Sports caster alumnus talks hockey and money
»» By Daniel Filipe Martins

Last Wednesday, hockey-minded students and faculty attended a lecture at UTM by Gemini award-winning sports caster and UTM alumnus, Bruce Dowbiggin. Dowbiggin was in town to promote new book (Money Players: How Hockey's Greatest Stars Beat The NHL At It's Own Game).

Reading excerpts from his book, Dowbiggin explained that since the 1988 trade of Wayne Gretzky from the Edmonton Oilers to the L.A. Kings, hockey has been transformed into an industry where it is the players, not the owners, who control salaries. Dowbiggin cites this fact as one of the largest problems with professional hockey in North America today. He noted that the NHL, unlike other sports leagues, has neither a salary tax nor a luxury tax.

"Can the NHL function with a salary cap? Of course it can. The question is, can the owners be responsible?" Dowbiggin reminisced about the golden age of hockey in the 1950s, a time when players had little say in determining their future, as a means of explaining why players may be antagonistic toward managers as far as pay is concerned.

"When people say 'why don't they give managers a break,' people look back to this older age where players had little power," Dowbiggin said. Even today, he adds, retired players are still treated with ingratitude.

After the reading, Dowbiggin fielded questions on topics ranging from the prospect of an NHL lockout next year to the state of hockey today. Dowbiggin also dropped some advice from his days as an editor of the Medium when he was an Erindale College undergrad.

"Don't be afraid to go out and live. Don't think you've failed if you're not on the CBC at 25, or CEO of a company. Use what you know as a way to sell stuff. Travel. Be a unique voice, have a unique experience and sell it."

Dowbiggin's lecture was attended by students, professors and staff, and was well received.

"I was impressed with what Bruce could contribute as to how the industry works," third year CCIT student Cayly Dixon said. "It was helpful to me as a third year student."

Local area resident, Fred Leon attended the talk and said that Dowbiggin was "willing to take a risk in exposing the hidden secrets of the NHL. I'm pleased to say he's a pure journalist and not driven by NHL puppetry. It was refreshing."

Dowbiggin graduated from UTM in 1977, with a degree in English and Drama. While at UTM, he served first as Arts and Entertainment editor for the Medium, then as Editor-in-Chief. After getting involved in journalism, he became sports anchor at CBC in 1995 and is currently a sports columnist for the Calgary Herald. He has won two Gemini awards for best sports caster, and has published three books since 1993. On being back at UTM for the first time in a long while, Dowbiggin said,

"It was good to see how the campus has changed. I'm proud to have gone to UTM."