WOULD YOU WATCH REPLACEMENT PLAYERS

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?

  • treevojo

    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

    • B S

      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).

    • Jason Gregor

      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.

      • treevojo

        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

  • A-Mc

    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*)

  • 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.

    • The Goalie 1976

      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????????