Friday, October 05, 2012

NHL Lockout Pisses Me Off Even More

The NHL has cancelled regular season games through October 24th. Some 82 games were erased from the schedule, perhaps to be played later, perhaps not. In any case, neither the owners or the NHLPA appear close to agreeing on a new CBA.

And this is what pisses me off about this whole situation: Small market teams, in places that don't care about hockey, are responsible for all this.

It's bad enough that every season the Bruins must sacrifice games against Philly and New York in order to play Florida and Tampa Bay. It's bad enough that the B's play the Predators and Coyotes as often as they do the Red Wings and Blackhawks. Now these warm weather teams aren't allowing me to see the Bruins play anyone at all.

Here's the problem behind the problem: total NHL revenues are up since the last CBA. But not in all markets. Teams like the Bruins, Rangers, Maple Leafs, and Canadiens are harvesting profits, teams in small markets aren't able to keep pace with the growth.

The NHL players are paid based on a percentage of total League hockey revenue. While that's up in markets like Boston and up overall, it's not nearly as increased in markets like Phoenix, Miami, or Nashville.

The owners want the players to take an across the board cut in their share of the profits. The players want the owners to share revenue, so the profitable teams give some cash to the not-so-profitable ones.

But the problem is that these small-market teams need to be subsidized in order to survive.

And that pisses me off. The NHL expanded wildly, and never once thought "What if these markets don't take to hockey" or "What if these teams struggle and fans don't come?"

The NHL never had an exit strategy for these Sunbelt teams in case they didn't work. And there are only a few Winnipegs in Canada to send failed expansion teams. After Quebec city and Hamilton, the pickings are slim.

Scott Burnside wrote an infuriating piece suggesting the players meet the owners "in the middle" for the good of the game. But the owners caused this problem with their delusions of grandeur and the theory of Arizonans loving hockey. In response to this problem, the owners demanded a bigger slice of the pie, and thereby redefined the middle. While total NHL revenues are up, the NHL is insisting its talent takes a pay cut.

Does that make any sense? Why should players meet owners "in the middle" when the owners have redefined the middle by being more greedy with their stance?

Imagine a TV show enjoying higher ratings and asking its actors and actresses to take less money. Does that make sense?

And why should a player in Toronto or New York take less money, even though their owner is enjoying increased revenue, to subsidize teams in Phoenix and Columbus? Why should the player generating big revenues for the big market teams take a pay-cut while the big market owner retains all the profits he had before this Lockout?

That's one of the greediest schemes this side of Bernie Madoff. Players in markets that have big revenues getting paid less, so that the big market owners don't have to share their revenues with the Coyotes and Blue Jackets. The players pay, the owners profit.

I don't like it. So I'll be watching some KHL hockey on ESPN3 this weekend. HC Lev Praha (Prague) is playing HC SKA (St. Petersburg) on October 6th. Then HC Slovan Bratislava is playing Dynamo Moscow on the 7th.

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