since the higher escrow that comes with a higher cap will make for unhappy players) and carrying on with business as usual. Carrying on with business as usual is an important part of the plan. Very few NHL players are politically active. Most will support almost anything the NHLPA puts in front of them - often without fully understanding it. This is understandable because they are hockey players and have little or no business or legal backgrounds. When a player or group of players is unhappy with the NHLPA (such as Trent Klatt) all they have to do is carry on with business as usual until the player(s) retire. Then the problem is gone (at least for the most part).

The NHLPA appears to be in the business of perpetuating itself. They give up whatever the owners want them to give up so that they can maintain and even expand their jobs and their bureaucracy. Yesterday they announced the addition of two new employees. Both are popular ex-players. Vincent Damphousse is the director of business relations. Stu Grimson is working in the labour department dealing with issues like grievences, suspensions and arbitration. This is an important part of carrying on with business as usual. Add popular ex-players to your ranks.

I cannot blame the players for taking these jobs. They are good jobs and they allow them to be involved in the game of hockey, which has dominated their entire lives. I can blame the NHLPA as an organization. It is not doing anything for the players. This move is essentially adding a couple more deck chairs to the deck on the Titanic as the boat iis sinking.

The NHLPA should be dealing with issues like the threats to fine players for attending Olympic gold medal celebrations, instead they are acting more employees to perpetuate themselves without actually carrying out their mandate of representing the players.

Here is the TSN article which addresses the hirings. They try to keep business of hockey contreversies hidden from the public eye and thus have a very different perspective.

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