Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Travel expenses for skating with Santa: $0.

The games: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New York Islanders.

Why I chose them: It's the warm up for the last Washingvton vs. Pittsburgh game before the Winter Classic. It's the honkin' tall French captain and flamin' hot French coach versus Nino Niederreiter's future employers. Yummy, yummy, yummy.

The distraction: The second episode of 24/7, in which the Pittsburgh Penguins go on a 2-game mini losing streak and the Capitals win, at last. But I still think Rhys Adams and Max Rupp need their own spin-off show. The only thing more entertaining than the players are the little toddlers who call them dad.

Final scores: Pittsburgh 5, Florida 2. Ben Lovejoy scored his first NHL goal. Pascal Dupuis sealed the deal with an empty netter. Islanders 2, Tampa Bay 1 in OT, thanks to John Tavares' late-in-the-OT game winner.

Be afraid. Be very afraid: I'm getting into the holiday spirit tomorrow by skating with Santa at the new Winterhawks Skating Center. Look for a headline on oregonlive to read "Portland Winterhawks blogger injured in unfortunate Santa accident."

The rule: NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement. Article 15, Training Camp, Travel Expenses.

15.1, in a nutshell: Travel expenses for the player and his family shall be paid for by the Club, to cover their travel from their summer residence to the Club city for training camp, and back to their summer residence at the end of the season. This is based on returning to and living in their summer residence for a minimum of two months. And lest you should think players fly first class when not on the team's cushy charter jets, think again. The airfare that's covered is economy.

What, no compensation for snacks?: 15.2: All players attending Training Camp shall be paid the same per diem allowance provided in Section 19 (a), and shall receive lodging provided by the Club during the period of their attendance at Training Camp. Clubs have the option to provide breakfast and/or lunch during Training Camp. If they do, the following gets deducted from the player's per diem: $12 for breakfast, and $15 for lunch. So, I guess the difference left over is for snacks and dinner.

Morals of the story:

The game: I think I get it. This is the consequence of those gazillion dollar, multi-year player deals. There's no money left over for first class airfare and snacks and what not.

Life: In all the years I lived in New York, I never did the summer house thing. We had summer hours in my offices, but I never talked endlessly on my cell phone on a Friday afternoon ride on the Hamptons Jitney. I never had an affair with a lifeguard who'd barely graduated from high school. I somehow ended up in the city on 4th of July weekend, when everyone else vacated. My "summer residence" was my little room on the Upper West Side. And those were some of the best summers of my life. No free airfare and snacks, no wine-soaked weekends at some plush beach house. Just me and the other diehards sticking it out. It was a lot like Portland Winterhawks' Sunday games at the Memorial Coliseum, notorious for being the black hole of game attendance. Games in the dead of winter on Sunday, against an ok team, boast fewer than 3,000 fans in the stands. But I love it. I love being part of the small but mighty band of fans who stand fast and stay until the end. I prefer to think of it as being an exclusive event that only a few select people enjoyed. And seemingly unimportant though those games may seem to most people, they are just as important as a Saturday night Teddy Bear Toss at the Rose Garden. If you live in Portland, feel free to join us. After all...the more, the merrier.

Next up: The second half of Article 15, Travel Expenses: Training Camp.

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