The Lockout According to Big Rick Foley

Yet again, owners and players failed fans, and since I can’t read yet another quote from Bettman or Fehr without retching, I paid a visit to the most knowegeable sports fan I know, Rick Foley.

Rick played twenty years of hockey in a motley collection of leagues like the WHL, AHL and the WHA, but he’s best known for a stint with the Philadelphia Flyers back when they were better known as the Broadstreet Bullies. Rick picked up 168 penalty minutes that season; not too shabby in a team full of bruisers. He was never a player on the same scale as Bobby Orr or Dave Keon. He was a journeyman hockey player drafted during the Original Six era to the Toronto Marlboros, which, due to direct sponsorship of the NHL, meant that the Maple Leafs essentially owned him.  He showed up, did his job, and ground out a tough career. He had this to say:

Who made the worse move yesterday, the players or the owners?

Rick Foley: Players are balking at taking fifty cents on the dollar. Name another business where you get fifty cents on the dollar and not put up a dime. I mean, I know they were getting fifty-seven cents on the dollar, but to be locked out, with all the money they’re losing, and to say “Well, I’d rather get fifty-three per cent,” I mean, they get the opportunity to get paid fifty cents on the dollar and put up nothing? I’d do that tomorrow.

But the owners are part of the problem?

Well, the owners are creating the problem. They’ve made all these commitments they can’t afford. The players aren’t stupid. If somebody comes to you tomorrow and says, “I’m going to give you a million dollars a year for five years,” are you going to say no?

This guy for Minnesota, he signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter 90 million dollars each for ten years. Suter got 46 points last year, and this guy’s going to make 90 million in ten years. The same general manager that signed him stood up and said, “We can’t keep paying these guys this kind of money.” Well, fucking yesterday he signed two guys for 180 million and they’re a small market team.

Nashville does the same fucking thing. They’ve got no money. Philly, who has big money, offers Shea Weber 120 million, Nashville counters with the same offer. And then they say, “How’re we going to pay this guy?” Instead of letting him go, they say, “We’ve lost Suter, we’ve lost one of our best defensemen, now if we lose Shea Weber nobody’s going to come in the building.” Who cares if fans are coming in the building if you can’t make the payroll? You’re giving the guy $120 million for ten years, the previous year he made four and a half? So you’re jumping him eight million, where do you get that back in revenue? You’ve got no TV in Nashville, you’re just driving it through ticket sales, you’re renting the building, it’s not like you own anything, you don’t own the parking, you don’t own the bars, you don’t own the restaurants, you get a percentage. So how do you make up $120 million, when you’re losing money already?

Can the league sort out its finances?

There’s another situation. What other business in the world do you go to the government, except the auto industry, I guess, and says “I need $100 million to build a building?” The government will say, “Excuse me? You’d better go look somewhere else.”

This is the problem too. The NHL owns Phoenix now. They say Florida is in financial trouble. They say they just arranged a loan for the guy in New Jersey, that’s made, what, six playoff appearances in the past ten years? He can’t afford the payroll. So they had to get them five hundred and sixty million dollars. What, will the six teams who make money pay for everybody else?

Who loses the most money?

It isn’t the players or the owners. Look at the people in the bars and the people who work at the arenas and the restaurants. That was their livelihood. This is the problem – the players don’t care and the owners don’t care.

What really pisses me off about all this shit is you’ve those poor bastards in the KHL who are trying to make a living doing their jobs and these NHL fuckers are taking their jobs. Guys who are making $8 million a year are taking a guy’s job who makes $50,000 a year, because they don’t care.

What can an NHL fan do?

I’d cancel my season tickets.

Rick with grandson c. 2009

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