Mark Spector, whom I like and respect, tweeted to Alann Walsh, “there wouldn’t BE work for a lot of folks if the staff took home 57% of the revenue, Allan.”

This is a pervasive thought among some, generally those who are the owners’ proponents in the NHL CBA negotiations…which I don’t believe Mark is.

The NHL players are not “staff”. They are the company. They are the franchise. They are who the fans come to see.

If you own a company that sells widgets, the public at large does not come to watch your staff work. The public does not directly pay money for your staff’s performance and certainly does not give a shit whether or not your staff’s work product is up to par so long as they get their widget at a reasonable price and it does what they want it to do. In a traditional industry, the buck stops with you – you hire and fire people as you wish to make a better widget but it’s the widget, your brainchild, your creation, your product, that matters and nothing else to your bottom line.

Unlike other traditional industries, the sports franchises offer their “staff”, as Mark Spector calls them, as the widget. Like any entertainment industry, be it film or sports, the performers are the show and their performance, within their innate skill set and work ethic, is the only reason the industry exists. Within a free market system, the players would go wherever the hell they wished but the NHL, like any other sports franchise, is not a free market system. It is bound by man-made regulations, contracts that bind players to a team but not necessarily the owners to the player. The players are, in many respects, paid slaves although very well paid in many instances. They can be bought, sold or discarded. Only after their contract term expires are they emancipated, until of course they voluntary seek out their next slave contract.

Okay, so my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek but I think you get the point.

The players are not staff anymore than Surly is mine…although I sometimes wish he was so I could yell at him for no reason.