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Loose Change: Arbitrary arbitrating

Call me a savior if you must (get in line), but what the National Hockey League and the hockey world itself badly needs right now is a no-nonsense take-charge person to deal with all these nagging issues. You know, someone willing to put all these “fires” (editor’s note: metaphorical fires are the most difficult to extinguish since everything metaphorically burns – theoretically, at least).

Some of these problems are hanging on worse than armpit fungus and I, for one, think it’s high time someone did something about it.

Everyone’s so busy being diplomatic they’ve failed to notice how hockey – the old hag – is suffering badly (more than usual, anyway). USA Today, for example, just did an intensive, half-paragraph story (page 28, under the obituaries) on the whole Phoenix debacle.

Consider this tough love, or toxic medicine, or whatever analogy you want to use to equate what I’m about to do to making you to eat those rancid green beans (fiber) or forcing you to date the girl with the lazy eye and that nasty case of (you guessed it) armpit fungus.

What I’m suggesting proposing demanding is unequivocal, resolute and binding (like Velcro underwear) arbitration. I consider the facts; hear the pleas; field the bribes and render my decision. Seems simple enough, right? Someone has to be willing to take charge and get this horse back into the barn (or out if it’s one of those special weather-repellent horses).

Why me? Because I suggested it, stupid.

CASE #1
The Issue: This on-going argument with the Russians about compensation for when the NHL raids their junior hockey cupboard. They feel the NHL owes them fair value (what’s a 12-year-old worth these days?) for having spent the $30 that got Sergei from tyke to midget (Russian equivalent: Ruble to Borscht).

They do have a point and, making matters worse, the Russian leagues are starting to return the favor by stealing players like Jaromir Jagr (yes, he’s still alive. Who knew?) from the NHL as retribution.

My Decision: The problem is in using currency. Money is so subjective and it’s being paid in U.S. dollars – which nobody wants, anyway. The solution is in old school commodity trading. I’m thinking alcohol. Ten cases of vodka from Russia is equivalent to 14 cases of Tennessee whiskey or four cases of Canadian beer.

No transfer negotiations can begin until the happy water has been traded. Give each side a day with the quarry and then the conference call commences. Whoever’s still standing renders the verdict. More than likely no one will remember the argument and someone will suggest an international group hug. Talk about bilateral negotiating.

CASE #2
The Issue: Dany Heatley has demanded GM Bryan Murray trade him out of Ottawa, but Heatley can veto any trade he doesn’t like. We’re at a standstill worse than the time the lights came on at a high school dance.

My Decision: Dany, you’re not playing nice and, for that, we’re going gameshow on you. Here’s how the system works:

You get three spins of the big NHL wheel. Whichever team the needle stops on you can accept the trade or pass. Remember, you can only pass twice and then you’re left with whichever team you get on your third spin.

Hey, Bryan, a deft hand and you’ll have Dany in purgatory (or Phoenix) in no time.

CASE #3
The Issue: The ownership situation in Tampa is Cerberus minus a head. Their version of <Who’s The Boss? makes Tony Danza look like Meryl Streep. This once proud organization (2004, that’s all you had) would be the laughing stock of professional sports if not for the good fortune of being members in a league with more clowns than the Ringling Brothers.

Tampa, you’re an embarrassment to hockey in Florida. Well, you’re in the top two, anyway.

My Decision: Oren Koules gets autonomy over the team for one month and can make any personnel decision he wants. Then it’s Len Barrie’s turn. After the two months are up, the fans vote on who gets custody of the team. The loser must relinquish ownership, sell his interest in the team and will soon after be burned at the stake near the waterfront (this will also be voted on. Something further inland might be more appropriate).

CASE #4
The Issue: Not sure if you’ve heard, but there’s a bit of a mess out in Phoenix. Something about determining if a professional hockey team in the desert was actually a good decision or not. It’s become the biggest PR nightmare for the NHL since the last PR nightmare almost a week ago. The fiasco makes the league look like (more) amateurs (again).

My Decision:
The whole mess is based on ticket sales. Get enough butts in the seats on a regular basis and all the other problems (except Wayne Gretzky insisting he’s a coach) disappear.

Consider 12,000 season tickets Ground Zero. If the Coyotes achieve this per game, nothing happens and the team stays. Every 1,000 fans afterwards gets the team one goal on the scoreboard for that night. Say 14,000 people show up to see them take on Edmonton (sorry, I chuckled a bit when I wrote that), then the Coyotes start the game ahead 2-0. If they hit 16,000, they’re up 4-0 before the puck drops.

This translates to inflated standings and perhaps an end to your incessant whining about not making the playoffs. Of course, with that team and your sordid history a 6-0 lead may still not be safe. Don’t say I didn’t at least give you a chance. 

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The preceding was purely fictional and meant for entertainment purposes only. By entertainment, we mean we hope you laughed while reading it, framing it, or burning it. Any similarities between this and actual events is strictly coincidental and frankly, dumb luck. Remember to remind your lawyer about the made-up part, OK?

Charlie Teljeur, creator of THN's hockeysockpuppettheatre cartoon, brings you Loose Change every second Tuesday. Subscribe to The Hockey News today to have Charlie's cartoon delivered to you in each issue.

Want to talk to Charlie about love, life, or Loose Change? Email him at charlieteljeur@gmail.com.

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