This is not good. We’re so early into the lockout that we haven’t even missed any regular season games yet and already the alcohol-induced Twitter ramblings of a goon are being considered legitimate news and commentary.
The real and most troubling issue here is not the fact that the NHL and NHL Players’ Association are prepared to throw a $3.3-billion industry down the sinkhole. No, as of Saturday night, the most pressing thing we all need to know is how Krys Barch, a guy who has made more than $3 million in his hockey career, can be drinking OV. What happened? Was the Beer Store all out of Molson Golden, Brador, Labatt 50, IPA and Red Cap? Things for those downtrodden players must be much worse than we could have ever imagined.
But Barch put it out there for all to see, making it clear exactly why his New Jersey Devils have an unofficial No Twitt(er) policy. Communicating under @krysbarch, the on-ice pugilist offered some, er, rather interesting insights into the lockout with his 26 tweets. They were fuelled by eight beers and a healthy amount of (sic) Porte, so it’s impossible to tell whether Barch is simply an out-of-touch millionaire or a guy who has a penchant for saying really crazy things when he drinks. Considering he claims it was “right from the heart” and stood by his words the next day, we’ll assume it’s the former more than the latter.
Nonetheless, they merit some deconstruction. So here goes. Here are some of the pearls of wisdom Barch shared with the world:
• “I have played approx 5 1/2 years in the NHL and have worked for every second of it. I Haven’t been a 1st round pick, bonus baby or a son of a hall of famer. I have made it through sweating, bleeding, cut Achilles, broken hands, concussion, broken orbital bones, 8 teeth knocked out, etc, etc, etc.”
(Wow, and all this time we thought you were in the NHL because your uncanny offensive talent and all-round ability. Oh, we get it. If only every one of the 30 teams wasn’t blind to your abundant talent, you wouldn’t have to go around beating people up.)
• “No different than a truck driver, farmer or line worker….”
(Except for the fact that you’ve made $3.8 million in six years, with an upcoming two-year deal worth $1.5 million, lockout deductions not withstanding – an amount that would take a truck driver, farmer or line worker somewhere between 40 and 50 years to earn.)
• “I sit here with both my boys sleeping and my wife due with our 3rd. My thoughts racing on what I can conquer tomorrow to get our family ahead.”
(I don’t know, just spitballin’ here, but how about not downing eight beers and a bottle of “Porte”?)
• “Some times (sic) wondering if I should have existed when a word and a gun solidified and solved all problems.”
(Words fail me on that one.)
• “The system allows the owners to continually take money from the players contract after contract.”
(OK, he was either completely blasted at this point or he has spent the past two collective bargaining agreements under a rock.)
A deal between the City of Glendale and prospective Phoenix Coyotes owner Greg Jamison may very well be completed this week, but that doesn’t mean the Coyotes are out of the woods by a long shot, since Jamison is apparently well short of the funds he needs to buy the team from the NHL.
Two sources have told THN.com the deal is all but dead. The problem with a market such as Phoenix is that getting the up-front investment is only one of the obstacles. With the prospect of frequent cash calls coming based on the amount invested, those who might be tempted into investing in a team such as the Coyotes can be discouraged pretty quickly.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman doesn’t have only the lockout occupying his time and concerns. Much of Bettman’s time and energy is spent trying to put out ownership fires and just because the league isn’t playing at the moment doesn’t mean his work ends there.
There is, of course, the ongoing situation in Phoenix and by most accounts, the league is basically running the New Jersey Devils. The latter could change, however, if Bettman can convince Bill Gallacher, the owner of the Portland Winterhawks of the Western League, to buy the team.
You might recall Gallacher, the Canadian billionaire who was in line to buy the Dallas Stars recently before they were purchased by Tom Gagliardi. If Bettman can somehow cobble together deals for Jamison to buy the Coyotes and Gallacher to take on the Devils, he will have earned his $8 million salary regardless of what kind of deal he gets for the owners.
Ken Campbell is the senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com with his column. To read more from Ken and THN's other stable of experts, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.