NHL replacement players? Forget about it!

Jason Strudwick
October 03 2012 03:09PM

I have always been a big fan of Abba. Love the music, the beat and even the dancing they did in concert. However, unlike Wanye after a break up, I never cried myself to sleep listening to 'One of Us'. Doesn't mean I didn't feel the passion!

I would love to see them live in concert. It would be awesome. Reports out of Sweden say they were offered a billion dollars to get back together. They turned it down, no chance of a reunion tour. Brutal! So what is the next best thing?

Replacements! Same music, clothes, beat and dancing, but still just replacements. It just wouldn't be the same. The quality just wouldn't be there.

Earlier in the week former Toronto Maple Leafs assistant G.M. Bill Watters suggested he wouldn't be surprised if the NHL turned to replacement players by mid-November. Other leagues have done this before. The goal of this tactic would be to break the union by having NHLPA members cross the line.

If the NHL decided to go this route it would make life very tough on many NHLPA members. Does a guy cross or not? Who would be the first guy? How long to wait before crossing? I wouldn't want to have to make these choices. Even though you are a member of the NHLPA at some point you have to do what is right for just you. It could mean becoming a scab.

I am less interested in the reaction of NHLPA members than I am in the NHL fans. Would they want to see scabs play? Would you?

Where would these replacement players come from? Where are the next best 750 hockey players hiding? My guess would be the AHL, the European leagues and drafted players currently playing at a junior level somewhere in the world.

Would the hockey be good? It would be about the same level as the AHL.

NHL-Caliber Players

Photo: southcentral/Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 2.0

Right off the top, the most talented players are no longer playing in the NHL. So no Crosby, Malkin, Kane, Jagr, or Parise. Eventually, players would come along to fill the star power the NHL has now but it would take time. Don't expect it by Christmas or even in the next three years.

Could the bottom half of the roster be replaced right away? You could find guys to take those spots but they would all be missing something current third and fourth liners have. Many guys in the AHL cannot break through to the NHL because they are pretty good at a few roles required on a NHL roster but a master of none.

The bottom half of NHL rosters are made up of specialists. Even though they may not have the top end talent the top two lines have, trust me, they have plenty of talent. It is not super easy to replace them. If it is why do so many teams struggle to find a great fourth line center that wins draws? Energy players that bring it every night but can also think the game? Penalty killers that are willing to risk their lives by diving in front of Shea Weber bombs and most often not get hurt?

Trust me, the NHL-caliber player isn't all over the place. Are there good hockey players outside the NHL? Yes. But they are not the same caliber.

The replacement player NHL would be of a lower speed and quality. Would you want to go and watch for the same price you pay now for Oilers tickets? How about fifty percent of that? Thirty percent? Fifteen percent? Now the price is down to what you would pay to see a game in the AHL because that is the level of play you would be watching.

Nope, I don't think replacement players are the solution, compromise is. But if there were replacements players, who do you think would be the first current NHL player to cross the line and join the replacements?

RECENTLY BY JASON STRUDWICK

5cf6b487166aced0cd781e41bfef915e
Jason hosts the Jason Strudwick show from 9pm to 12am, weeknights on the team 1260. He is an instructor at Mount Carmel Hockey Academy and loves working with the kids. Having played over 650 games in the NHL, Jason has some great stories and unique takes on life in the NHL. He loves Slurpees and Blizzards. Dislikes baggy clothes and close talkers.
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#51 Captain Obvious
October 03 2012, 09:07PM
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First, the players aren't employees, they are the product. Spending 57% your revenue on your product is a pretty good cost.

Second, the players don't get 57% of revenue since what is counted as revenue already has expenses deducted from it.

Third, the players get 0% of non-HRR revenue even though this revenue is a direct result of hockey (see arena deal).

Fourth, both the NFL and the NBA reached their deals without rollbacks on player salaries. The owners aren't asking for what the NFL and the NBA got. They are asking for significantly more

So, before you resent the players on what they get paid you should educate yourself on these preliminary concepts.

While the players are doing this out of self-interest they are, in effect, fighting for the future of the game. Baseball was marred by endless labour conflict until the players showed the owners that the costs of victory were too high. Since then baseball has enjoyed labour peace that is the envy of professional sports and as a result has reached unprecedented popularity and prosperity.

The best we can hope for is a cancelled season in which the owners don't get what they want. Otherwise there will be a lockout or strike every six years from here to eternity.

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#52 Bank Shot
October 03 2012, 09:37PM
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@Captain Obvious

Captain Obvious Says:While the players are doing this out of self-interest they are, in effect, fighting for the future of the game. Baseball was marred by endless labour conflict until the players showed the owners that the costs of victory were too high. Since then baseball has enjoyed labour peace that is the envy of professional sports and as a result has reached unprecedented popularity and prosperity.

The average hockey player makes out way better then the average baseball player. The only guys getting hurt by a cap in the NHL system are the "Abbas" ie. Crosby's and Ovechkins.

Take the 15th highest payroll team in baseball. Chicago Cubs. They have 12 players making $2 million plus. The team going into this season in the NHL with the 15th highest cap hit is the Red Wings. They have 14 players making $2 million plus.

MLB makes over twice the revenue of the NHL. Who is getting the raw deal? It sure isn't NHL players. Well except for the ultra high end guys. They are the only ones that aren't getting paid more then they are worth.

If the players really believe that the players are the game, then perhaps the bottom 90% of NHL rosters should be giving up 20% of their salaries to the guys that put butts in the seats.

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#53 Hair bag
October 03 2012, 09:42PM
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Captain Obvious wrote:

First, the players aren't employees, they are the product. Spending 57% your revenue on your product is a pretty good cost.

Second, the players don't get 57% of revenue since what is counted as revenue already has expenses deducted from it.

Third, the players get 0% of non-HRR revenue even though this revenue is a direct result of hockey (see arena deal).

Fourth, both the NFL and the NBA reached their deals without rollbacks on player salaries. The owners aren't asking for what the NFL and the NBA got. They are asking for significantly more

So, before you resent the players on what they get paid you should educate yourself on these preliminary concepts.

While the players are doing this out of self-interest they are, in effect, fighting for the future of the game. Baseball was marred by endless labour conflict until the players showed the owners that the costs of victory were too high. Since then baseball has enjoyed labour peace that is the envy of professional sports and as a result has reached unprecedented popularity and prosperity.

The best we can hope for is a cancelled season in which the owners don't get what they want. Otherwise there will be a lockout or strike every six years from here to eternity.

First: They are employees who create a product, they can be replaced and the product still exists.

Second: Perhaps the players should pay all their own expenses - Flights, meals, equipment, sticks, tape, therapists, doctors, etc, everything...then maybe you can throw the whole pie in there. As a matter of fact lets make it a complete partnership where the players get x% (whatever you think it should be because you are so smart) of revenues but they also have to pay their % of advertising/marketing, building maintenance, the payroll for all the support staff, etc...

Third: if they want non-HRR then start their own league

Fourth: This is the only comment you made that has some merit as far as there being no rollback...but the NFL and NBA players still get 50% or less of revenues.

Finally: MLB is the worst run of all the leagues - there is no parity, it is the top third of teams that buy all the talent and the rest are basically feeder teams for developing that talent and then watching it leave....been there done that in the 90's in the NHL (especially with the Oilers), no thanks we don't need a system like that.

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#54 Moses
October 03 2012, 09:51PM
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I would watch for sure. Like someone else mentioned earlier, I also watch the world juniors and often enjoy it much more than nhl games.

I find regular season games to lack intensity on many nights, possibly replacements given the chance could play with more passion and excitement .

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#55 bmac
October 03 2012, 10:28PM
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Jason Strudwick wrote:

Ha! I loved playing my while career but my tank is empty! Maybe I could be the replacement organ player or anthem signer?

Paul Lorieau needs a replacement. You've got my vote!

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#56 Hammers
October 03 2012, 11:19PM
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I wouldn't watch or pay a penney but don't kid yourself my guess is about 150 to 200 current players would cross .NHL players in the AHL or the young ones have the most to loose so I don't think they would .Neither would the "star players". Those AHL players signed by there team have contracts but you could fill the teams with Euros & juniors who never made it to the show .It would look ugly and I think the AHL would be a better game to see . ps Maybe old guys like you would come out for 1 more year .

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#57 Kodiak
October 03 2012, 11:31PM
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GNikkles wrote:

You're working 60 hr work weeks? How much do you get paid? Let's post our salaries for the world to see like NHL players do and judge whether we deserve it or not.

Also, when you say they work half that, are you accounting for travel time and time away from their families?

Your whole post screams I work so hard, pay attention to me, I'm unappreciated. You are what many people would refer to as a hater. Jealous and unhappy woth their lot in life so you chip at other peoples castles from your treefort.

News flash - Hockey players get paid what they do because someone is willing to pay them for the specific services they provide, and when it comes to accepting a wage for a position everyone has the right to accept or refuse. The players have refused, and well see how it turns out.

Why don't you tell us about your last wage negotiation and what your job function was and well all cast judgement on whether you were right or wrong?

Sorry, Nikklehead, but for as astute as you think you are you didn't get the point at all. Nowhere did I say the players should roll over in this negotiation and give in to the owners. I actually feel they are right. They signed contracts and those contract should be honored.

My point was don't try to justify and have that entitlement of the salaries they make by saying it's because they work so hard and have all these risks, because in Alberta there are thousands of people that work way harder, putting in way more hours with way more risks. It wasn't about me personally, as I'm one of many. I'm not a hater or jealous at all, I just don't like the portrayal that they are hard done by and just regular working stiffs trying to look after themselves.

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#58 Reg Dunlop
October 04 2012, 01:38AM
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@oilers2k14

NHL players are a little dimmer than the bright lights in the NFL? NBA? Taking a degree in 'communications' while on a football scholarship doesn't make a person more educated.Compare, for example, an interview with Wayne Gretzky(high school drop-out) to an interview with Rae Carruth(U of Colorado grad) which would have to be done at the prison he is incarcerated at.

The players are the union but it is possible they are getting unsound advice from their employee Fehr. I don't blame the players but I do think Fehr is a problem. Many think Betman has to go but his replacement will be no different, as he only reflects the wishes of the majority of owners. Replacing Fehr with a moderate would speed up the return of NHL hockey. I hope it is done before the owners start talking about ending guaranteed contracts. That would be a cruise missle up the NHLPA's turd-cutter and the end of the NHL as we know it.

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#59 Oil
October 04 2012, 04:08AM
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You are so pro player. I always try to tune into your show but your ha ha ha heeeeeeee heeee haaaa haaa every 5 min is redicilous

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#60 Oil
October 04 2012, 04:23AM
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Double post.

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#61 Renneyfan
October 04 2012, 06:08AM
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Sean avery would be the first to cross

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#62 blue31
October 04 2012, 08:33AM
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Bottom line:

Put the NHL on hold for a couple of years and the owners will carry on with their core businesses.

The players will be lined up at Purolator looking for part-time delivery jobs, as most have ZERO education or any other sought-after skills. All eggs. One basket.

I'm not entirely on one side or the other, but both sides need some perspective with the realization that NHL hockey, for the most part, is just inconsequential entertainment. We're not talking health care or education here.

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#63 nunyour
October 04 2012, 09:24AM
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i would watch replacement players,how can a nhl player not be happy with what he is being payed? and the owners can make as much as they can,good for them,they bought the team.if anybody wants to buy a team there are some for sale.

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#64 EHH Team
October 04 2012, 02:23PM
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Oil wrote:

You are so pro player. I always try to tune into your show but your ha ha ha heeeeeeee heeee haaaa haaa every 5 min is redicilous

this is an absolutely insulting and idiotic comment

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#65 Wanyes bastard child
October 04 2012, 09:39PM
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^^^ This

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#66 Walter Sobchak
October 05 2012, 02:30AM
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Pouzar99 wrote:

Congratulations. I believe this is the most embarrassing collection of comments I have ever read on this site. My apologies to Jason Strudwick, whose innocuous, straight-forward comments about the possibility of replacement players have been distorted and attacked by posters who apparently feel empowered by insulting a former professional athlete from a safe distance.

When Jason says the players have earned the right to play in the NHL he obviously means they have earned it by becoming one of the best 750 players in the world, not that they have some legal or inalienable right to be offered an NHL contract.

Jason says players do feel lucky to be playing a kid's game for lots of money, but the fact is that most of them made it because of hard work, sacrifice and courage, combined with innate talent. Players that have the talent but not the moxie, think Robert Nilsson and Patrick O'Sullivan, don't last. If you don't continue to go to the tough areas and take the punishment you are gone before long. Obviously Jason had some talent but anyone who ever watched him play must know that the crucial factors in his career were heart, savvy and determination, plus being a good teammate.

To those who claim they would pay to see replacement players I have one question. If some guys, say some new immigrants or refugees from Africa, were willing to take your job and your co-workers jobs for a few bucks less an hour and less benefits than you receive, would you think that was cool? Would it bother you if everyone who knew you supported your replacements? I think you know the answer.

I honestly believe there are very few commenters on here that don't appreciate the players ability to get to the NHL, I think you might be overreacting a little. IMO.

Having said that, I find it ironic, funny and mostly hypocritical when people mention they won't watch replacement players?

The Edmonton Oilers prior to this year by definition have been using replacement players, AHL caliber players so they can tank there way to a last place finishes.

Also, I just love your hypocritical statement about refugees taking jobs away! So let's reverse that comment and see what we come up with.

Nash, OV8, Jagr, Hemsky, Kovelchuck etc,etc, just went over to Europe to play, they stole some guys job who makes significantly less, just so they can stay in shape and make even more MONEY while the NHLPA and its brethren support this!

Meanwhile some poor bastard who makes ten times less and gets no HRR just got his job ripped off by some millionaire hockey player playing in a league where the NHL player will receive zero HRR, and your ok with this?

This stinks of irony and Hypocrisy

So how is it ok that the NHL players can do this, but then its not ok to use replacement players? I think you know the answer.

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#67 Pouzar99
October 05 2012, 04:19PM
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Your analogy only works if NHL players are taking the jobs of those in Europe by playing for less money than the Europeans or fringe NAs are paid, when the opposite is in fact the case. You might as well say NHL free agents are scabs because when they are signed they take the place of other players. Nice try though.

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#68 Walter Sobchak
October 05 2012, 06:41PM
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Pouzar99 wrote:

Your analogy only works if NHL players are taking the jobs of those in Europe by playing for less money than the Europeans or fringe NAs are paid, when the opposite is in fact the case. You might as well say NHL free agents are scabs because when they are signed they take the place of other players. Nice try though.

They are taking the jobs of other hockey players in Europe. Period. Your argument was based on people coming in and taking job's!!! Nice try though, terrible argument.

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#69 Pouzar99
October 05 2012, 08:51PM
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Wes -Read SLOWLY. A scab is someone who accepts LESS money or benefits to take someone's job during a strike or lockout.

There is no strike or lockout in Europe. If European club owners want to pay MORE to hire a locked out NHLer because he is a better player than some they have, not LESS to save money, the player is NOT a scab. He is just a better player. He has NOT broken the working man's code. That is obviously what I am arguing Wes. The imaginary immigrant workers are paid LESS.

If the Oilers put Corey Potter on waivers because they signed Justin Schultz as a free agent that does not make Schultz a scab. Better players get jobs ahead of lesser ones. This is the way professional sports work Wes. Teams try to get better players and will pay more to get them. There is a finite number of places. This is NOT the Gainers' strike.

If NHL clubs hire fringe players to play cheap while they lockout their contracted players the replacements are SCABS and you are not much better if you pay to watch them. That IS the Gainers' strike and you are eating SCAB sausages. Enjoy them.

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#70 nunyour
October 06 2012, 12:34PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

They are taking the jobs of other hockey players in Europe. Period. Your argument was based on people coming in and taking job's!!! Nice try though, terrible argument.

i wonder how the displaced players that are trying to feed their families feel about a bunch of millionairs flying in and taking away their jobs? i agree with Wes.

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#71 Dawn
October 07 2012, 04:30PM
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Since the KHL is increasing their roster size to absorb the 3 players they are allowed to bring in from the NHL so as not to be caught short when the lockout ends, it largely negates many of the prior comments. In the KHL, at least, the jobs are not being taken from the existing players. No job stealing. No starving Kazakhstan families. Happy Russian teams with a more competitive product. Happy Russian fans with a chance to watch NHL stars, many of them the proverbial prodigal sons returning home. My only problem with the guys playing overseas is a fear that some of them won't want to come back. (Please Nail, remember that we will love you just as much as your hometown fans.)

As for watching replacement players here... Meh. I'd probably watch in much the same way you can't tear your eyes away from a slow-motion train wreck. But without the Eberle toe-drag forehand to backhand and magic whack it out of the air goals, without Hall flying down the side wall, would I really care? No. Not so much. The story that I care about is the fruits of the rebuild, the Cinderella story, my guys that I've sweated and cheered for, not some guys that didn't have the ingredients to make it to the NHL in the first place.

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