Islanders fan spiritual guide and Lighthouse Project advocate Chris Botta says we should thank grumpy blowhard Larry Brooks for advocating that the Islanders not be shut out of NHL revenue sharing. Forgive me if I can't give Brooks a virtual pat on the back whenever his ulterior axe-grinding momentarily overlaps with the fortunes of the Islanders.
In Brooks' world, which is largely spent using his column -- whatever the topic -- to grind his own woe-are-the-players, Bettman-is-Beelzebub agenda, the Islanders are just a convenient tool for that agenda. When the agenda of the day is that the NHL is ill, the Islanders are often part of the problem. When the agenda is that NHL owners are stupid, the Islanders are part of the problem. Even when not bashing the Islanders or lobbing cheap shots, he's long since past writing about league issues without framing things around his own specific pro-NHLPA purpose.
In a world of ambiguity, complexity and multiple competing interests, Brooks seems to see all league issues in simplistic black-and-white, with a bit of smug sass on top.
So pardon me, but when the Brooks' agenda of the day is to show yet another beef he has with Gary Bettman, I can't feel much solace that in this instance he says the NHL should cut the Islanders a break:
Because NHL owners couldn't bear the prospect of giving a portion of their revenue-share money to the Blackhawks back in 2005 when Bill Wirtz was doing his very best to drive his historic franchise into the ground, they concocted a clause in the CBA that prohibits teams in television markets with more than 2.5 million homes from eligibility to participate in Bettman's socialism.
So Brooks says this clause should be eliminated. It just so happens -- shock, SHOCK! -- that this position is echoed by NHLPA head Paul Kelly. Brooks parroting the NHLPA party line?! Never! Next, you'll tell me the sun rose in the f-ing East.
In the same column, discussing NHLPA escrow, he somehow blames the owners for, essentially, having long-term injured players still considered as members of the, um, "union" and thus have their salaries subject to player revenue calculations:
Remember, players subsidize owners paying injured players. It is one of the most onerous parts of the CBA. Derian Hatcher and Mike Rathje at $3.5 million apiece on the Flyers' Long-Term Inuries? No problem, Mike Richards, Sidney Crosby, Kyle Okposo and Henrik Lundqvist will help defray owner Ed Snider's cost.
The funny thing is, while I'd love for the Islanders to get a chunk of revenue sharing for their very real market troubles -- just as I'd love for the NHL to rethink several clauses in the CBA given new data since the deal was signed -- the purpose of the clause that excludes the Isles from revenue sharing actually isn't inappropriately applied. According to Neil Best in Newsday last month:
No one doubts owner Charles Wang is absorbing huge losses, but the blow is softened by $20 million or so per season that MSG Media pays to carry Islanders games in a deal that runs until 2030-31 - that's not a typo, folks - by which time the rights fee will rise to about $36 million.
While that is a TV rights fee that in retrospect one wouldn't pay toward the Islanders in their current state, you can't deny that such an opportunity exists because of the size of the TV market they're in. In other words, it's hard to imagine -- whether hard times or Cup-winning times -- that a media company would lay that kind of money and term to the Predators or Hurricanes of the world.
You would think that, given a proper building and proper management, with a contract like that they will turn an un-aided profit. If not, then there are much more unsettling questions with the Lighthouse Project and the franchise that we'd rather not think about.
As for "thanking" Brooks for his part: Sorry, no thanks. Return to sender.