The Tampa Bay Lightning announced on Friday afternoon that all employees scheduled to work games at Amalie Arena through the end of March would be compensated. This includes not just Lightning hockey games but also NCAA Tournament games and other events. In addition, Vinik Sports Group (VSG), which is also owned by Lightning team owner Jeff Vinik, established a fund to provide temporary assistance to employees who need support during this shutdown.
#tblightning statement on owner Jeff Vinik compensating part-time employees through end of March, including NCAA tournament games and other events at Amalie Arena. Also launching program for assistance with grants for hardships. pic.twitter.com/x54o1hLP19— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) March 13, 2020
These actions by Vinik were joined by varying levels of commitment from other teams and ownership groups around the league to ensure the financial security of workers who unexpectedly lost shifts due to the season being paused. Twitter user Bonk’s Mullet is maintaining a running thread of teams that have taken action. Among those, the plan described by VSG is one of the best because it explicitly addresses both compensation for lost wages as well as additional short term help to meet essential needs.
That contrasts to some teams like the Florida Panthers where Sergei Bobrovsky and other players stepped up to create a fund for employees with ownership pledging to provide whatever additional money is needed. While players are certainly well compensated and their contributions to help team employees during this time should be lauded, their wealth is nothing compared to that of the billionaire ownership groups around the league.
There’s no excuse for every team owner to not take care of the hourly workers who will be facing immediate economic hardship due to the unexpected stoppage in play. And for teams like the Buffalo Sabres or the Winnipeg Jets where Mark Chipman and the Pegula family respectively stated they won’t be doing anything to help their workers, well, they can just fuck right off with that. And hopefully, while it shouldn’t be their responsibility, maybe some of the players in those organizations will fill the gaping leadership void left by the despicable behavior of their owners.
Thankfully, Vinik did the right thing in Tampa so we don’t have to write the article that other sites might have to write today excoriating their team’s leadership group for not ensuring that the most vulnerable members of their organization will be able to get through the next few weeks with as minimal impact to their financial security as possible.
Other Hockey News
The only other concrete hockey news from yesterday was that it appears the league is starting to put a framework in place for what a resumptions of games might look like. While the time when that could happen seems far off, it’s still a good idea to have a procedure in place.
It sounds as though the league will aim to have a mini preseason ramp up where the players progress from skating in small groups to a short training camp and then the eventual return of full games.
NHL/NHLPA signed off on memo around 5 p.m. ET, guidelines:— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) March 13, 2020
1) Players for now asked to self-quarantine in their home NHL cities;
2) At some point TBD, players may skate at NHL facility in small groups;
3) Near the end, plans for mini camp before (if) season resumes.
While this is a hockey blog, we do want to make sure we participate in keeping local residents informed when appropriate and yesterday, the state of Florida announced that schools will be canceled for the next two weeks with a targeted return date of Monday, March 30th. For most schools in the Tampa area, this means an extension of spring break by one week. As always, for the most accurate and up to date information follow your local news and check with your local health organizations for guidelines and recommendations.