The "Red Light" District

By Roger "The Moose" Mussa

JANUARY 21, 2005. The Moose is back… and he has found a new home at Spectors hockey. After years of being a frequent visitor of the site it gives me great pleasure to become a contributing writer. Thanks goes to Lyle for maintaining this great place where hockey fans turn to for hockey intelligence and expression.

OK, so it's the first time I have gotten a bit of emotion from the NHL front. I have found myself listening more to Nets and Jets and have gotten very excited about Vince Carter coming to Jersey and the Jets in the playoffs. By the way, I really think Santana Moss is on the verge of paying dividends. Next season he may break out.

Anyway back to hockey…

Today, January 19th 2005 something happened. At Chicago's O'Hare International Airport the owners and the players met for 5 hours. The first time since December 14th 2004. To me it was simply a starting point as nothing gets done with NO communication.

Apparently Trevor Linden, union president, reached out to Harley Hotchkiss, NHL board of directors chairman, and invited the sides to meet. This initiative took place without the involvement of two key figures, Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow, who some say may also be the two who have been the anchor in moving the talks along. Well, got to give Linden some credit.

The talks were productive as the sided huddle privately at times and a second meeting Thursday in Toronto. Gentlemen… do you think we can all get along now?!?

I think we may all be desperate at this point. I truly believe that hockey has a lot more to lose than just a season. I will tell you what is at stake for our beloved league and sport after I share some facts.

· Hockey and the NHL is losing market share to every other sport. Id have to guess were competing with the X-Games for popularity.
· No major professional sports league in North America has EVER canceled an entire season due to labor dispute.
· A Cup - and the tradition, history, hard work …. - would not be raised for the first time since 1919. And it was canceled because the teams caught a flu!
· The New Jersey Devils won their inaugural Cup in 1995, when approximately half of the season was lost due to a labor dispute. That's a trivia question for your kids.

People, hockey may be on the verge of losing their pride, dignity, history, reputation, validity, purity, blah-blah-blah. You all get the point. And its sad.

Today, I think we can salvage a season. Tomorrow may be too late.

If it were up to me…

I would gather the owners and restructure the NHL. The New NHL. Bettman supposedly had hired a marketing company to design a new logo for the league. Lets put those monies to good use and begin a new league. This league will have its own agreement and perhaps a salary cap.

This new league would, in turn, invite all former NHL players to join their respective teams. Some sort of declining scale of salary decreases should be put in place so one wouldn't take a 50% pay cut. Those who would like to come back to the best league in the world, welcome. If a minimal amount of former NHL players come back we would bring up minor and farm players. This later would damage current image of league and may take some time to get those marginal fans back.

If its about the money, there is no league in the world that would pay as much as we would - with or without a salary cap. If its about the competition, the NHL has been the home of the worlds elite players. If its for the love of the game, it's a no brainer.

The other option is to lock Bettman and Goodenow in an office. Maybe they could have a few chairs and a table in this office and not come out until a deal was done! Oh, and no food in this office either!!!

OK, so there is hope. Happy New Year Lord Stanley

The opinions expressed on this page are of the author, and in no way reflect the views of the NHL, it teams or players. All material in World Cup fo Hockey Journal copyright (C) 2005 Spector's Hockey. Reproduction of this material in whole, or in part, without consent by the author or Spector's Hockey is prohibited.