Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Opinion

September 16, 2012

HOPKINS: NHL takes us for chumps ... again

(Continued)

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal —

When are we going to learn to strike back? Most likely, never. I tried after the 2004-05 debacle, vowing not to watch a single second of play in person or on TV during the 2005-06 season. I made it past the halfway point of the season but caved on Jan. 12, 2006.

That was the night my beloved New York Rangers retired Mark Messier’s number 11 to the rafters at Madison Square Garden. Knowing that there’s usually a one-week free preview of Center Ice — the premium TV package that shows dozens of games per week — in mid-season, I made a decision. If it was the free week and the game (plus retirement ceremony) was on, I’d watch. It was and I did.

Had I looked in a mirror at that point, I’d have seen a jackass looking back at me.

Here we are today, mulling over quotes such as this from Commissioner Gary Bettman: “We recovered last time because we have the world’s greatest fans.”

No, Gary, we’re not the world’s greatest fans, we’re the world’s dumbest. We listen to the owners cry poor one minute, then watch the next minute as Terry Pegula signs Ville Lieno to an enormous contract, while the Minnesota Wild sign two players to 13-year $98 million contracts, while the Rangers sign free agents to big contracts then nickel-and-dime one of their best up-and-coming defensemen.

How about this gem from Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller: “Gary (Bettman) has basically run this business for 20 years, so if he’s operated at a loss for how many of those years, how is he still in a position of leadership, or even have a job?”

The man with the NHL’s fifth largest contract among goaltenders and who placed in the bottom five among starting goalies in several statistical categories for two-thirds of the 2011-12 season, has a point. Bettman belongs in politics — where operating at a deficit is considered a talent — instead of running a business.

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