IN 2004 the NHL's owners locked out the players for an entire season to "fix the system."
Less than 10 years later they've locked them out again but this time there isn't much talk about owners fixing anything except that durned Blu-Ray player in the back of their private jet.
The players, of course, aren't blameless either. But we already know all about the players. With the media's exhaustive coverage of hockey we know where every fourth-line winger went to kindergarten and what every backup goalie bought at Bed Bath and Beyond last weekend (Roberto Luongo got an olive pitter).
The owners, however, are still a bit of a mystery. Who are they? Why do they want to slash player salaries while casually forgetting to slash ticket prices? How many yachts are too many yachts?
I wanted some answers so I decided to do a bit of research. With exhaustive examinations of Wikipedia, star charts and a homemade Ouija Board, I've deciphered how several of the flushest, most powerful owners came about their fortunes and what each one wants to do with the all the extra money that will come from taking a bigger cut of the NHL pie. All net worth estimates are from forbes. com.
? Henry and Susan Samueli, owners of the Anaheim Ducks. Fortune: $1.8 billion; Henry co-founded a company that engineers semiconductors. Ambition: Build the world's fastest gingerbread computer.
? Jeremy Jacobs, Boston Bruins. Fortune: $2.7 billion; runs a food service company inherited from his father. Ambition: Free cola and fries for every little boy and girl in all of New England.
? Terrence Pegula, Buffalo Sabres. Fortune: $3 billion; founded a natural gas drilling company. Ambition: Trying to save up so that he can move out of Buffalo.
? N. Murray Edwards, Calgary Flames. Fortune: $1.6 billion; invested in ski resorts and Alberta's Athabasca oil sands. Ambition: Wants to build the world's longest two-way pipeline from Calgary to Texas. The goods? Barbecue sauce.
? Stan Kroenke, Colorado Avalanche. Fortune: $4 billion; real estate. Ambition: Ponies for everyone!
? Mike Ilitch, Detroit Red Wings. Fortune: $2.7 billion; Pizza! Pizza! Ambition: To become known as the Little Caesar . . . of the limbo!
? Daryl Katz chairman, Rexall Sports, Edmonton Oilers. Fortune: $2 billion; drug stores. Ambition: Find a place for his team where people care enough about hockey to pay for an arena. Is Raleigh, North Carolina taken?
? Phillip Anschutz and Edward Roski Jr., L.A. Kings. Fortune: $11.3 billion combined; investing and real estate. Ambition: Craft a device that can block out the sun over L.A. - just to remind the sun who's the boss on the West Side.
? Molson Family, Montreal Canadiens. Fortune: Not listed on forbes.com; they make beer. Ambition: Remember Maurice Richard, Guy Lafleur, Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion, and the high expectations set by all those Stanley Cups? You won't, once Molson perfects its Memory Erase Lager.
? Charles Wang, New York Islanders. Fortune: $3.6 billion; Chinese malls. Ambition: Win enough championships to make the Islanders more popular than the Rangers. Just kidding - more malls!
? James Dolan, New York Rangers. Fortune: Son of a TV mogul worth $3 billion; started the band JD & The Straight Shot. Ambition: "And the Grammy for best solo jazz fusion performance by a sports team owner, taxidermist or travelling salesman goes to. . . ."
? Ed Snider, Comcast-Spectator, Philadelphia Flyers. Fortune: Not listed on forbes.com; he is the son a of grocery chain owner and he founded the Philadelphia Flyers. Ambition: Make a movie version of Ayn Rand's ode to the wealthy, Atlas Shrugged. Wait, this isn't a joke, he already did that? It came out last year? How'd it do? Oh.
? The National Hockey League, Phoenix Coyotes. Fortune: Most popular sports league in Canada, approximately 87th most popular sports league in the United States. Watch your back, bowling. Ambition: Hold on, the league that's crying poor is paying money to keep this team rolling in a place where no one cares about hockey? Hulk getting angry. . . .
? Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Toronto Maple Leafs. Fortune: The corporation has been associated with the team in some way since 1927. Ambition: Nothing but maintaining the incredible winning tradition that is Toronto Maple Leafs hockey.
? Francesco Aquilini, Canucks Sports and Entertainment, Vancouver Canucks. Fortune: Managing director of an investment company started by his father. Ambition: What any Vancouverite wants - a down payment on a modest house in a nice neighbourhood and a closet full of form-flattering yoga pants.
? True North Sports and Entertainment, Winnipeg Jets. Fortune: Brought NHL hockey back to Winnipeg. Ambition: Don't ever change, you marvellous Jets.
As for the rest of you non-Jets owners, figure it out already. Admittedly my owner ambition predictions might be a little bit made up, but what is real is the growing anger that hockey fans, particularly in Canada, are feeling about the potential loss of another season. Find some other way to add to your capital B Billions and make a deal to get the game back on the ice.
If it'll speed things up, I'll even let you borrow my Blu-Ray player.
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