Saturday, January 08, 2005

Brophy says some players having change of heart

While earlier today I mentioned I was having a difficult time maintaining interest in lockout nattering, The Hockey News' venerable writer Mike Brophy has penned a very, very compelling piece (picked up by ESPN.com). This blog gives me a chance to weed out the must-reads from the drab scribblings filling the press, and Broph's piece certainly fits the former category. Among other notable tidbits, he says players are starting to question the frivolity of their union's strategy:
Bettman may not have convinced all the players yet, but he has me believing he'll go to the wall on this one.

Some players are starting to believe they are fighting a war they cannot win. As one told me, "We can dig in all we want, but at the end of the day it's the owners' league and they can do what they damn well please. They're the ones paying the bills."

Having worked with Mike (as an intern with THN), I can attest he has a credible voice for NHL players. While many sportswriters survey their brawny subjects from afar (often with disdain), Broph has a developed rapport and mutual respect with players that allows him to convey their perspective.
Having spoke with a number of players, I get a sense some are starting to soften on the "no cap" stance and as long as guaranteed contracts can be negotiated, they are ready to end the fight.

That said, they are afraid to stand up and say so for fear of being vilified by other players. And if the majority of players feel this way, it would be a shame to see the season ­- and numerous careers ­- go down the drain.

This is as significant a revelation as anything I've read in the mainstream media since the lockout began. There have been talks of dissension within the ranks but never anything tangible presented. The question players are asking themselves is: Will our sacrifice be made in vain?

The players aren't a uniform group all acting out of a collective vendetta against the league, but rather individuals stuck in a tough spot. One advantage Bettman seemingly has is that it should be easier to unite 30 ownership groups, all of who have significant capital behind them, than to band together the wishes of a 700+ membership that includes 19-year-old kids, multi-millionaire superstars and aging journeymen.

Cracks are forming, but as Broph says, the wall may not crumble soon enough.

4 Comments:

At 12:57 p.m., January 09, 2005, Blogger Sea Otter said...

There is an anonymous freelance hockey writer going by the pen name of "Eklund" (hockeyrumors.blogspot.com) who has been reporting rumours similar to the ones about which Brophy just wrote. This poor blogger has been getting ripped by his readers for suggesting that the players were about to cave, but to see a respected writer like Brophy talking about an impending player climb down might just be enough to be considered foreshadowing...

 
At 12:43 a.m., January 10, 2005, Blogger James Mirtle said...

People certainly have a right to be skeptical when a guy is saying some of the things being said there. A genuine insider should be able to provide more tangible proof of his dealings than what's on hockeyrumours lately.

 
At 1:55 a.m., January 11, 2005, Blogger Sea Otter said...

I thought this Eklund guy might have been quasi-legit, but he really jumped the shark today with his cringe-inducing attempt to fake an e-mail from the NHL. He may well be right in that the players may wave a surrender flag here soon, but it's clear now that his "bio" is a load of ca-ca.

Having said that, the news that Robert Esche is preparing to play in the AHL has further dampened whatever dim hopes I may have had of a salvaged season. The irrationality of Esche's decision is stunning -- he is going to throw away one, maybe two years of his career prime, and millions of dollars, just to prove a point and stay in a fight he can't win. Hope that was worth it.

Bob Goodenow has obviously created a very aggressive, Teamster-esque union membership. Militant unions never admit the futility of their cause, no matter how clear it is to others. This is what will ultimately cause the League to have to burn this thing to the ground and start over, at salaries about half of what they would be if the 'PA would simply sign the last offer they were given.

 
At 2:01 a.m., January 11, 2005, Blogger James Mirtle said...

As I posted on Eklund's board, it's like watching a train wreck. I, for one, can't seem to turn away.

Nice post... I'm beginning to wonder where your blog is Mr. Otter.

 

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