Sunday, August 26, 2007


James Mirtle brings it home why there's an uneasy feeling about getting emotionally invested in the Canada-Russia Super Series: His take is it adds to an already heaping plate the junior hockey players have — potentially 100-plus games over the season.

(Love James' illustration too — John Tavares standing next to a sign on the Oshawa Generals' dressing room door reading, "in this Room the only talk is of Winning!!!" Wait, isn't junior hockey supposed to be just as much about education? Also, that's why I could never coach — I'm not learned in the effective use of excessive exclamation points.)

So yeah, we won't be watching. Besides, it means getting up before 11 in the morning to listen to a broadcast that has both Peter Loubardias and Pierre McGuire. One can be dealt with, but we won't be functioning well enough at that hour to get off a good "shut up, Pierre" and do an embellished take of Peter Lou's "skeeee-ors" goal call (which graciously, he toned down toward the end of last season).


Dennis Prouse said...

72 games in the OHL is absolutely ridiculous. I believe the WHL plays 66, but that's only because of the brutal prairie travel distances make it tougher to do the three games in three nights Bataan Death March the OHL loves to schedule.

We all know the reason for the multitude of games, plus the fact that you almost have to tank your season deliberately to miss the playoffs. It's all about the cash. Junior hockey has very quietly become a big money maker. I would have no problem with that if the scholarships were more generous, and we weren't hearing stories about players having difficulty collecting the scholarships that do exist.

sager said...

One of James' commenters made a good point that
the "provincial governments should step in and regulate the leagues under their labour standards legislation." It seems like Joey working at Tim Hortons has a better work situation than junior players.

Dennis, you'd know more about that than I would... the leagues probably get around it by considering the players "amateurs" and not "employees." There actually was an instance a few years back where a provincial Junior A player out West filed for unemployment at the end of the season. That had the teams pretty worried about their tax situation.

The system isn't as corrupt as major-college football and basketball in the States (but that's no standard at all). The seasons -- 70 in the Q, 68 in O and 72 out West -- ought to be shorter, for starters, and people should start looking into the income the teams generate and how much the players get.

Tyler King said...

Didn't Loubardias switch to a "he SCORES!" call late last season? I remember listening to a few and wondering whatever happened to the good ol' skee-ores.

Dennis Prouse said...

I hadn't heard about the kid applying for EI - no doubt that would send shivers down the spine of every owner. In the leagues below the CHL, no doubt this is a labour of love, and I doubt that there are more than a handful of teams not named Pembroke making money. The CHL, though, is now very clearly a business for every franchise, and should be subject to the same employment standards as any other business. If nothing else, it would force the teams to increase the weekly allowance these kids get. (Of course, some players get more than others, a dirty little secret teams do their best to hide.)

Dennis Prouse said...

And another thing. :-) I don't like the way the NCAA does business in a lot of instances, but there is something to be said for the fact that they offer full ride scholarships, valued at about 35K per year, to their players. When you think about it, that's not bad value just for playing a sport. If a school boasts a high graduation rate for its players, as some do, then I think you could argue that they are doing OK by their players. (Keep in mind also that at a lot of those football factories, profits from football are what keep a lot of the other sports afloat financially.)

My beef with the NCAA is the fact that they tolerate such absymal graduation rates at some schools, most notably some of the basketball schools. I understand the fact that they are recruiting inner city kids, and that their graduation rates can't be expected to be the same as football due to the fact those kids haven't had the same access to a quality high school education. At some of the schools, though, the rate is so ugly you wonder if they are even trying. During one four year stretch at Arkansas in the 90s, for example, their basketball program had a zero percent graduation rate. Yes, you read right -- not one player graduated within a four year period. This goes unpunished, however, while the NCAA imposes sanctions on schools who provide potential recruits with pizza or a free hat.

sager said...

Yeah, it's bad in the NCAA... the problem really starts in the high schools. I had no idea how really bad it was until I read Michael Lewis' The Blind Side. His subject had college teammates who read at a third-grade level and had never done any kind of sophisticated math... and they're in university?! Thanks to the miracle of the Internet, though, they manage to get their necessary credits, and

With respect to hockey Mark Moore (brother of Steve) had a good suggestion in his book... he says junior hockey should be for 17- to 19-year-olds and then they should go play U.S. college. That's his self-interest talking, but it's not a bad idea.

As an aside re: football making money for other programs. There's a good book that Rick Telander did in the '80s called The Hundred-Yard Lie that showed that it's a myth football pays the bills for other sports. Granted, that book is almost 20 years, and the merchandising and TV revenues are nowhere near what it is today, so maybe it's changed. But many of the football programs have such high overhead (coaches' salaries, Cadillac training and practice facilities) that they barely pay for themselves. College football is all about excess to impress 17-year-olds. It's really kind of demeaning.

I'm glad the CIS is starting to become more formal in its outlook like the NCAA (teams announcing recruits, trying to be more available to the media, respecting sports' place in the campus culture, etc.), but there's a lot of elements of the NCAA we don't want here.

Dennis Prouse said...

The Cadillac training facilities are ridiculous. Have you seen the Taj mahals they are building now? Those kids are all but peeing in gold plated urinals, for crying out loud. I go down to Syracuse every year for a coaching clinic -- their facilities are incredibly nice, yet I am told they "lag" in comparison to Florida, Texas, etc., and there is pressure to "upgrade" them. So, yes, between that and the army of six figure position coaches and the million dollar head coach, I can see how the overhead gets up there.