Should 30 NHL Teams Be Able to Buyout Bad Contracts?

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by Kolby Solinsky

Editor, White Cover Magazine

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In real life, you live with your bad decisions. Your bad investments. If you a banana stand on the Boardwalk and it inevitably fails miserably, you don’t get your money back. The mob won’t not break your thumbs just because you didn’t see the downturn coming. Everyone who left their pensions with the Lehman Brothers is still working.

That’s how it’s supposed to work. Just, not in the NHL.

Latest news from the now-four-straight-day negotiation process is that owners and their NHL clubs will be able to select two players to buy out once the 2013/14 season kicks off. That throws into jeopardy the professional path of several players from several teams that made irresponsible moves to sign them.

(Details on all the sticking points were nicely documented by The Score‘s Justin Bourne.)

Montreal could let go of both Tomas Kaberle and Scott Gomez. The Vancouver Canucks would boot Keith Ballard and maybe even Roberto Luongo. And, the Toronto Maple Leafs may finally get out of that Brian Burke-sized crater and eek their way into relevancy again.

This is nice. But, it also sucks.

Owners should have to live their their terrible, awful decisions. They shouldn’t get to just blow out somebody else’s success because they want to close this deal.

And, who’s to say the amnesties will even be deserved?

You could argue that Ballard never got a fair shot in Vancouver, and it’d be easy to see him turning that $4 million a year into fine tricks for another franchise. What about teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins? If it all comes down to money, what’s going to stop them from axing guys who shouldn’t be axed?

“For a team loaded with talent top to bottom, the Penguins still found a way to head into a season that won’t be happening $10 million away from the cap,” wrote Chris Lund last week. “If we’re to nominate an amnesty winner, I’d suggest Paul Martin. He’s a good, steady guy, but he’s the biggest blue line hit and serves as a road block for future top pair guy Simon Despres, and the rest of the blueline stable they have coming up. It would be an unceremonious exit worthy of his Canadian Prime Ministerial namesake.”

Guys like Gomez and Ballard or Mike Komisarek… they’re not at the negotiating table right now. They’re not the ones fighting in this lockout. It’s the richer players. It’s the headline players. It’s Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews. Those two Canadian heros may be fine signing a bill that sinks their brothers, but it would be foolish to think this deal is best for everybody.

(Look at the guys in that video at the top of this article. Do you really think any of them have anything to lose in this Lockout? Do the owners? Now, ask yourself who’s really getting trampled, besides you at home. Now… look at the photo at the bottom. Do you really think any of these guys care about unity, or do they simply care about the image unity brings them?)

Of course, a buy out means the money stays with the players, but these guys want hockey. They don’t want to be sitting on their butt watching Holly Sonders on Morning Drive (like I am right now) while everyone else made it through the Lockout like the United States after each World War.

Sure, owners. Bury your bad debt. Kill off the ones you owe the money to.

Just remember: we don’t get a second chance, and neither should you.

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#ThePlayers - NHL Lockout 2012