Much to His Chagrin
By Michael Shagrin
Published on Friday, October 5, 2012
Much to my chagrin, the prospects of an NHL season are diminishing by the day. As has become all too ordinary over the last decade, phenomenally wealthy owners are attempting to roll back the players’ percentage share of revenue by double digits. Just a season after celebrating hockey’s return to profitability, the self-pitying group of owners is trying to save itself from its own overspending. Similar to commissioner David Stern and the NBA owners, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and his gang of kvetching millionaires believe they need self-imposed rules to constrain their own free agency binges.
Bettman need only take a look at what transpired this summer during the NBA’s offseason to understand the error of his ways. Even with the numerous reforms to the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, owners and general managers offered as many bone-headed contracts as in years past. Seeming to understand their own inevitable weakness, the NHL owners are seeking to reverse the current split in hockey-related income between themselves and the players (the players took home 57 percent to the owners’ 43 percent under the old CBA). But this likely would require a lockout so long that the Stanley Cup playoffs will be lost, as they were in 2005.
On Thursday, the NHL announced that regular season games through Oct. 24 would be canceled, obscuring any future progress on the horizon. Earlier this week, The Dartmouth informed us that Dartmouth’s corps of professional athletes, all of them NHL players, would have some difficult decisions to make if the lockout became an extended issue (“Dartmouth alumni face difficult decisions during NHL lockout,” Oct. 1). So, because we here at the College can’t feasibly influence the timeliness of the NHL’s return, I thought we could give our distinguished alumni some advice on how to spend their time off.
Screw around during a season in Europe. One of the greatest gifts of college is the ability to go to Europe, take easy classes and engage in whatever activities students purport to enjoy during their free time. The experience of an NHL player competing in a European league is really not all that different from a Dartmouth student taking classes in Barcelona or Florence. The workload is going to be elementary compared to the work required to succeed stateside, which should leave plenty of time to enjoy a weekend at Oktoberfest and even more time to be rebuffed by magnificent European women. A season in the Czech or Swedish leagues would be by no means a walk in the park, but those foreign leagues certainly aren’t stacked with the same talent as the NHL. Relatively less work will likely yield superior results.
Get an internship. If you’re a Dartmouth student who isn’t going out of the country for your off-term, you will be working long hours for minimal pay while mustering all your energy to feign interest in color-coding that spreadsheet. In this spirit, the contingent of Dartmouth alums in the NHL could use their hiatus to hone some of their cerebral skills. During last year’s NBA lockout, Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers chose to improve his comedy craft at FunnyOrDie.com. This offseason, Rajon Rondo (who plays for some dreadful team whose name escapes me at present) picked up an internship at GQ to upgrade his fashion sense, while Evan Turner of the Philadelphia 76ers got a job with Men’s Health magazine because who knows why? Sidenote: Which of those NBA players has yet to play in All-Star Game? Answer: the one who worked at Men’s Health. There are only so many cross-checks and melees that a human body can take, so consideration for one’s future career is probably the best long-term option for our esteemed alumni during the lockout.
Join the green movement. I’ve never really understood why there isn’t a fierce, vocal coalition of hockey players trying to reverse the effects of global warming. Other than Vladimir Putin and polar bears, nobody has more to lose from unseasonal ice thaw than hockey enthusiasts. As Malcolm Gladwell goes through great pains to suggest in his introduction to “Outliers,” the best Canadian hockey players are almost exclusively the oldest ones in their cohort, thus earning them the chance to get the most training from the best coaches. If global climate change continues to persist, long, frozen winters could become a remnant of the past and our northern brethren will sadly lose their edge on the ice. So, I put it to you, locked-out Dartmouth alumni, will you take the time during this forgotten season to save your sport and your planet along with it?