Krys Barch Getty

Columnist to Krys Barch — You’re rich, get some perspective


If Krys Barch was looking for sympathy, he didn’t find any from the National Post’s Michael Traikos.

In a column posted on the newspaper’s website, Traikos lambasted Barch after the Devils’ tough guy took to Twitter late Saturday night with an emotional denunciation of NHL owners.

Specifically, Traikos took issue with Barch’s claim that most of his hockey-playing peers “will have to work for the next 50 years of their lives” after retiring from the game.

“Congratulations to the lucky select few that I have played with who have made salaries that they can choose to do whatever they want when they are done,” wrote Barch. “But I have played most who do not!”

To which Traikos argues:

Here is the thing: Barch is also “one of the lucky select few.” He is not a blue-collar worker. He earned US$850,000 last season to play hockey in the NHL. He flew in a chartered jet, stayed in five-star hotels, had his meals paid for, and was adored by thousands of fans while playing a boys’ game.

He might not have anything in common with Ilya Kovalchuk or the billionaire owners, but he also does not have anything in common with regular people.

Barch is filthy rich. He has made more in these last six years than most people will probably ever see in their lifetime. That is not to say that he is overpaid or deserves less (although he is both), but rather that he has no right in complaining about his problems even if he has suffered a “cut Achilles, broken hands, concussions, broken orbital bones, 8 teeth knocked out, etc, etc, etc.”

Maybe Barch, who signed a two-year contract worth US$1.5-million with the New Jersey Devils this summer, does not realize that the state’s unemployment rate recently rose to a new 35-year high of 9.9%. Or maybe he is too focused on superficial problems — will he be able to buy a new Ferrari? — to know that others are facing real problems.

On principle, it’s easy to empathize with a group of workers that’s fighting to keep its salary from being cut.

But when that group is comprised of workers that earn a minimum of $525,000 per year – plus all the other benefits that come with being a professional athlete – all of a sudden sympathy becomes a bit tougher to come by.

So maybe instead of trying to win the PR war, both sides should just focus on getting a deal done.

Wouldn’t want the fans to start getting cynical or anything.

Report: Kings, Richards nearing settlement

Mike Richards
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The Los Angeles Kings and Mike Richards may be nearing a settlement in their dispute over Richards’ terminated contract, TSN’s Bob McKenzie is reporting.

You can read the report for all the details, but we’re sure curious about this part:

If a settlement is reached, there’s no word yet on what salary cap penalties the Kings would still face. There’s bound to be something, but not likely as onerous as the full value of Richards’ contract, which carries with it a cap hit of $5.75 million. If there’s a settlement, Richards would undoubtedly become a free agent though there’s no telling at this point what monies he would be entitled to from the Kings in a settlement.

The issue here is precedent, and what this case could set. The NHL and NHLPA can’t allow teams to escape onerous contracts through a back door, and many are adamant that that’s what the Kings were attempting to do in Richards’ case.

Bettman to players: Don’t screw up ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ with drugs

Gary Bettman
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The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.

“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.

“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”

While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.

“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”

Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?