Column: Drop the pucking puck

By Mike Neff

Isn’t it ridiculous that right now, the NHL has decided to shelf its product in favor of arguing over revenue sharing with its employees?

It’s more ridiculous than the replacement refs.

There’s no professional hockey being played right now because multi-millionaire owners and multi-millionaire hockey players are disagreeing over decimal points and percentages.

I hate math, and I’m sure its not the strong suit of many NHL players, but when I heard that the league was trying to reduce the players’ share of revenue from 57 percent to 43 percent, it didn’t take a calculator to figure out why the players were upset.

Well, I won’t argue the numbers, but isn’t the principle just outrageous?

Who among the owners said, “I know — we’ll tell them they can’t play. We’ll take hockey off TV and that will really show them!”

As I said, not a math guy, but isn’t that ultimately going to hurt your bottom line, Mr. Hockey Owner? Are the little bits of money your quibbling over worth sacrificing your public presence? Hockey, in the eyes of many fans, is already the fourth sport. Why risk that position, when you’re doing well with many major northeastern cities (read: major sources of revenue) winning the Cup?

Now NHL players are flocking overseas and bringing excitement to different leagues. The players still end up with a paycheck, albeit not as much as they’d make in the NHL. Many players just want to stay active and keep playing the game. The owners just want to make sure they’ve got control of the money.

And while you owners worry about the hundreds of thousands of dollars you might lose in a “bad deal,” regular people whose work is based upon the NHL have to suffer. Bartenders at Hurricane O’Reillys aren’t going to see as much cash this year now that the Bruins aren’t playing. How about the beer vendors? The ticket agencies? The guys playing drums after the game? They all take a hit, too, you know. And they need that money more than you do.

So, what’s the hockey fan to do now that you won’t let the players light the lamp?

Lucky for us here in Boston, we have an unreal college hockey scene to look forward to.

College hockey players have something to play for — a shot to play in the NHL.

They go out and play their hearts out so that a scout might pick up on them — so that they might one day get a chance to play on a pro team.

It makes college hockey that much more intense, that much more interesting, and, right now, that much more appealing than the NHL.

The Beanpot tournament has much more intensity (and boozing) packed into two Monday nights than an entire NHL playoff series (about two weeks).

I’d rather watch Toronto take a stomping from the Terriers any day.

The team looked sharp Sunday, and I think there is a bright season ahead down at Agganis Arena.

The NHL isn’t going to have this stranglehold on Hockey East fans. NESN, NBC Sports Network and CBS Sports Network released their schedule of Hockey East games, which includes more than 80 telecasts.

So, NHL the puck is in your zone.

Be smart. Your product is going to suffer in the long run while you have a stick-measuring contest over money.

Common sense, for the good of the game, should be used to reach a reasonable agreement where the men who put their bodies on the line and the owners who sit in their luxury box sipping cocktails get at least an equal share from the spending I did on my jersey, the beers I’m drinking and the TV commercials I have to sit through.

It’s only fair.

C’mon guys. A full season without hockey because you’re greedy?

Puck that.

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