WOULD YOU WATCH REPLACEMENT PLAYERS

Jason Gregor
October 02 2012 12:29PM

Who didn't secretly root for Shane Falco in the football comedy, The Replacements? It wasn't the greatest football movie, but it wasn't awful.

Falco's speech in the huddle was epic. "I wish I could say something classy and inspirational, but that just wouldn't be our style.... Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory...lasts forever."

Another classic came from butter-handed receiver Clifford Franklin, "The football's like a one-man cold to Clifford Franklin. Clifford Franklin's the only man catchin' it, Clifford Franklin's the only man comin' down wid it" What an awesome line.

Some have questioned if the NHL would look at bringing in replacement players. Would it be smart or stupid? I can't speak for the all fans or season ticket holders. It would be wrong for me to assume if you'd pay, so instead I will ask.

Would you watch replacement players?

Before you answer, let's look at the optics.

COST

If the NHL expected fans to pay full price for replacement players, who wouldn't be averaging over $2million/player, then this is a moot point, because no sane fan would pay that.

Some have suggested that teams would force fans to pay or they risk losing their seats. How many cities is that a realistic option. The waiting list for season seats in Edmonton is shorter today than it was five years ago. Toronto and Montreal have the longest lists, but how many US cities could bully their fans into paying? I'd say very few, if any.

What would be a reasonable cost for you to go?

WILL IT HURT CREDIBILITY OF LEAGUE?

We likely wouldn't know until it happens, but when the NFL used replacement players for three weeks their league didn't suffer any long-term backlash. Eighty-five percent of veterans didn't cross, but a few big names did. Dallas Cowboy star defensive lineman and future Hall of Famer, Randy White, didn't strike and eventually even Joe Montana, Lawrence Taylor, Steve Largent and Tony Dorsett crossed the picket lines according to ESPN.

I remember White saying he didn't want to lose the money. I'm sure there are some NHL players who feel the same way.

WHO WOULD CROSS?

I'm guessing veterans near the end of their careers would give it a long hard look. Nikolai Khabibulin will never recoup his $3.75 million deal, so maybe he would.

Lots of players who are making $500,000-$750,000 before taxes might consider it as well. White was making $30,000/week after taxes in 1987, which would be close to $1 million today, before taxes, when you consider inflation.

There would be a long list of players who would jump at the shot to suit up in the NHL, because many still believe they just need to get noticed.

Is there really that big of a gap between 60% of the NHL players and those who aren't in the league? The elite top-end players like Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle are rare, but is the skill set of 3rd and 4th liners that drastically different than guys playing in Europe or the AHL?

Quanthockey.com crunched some numbers (here) and figured out that 42% of NHL players play 50 games or less. I understand that many of these players are replacing each other, but the lifespan for many NHL players is short.

Most players have a very short window to play in the NHL and earn their salary. It would be interesting to see how many would cross.

COULD IT HAPPEN?

I spoke to two NHL sources today and both said it isn't on the horizon just yet. They said it isn't as easy as opening their doors tomorrow for replacement players, due to many legal issues, but if they started looking at it today, it might be feasible in a few months.

WOULD YOU GO?

Before you suggest that the WHL is like replacement players, keep in mind that around 97% of CHL players never play in the NHL. Replacement players would be a mix of NHLers, former NHLers, and some career minor-leaguers who are still waiting for a break. The WHL is an unbelievable development league, but replacement players would be stronger, faster and more mature.

So if it happens, and it is a massive IF, would you go?

SPEAKING OF....WOULD YOU GO

Yesterday the Edmonton Rush drafted 6'4", 220 pound forward Mark Matthews with the first overall selection in the NLL entry draft. He is a bonafide star. Would you be enticed to watch a lacrosse game or two now that they have a legitimate offensive star?

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#1 sec206
October 02 2012, 12:32PM
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oh god no, Oilkings much better option

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#2 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 02 2012, 12:41PM
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Depends who exactly is playing and how much it would cost.

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#3 Sailge
October 02 2012, 12:46PM
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I was considering as I read though the article. Then I saw Khabby would probably be playing. Back to a definite no.

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#4 Marsha
October 02 2012, 12:48PM
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I imagine it would not be at full cost so yes I would go. It would be a big incentive to get a deal done, would it not? I say let's do it. .

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#5 forgetful
October 02 2012, 12:48PM
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No I wouldn't watch replacement NHL. As a fan of hockey (or former fan of hockey given the three lockouts now suffered, I haven't decided if I am 100% out of hockey or not). I feel like my only form of protest is to take my money elsewhere. And since the Eskimos are so bloody god awful, that leaves my answer to the second question as Yes, I'll be heading over to watch some Edmonton Rush before anything else.

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#6 A-Mc
October 02 2012, 01:02PM
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At this time of the year, my body tells me its hockey season. I'm always in a state of unrest until i can watch some hockey, so yes i would watch replacement players.

PLEASE let this lockout end soon. (Sadly it has only just begun... *sigh*)

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#7 treevojo
October 02 2012, 01:14PM
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Jason, I was under the impression in order to use replacement players it would have had to been the players on strike refusing to play under the past cba. Where it is the owners refusing to let the players play under the old agreement how do they go about bringing in replacement players. Do they just create a new cba on their own and bring in players under those conditions? Are there no rules at all and they can sign players for whatever they want? Free market place for replacements but not for the best players in the world? Hard to fathom a scenario where the owners could pull this off. Any more information you have on replacements I would love to hear. Thanx

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#8 Belly
October 02 2012, 01:19PM
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Can the Nation do a Nation wide poll? I think the answer would be a yes, and would not shock anybody. Canadian's need a fix.

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#9 observet
October 02 2012, 01:28PM
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For sure would go.

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#10 Archaeologuy
October 02 2012, 01:35PM
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The one and only Lacrosse game I went to see has now been dubbed the worst game the Rush ever played. It was the only time I have ever left a sporting event 3/4 the way through. I literally couldnt stand to watch another minute of it.

I probably wont be spending money on them anytime soon.

I wont be watching NHL replacements either. Maybe once or twice just to see what its like, but I've seen NHL replacement level hockey once before. You might remember it as "The Fall for Hall". That was a bunch of so called NHLers in Oiler silks. I'm not suffering that again, not when Katz is feeding me that pile of garbage while locking out Nuge, Ebs, and Hall.

If this were a Player Strike I might entertain the idea a little longer before saying no, but it isnt. The owners are keeping the players off the ice, not vice-versa.

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#11 Rob...
October 02 2012, 01:46PM
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I know it sounds silly, but until Canada officially recognizes Hockey as its national sport, I won't watch a game of lacrosse. To do so would be to support and legitimize something that is true only on paper and not in the hearts of millions of Canadians.

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#12 OILERSORDEATH
October 02 2012, 01:46PM
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Sadly yes I would go and watch because its still better that any Basketball or Baseball game.

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#15 Lefty
October 02 2012, 01:49PM
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Why doesn't the AHL affiliates take advantage of this and play some games at the big boys arena. Hungry fans and a product that contains known players.

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#16 B S
October 02 2012, 01:50PM
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treevojo wrote:

Jason, I was under the impression in order to use replacement players it would have had to been the players on strike refusing to play under the past cba. Where it is the owners refusing to let the players play under the old agreement how do they go about bringing in replacement players. Do they just create a new cba on their own and bring in players under those conditions? Are there no rules at all and they can sign players for whatever they want? Free market place for replacements but not for the best players in the world? Hard to fathom a scenario where the owners could pull this off. Any more information you have on replacements I would love to hear. Thanx

Technically the NHL is locking out the NHLPA. So bringing in players not part of the NHLPA should be perfectly legal, and they shouldn't have to pay them too much; however, there would be no NHL players crossing over unless they disbanded the union.

I think the owners could do this, but I don't think it would be successful as you'd basically be looking at AHL level attendance with a thinned out minor league talent pool (remember some AHL players would stay in the AHL), and you'd be paying them higher salaries than the AHL. In other words only Toronto would turn a profit (they've been paying to see that for years now).

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#17 westcoastoil
October 02 2012, 01:50PM
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I have to say that as much as I love hockey and the Oilers, I'm not all broken up about the season not starting. It's too long as it stands and I can't get emotionally invested considering the positions both sides have taken and their collective disrespect for the fans.

Couple random thoughts:

Both sides have talked about how much HRR is up - I'd be curious to see how much ticket prices have gone up. Basically I can't watch NHL hockey because they're arguing over the $400 it costs me to take my family to a game. That doesn't sit right.

It's appalling to me that the owners who have locked out the players in an effort to save themselves millions in contracts they handed out feel it is justified to lay off the admin. staff (& I believe in many cases trainers, equipment staff too) until the NHL resumes. The cost to employ these folks is likely less than $100K a month total - a drop in the bucket of their operating costs. They have mortgages, kids to look after; it's truly shameful that they have done this. Sadly the MSM has not taken them to task on this at all.

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#18 Jonathan Willis
October 02 2012, 01:52PM
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Yeah, I'd watch, but only because it's my job.

It'd be a terrible, terrible move for the NHL, though.

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#19 #94 sized hole where my heart used to be...
October 02 2012, 01:58PM
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the replacements IMO is the best light hearted football movie, we are marshall, remember the titans, any given sunday, all great movies but the replacements was by far the funniest football movie, as for replacement players... i wouldnt watch that garbage if u paid me (ok mayhbe i would) but i wouldnt watch it for free! (ok maybe even then) but youd never catch me paying for it

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#20 Archaeologuy
October 02 2012, 02:04PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

You've seen a "100 worst Oiler games ever" yet you still watch. Seems odd that one bad game, which can happen any night in a sport, turns you off lacrosse forever.

I wasnt a lacrosse fan to begin with. I went to the game they played against Calgary where they were blown out and had half the team ejected for fighting related issues.

I left there thinking it was a joke product. Until it's on TV (when nothing better is on) and I am actually entertained I wont be driving to RX1 and dropping money on tickets, parking, and crap food.

I am still entertained by the Oilers (except during the Fall for Hall, that was painful) so I have no quams about spending money on them.

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#21 Dave Lumley
October 02 2012, 02:04PM
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What the hell, why not. All the gnashing of teeth, the screaming and stomping of feet, plus all the speculation about the Players.

It would be great fun! Would you play Schremp on the same line as Omark???? Or do you bust them up?

To some degree we get to watch OKC playing here. Add one year of newly drafted players on to the squad and aging vets, the PA will crumble like a house of cards. Maybe not the best thing for hockey but not the worst either. A reset of the ticket prices and hopefully a new PA with real controls on team spending.

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#22 Dave Lumley
October 02 2012, 02:20PM
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One more thing. If the NHL threatens this or better yet, quietly goes about organizing a draft of players all the while denying the rumors, may spur some movement in the negotiations. Especially with some potential aging vets breaking rank as the media goes into a frenzy for interviews.

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#23 treevojo
October 02 2012, 02:34PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

I didn't go into all of the legalities, because there are many. As I wrote, it is unlikely to go that far, but I wanted to know if fans would go watch replacement players.

The league would prefer to get a new CBA of course, but I was interested in fans opinion on if they'd go.

I don't buy that it would ruin the league's credibility, nor do I think the union of players would all stand side-by-side.

Sorry, I didn't mean to change the direction on your article. I understand the discussion you were looking for with regards to it. Maybe I am alone in being interested in all the technicalities and legalities of it but just thought maybe you had a better insight or understanding of what it would take for the owners to implement. Thanx again

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#24 The 'Real' Ron Burgundy
October 02 2012, 02:35PM
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Ideally, in a dream scenario we'd pack the building at full price for the replacements, then stay away at any price when the whiners came back, this would ultimately show both the NHLPA and the NHL Owners who actually has control of the 3.3 Billion that they can't figure out how to divey up.

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#25 Dave240
October 02 2012, 02:37PM
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forgetful wrote:

No I wouldn't watch replacement NHL. As a fan of hockey (or former fan of hockey given the three lockouts now suffered, I haven't decided if I am 100% out of hockey or not). I feel like my only form of protest is to take my money elsewhere. And since the Eskimos are so bloody god awful, that leaves my answer to the second question as Yes, I'll be heading over to watch some Edmonton Rush before anything else.

Don't kid yourself. You're still a hockey fan. You wouldn't be posting here if you weren't.

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#26 Dave240
October 02 2012, 02:39PM
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@Rob...

Hockey IS Canada's national winter sport. You've been boycotting lacrosse for this silly and incorrect reason?

http://www.pch.gc.ca/pgm/sc/legsltn/n-16-eng.cfm

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#27 The Goalie 1976
October 02 2012, 02:42PM
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I would watch it just to spite the NHLPA. Can't stand all the whining on twitter by the players. They get no sympathy from me. I think both sides are wrong on their handling of the situation. So far I've spent my extra time on NFL and CFL. I also wouldn't go to lacrosse games if they we free (sorry Jason) just not a sport I have any interest in.

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#28 Dman09
October 02 2012, 02:53PM
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Marsha wrote:

I imagine it would not be at full cost so yes I would go. It would be a big incentive to get a deal done, would it not? I say let's do it. .

Well for starters I'm too cheap to pay $200 to go to a live game regardless of what players are paying. I work hard for my money and I can watch the game on TV that I've already paid for. Now having said that I would watch the games on TV regardless of who the players are because I cheer for my team, GO OIL, and not the individual players. Would you cheer for a different country in the Olympics if your favorite star players decided not to go????????

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#29 Rob...
October 02 2012, 03:05PM
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@Dave240

I won't give in until Lacrosse declares 'UNCLE'. There is not a season where Hockey is not the national sport of Canada. When's the last time you saw a group of kids play a pick-up game of Lacrosse? Maybe it's fitting though. That 1994 Act is all about 'sharing' and about 'not offending anybody'. ~Those pinko commie liberals are to blame!~

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#30 Smokey
October 02 2012, 03:17PM
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Id totally watch. All teams should have open tryout, if you make the team you get 100000, and all the perks of NHL life and the puck bunnies. Ah yes the puck bunnies. And we would get a chance to watch a bunch of beer leaguers play for the holy grail. The Ultimate Beer League trophy, where do I sign up.

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#32 Fresh Mess
October 02 2012, 03:43PM
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Support the Golden Bears.

CIS players are grown men in their 20's, most of whom have played Major junior, or Junior A.

Excellent hockey. And truly playing for the love of the game.

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#33 Pouzar99
October 02 2012, 03:43PM
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Yeah. I would go to the games. I would go to the front of the building and do my part to make every skunk that wanted to enter pass through a picket line to watch scab hockey. I have no respect for any man who would take the job of another who is on strike or locked out, or who would pay to support such actions. Working men and women had to go through hell to earn the rights they have today. They had to fight to get child labour laws, to stop forced overtime, to get reasonably safe working conditions, even to earn the right to unionize. Anyone who thinks any of those developments, which we take for granted today, would have come about without working men and women laying their lives on the line does not know their history.

Remember the Gainers strike, brought to us by a former Oilers owner, Peter Pocklington? Yes, those workers were infinitely poorer and mistreated than professional hockey players and far more deserving of our support, but the principle remains the same, especially when the gap in wealth in this country between rich and poor is growing at record rates.

I despise the NFL players that crossed the line and I would despise any NHL player or replacement players who did as well. I would also despise any person who crossed the line to watch them. Not that it matters, but the hockey would also be crap.

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#34 Fresh Mess
October 02 2012, 03:47PM
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Jason,

TSN is reporting Hall will go to OKC when medically cleared. I believe you had written a week or so ago that he couldn't play in the 'A'.

Could you clarify this?

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#35 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 02 2012, 03:48PM
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Lacrosse is like the Oil Kings, not enough promotion to know when it's actually going on. 3 Oil Kings home games so far and the only one that was advertised was the opener. Pretty sad if you take out the home opener that our attendance is under 5000. Would think for sure a Friday night game at home against the Hitmen can't get more than 5600 people.

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#36 DieHard
October 02 2012, 03:48PM
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NO NO and NO

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#37 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 02 2012, 03:52PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Curious why you think it would be a terrible move?

Why is it a good move? NHL has always been about being the best in the world. Outside of a lot of gives leaving the union this league is going to be one notch above the AHL, which is still good hockey but not the best in the world.

Say what you want about it working for the NFL, but it was only for 3 weeks and that ball was probably still considered the best in the world.

Only way it's good is if you are getting superstars to cross, if not it will be another black eye for the NHL.

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#38 TheGunnShow
October 02 2012, 03:55PM
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If the NHL do decide to go with replacement players, I'd love to see all of the jobs go to guys from all the European teams who are out of work because of the NHLers currently eating up roster spots.

Sweet, sweet justice.

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#39 Rob...
October 02 2012, 03:56PM
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On a different note: Has any media source looked at the Joey Moss Cup? My understanding was that both a charity and the Golden Bears organization benefited from that event. How are they impacted by the absence this year? What about Ben Eager? How big was his smile when he found out that his most dreaded game of the year was being cancelled?

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#40 Steve
October 02 2012, 03:56PM
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The 'Real' Ron Burgundy wrote:

Ideally, in a dream scenario we'd pack the building at full price for the replacements, then stay away at any price when the whiners came back, this would ultimately show both the NHLPA and the NHL Owners who actually has control of the 3.3 Billion that they can't figure out how to divey up.

My sentiments exactly. I normally only go to a couple of games a year, I'd camp overnight for season tickets for replacements right now.

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#41 Jonathan Willis
October 02 2012, 04:08PM
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@Jason Gregor

Personally:

1) The NHL's the best hockey league in the world, and having the Toronto MakebeLeafs' names etched on the Stanley Cup would be a disgusting breach of tradition.

2) You described it as a nuclear option, and I agree. It's a good way to poison the already damaged relationship with the NHLPA for a long time.

3) If the players were on strike, I could understand moving past the first two points. But they aren't - the lockout is at the owner's initiative, and there's simply no justification for that kind of move.

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#42 Reg Dunlop
October 02 2012, 04:13PM
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What Pouzar99 said,X2.

This may not be the place or time but here is a strike story. We were walking the picket line at McDonalds Consolidated 4 years ago when some fool drives by shouting at us. I guess he didn't know that the red light at the other end of the traffic loop would prove to be a problem. A dozen of the brothers, the ones with bic pen tattoos on their necks from being in the clink, wandered over and pulled the suddenly quiet man through his broken driver's side window.

Moral of the story, don't screw with guys that have tattoos on their necks and don't cross a picket line. Ever.

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#43 Sloppy Joe
October 02 2012, 04:25PM
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1. I wouldn't pay to watch scabs when the owners have locked out the players (this isn't a strike) despite years of their own admitted record revenues. That's just on principle. I would prefer to watch AHL hockey in the interim.

2. Lacrosse is a great game. I grew up playing it, and don't get out to see the Rush often enough. The new draft pick won't affect my attendance, but I am glad for the team.

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#44 Rob...
October 02 2012, 04:27PM
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@Reg Dunlop

I've never understood how picketers feel they're above the law. It sounds like several of your 'friends' should have been back in the clink before the day was out.

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#45 Word
October 02 2012, 04:40PM
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westcoastoil wrote:

I have to say that as much as I love hockey and the Oilers, I'm not all broken up about the season not starting. It's too long as it stands and I can't get emotionally invested considering the positions both sides have taken and their collective disrespect for the fans.

Couple random thoughts:

Both sides have talked about how much HRR is up - I'd be curious to see how much ticket prices have gone up. Basically I can't watch NHL hockey because they're arguing over the $400 it costs me to take my family to a game. That doesn't sit right.

It's appalling to me that the owners who have locked out the players in an effort to save themselves millions in contracts they handed out feel it is justified to lay off the admin. staff (& I believe in many cases trainers, equipment staff too) until the NHL resumes. The cost to employ these folks is likely less than $100K a month total - a drop in the bucket of their operating costs. They have mortgages, kids to look after; it's truly shameful that they have done this. Sadly the MSM has not taken them to task on this at all.

Good point on the costs. If the owners wanted to win the PR battle once and for all, they should ask for a 25% rollback on salaries and couple that with a 25% rollback on ticket (and beer!) prices.

Don't jump all over me for this comment. I'm not naive enough to think it would ever be considered.

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#46 vetinari
October 02 2012, 04:56PM
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If it's just an AHL2+ league, then likely not. I'd rather just watch a year of actual AHL games, or even, (shudder) the KHL.

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#47 Duke
October 02 2012, 05:08PM
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Not a chance. Indeed I'm so annoyed with the NHL and NHLPA right now I might not watch the real guys if they come back this year.

Childish swine.

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#48 Dipstick
October 02 2012, 05:23PM
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Pouzar99 wrote:

Yeah. I would go to the games. I would go to the front of the building and do my part to make every skunk that wanted to enter pass through a picket line to watch scab hockey. I have no respect for any man who would take the job of another who is on strike or locked out, or who would pay to support such actions. Working men and women had to go through hell to earn the rights they have today. They had to fight to get child labour laws, to stop forced overtime, to get reasonably safe working conditions, even to earn the right to unionize. Anyone who thinks any of those developments, which we take for granted today, would have come about without working men and women laying their lives on the line does not know their history.

Remember the Gainers strike, brought to us by a former Oilers owner, Peter Pocklington? Yes, those workers were infinitely poorer and mistreated than professional hockey players and far more deserving of our support, but the principle remains the same, especially when the gap in wealth in this country between rich and poor is growing at record rates.

I despise the NFL players that crossed the line and I would despise any NHL player or replacement players who did as well. I would also despise any person who crossed the line to watch them. Not that it matters, but the hockey would also be crap.

I respect your passion for worker's rights, but I can't get around to equating coal miners being treated like expendable chattel to millionaire hockey players. That being said, I have no interest in watching replacement players. I'll watch junior or AHL for my fix, thank you.

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#49 SilentNoise
October 02 2012, 06:05PM
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To quote Steve Fehr: "If owners really care about fans all they have to do is lift the lockout and let the games begin while negotiations continue.”

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#50 2:00 AM
October 02 2012, 06:06PM
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i am not very interested in rush games at all. Whenever i do see a highlight of them, they get beat badly so no. I would much rather watch the oilkings.

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