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RAZOR'S RANTS: Economic changes coming

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Daryl Reaugh is in his sixth season as color analyst for the Dallas on Fox Sports Net Southwest. A veteran of television and radio broadcasts since 1990, Reaugh came to Dallas from the Hartford Whalers, where he was the color analyst in 1995-96. Reaugh has also shown his talents to a national audience through his work with various networks, including FOX. Reaugh's playing career included stints in the NHL with both the Edmonton and Hartford Whalers. His promising career was cut short in 1991 because of a severe hamstring injury. Prior to turning pro, he was an All-Star netminder for the Kamloops Blazers under former coach Ken Hitchcock. Reaugh spoke to FOXSports.com recently. FOXSports.com: News came out today about the NHL taking over the Buffalo so that they don't go bankrupt. Do you think there's a financial crisis league-wide or are problems on an individual basis? Daryl Reaugh: That's a mess up there. I heard one story where (Sabres coach) Lindy Ruff went into his office one day and everything was gone, his computers, his phones. Nothing was there except a chair and a desk. I wouldn't say it's league-wide. The finances in the league are a little screwy, obviously. We don't have a television contract the likes of the other major sports, but we're paying guys on the same level. The team here in Dallas was No. 1 in terms of revenue, so you can understand how they can spend a few bucks and be fine, because the finances allow them to do that. But some of these other teams, you kind of wonder if they're doing things the right way. And then you've got the other extreme, which are some of the small-market and some of the Canadian teams, which are trying to do it on a budget with the hopes that they can break even. But also with very slim hopes that they can win a Stanley Cup. The hope's still there, you can get close, Carolina proved that. But the reality is that you're going to need probably a $50-60 million payroll to win. You don't have to be a guy who's spent his life's work figuring out the economics of the NHL to figure out there are only a handful of teams that can do that. Will teams all of a sudden start going broke? I don't think so. The danger is more of what happened in Buffalo. You have an owner whose entire world went broke. It wasn't the Buffalo that made him broke, it was Adelphia going under. When I was with the the same thing happened to a degree with owner Peter Pocklington. The only business he had after a while that was making any kind of money was the . All of his other companies were bleeding. It got to the point where he had to sell his one asset in order to make his creditors happy and pay them off. It's really the NHL's business model that's a little messed up. We can't have $10 million hockey players. FOXSports.com: Do you see the day of a salary cap coming? DR: Yeah. I can give you the date, if you want. It'll be 2004. I shouldn't say that. It'll be 2005, because in 2004 they're not going to play, as they drag this (Collective Bargaining Agreement) thing out, which is just crazy. Look, it's necessary. At some point, you've got to look at the realities. I don't know if it's going to take one out of every three buildings to have tons of empty seats for them to clue in. I hope not. Because then you're going to lose fans, period. For the most part, each team a) has to look at its own economics to figure out what makes sense to them, so that they can work within their own budget. And b) they have to look at the other side and say, "There's not much point in me being the richest and best team in the league if I'm the only team." There are no competitive juices when you're the only team. Somehow, you've got to keep the other teams afloat and working, otherwise that's the way it's going to be. It's a tough sell to big-time businessmen who have earned their fortune through free enterprise and having the strongest survive to tell them to help their competitor. But I don't the think it's the same in the NHL, because you're dealing with a league, not just individual teams. The teams are under one umbrella. I think that's what's going to have to happen in 2004. Some kind of sharing or cap, in order to make sure all the teams are healthy and the league keeps moving forward. Otherwise, you will have what's going on in baseball, only to a deeper degree, where you're just going to lose teams. FOXSports.com: What do you think about the new league mandate to put up nets around the arenas in light of the Brittanie Cecil tragedy this season in Columbus? DR: I'm all for it. That's like saying in motor racing, for a long time they didn't have any screens up and one time one tire flew up and went in the crowd and killed five people, all of a sudden you should have screens up in all the places were cars lose tires. They don¿t do that. They have precautionary measures in place so that it doesn¿t happen again. One is too many. We, unfortunately, had one. It¿s unfortunate that it has to be a case like that that forces us to make these changes. There¿s going to be a lot of ticked off people immediately that are going to say, ¿You¿re charging me all that money and now I¿m going to have to look through a screen. Blah blah blah.¿ I played over in Europe and I¿ve seen (arenas with screens). It goes away. For my money, I think it makes the game more enjoyable to watch if you¿re sitting in that area. You can feel free to turn your head and talk to the person next to you knowing you¿re not going to be clocked in the side of the head with a puck. So I would think you¿re able to enjoy the whole experience more, you¿re not on pins and needles, hoping that a puck doesn¿t kill you, to take it to an extreme. I can understand where the debate is going to rage when they do this within the game. Again, it¿s going to be more ticket prices than anything else, and suite holders and all that stuff. But why they wouldn¿t have done this during warm-ups years ago is beyond me. I played the game. I know how many pucks got deflected off me or off a crossbar and up in the crowd during warm-ups. People who there during warm-ups are either little kids who can¿t afford to sit there during the game and just want to get closer to their heroes, or people who are just sitting there having a conversation. Pucks go flying up there and people nearly get killed. The puck will slam into the seat between them and they¿ll look at each other and laugh. There¿re probably 60 pucks out there on the ice during warm-ups. There¿s only one during the game. It¿s almost a miracle that more people weren¿t hurt during warm-ups over the years than have been. I would hope the nets will be up from the time the players hit the ice until the end of the game. The other argument is going to be that nets have been up in baseball almost forever. Some of the most expensive seats in baseball are right behind home plate. You¿ve sat there. I¿ve sat there. The nets go away after a while. You don¿t see them. I think it¿s going to be a weak argument, but it¿s going to be there. I think it¿s a great move by the league. Just a little too late for that little girl, unfortunately. FOXSports.com: What do you think of the Hall of Fame class that was announced Wendesday of Bernie Federko, Rod Langway, Clark Gillies and Roger Neilson? DR: That¿s a good class. There were some other names up there that I was hoping weren¿t going to be voted in, guys who, in my eyes, don¿t deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. Those guys, for sure, deserved it. Roger Neilson deserves to go in there if he was stock healthy. I think it¿s a great move on their part. Hopefully he makes it that long to the induction ceremony. What I can't undestand is that last year, Glenn Anderson was up for it and Dale Hawerchuk made it in before Glenn Anderson. How the hell did that happen? I mean there're always going to be these debates. But Dale Hawerchuk, what has he ever done in the playoffs? His teams were never in the playoffs. Glenn Anderson's among the all-time leaders in NHL goal scoring. The fact that he's not in there is ridiculous to me. Here's my feeling on broadcasters and writers going in (the Hall of Fame). There seems to be a groundswell that you always have to have someone go in every year. That just seems ridiulous to me. There aren't people every year who deserve to go into the Hall of Fame. It cheapens it. I think we're the only league that does this. Baseball and football, those are tough Halls to get into. In hockey, it's no longer, "Were you great and did you do great things over the length of your career?" It's now like, "You've been at it for 25 years? Well, you're going into the Hall of Fame." To me, it seems ridiculous to have that be your only criteria in our leg of it. There are guys who were great announcers or broadcasters, but do they really deserve to be in the Hall of Fame? I hope they decide to take a year off or a few years off. If there isn't anybody there, there isn't anybody there. Don't feel this obligation to have somebody go in in that department every year. To me, that's what it's seemed like the last few years. FOXSports.com: Looking ahead to the free agent period coming up, it looks like there will be a lot of quality goaltending available. What do you see happening? DR: 's attractive. I wouldn't be surprised to see him go to St. Louis. They've been after him forever. Or Philly. I think Philly's going to go after him hard. , obviously with things going the way they have, I don't think he's going to sign with the Leafs before then. You've got to go to free agency just on principle at this point. Eddie Belfour, I wouldn't be surprised if he went back to Chicago. He'd be a great fit there. Or St. Louis. They've seen enough of him over the years to know what he can do and believe in him. I think they made a very good move here (in Dallas) getting as a second guy along with . That's exactly what they needed. They needed, not just a veteran guy who's hanging on, but a veteran guy who can play. If something did happen, if Marty couldn't handle the job or got hurt or whatever, they don't have to go scrambling around for a guy. They have one now. And he's a really, really good fit for this team off the ice. So he's perfect.
Tagged: Sabres, Oilers, Stars, Rangers, Blue Jackets, Marty Turco

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