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-   -   Contraction, is it time? (http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/showthread.php?t=129098)

rnyquist 02-13-2005 01:31 AM

Contraction, is it time?
 
Out of curiousity, is there anyone who actually believes the NHL can work with its CURRENT 30 teams? My guess is Bettmen needs to cut his loses, admit he messed up and contract. There is no more "untapped" markets left to move to at this current time, its time to admit the loses and contract. My idea is to do the following {based on a CBA deal formed around a system that teams should make a profit}:

3 teams contracted out of the gate: Anahiem, Florida, Columbus.

1 team moved: Carolina to Winnipeg (knock it all you want but Winnipeg is 10 times the market and city that Carolina will ever be)

9 teams must get above the red within 3-5 years or be contracted : Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa (yes fellow Canadians, I'm suggesting that we contract a Canadian team), Pitts, Nashville, Atlanta, L.A., Buffalo, New Jersey.

Now while this won't make the NHLPA happy, what it will do is make the league strongly, thus more profits, thus, higher wages, it isn't that bad. It will ensure the 3 worst teams gone leaving a nice sizeable talent pool. It moves a Carolina team that NEVER worked to a market that is crying for a team. It also ensures accountability among those struggling clubs; either they put up or fold up, simple as that.

endthelockout 02-13-2005 07:17 AM

Dude. You have no clue. Sorry.
"1 team moved: Carolina to Winnipeg "

Winnipeg is a terrible hockey market which is why they lost their team in the first place.

Contracting Canadian teams will not happen. Period. So forget about that idea.

I agree it would be good for three or four teams in the U.S. to fold. Anaheim, Nashville, Columbus and Pittsburgh should all go. In Pitt all they care about is football. End of story.

klingsor 02-13-2005 08:02 AM

Man, I don't know much about contraction but I'd like to see the Rangers contracted and the Tampa Bay Lightning moved to MSG.

RangerBoy 02-13-2005 09:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by endthelockout
Dude. You have no clue. Sorry.
"1 team moved: Carolina to Winnipeg "

Winnipeg is a terrible hockey market which is why they lost their team in the first place.

Contracting Canadian teams will not happen. Period. So forget about that idea.

I agree it would be good for three or four teams in the U.S. to fold. Anaheim, Nashville, Columbus and Pittsburgh should all go. In Pitt all they care about is football. End of story.

Get a clue buddy.Winnipeg is not a terrible hockey market.They lost their team due to finances.When the escalation of NHL salaries began to spin out of control,the Jets could not survive.No local ownership group stepped up to keep the team in Winnipeg and it was sold

Fish 02-13-2005 09:26 AM

I'd love to have teams in Winnipeg, Quebec, Maine etc...but sound business sense suggests that those are not solid business decisions. When looking at a market, you have to take into account the size and growth rate to give you a sense of where your revenues are going to come from.

Winnipeg and the surrounding areas make up just over half a million people...or roughly half that of what Ottawa has. This means that you're going to have fewer businesses competing for advertising space, you'll have a smaller TV market and will be able to ask for less in broadcasting rights and you'll have fewer sales of merchandise. Add into the equation the likelihood that the market is probably going to remain static or even shrink and the reality is the only way you can make a team survive in Winnipeg is with substantial revenue coming from the league or a hefty cap on salaries.

On the other hand locations such as Anaheim, Atlanta, Florida, Phoenix, Carolina etc are all growing markets that are already bigger than some of the existing team markets. It's going to be tough to establish the sport in some of these areas, but there's a greater likelihood IMO of getting a team to support itself there than there is in making a go of it in some more traditional locales.

mazmin 02-13-2005 10:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RangerBoy
Get a clue buddy.Winnipeg is not a terrible hockey market.They lost their team due to finances.When the escalation of NHL salaries began to spin out of control,the Jets could not survive.No local ownership group stepped up to keep the team in Winnipeg and it was sold

You're exactly right. There's a surprising amount of rich and powerful people in Winnipeg but no one stepped up because they didn't make those millions by buying into a sport on decline (look where we are today). Izzy Asper was practically begged by the whole city to "save our Jets" but was declined not because Winnipeg is a bad market but because the NHL was a bad market.

In reply to the initial thread I agree there should be contraction and relocation. Unfortunatly Bettman won't want any of his cuz he's to blame for putting teams in stupid places and doesn't want to look like an even bigger idiot by giving up on them.

If I could have it my way Anaheim, San Jose, Nashville, Atlanta, Carolina, Phoenix, and Florida would get cut. Two teams would relocate to Winnipeg and Quebec and hockey would be a much, much healthier sport. Of course this all depends upon a stable hockey economy which the NHLPA refuses to have.

mazmin 02-13-2005 10:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fish
I'd love to have teams in Winnipeg, Quebec, Maine etc...but sound business sense suggests that those are not solid business decisions. When looking at a market, you have to take into account the size and growth rate to give you a sense of where your revenues are going to come from.

Winnipeg and the surrounding areas make up just over half a million people...or roughly half that of what Ottawa has.

The estimated population of Winnipeg (without surrounding areas) was 702,400 in '04 and growing. Manitoba's population is 1,170,300. Just FYI.

jb** 02-13-2005 10:42 AM

They without a doubt should contract. Columbus is actually pretty solid, Florida, Carolina, Anaheim, Pittsburgh, Atlanta should go. NJ has a very poor fan base does not sell out playoff games, plays in the middle of no where, I know htey just receievd a stadium deal, Don't think will help much. If we went back to 21 teasm the league would be awesome!

Fletch 02-13-2005 11:33 AM

I'm with klingsor...
 
there's no reason Tampa should have a hockey team, and if they did have a hockey team, it should be a terrible hockey team. If Bettman and Co., or his successor, do not plan on contracting, at a minimum, there should be a swap.

I don't see contraction in the cards anytime soon. At a minimum though, one or two teams should move. Portland may be a decent home. I'm not sure if there's any other U.S. city that's a viable hockey option, unfortunately; perhaps Vegas or Seattle, but again, I personally haven't done the market studies.

As for Winnipeg...Love to see a team there again...don't know if it's viable, but under a new and more workable CBA, it may be viable.

patnyrnyg 02-13-2005 12:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by endthelockout
In Pitt all they care about is football. End of story.

In the last CBA, Pittsburgh was considered one of the big market teams. They had the highest payroll in 1994 at $15.1MM. The problem their is the arena sucks, I have been there 3 times. The Mens rooms still have the old style horse trough's (sp?). Secondly, the team sucks. If the players develop and they become competitive again, the team will do well financially.

If they are going to move Carolina, it should be back to Hartford. The state was ready to build them a a state-of-the-art arena, and they played to 95% capacity their final year in Hartford.

Columbus is a very good hockey market, not sure where that came from.

Contract six teams and go back to four divisions and the divisional play-off format. Re-kindle the rivalries like we had in the 80's. If I had to pick six I would say Phoenix, Anaheim, Nashville, Carolina, Ottawa, and Buffalo.

Onion Boy 02-13-2005 02:09 PM

Anyone who thinks Columbus should be contracted needs to do more research. It's a good hockey market and has been doing great ticket sales despite having a losing team. Just wait till they make the playoffs.

Ideally I'd like to go back to a 24 team league, but contracting six teams isn't very likely, certainly not in the short run. If I could magically pull the plug on teams, I'd be Florida, Anaheim, Carolina, Atlanta, Phoenix, and Washington. I also think Portland would make a great hockey city and I'd move Pittsburgh there.

Winnipeg needs an NHL arena before they can get a team back. 15,000 seats and shortage of luxury boxes just won't cut it I think.

endthelockout 02-13-2005 02:39 PM

in Pitt people watched because of Mario. Nothing else. Like that same thing would ever happen again.

Winnipeg was a lousy sports market. You don't lose a team because you are in a great market. That's insane. Having a few rich people in Winnipeg doesn't mean you will a good fan base.

Tawnos 02-13-2005 02:45 PM

No no no no no. Contraction is completely unneccessary at this point, and overly premature.

Let's look at the individual teams I've seen mentioned.

Anaheim: This team had 87% attendance through a piss poor season. This was generated by a solid season the year before. Obviously, this is a market that cannot only survive, but thrive. You just need extended success... like any other market (see Dallas). Anaheim is an affluent area, so the revenue is there to be tapped.

Florida: Attendance is still rising in Florida after the disillusionment created by the '96 run and subsequent sucking. As the team gets better (which believe me, they will), attendance will continue to rise. Hockey's grown in Florida and with the success of the Lightning, will only continue to grow... and so will revenues.

Columbus: Well, anyone who thinks that Columbus should be contracted must have fallen down the stairs and hit their head on a concrete floor. Blue Jackets fans are rabid enough... and the team can only get better. We're talking almost 96% attendance in a season that wasn't even a mediocre one by any stretch of the imagination.

Carolina: Here is the only market that I think may be a shaky market. But again, we haven't seen the team be successful for any extended period of time. There just might not be enough people there to make a niche sport viable. But they've had only brief success in 7 years. It's tough to build a following with that. Anyone who says the Carolina market never worked didn't watch the playoffs in 2002.

Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa: This is just pure insanity. I won't even address them.

Pittsburgh: The hockey fans in Pittsburgh are great. And the Penguins revenues are so low more because of their terrible arena than because of any problem with the market. Once they have a new stadium, don't be surprised to see Pittsburgh flourish.

Nashville: The excitement generated by the playoffs last year would have been enough to give Nashville a huge boost in support and revenue. And they are another team who will only get better.

Atlanta: They experience a 9% jump in attendance last season. Why? Because they are becoming an exciting team to watch. This is another affluent market that will continue to grow.

LA: Please look at history. People love hockey in Los Angeles. There is no argument that you could make that would convince me we need to contract LA in the near future.

Buffalo: Same as LA.

New Jersey: Let's wait and see how/if the new arena helps them. There is certainly enough widespread interest in NJ and with an arena that isn't in the middle of nowhere... who knows.

Phoenix: A team with 89% attendance last season? Please. Same for San Jose.

Again, I think that many of the markets people name as failures haven't had a chance to be successes yet. Also, people look at Atlanta and say "why would you put a hockey team in Georgia?" But they forget how well Dallas is doing. Hockey can work in the south. It's been proven.

Also, I'd like to refute the argument that we'd have a bigger talent pool. I have news for you. The talent pool has NEVER EVER in the history of the game been as good as it is now. And that's part of the problem. Lemme put it this way... a guy like Craig Muni, who played for the Edmonton Oilers in 1989 would never even make an NHL team today. The problem is that the higher level of talent PLUS the focus on defense means that players are better at stopping each other than ever before. That would be the case even without the clutching and grabbing.

Fish 02-13-2005 02:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mazmin
The estimated population of Winnipeg (without surrounding areas) was 702,400 in '04 and growing. Manitoba's population is 1,170,300. Just FYI.

My apologies for underestimating. I have varying numbers listed on the web including, but the consensus appears to be somewhere in between our two numbers.

650,000 http://www.canada-city.ca/winnipeg-canada.php
657,997 http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/asp/gateway.a...1.shtml&hs=mb0
647,600 http://www.winnipeg.ca/cao/pdfs/population.pdf

And while it may be growing (estimate of around 1% per year) it has dropped down to the 8th ranked urban area in Canada...and according to this analysis has slowing growth (http://www.fcpp.org/publication_detail.php?PubID=470).

I think if you consider that two of the poster children for problem markets...Buffalo and Ottawa...have approximately the same local area population as the whole of Manitoba and that Winnipeg is about 20% smaller than Edmonton...another small market team citing financial problems. Then it seems to me that putting a team there without some sort of serious cost certainty and/or revenue sharing would an exercise in futility...unless of course you have a lot of money and don't mind losing it.

Tawnos 02-13-2005 03:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fish
My apologies for underestimating. I have varying numbers listed on the web including, but the consensus appears to be somewhere in between our two numbers.

650,000 http://www.canada-city.ca/winnipeg-canada.php
657,997 http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/asp/gateway.a...1.shtml&hs=mb0
647,600 http://www.winnipeg.ca/cao/pdfs/population.pdf

And while it may be growing (estimate of around 1% per year) it has dropped down to the 8th ranked urban area in Canada...and according to this analysis has slowing growth (http://www.fcpp.org/publication_detail.php?PubID=470).

I think if you consider that two of the poster children for problem markets...Buffalo and Ottawa...have approximately the same local area population as the whole of Manitoba and that Winnipeg is about 20% smaller than Edmonton...another small market team citing financial problems. Then it seems to me that putting a team there without some sort of serious cost certainty and/or revenue sharing would an exercise in futility...unless of course you have a lot of money and don't mind losing it.

Technically, Edmonton doesn't have financial problems having been one of a small handful of teams to make money last year. Of course, that's with correctly managed budgeting which caused them to trade away their best players.

Buffalo's financial problems came more from mismanagement than anyone else. And Ottawa's owners didn't have the kind of money needed to support an NHL franschise until Melnyk bought the team. Neither problems were caused by being in a small market, although they were publicized as such.

NYR469 02-13-2005 03:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fish
I'd love to have teams in Winnipeg, Quebec, Maine etc...but sound business sense suggests that those are not solid business decisions. When looking at a market, you have to take into account the size and growth rate to give you a sense of where your revenues are going to come from.

those cities have a far better chance of success then cities like nashville and carolina...so they might not be great business decisions, but better then the ones the nhl actually used.

and no one is saying eliminate a few teams and keep everything the same. you would still be adding salary restraints and revenue sharing that would make things alot better then last time around for winnipeg and quebec.

my feeling is that i'm all for doing what is needed to help teams where they have a solid fan base that actually shows up. but i can't agree with doing the same for teams that draw 6,000/night. so if winnipeg and quebec could draw 18,000/night i'd be in favor of finding ways to make it work.

NYR469 02-13-2005 03:26 PM

imo the best thing that could happen to the nhl would be to eliminate 6 teams and go back to a 24-team league...the league's over-expansion creates a majority of the current problems...

however i disagree completely with the idea that columbus should be one of the first teams to go. other then being a new franchise there is no reason to consider them...last year they sold 95.6% of their tickets. for a new market with not a very good team that is damn good and it will only get better as rick nash and zherdev take the team to the next level. they will be successful down the road...

a team that gets support when they aren't winning shouldn't even be brought into the equation. the teams that should be evaluted are the ones that only get support when they are in the stanley cup finals (or even more important the teams that still don't get support when they are in the finals)

NYR469 02-13-2005 03:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tawnos
Carolina: Here is the only market that I think may be a shaky market. But again, we haven't seen the team be successful for any extended period of time. There just might not be enough people there to make a niche sport viable. But they've had only brief success in 7 years. It's tough to build a following with that. Anyone who says the Carolina market never worked didn't watch the playoffs in 2002.

the ability to draw bandwagon fans doesn't make an area a good hockey market...if a team has to get the finals every single year to have a fan base then that is an awful market.

basically anywhere can draw when the team is winning, but not every team can win every year. so teams have to be able to maintain some semblance of a fan base when they are struggling.

Onion Boy 02-13-2005 03:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tawnos
Also, I'd like to refute the argument that we'd have a bigger talent pool.

As long as the Dan LaCoutures of the NHL are able to find employment, the talent pool is an issue.

Tawnos 02-13-2005 03:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by NYR469
the ability to draw bandwagon fans doesn't make an area a good hockey market...if a team has to get the finals every single year to have a fan base then that is an awful market.

basically anywhere can draw when the team is winning, but not every team can win every year. so teams have to be able to maintain some semblance of a fan base when they are struggling.

K, most expansion markets that do well start with bandwagon fans. Do you really think that the fans in Dallas were immediately die-hards? Extended success makes your bandwagon fans into real fans. That was my point.

Tawnos 02-13-2005 03:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sjb3599
As long as the Dan LaCoutures of the NHL are able to find employment, the talent pool is an issue.

Dan LaCouture would've been a 2nd line player on 14 of the 21 teams in the 1980s.

Fletch 02-13-2005 03:43 PM

I doubt that, Tawnos...
 
but with the Europification of the NHL, and with the U.S. programs becoming strongers, there's a much greater talent pool now than in the 80s. In an ideal 24-team league, DLac would be fringe, at best.

Fish 02-13-2005 03:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tawnos
Technically, Edmonton doesn't have financial problems having been one of a small handful of teams to make money last year. Of course, that's with correctly managed budgeting which caused them to trade away their best players.

Buffalo's financial problems came more from mismanagement than anyone else. And Ottawa's owners didn't have the kind of money needed to support an NHL franschise until Melnyk bought the team. Neither problems were caused by being in a small market, although they were publicized as such.

Well I guess it's a point of faith as to whether you believe they're still having financial problems in those markets at this point...I happen to believe that there is some financial stress on those three markets regardless of what history they have been through. Buffalo and Ottawa are secure only because their ownership can afford to lose money, not because the market supports them.

My underlying point, is regardless of how bad you think the losses might be in those three markets...putting a team in Winnipeg would seem like an even riskier proposition...as much as I'd like to see the Jets again, unless there's a significant cap on expenses or an equally significant redistribution of revenues, there's not much point.

NYR469 02-13-2005 03:55 PM

and contraction will NEVER happen...

even addressing the idea of contraction would mean that bettman would have to admit that he screwed up by over-expanding into bad markets and he would also have to acknowledge that there are other problems beyond player salaries and that doesn't fit into his plan of blaming the 'greedy players' for everything...

the ONLY way we are going to eliminate teams is if teams fold on their own and that isn't going to happen because there is always another owner lined up and because the league is full of crap about how bad things are...but even if teams did fold the MASSIVE problem with that situation is that under those conditions you can't choose which teams go and you might lose a team that you don't want to lose.

basically we are stuck with 30 teams.

Fish 02-13-2005 03:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by NYR469
those cities have a far better chance of success then cities like nashville and carolina...so they might not be great business decisions, but better then the ones the nhl actually used.

and no one is saying eliminate a few teams and keep everything the same. you would still be adding salary restraints and revenue sharing that would make things alot better then last time around for winnipeg and quebec.

my feeling is that i'm all for doing what is needed to help teams where they have a solid fan base that actually shows up. but i can't agree with doing the same for teams that draw 6,000/night. so if winnipeg and quebec could draw 18,000/night i'd be in favor of finding ways to make it work.

We'll have to disagree here. Nashville's a tough market because it's on the smallish side and is a completely unfamiliar market, but they are growing areas and do have a large population from areas that are traditional markets. My experience with hockey is that you get hooked by association as much as being born into it...it'll take time and that requires money and a willingness to eat some losses, but I think that hockey IS viable in a market like Carolina, and perhaps possible in a market like Nashville.

And while attendance is an important aspect, so too is advertising revenue and corporate attendance in terms of the more expensive seats and luxury boxes. In Winnipeg you might get 18,000 regulars, but that doesn't guarantee success either...both Ottawa and Edmonton averaged around that and claim financial difficulties.

If you think how fans are attracted to the game of hockey, it's a combination of time and success. Sure you can go into a market like Minnesota and have an instant market, but there are no real markets like that left...the model now is looking at areas that are growing, build a successful product on the ice and market the crap out of it.

I think you have to look at teams like the Islanders and Devils, as well as Anaheim as potential contraction targets before you look at teams like Carolina, because they have to compete with more well followed teams in the same general area....Florida has had one of the worst teams in the league for some time and still drew 16,000 a game on average last year, Dallas was a completely new market and has had a lot of success and Carolina was outdrawing the crowds in Hartford before this season past.

Hockey purists will always say we shouldn't be expanding into non-traditional markets. While I'm not crazy about either in a purist sense, I don't see it as necessarily a bad business decision, just one that is going to take some time to prove out.

At any rate...if you're going to contract based on attendance, then take a look at the average attendance from last season:
http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/attendance?year=2004


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