Monday marked the first time since the lockout began that NHL players missed a paycheck. The damage will take a while to be felt as the players did get escrow checks from last season to help tide them over, but eventually they will feel the squeeze.
Many players have elected to prepare for that by playing elsewhere such as Europe for lesser pay. But those who have gone to other places represents a relatively small percentage of NHL players.
Another plan is in the works.
Once again the idea of a player tour is being floated, essentially a traveling all-star show, which was pulled off during the last lockout with 10 dates scattered across Europe. Now, high-powered agent Pat Brisson — who most famously reps Sidney Crosby — is talking about getting the tour stared again.
From the Sports Business Journal via the Sporting News:
Brisson said he would seriously “explore” organizing a world tour that would include CAA clients, as well as possibly clients of other agencies, if there is no deal by early November.
Brisson was the main organizer of the IMG World Stars Tour in which 25 to 30 players played 10 games in several European cities over two weeks in December 2004 during the previous NHL lockout. He believes there could be fan interest if they choose to revisit the idea.
This certainly isn’t the first time this idea has been raised since this lockout was on the horizon. But here we are in mid-October and there is the threat of another, bigger chunk of regular-season games being canceled, the time is coming nigh for alternatives to continue to take shape. A guy like Crosby, who hasn’t signed overseas largely because of how much it would cost to insure his contract with the Penguins, would likely be a huge draw.
The bonuses here are obvious for the players. They would get to rake in some money and they would get to play some hockey to keep in shape for whenever the season does actually start. Plus it gets some guys, who might be experiencing cabin fever, out of the house.
The downside? Well other than the fact that the costs of putting on such a tour have gone up (I wonder if that means some players can start to sympathize with the NHL’s complaints about jet fuel prices increasing and extra massages), it means fans will pretty much willingly pay for all-star games.
Let’s be honest. The worst day on the NHL calendar isn’t the day after the All-Star Game when there are no hockey games, it’s the All-Star Game. I don’t know of any fan who actually enjoys watching the extremely watered-down product the NHL trots out every February.
Yet, they always show up. You don’t ever see empty seats at the All-Star games, do you? I don’t. People will pay to see the stars, and that’s what Brisson is banking on. It’s not a huge gamble, it’s a pretty safe play.
It’s not a huge money-maker for the players and only a handful of them can join in the fun, but it just adds another alternative and perhaps buys some guys a little more time in their quest to not buckle to the NHL and maintain the unity they have built.