What if our provincial government interfered with the Winnipeg Jets like they interfere with our universities? This “draft” bill might shed some light.*
BILL 55 The Winnipeg Jets Sustainable Administration Act
Preamble: The Manitoba government has previously invested in the Winnipeg Jets arena. Therefore that gives our government the right — and indeed the obligation — to exercise our wisdom and expertise in the stewardship of the Winnipeg Jets franchise, no matter how small our investment, and no matter the fact that some of our cabinet ministers haven’t even played hockey. This legislation provides administrative changes that will improve team performance and sustainability.
55.1 Sustainable Roster Provision
An NHL roster normally consists of 20 to 23 players. Teams operate under a salary cap of $81.5 million and a salary floor of $60.2 million. This is not efficient. The Winnipeg Jets will reduce their roster size by 30% to 13 players. There will be no salary floor: that is simply a league rule and is superseded by this bill.
To prevent the smaller roster from becoming physically exhausted, the team will play with only three skaters and a goalie. Which players to delete we shall leave to team management but we encourage omitting any players on the left side, especially left-wingers. NHL teams often play with only three skaters, for example, in overtime.
55.1.1 On ice skaters for the Winnipeg Jets will be required to play on the far right side of the ice. This makes the obvious sense, as there is more room there. Most opponents prefer to play in the middle or centre-left.
55.1.2 For the sake of efficiency, the position of backup goalie will be deleted from the roster. The backup will be replaced by a ‘shooter tutor’ (colloquially known as a ‘Mr. Goalie’). To ensure the highest quality, the shooter tutor shall be constructed of plywood no less that ¼” (6 mm) thick.
55.2 Performance-Based Funding
We shall impose outcomes-based funding for the team roster. Funding for salaries will be linked to performance. The metric will be simple: it will be the salary cap floor of $60.2 million multiplied by the winning percentage of the team multiplied by attendance performance.
Attendance performance will be the average number of paid fans at the Winnipeg Jets arena divided by 21,302, the capacity of a comparable arena in a Canadian city: the Bell Center in Montreal. We believe this is a generous performance metric, as teams sometimes play in stadiums with capacities exceeding 50,000.
55.2.1 To assure that team performance aligns better with the economic priorities of the current government, a blue-chip advisory task force (the Verizons 2021 task force) of business owners and/or senior staff of the Premier will be appointed to assist with team strategy, roster decisions, player uniforms, the arena menu, team mascot, and letterhead. All players will be required to wear a conspicuous Verizon Canada logo on their uniform. While input will be welcomed from the current team management, and with full respect for team autonomy, all decisions of the task force will be final.
55.3 Roster Recruitment and Retention
We are firmly committed to recruiting and retaining the best players. We believe the NHL minimum salary of $700,000 is more than adequate to retain talented players, especially given the attractive conditions of Winnipeg for NHL players (long cold winters that provide ideal skating conditions). We therefore mandate that any player on the current roster making more than the league minimum will be a free agent. We do not believe that this will result in roster changes given the generous league minimum salaries, but if players do choose to leave, they can be replaced with AHL players with cheaper salaries. This legislation supersedes any NHL regulation about minimum salary.
55.6 Respect for Institutional Autonomy
Clauses 55.1 to 55.55 notwithstanding, nothing in this bill shall infringe upon the autonomy of the Winnipeg Jets corporation.
55.6.1 Exceptionality Clause
Except when we feel like it.
55.4 Budget Sustainability and Bargaining Mandates
Team management will be mandated to not offer new contracts with salaries in excess of the league minimum, and as provided for in 55.3 will be allowed – and indeed encouraged – under the provisions of this bill to pay AHL salaries for players on the NHL roster. This mandate, however, shall be kept secret from the players and their agents.
55.5 The Need for Administrative Shoulder Checks
55.5.1 The primary rationale for Bill 55 is to provide a ‘shoulder check’ on team expenditures. The Minister of Sport, Culture and Heritage will review on a seat-by-seat basis the price of tickets charged to Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose games. This is simply a ‘shoulder check’ to ensure that appropriate prices are being charged. If the Minister deems prices too high or too low, the minister will modify them accordingly.
55.5.2 The Minister will ‘shoulder check’ beverage prices. Local business owners will be eligible for discounts on beer, but only if they hold a valid current membership in the Manitoba PCs.
188.8.131.52 With respect to Clause 55.5.2 any membership obtained to vote for Shelly Glover is deemed invalid.
55.5.3 We also mandate that players will do ‘shoulder checks’ when carrying the puck, particularly on their left side where the most dangerous opponents come from.
55.55 The sustainable trading clause: the Scheifele amendment
The team general manager will is permitted to make trades. But only of roster players who shoot left, and only for players who shoot right, like No. 55, Mark Scheifele. Players who shoot right shoot right.
*The piece above is a work of satire; we sincerely hope that a provincial government would see the value of both an independent hockey club and a university.