Why Don Cherry needs to STFU

So, Don Cherry is wading into the NHL lockout controversy, with some “advice” for the players:

Now, I’m not going to go on about Cherry’s racism, misogyny, homophobia, or the other objectionable traits that make him so appealing to Rob Ford supporters. What I am going to criticise is the notion that players shouldn’t use Twitter or other forms of media to voice their opinions.

The mainstream media hasn’t been especially kind to the players during this lockout, many sources calling them greedy, or selfish, or worse. People don’t seem too sympathetic to their plight, believing that they should just shut their mouths and be happy they’re getting paid millions to play a game that many people claim they would happily do for free. But this ignores the realities of the hockey player’s life – the injuries, the training, the travel, the constant possibility of being shipped across the country in a trade, the difficulties in maintaining relationships or having a family, etc. Most nine-to-fivers take their health, their family, and the stability in their lives for granted, but hockey players lead a very different existence than most. It’s a life that most of us simply couldn’t handle.

The one thing Twitter does is even the playing field. It’s the one recourse that the players have to get their true, unedited thoughts out to the public, without concern for how their words will be spun or twisted by the mainstream media. It’s the only way they can overcome the bias inherent in all media reports, and the only way they can be sure their words aren’t twisted out of context.

As for just making the owners “more determined,” who is it that locked the players out in the first place? The players were willing to start the season under the existing CBA, but the owners shut the doors. The players seem to be the ones who want to play, but the owners are the ones saying no. They seem pretty determined as it is, and I really doubt that a few tweets sent out by players are going to make them dig in their heels any further. The players are taking one of the few routes available to them to express their displeasure towards the way they’re being treated by their former employers, and they’re well within their rights to do so. Unless the owners finally agree that the players deserve 50% of the money they generate, this lockout is going to go on until they come to their senses and give them their fair share for what they’re putting in.

The bottom line is, nobody ever watches hockey to see the owners. The players are the reason that people show up, and the players are the ones the fans want to see. The players are putting their lives and reputations on the line, and for the owners to say that they don’t deserve at least 50% of the revenues is insulting to say the least. These players have given their entire lives to the game, and they don’t have any transferable skills that they can use in future careers. They give every fibre of their being to get out there on the ice for our entertainment, and they damn well deserve to be compensated for their efforts. The average NHL career is somewhere around four years long, during which the players have to make the absolute most of their earning potential, using skills that they’ve spent a lifetime cultivating that they’ll never be able to use anywhere else. That’s not even considering the physical toll the game takes on their bodies – the epidemic of concussions, the lifetime of pain they endure from hockey-related injuries, and the fact that their relevance pretty much drops to zero the instant they retire.

The only risk to the owners is money – which they all have plenty of – and most of them do quite well for themselves as it is. The players bear all the physical risks, suffer all the physical consequences, and endure all the long-term suffering that comes from a career of playing hockey at the highest level. If that’s not worth 50% of the revenues generated by their efforts, then what more can they possibly do to earn their share?

Until the owners come to their senses, Don Cherry needs to STFU and let the players speak their minds. Not everybody has a bully pulpit on the CBC to spout their inane opinions, so the players have to use what’s available to them. Of all the people who should criticize others for speaking their minds on an issue they care deeply about, Don Cherry is at the absolute bottom of the list.

1 thought on “Why Don Cherry needs to STFU

  1. I whole heartedly agree with most of what you say Nikki. A lot of the franchises complain about not making profits, they seem to forget it was Bettman’s flawed business plan to expand the NHL into non-hockey markets in the 1st place- For $50 million / expansion franchise
    Atlanta was a bust [again], Phoenix a disaster, Nashville, Florida, Columbus all have accumulated huge losses over the years. The irony is that the NHL subsidizes money losing franchises, so those billionaires are only losing a few million.
    The players have done everything in since the last lockout to form a partnership with the owners , but apparently that is not enough.

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