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Feb. 16th, 2005

There's a term in sports for someone who isn't as good as they used to be. For whatever reason it may be, whether age or injury. They've lost a step. I feel like I've lost a step. Mentally and physically. I hope it passes, and soon.

Maybe part of it is some lingering malaise over the lost hockey season. Rich assholes, the lot of them. That's a very broad sweeping statement, but it's that kind of person that's stalling the process of getting a new labor agreement in place. The rich assholes. The would-have-been rookies aren't part of the problem. Hell, they just lost a year. The owners who are already not spending $70 million on players aren't part of the problem.

The reality of it is this: the players want "their fair share of the money" and insist that it's the owners who can't keep their hands off of the checkbooks and bid those high salaries up. The problem is arbitration. That's it right there. Arbitration. Determining what a player's fair market value "should be". And without a salary cap, there's no checks and balances against it. Some players have asked for crazy amounts in arbitration and have gotten it, and I'm sure that's driven the owners nuts.

The NHL should have started small. Kill arbitration and leave the rest alone. Let players ACTUALLY determine their fair market value. Contract's up and you want to leave? Leave. Get the money you THINK you should be making. Otherwise, enjoy playing for the same team and not moving all around. You're still making bank compared to many folks. The players probably would have gone for it, too. But Bettman made a promise he's stubborn enough to have staked his reputation on, and he has been a lousy commissioner in my opinion. I mean, look at what's happened to hockey in the past 10 years. From rising star all over TV to ... this debacle. They've lost so many fans now.

I'm actually kind of glad they're not trying to make some mockery of a season as an excuse to hold the playoffs. But ... they better get something together for next year, and soon. I want a full training camp with an advertising lead-in to the season that's upbeat and inclusive. I want hockey, and I want it done right.

In the meantime, there's way too much pool and poker on sports TV.

- Pookah

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