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10-24-2003, 09:41 AM
Posts: n/a
There is something to be said for tying the Bertuzzi deal to the club being on the block. From McCaw's point of view does having a committment to a higher payroll and Bert in the lineup improve or reduce the sale price you might get? If he's selling maybe he could care less what the team's long term prospects are. Right now he has a team making money at the gate, pay per view, lotto, higher building and concession revenues - and for making two rounds of the playoffs last season and the extra gate and TV money that brought, a relatively low payroll. The Canadian dollar has had the strongest uptick in ten years in the last month, lowering his payroll costs and increasing the value of the asset in yankee greenbacks.

There isn't a huge amount of financial upside left in this market and you have to wonder how big a payroll can ever be justified in Vancouver versus the big US market teams.

Burke is caught in the middle - he has to play McCaw's tune in making the business saleable and profitable, but also wants to keep together what has been the biggest project of his management career - keeping this team improving going forward. That means more money each year as his players improve and renew their contracts.

Why would McCaw care? If you assume he's lost interest or pride in hockey and is looking at it as a business matter only if Burke can convince him the franchise would lose value without tying up Bert with what's on the table. Does a new owner want a winner, or a Bettman "product". Tough to sell a bad team in this town - you gut the lineup and the season's tickets will not be renewed. The fans here won't be fooled by the kinds of promotion that may work in amercian markets. To Bettman's credit he has said he recognises that the Canadian market is critical to the league's success because of the strength of committment of canadian fans to the game. Unfortunately most of us are poorer and harder to fleece than our american cousins

The Abramovich story is scary for Canucks fans if your heart is with our current roster, but plays right into Bettman's modern business model of finding new markets to sell. Abramovich is supposed to have said he is going to create a Russian NHL product for rebroadcast into the Russian market and there must be huge money if he can sell the NHL in Russia - in that scenario Bert and the Swedes will be trade bait, but he'd probably want Bert signed anyway to go chase Fedorov or another marquee Ivan anyway.

Who knows .... my guess is they sign, and time may tell why it so happens they had to do it through New York.