Sunday, November 7, 2010

Because the 4th Overall Pick Is, After All, the Coolest Teenager in the World.

The game: Portland Winterhawks 3, Red Deer 2. Portland Winterhawks 4, Everett Silvertips 2. Squeakers all around, thanks to NHL Draftees Taylor Aronson (OT goal in the Red Deer game) and Brad Ross/Ryan Johansen/Nino Niederreiter (Brad got the game winner against Everett, Nino and Ryan helped and then Ryan topped it off with an empty netter).

As for that headline: The Everett game was stopped about 2 minutes in when two Silvertips players collided with each other on open ice. Medical personnel were called to the scene once it was clear he wasn't getting up or moving a whole lot. To ensure that one of them didn't fall while walking across the ice, Ryan skated over and took his arm to escort him out to the scene. If you've seen the post over on oregonlive, forgive me for duplicating with the audience here: behind the great playmaking is a great player. Get ready Columbus, it won't be long before you see what I'm talking about.

Road trip: Here in Portland, darkness is coming early due to the end of daylight savings time, coupled with rain and two weeks without any home games. While life on the home front is admittedly dreary, somewhere out there rolling down I-5, is a gaggle of young hockey players heading to Canada for a 3000+ mile road trip and all the adventure that comes with it. The Winterhawks sparkle on the road, and they head out on an eight-game winning streak. The recent return of Nino Niederreiter just puts the cherry on top of the whole thing. Times like these only come once, and one would hope that in ten years when they are still plenty young and off in the NHL or wherever fate leads them that they remember well what Portland taught them. I have had the pleasure of meeting most of them, and I know that they will.

That took long enough: Pittsburgh beat Phoenix last night in a shootout. Doing the game winning goal honors was Mark Letestu. A small glimmer of hope in a not terribly hopeful road trip. Here's my theory: one of the great things about the Penguins is that they play, lose and fight as a team. Sidney Crosby's generosity on and off the ice is well documented and rarely disputed. But the side effect of playing like one person is that when one or two players are sidelined, it's like all of them are. With Jordan Staal's injury, the team was dealt another blow just before leaving for a road trip. They had no time to absorb it or deal with it. Just get on the plane and good luck. That's no excuse for the middling play that marred their recent games, but it was cause for reflection on tonight's morals of the story.

But first, the rule: NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement, Article 12, Salary Arbitration.

12.3, Eligibility for Club-Elected Salary Arbitration: If a player has a Paragraph 1 NHL Salaries plus Signing, Roster and Reporting Bonuses Greater than $1,500,000 in the Prior League Year, the Club may elect salary arbitration for said salaries, etc in lieu of making an offer for the upcoming League Year. And if it goes to arbitration, the arbitrator may not award less than 85% of the Player's salaries, bonuses, etc, in the final League Year of his most recent SPC.

Morals of the story:

The game: When you make between eight and oh, say, $10 million a year, is 85 percent really so bad?

Life: This rule is all about what a player is worth to his employer. Ryan Johansen and his teammate Nino Niederreiter are worth just under one million dollars to their respective NHL teams. But back here, we don't place a dollar value on them and when they have moved on to their well-deserved professional careers, no amount of money could compensate for their loss. Jordan Staal's value to the Pens goes beyond his salary: it's key to the heart of the team.

Which brings me to this: why is it that we determine our worth in life by material worth? Generations before us survived the great depression, but we flip out if we can't own the latest iPhone-like gadget or a bank won't float a loan anymore for that McMansion we can't really afford. Material worth is important when it comes to salary, since that is how an employer demonstrates your value to them and how we pay the rent. But it's what they do with it that causes some people to lose the plot. Nobody needs expensive cell phones, a pimped up ride with all the bells and whistles or radiant heat on their floors to show others how important they are.

Therefore: I propose that Club Elected salary arbitration be allowed in every Fortune 500 company in America, so all those VPs who got to the corner office on a wing and a prayer can be put in their places every now and again. Only in my book, I wouldn't be as generous as 85 percent. I'd go for, oh...I don't know....say...fifteen percent, tops. Any sum that would require said individuals to sell the Jag, the McMansion and rent a small house within their actual budgetary means will do. If it works for the NHL, then it should work for everyone else.

Up next: Finding something to do with the next two weeks of my life while the Hawks hit the road. And 12.7, Scheduling.

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