Hockey Critic

Who will survive this NHL Lockout?

As the NHL lockout enters its 20th day, some franchises are taking a bigger financial hit than others. During the recent spate of NHL expansion the existing teams collected millions of dollars in fees and the NHLPA bolstered its ranks as the number of players grew with the teams. The rapid (imo senseless and greedy) expansion that occurred in the 1990s may turn out to be the league's achilles heel. Many experts believe that teams like the Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Atlanta Thrashers, Phoenix Coyotes, and Nashville Predators have seen attendance and fan support decline over the last couple of years. Since the NHL is primarily a gate driven league with next to no TV money, teams cannot afford to have ambivalent fan bases.

Not only did the owners spend a lot of money on these expansion teams they also made large investments in modern arenas, either through long term leases or outright ownership of the facilities. This lockout may force many of the debt laden teams to seek bankruptcy to alleviate interest expenses on their loans. Recent reports indicate that many teams lost money during the 2003-04 season; the Rangers topping them all with an apparent losses over $40 million, the Mighty Ducks losing $30 million, Capitals losing $20 million, Coyotes dropping $10 million and even the lowest payroll team, the Penguins being in the red for the tune of $2 million.

This apparent financial mess is part of the reason why the owners and players (incompetent managements and greedy players) find themselves at the current CBA deadlock. The NHL may have been in a better bargaining position had it not bailed out the Senators, Sabres and a couple of other unnamed teams over the last few seasons. Every team that goes down displaces over 20 high paying player jobs and that was leverage the NHL has since squandered.

As a hockey fan, I wouldn't mind seeing the NHL shrink by 4 to 8 teams. It would definitely raise the level of play, make the game more competitive and increase scoring as a whole bunch of mediocre hockey players who have no business in the NHL will be back riding the buses.
posted at 19:18:32 on 10/05/04 by HockeyCritic - Category: Business of Hockey


HockeyFanatic wrote:

NHL Hockey Fans Left Out In Cold As The NHL Owners Lock Out Its Players

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has halted the start of the NHL hockey season by locking out its players. Can the impasse between the NHL owners and its players ever be mended? Bettman reports that the NHL league has a desolate bottom line that lost $224 million US last season. The NHL hockey league is reported to have lost $1.8 billion over the 10 years of its collective bargaining agreement.

Bob Goodenow, the executive director for the NHL Playerís Association has another version of the story, claiming that itís not true at all. In the middle of this dispute is the salary cap. Goodenow concedes that the hockey players do indeed, make a lot of money. The salary cap is a device whereby the NHL team owners would remunerate the players less than they would normally get and the owners arenít budging on the issue. And for now, itís a stalemate.

But who, other than the owners, got the game into this mess. The owners, themselves have trailblazed into unstable market areas and unwisely, perhaps, invested most of their money into playerís salaries instead of marketing and promotion. The owners have used the game of hockey to secure guaranteed programming for their cable TV investments or used professional hockey, for example, as an add on to an amusement park.

The players on the other hand, have worked tremendously hard from such a young age to become a spectacular athletics. Starting with the 6 a.m. morning practices involving numerous years in minor hockey. Given the above, itís no wonder why the players have little or no trust where the owners are concerned. The players have little faith in the numbers that the owners report. There is question about moving expenses from one business entity to another and dubious accounting of their ticket revenue.

The future of professional hockey is dependent upon a strong economic system. But what is that system? Some argue that the 2004-05 season is in jeopardy. If the season is cancelled, the Stanley Cup will not be awarded to any team and this hasnít happened since 1919 and Saturday night wonít be the same in Canada without hockey.

Catherine Kenyeres is a freelance writer and publisher of She has written numerous articles for the sports enthusiast.
10/11/04 17:44:04

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