Friday, December 5, 2008

Who does the NHLPA protect?

Will there ever be a day when this association has 2 sides to it. The PA becoming 3D is simply too much to dream about.

This whole Sean Avery thing has me wondering again who the NHLPA represents. As a dues paying member Avery is entitled to the union’s support and legal representation. They can attack the NHL even if they look foolish defending someone whose actions are repeatedly indefensible. They are required to do it. But how hard to they have to fight? They didn’t fight that hard to help Alexi Yashin when he tried to get out of a signed contract. Again in that case they are required to represent him, but to what extent?

This case is not much different. Few if any players support their union’s use of time, funds and efforts to fight for the rights of a player who has no problem in denigrating the rights and reputation of other association members. Is the NHLPA going to file suit against Avery on behalf of Dion Phaneuf for the public remarks made by Avery? I don’t think so. Does Phaneuf not have rights to a defense even if he requires defending from another member of the union? Do you really think Glenn Healy and the NHLPA lawyers really want to try and find a way to make this sound different than what it is? I am sure they are embarrassed to even be there arguing the case.

The greatest risk to an NHL player’s career is not the actions of the big bad league or the owners. The greatest risk to a player’s career is the actions of another player. Accidents happen but clearly there are certain players who are extremely dangerous to the health of others on skates. The NHL has supplementary discipline to deal with those people but is that enough?

For the repeat offenders who have clearly not been convinced by supplementary discipline to change the way they play, why is there no player-based disciplinary board at the NHLPA to internally sanction players who other players believe put their careers at risk?

Why is it the NHLPA lawyers are at the ready to grieve a dispute over a cloudy waiver issue, but one player getting his 7th suspension for almost killing another is not even a conversation?

Players are now involved in equipment, the rules, off site games, promotions, outdoor games and a whole host of other things. But they still can’t seem to understand that self discipline of its own membership for their actions on the ice might be the greatest single service they can do to help prolong the career of every NHL player. Is that not the union’s primary job? To protect the career of each paying member with passionate advocacy?

I just can’t figure it out. That’s now #18,996,087,438,227,877 on my list of stuff I can’t figure out.

See you at the rink.

Avery Who?

First my apologies. It has been some time since my last post. I have had some personal things going on and just have not had the time or the desire to do it. Again my apologies.

This is something that simply can’t be passed up though. The Sean Avery affair. Just too delicious, too “Entertainment Tonight”.

First the good. People who never talk about hockey or care about hockey are talking about this. Broadcast outlets which rarely have a hockey story like CNN have covered this. Even more amazing the BBC ran a story about it. Great! Or is it?

Now the bad. Well just about everything. This guy is simply a train wreck. A few teams will always want him because he is a very good player but the list is going to start dwindling because he comes with so much baggage and has found a way to embarrass everyone who believes in him and pays him or plays with him.

The commissioners 6 game suspension is neither too much or too little as far as I am concerned. The number of games will be debated by everyone. He gets 6 games for bad language and poor taste while Randy Jones from Philly got 3 games for almost killing Patrice Bergeron from Boston last year? You can’t compare apples and oranges and this is a completely different fruit so I am not going to even bother considering if Avery’s suspension is too much or too little. I am anxiously waiting to see what the Dallas Stars do and what the NHLPA does after that.

Here is the statement from the NHLPA following the announcement of the suspension.


TORONTO (December 5, 2008):
NHLPA Executive Director Paul Kelly’s statement regarding the suspension of Sean Avery for six regular season games: “While the NHLPA does not condone Sean’s comments, which were clearly inappropriate, the discipline imposed by the Commissioner is unprecedented both in its severity, as well as the process by which it was handed down. We have also seen signals from the Dallas Stars that Sean’s contractual rights might be challenged. We are monitoring the situation as it develops, and we will evaluate all legal options as the circumstances warrant. In the meantime, our first priority is supporting Sean’s efforts to learn from his mistake and move forward in a positive manner."

The juicy part is the contractual rights being challenged. In every NHL contract there is (what amounts to) a morality clause and there is talk the Stars may attempt to get rid of his contract by claiming he has violated it. There is also talk the Stars (who do not own their own AHL team) might send him to their East Coast League team and hope he won’t show up so they can suspend him. If he does show up, they will either pay him until the date rolls around when they can buy him out, or hope that someone else is willing to take a flyer on this wild card player. If they do, the Stars can recall him and that team can take him on re-entry waivers and Dallas would only have to pay for half of his remaining salary.

Avery has clearly had the spin doctors doing surgery on him. His apology was obviously not written by him and I doubt his offer to get psychological help was his idea. I would love to see that psychological report. I am no Dr.Phil but I don’t believe he has any clinical problems. His issues are ego and morality based with a huge dose of self entitlement mixed in with a healthy portion of showmanship and self love. I believe the clinical name for this is jerkitis.

I believe the cure is the end of his multi-million dollar paychecks combined with some anonymity and a little bit of in-your-face scorn for any working man who would be fired him his 30 thousand dollar a year job if he behaved this way. In other words a severe reality check.
I am all for 2nd chances. Avery is now on chance #17 and at this rate could soon be a team mate of Ray Emery’s.

See you at the rink.