The lockout thread
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09-18-2012, 11:11 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Originally Posted by
This is all so ridiculous.
It's become a total and utter cliche to criticize Bettman around here, but how can anyone defend this guy anymore? Yes, he is a mouthpiece for the owners. Yes, he's seen some success as commissioner of the league. But looking at the fiscal history, overall, of the NHL over the past 20 years, where are his contributions? Under his tenure, the league has increased revenue? So why are so many teams crying poor?
So many of the pro-owners fans have the same agenda they recite over and over again. The league is generating more revenue today than it was eight years ago, the PA is being unreasonable, the players think they are partners when they are not. Some of that has merit and some of it doesn't.
As far as revenue is concerned, I think it's misleading and disingenuous to claim "the league" is generating record revenue when it's the elite super group (Toronto, Montreal, Philadelphia, Boston, New York, Vancouver, Chicago, etc.) making all the money. It's a great phrase to coin, saying, "the NHL has generated record revenues" when in reality only a dozen teams are making good money. You can't yell "profit!" one day then claim huge employee costs are a necessity the next. It doesn't make sense and it's not true. Enough of the pandering. Say it how it is. "Yes, we have quite a few teams doing very well financially, but more than half of the league is drowning in red ink."
I think the main problem here is you seem to be confusing revenue and profit....yes the league is making record revenues (in theory all sports should be making record revenues every year as the continue to charge more and receive more in sponsorships while the markets remain steady...for the most part...obvious exception being during a recession). Thus if the league is making record revenue and is still losing money they problem lies on the cost side of the equation. And what is the biggest cost for the NHL (and most business)? Labor....in order to turn your record revenue in to actualized profits you need labor "under control".
I think Spector raised quite a few valid points regarding Bettman's tenure, with two standout arguments:
1. Bettman's inability to encourage and enforce the fiscally responsible management of franchises. Other than the Kovalchuk situation, in which Bettman and the league arbitrarily drew their line in the sand, there has been next to zero pressure on teams to operate responsibly. Mega deal after mega deal has been drafted and signed since the inception of the cap system with little to no backlash from the league. If these gargantuan albatross contracts are hurting the league financially by a. making it difficult for poorer teams to keep up, and b. burdening the league as a whole with monstrous cash obligations, then why hasn't Bettman stepped in? Why have the owners and the league sat back and twiddled their thumbs while 10+ year retirement contracts became outlandishly burdensome? It is the commissioner's job, even as a figurehead, to encourage sound economic practice within the league. If the NBA is bold enough to block lopsided trades in an effort to preserve the integrity of the game, and the NFL is suspending entire coaching staffs for perceived irresponsible behavior, then where is the NHL's leadership? Right or wrong in their specific decisions, other leagues are at least demonstrating that the buck does indeed stop at a certain office, whereas the NHL seems to demand zero accountability all the way down the totem pole. The only top down structure of accountability we seem to have is a widely criticized player safety board and a commissioner that acts more like a Yes Man for the ownership group than a pillar of ethical business practice for the league to follow.
Really? You want the commish stepping in and doing whatever he wants based on his own desires?? That is working real well in the NFL where Goddell has complete control of anything and has led to chaos following "bountygate" and don't even get me started on Stern canceling a trade to the Lakers "cause it wasn't a fair trade".....even worse is Goodell's powers were collectively bargained, can you imagine the players hearing the commissioner is telling owners not to pay players?? Collision lawsuits would come flying out of Fehrs grinning teeth....
2. Bettman's inability to properly grow franchises in non-traditional hockey markets and a refusal to acknowledge any wrongdoing in said decision. This has been discussed to hell and back, but the numbers don't lie. We had two unquestionably failed sunbelt teams in Atlanta and Phoenix. One has been relocated; the other is in instant limbo, likely to be eventually relocated. Added to that are additional southern expansion teams that, despite success, ebb and flow in revenue and are consistently ranked among the "have-nots" of the league (Tampa Bay, Anaheim, Carolina, Nashville, Florida, Columbus) - all of which were created with Bettman at the helm, except for Tampa. Regardless of the usual morally driven and xenophobic auto-responses to this discussion, I think everyone can agree that, as a whole, pertaining to the overall financial viability of the NHL, that sunbelt expansion has been a demonstrative failure. These franchises may have helped "grow" the sport in the sense that there may be more ice hockey rinks in Tennessee today than there was 10 years ago, but for the most part, these teams are consistently ranked among the franchises needing the most financial aid. But moreso than ANY of this, whether you vehemently disagree or not, Bettman and the league have refused to address these failures in their expansion teams. Other than letting Atlanta go (and immediately seeing a spike in calculated league wide revenue) what has the league done to address these problems? They've held onto Phoenix like a child that refuses to give up their favorite binky despite massive losses, a public relations disaster, and next to zero proof that their "end game" with the entire situation is even viable. What kind of message is this?
Not sure how you can consider Nash/TB/Carolina a failure. Sure they are a "have not" but no matter what league you are in and how much it makes there are always have nots. In the NFL its the Jags and in MLB its Florida/Pitts/A's and while all are "have nots" (relatively) all are making plenty of money despite all having attendance problems.
And do you know why they are making money??
Why yes a wealthy national TV deal...do you know how you acquire a wealthy national TV deal??? Its not by having 10 teams in Canadian and DC being your southernmost team.....this isn't the Civil War....
There were two clear early indicators of a lockout this year.
1. The hiring of Don Fehr. Those that have followed baseball, or any professional sport for that matter, knew what the hiring of Fehr was all about. Fehr has a history of combating lockouts, organizing strikes, and demonstrating unrelenting control and unity over a PA. He brought the MLB to its knees years ago and can likely do so again with the NHL, especially with a splintered ownership group. By hiring a man like Fehr, with that kind of reputation, the NHLPA sent a clear message to the league that they weren't rolling over this time, which all but ensured another lockout.
In closing, this league is on its last leg in America as a "top four" professional sports entity. Where we go from here, who the hell knows. At least the Kings got their cup before the whole house of cards really starts tumbling down.
Can't deny any of this.
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