Imagine my surprise when I came across an article on hockey in The Baffler! It was an enjoyable, interesting read.
However, I think your analysis might have benefited from a stronger socio-economic differentiation between the stars and the grinders. These days, teams are more likely to 'over'-protect their stars. For example, the many games missed by the Leaf's Auston Matthews with a shoulder problem. The team was not going to risk their future by creating a chronic problem. But for the grinder, the analysis rings much more true. The fear of being replaced certainly is something that echoes in the mind of many professional athletes.
Although, I would argue that the 'take it for team' attitude is more an ingrained identity to be exploited rather than created by ownership. That when a player takes a puck in the face and comes back with stitches a few plays later, it is more likely he is doing it to maintain his image among team-mates and fans than impress the boss. Certainly, the attitude of tough it out is visible even at house league levels (where the dream of being a hockey sausage is really not in the picture). One could argue it is strongly linked to the still loved Canadian mythology of our identity, quiet, polite but tough (à la the popular image of Canadian soldiers in WWI ).
These quibbles aside, your article was worth the read and does open up serious questions about professional sports. I often face an ethical dilemma when I turn on a hockey or CFL game, but to the delight of owners, the compelling urge to watch wins out.
Sports, politics, pop culture, and stuff. Intermittent at best.