Ritter’s Rant: The Lockout, Trivia, HNIRussia, Bettman Bashing, and Luongo

With the clock running out on a new CBA agreement, it appears as if both the NHLPA and the NHL are prepared to dig their heels in and risk a lockout. As is the case in most labour negotiations, neither side seems willing to budge on their demands.   The players have given the appearance of a unified front by refusing to accept anything less than what they already have, while the owners continue to cry poor.

On Thursday night, TSN reporter Darren Dreger suggested that half of the 30 NHL teams are in need of financial relief. If this is the case, why was the players’ proposal designed to help out the leagues’ bottom feeders so easily dismissed?

It seems to me that any agreement serving to stabilize the majority of the franchises would be good for the owners and the players. Asking the players to take less money will not guarantee that the struggling franchises find profitability, only a concerted effort towards strengthening the league as a whole makes sense.

The majority of NHL owners cannot help themselves when it comes to signing big money contracts. Sure, the players accepted the contracts presented to them.  How could you blame them?  With the owners constantly looking for ways to circumvent the CBA agreement by signing players to extended contracts that may never be fulfilled and with top-end talent at an all-time premium leading to these epic deals, the owners need protection from themselves more than anything.

It’s really quite simple. If you cannot afford to sign a player to a big money contract, don’t do it.  And, if the city your team plays in refuses to support NHL hockey, move. Thanks for coming out!

Trivia Teaser:

There are 11 NHL players still playing that have played through both the 1994-95 lockout and the 2004-05 lockout—can you name them? Answer will be given below.

Hockey night in Russia?

NHL players are sure to test the job market in Europe and the KHL should the NHL enforce a lockout. The KHL set the bar high, looking to sign elite players and not the third and fourth liners who really need the money.

Put yourself in the shoes of a KHL player who thought they had a job only to find out they are now unemployed because the NHLPA and NHL Owners cannot play nice. How welcome will the KHL players feel once the NHL players go home and the KHL needs the players it shunned back in order to fill the roster spots vacated NHL players?

I suspect the rinks will be filled should NHL stars find their way to Russia, but there are no guarantees. You have to wonder how excited the KHL fans will be to support the NHL players, especially when nobody knows how long the players will be locked out. I don’t know about you, but if I bought a ticket expecting to see Evgeni Malkin and other NHL stars only to find they have already gone home, I’d be pissed!

One thing is for certain, should the NHL players make their way to Russia there will be lots of interest from hockey-starved fans in North America. It’s a long shot, but wouldn’t it be interesting to see the CBC or TSN pick up Hockey Night in Russia?

Bettman Bashing:

Gary Bettman has taken a lot of shots from the media and fans for his part in the CBA negotiations. One thing that is not mentioned enough is that if it wasn’t Bettman some other figurehead would be negotiating on behalf of the owners. Bettman, while influential, is only the messenger.  The owners are making the demands. It’s alright to be mad at Bettman, but it’s really the owners we should be yelling and screaming about.

On another note, with all the media surrounding the CBA negotiations you’d think one of the camera guys would be able to snap a decent picture of Bettman. Every time I see Bettman’s picture in the paper he looks like the second coming of “Corky” from the television series Life Goes On”.

Trivia Answer: Teemu Selanne, Jaromir Jagr, Martin Brodeur, Nikolai Khabibulin, Jason Arnott, Sergei Gonchar, Chris Pronger (may retire), Jamie Langenbrunner, Roman Hamrlik, Ryan Smyth (who played three games in 1994-95) and Adrian Aucoin (who played one game in 1994-95).

Luongo Lottery:

Call me crazy, but once the CBA negotiations are settled I see a number of teams being interested in Roberto Luongo. Luongo is on the record saying  he wants to play in Florida.  He may not get his wish, especially if Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis is set on maximizing his return for Luongo.

Sure, Luongo can veto any trade, but when it comes down to it nobody wants to see Luongo on Vancouver’s bench should the season start, not even Luongo.

It’s common knowledge that Florida and Toronto will at least kick the tires on Luongo, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning (another Florida team) getting in on the bidding.

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