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.
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?