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The Business of Hockey Discuss the financial and business aspects of the NHL. Topics may include the CBA, work stoppages, broadcast contracts, franchise sales, and NHL revenues.

Why is the NHL the most dysfunctional league in pro sports?

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Old
11-05-2012, 03:21 PM
  #1
Up the Irons
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Why is the NHL the most dysfunctional league in pro sports?

The NHL has lost more man-games to labour strife than all other pro sports leagues combined, worldwide, in all history!!!! It is a completely disfunctional league; the valley that currently separates the two parties would (likely) be already bridged by every other league.

Why? can we point to why this league is so adversarily and hostile? Does it go back to Campbell and Smythe? Or Eagleson? Or is it just a factor of expansion creating such a league imbalance, combined with Bettman's easily dislikable personality? Some have suggested it is the 'fight to the death' mentality ingrained in hockey players. Is it the owners antics, like Philaldelphia and Minnesota? Is it the players, who seem to think they are comparable to MLB, and the NBA? Is it a league-wide mentality that is obsessed with dollars and cents and has no regard whatsoever for the integrity of the league? None of the stakeholders seem to be aware or care that they are a laughingstock.

I can't imagine that NHL owners and pioneers are any different from those of other leagues. Pro sport history is littered with examples of rich guys exploiting the talents of wide-eyed, naive farmboys (with is what most early pro athletes were). And the billionaires in other leagues throw money around just as wildly.

If the current labour dispute is resolved this week, hands up those who believe the NHL's labour problems are gone? Is there any reason to believe there will not be a shortened or lost season in 5 to 10 years?

I don't know if there is any one reason, but the NHL is the most disfuntional league in the world, AINEC!!!!

WHY?

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11-05-2012, 03:29 PM
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TheGoalJudge
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It's because of the NHLPA!! The bags of money should have been handed over by now.

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11-05-2012, 03:32 PM
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Because it has the least professional group of team owners.

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11-05-2012, 03:35 PM
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If you think that, go look at the FHL.

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11-05-2012, 03:36 PM
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DL44
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A couple reasons...
a- historically speaking the player's union in has been the biggest gong show in all of sports.. ainec.. starting with eagleson, then goodenow.. coups, firings, etc etc..
people sometimes (always) forget negotiations are still a 2-way street.

b- they've had the worst CBA structures as well... they haven't been able to get a system in place to curtail spending despite the PA being a mess and despite getting a cap.

I don't look at like you do..

The owners bailed in 94-95... that was the gong show mistake there.
The 04 - was a necessary evil... they almost got it right.
2012 - This one is the least necessary, but out of it i think we will see probably the healthiest set up of all major leagues going forward.

So its all about the end game... it sucks, but i don't think it means the league is dysfunctional..

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11-05-2012, 03:36 PM
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Krishna
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NHL is behind the rest of the leagues by about 20 years of union negotiations.

Also the other leagues have a lot more money to argue over, so it's easier to get a fair deal for them.

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11-05-2012, 03:37 PM
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Owners and players fighting over a smaller pool of money compared to the NFL NBA MLB, each side is fighting for every penny.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Krishna View Post
Also the other leagues have a lot more money to argue over, so it's easier to get a fair deal for them.
Beat me to it!

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11-05-2012, 03:40 PM
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I think all the reasons you suggested are very valid.

Basically it comes down to the following reasons in order of importance.

1) 90s expansion/relocation creates a financially unstable situation with a large disparity between competent owners and franchises and those on the opposite end.
2) Bettmen is a poor representative for the sport of hockey and the NHL. Too combative and belittling. He does what is best for the owners bottom line dollar, but that comes ahead of the health of the sport.
3) The Ghost of Alan Eagleson

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11-05-2012, 03:42 PM
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NHL is fighting over the same amount of money today that MLB was fighting over less than 10 years ago.

Level of revenue is clearly not an issue.

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11-05-2012, 03:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DL44 View Post
I don't look at like you do..

The owners bailed in 94-95... that was the gong show mistake there.
The 04 - was a necessary evil... they almost got it right.
2012 - This one is the least necessary, but out of it i think we will see probably the healthiest set up of all major leagues going forward.
I actually do not think this is the case. If you project out what the cap will do in 5-8 years, we're likely to be in the same situation then even with a massive increase in RS (and that 200m is ~6%). That RS would have to triple before it'll do any good. OR they change how HRR is determined (median vs average - and good luck getting the PA to ever accept this - however this would be the most sustainable model going forward).

Even if the PA signed the last NHL offer (Oct 16th one) I think we'd be in the same place in a decade.

That said, I think the NHL's offer does more for league stability than ANYTHING the PA has offered to date. Their offers are all about the players getting as much as possible, and do nothing when it comes to any lasting sustainable success.

Honestly I think the RS that the NFL or the NBA does would be a lot better for the NHL than what they've proposed. Or a hard de-linked cap - however that boat sailed in 04 (and would lead to other issues - PA strike, etc).

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11-05-2012, 03:54 PM
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Because of the fans.

Not joking. Canadians will always return regardless and American fans are too afraid of the sport becoming even more marginalized to stay away. Couple that with the negligible amount of attention that hockey gets in American media, sports or otherwise, and you have a recipe for neither the league or players to care at all about public perception. MLB fears another fan backlash because they've experienced it firsthand, NBA doesn't want to revert back to their immediate post-Jordan days, and NFL doesn't want to have non-stop negative attention in the media. NHL has no reason to fear any of that.... yet. Hopefully the fan reaction to this lockout changes that, but I doubt it.

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11-05-2012, 03:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Krishna View Post

Also the other leagues have a lot more money to argue over, so it's easier to get a fair deal for them.
Eh, the NBA really isn't making THAT much more. Although they have half the players, so that makes it a bit easier IMO.

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11-05-2012, 04:07 PM
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Fans that will always come back, dysfunctional markets due to chasing expansion dollars, and probably the worst overall business acumen of all the major sports in North America.

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11-05-2012, 04:26 PM
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To me, there is a multitude of reasons, and i think it stems from the owners. They see the revenues that the top 2 sports in the US bring in and they want to make THAT much money. So, in order to get that, they hold the players hostage, not even thinking what it does to the fan base. The fans are the ones who will make the revenue(and maybe even profit) possible, and they are the only reason there can ever be growth in revenues. This is either lost on the owners or they just dont care, where it seems other leagues understand that losing entire seasons and huge chunks of seasons within a decade will really alienate fans. That and having a guy like bettman lead the crew hasnt been all that great for the league in terms of labor peace(which there is none).

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11-05-2012, 04:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dado View Post
NHL is fighting over the same amount of money today that MLB was fighting over less than 10 years ago.

Level of revenue is clearly not an issue.
Whatever reason given pretty has to be centered around money in some way. Expansion, free agency, caps, contracts, etc, it's all based on money.

I've seen on here that NHL players are paid, on average, better than some other players, on average, around the sports world, but the league brings in less money than most other leagues. That's what it boils down to. Smaller supply of money, but the demand for it is just as high as anywhere else.

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11-05-2012, 04:28 PM
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Fans blaming other fans in markets they don't and not the greedy owners/players. How dysfunctional is that to blame someone else that loves the sport and his/her team as much as you?

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11-05-2012, 04:28 PM
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The NHL's business model is much more gate driven than the other leagues and therefore you have a wider gulf between the top and bottom teams in terns of revenue. You also have an commish thats determined to have teams in markets where people haven't take to the game and a fan base thats hard core to the point they will come back whenever the game does. Lastly you have a lot more overseas playing options for hockey players than you do for baseball or football

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11-05-2012, 04:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aqib View Post
The NHL's business model is much more gate driven than the other leagues and therefore you have a wider gulf between the top and bottom teams in terns of revenue. You also have an commish thats determined to have teams in markets where people haven't take to the game and a fan base thats hard core to the point they will come back whenever the game does. Lastly you have a lot more overseas playing options for hockey players than you do for baseball or football
You do realize why he wants the game in Phoenix right?

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11-05-2012, 04:57 PM
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MLB is tremendously gate-driven, too.
And the NFL has fans as fanatical as the NHL -- just a lot more of them.
And the revenues of the NBA and MLB used to be where the NHL is today not many years ago.

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11-05-2012, 05:05 PM
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Originally Posted by RustE View Post

WHY?
Gary Bettman

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11-05-2012, 05:16 PM
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Krishna
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dado View Post
NHL is fighting over the same amount of money today that MLB was fighting over less than 10 years ago.

Level of revenue is clearly not an issue.
When the MLB was pretty close to the 2004-05 lockout figures in revenue, it happened to coincide with when the MLBPA went on strike.

They reached 3.3b in 2000. And the MLB has pretty much stopped fighting the PA to save headaches.

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11-05-2012, 05:20 PM
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I really don't think the NHL is any more dysfunctional than any other pro sports leagues.

The NBA's hot-topic CBA points have been practically identical to the NHLs.
The vast chasm between rich and poor in the NHL is very similar to MLB.
The historical weakness of the NHLPA is very similar to the NFL still not having guaranteed contracts.

The whole "players will fight to the death" thing for hockey is a valid statement… that applies to all professional athletes. Successful Athletes are ultra competitive. And so are professional sports owners. If you want to make the billions it takes to buy a sports team, you've gotta be a pretty driven businessman.

Owners are basically the same in all the sports. A hardliner who hypocritically gives out the biggest contract in the sport? Leopold, meet Jerry Reinsdorf of the Chicago White Sox: He helped kill the World Series by hardlining the MLBPA, then once the CBA was signed, he signed Albert Belle to an $11 million per year contract, when the highest paid player was making $8 million a year.

Franchise location and realignment are hot topics in all the leagues. All league sold out competitive balance for TV start times, rivalry games at the gate, etc.

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11-05-2012, 05:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Krishna View Post
Also the other leagues have a lot more money to argue over, so it's easier to get a fair deal for them.
I don't understand how someone could possibly think this.

If you have more revenues as a league, you have more player expenses as a league. The revenue available to the owners sets the prices in free agency.

The NBA brings in slightly more than the NHL: And their highest paid player makes… slightly more than the NHL's highest.
MLB brings in over double the NHL and NBA: And their highest paid player makes… over double the highest paid in the NHL/NBA.

All the leagues have more money to argue over, and they all have more player expenses. It doesn't matter if there's $9 billion or $1 billion or $1 dollar to divide up. The argument isn't over the number of dollars, it's over the DISTRIBUTION of the finite resource.

If the NHL had NFL money, the highest paid players would make $30 million and they'd be arguing over the PERCENTAGE OF REVENUES. It's very basic supply and demand.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WinterEmpire View Post
1) 90s expansion/relocation creates a financially unstable situation with a large disparity betwee
This statement also blows my mind. Let's just suppose for a second that every team would make the same amount of revenues they do now if all the new markets since 1991 didn't exist.

Right now, with this 2006-2011 CBA, using 2011 dollars:
You have 12 of 30 teams who can't hit the cap floor by spending exactly 57% of HRR on payroll; 8 who are comfy to the cap, and 10 in the payroll range.

Eliminate SJ, DAL, TB, ANA, COL, NAS, CAR, FLA, CBJ, PHX (That's nine of the bottom 12 teams, plus #17 SJ).
Wild instead of North Stars, Jets 2.0 instead of Jets 1.0; Ottawa instead of Quebec; Hartford removed completely.

The midpoint skyrockets.
9 of 20 teams can't hit the cap floor by spending exactly 57% of HRR on payroll (35% of teams instead of 33%)
4 of 20 can spend to the cap comfortably (same 40% as now)
7 of 20 teams are in the payroll range (20% instead of 27%)

In other words: The financially unstable situation with a large disparity between competent owners and franchises and those on the opposite end IS EXACTLY THE FREAKING SAME.

The only difference is that without the 90s expansion/relocation teams, instead of people saying "Hey, we should move PHX, FLA, CBJ, NASH to Hamilton, Quebec and Markham" it would be OTT, NJ, MIN, EDM, WIN, BUF, STL and NYI (the bottom revenue teams in this 20-team league) in these bad financial situations. They'd be exploring relocation… you know, virtually the exact same teams that explored relocation IN THE 1990s!

MIN moved to DAL, WIN moved to PHX; NJ almost moved to Nashville, EDM almost moved to Houston;
OTT could fill the role of QUE, who moved to COL.
BUF could fill the role of HART, who moved to CAR.
The Islanders would have needed a new arena the entire time; and now they're moving to Brooklyn.
STL had the Saskatoon thing and a bankruptcy saga; OTT and BUF also had bankruptcies in the 90s.

Can we stop scapegoating "Expansion/Southern" teams as a CAUSE for this? The current [foul]ed up system isn't the byproduct of expansion/southern markets. It's a [foul]ed up system. Period. Regardless of who's in the league.

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11-05-2012, 05:26 PM
  #24
DL44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KevFu View Post
I really don't think the NHL is any more dysfunctional than any other pro sports leagues.

The NBA's hot-topic CBA points have been practically identical to the NHLs.
The vast chasm between rich and poor in the NHL is very similar to MLB.
The historical weakness of the NHLPA is very similar to the NFL still not having guaranteed contracts.

The whole "players will fight to the death" thing for hockey is a valid statement… that applies to all professional athletes. Successful Athletes are ultra competitive. And so are professional sports owners. If you want to make the billions it takes to buy a sports team, you've gotta be a pretty driven businessman.

Owners are basically the same in all the sports. A hardliner who hypocritically gives out the biggest contract in the sport? Leopold, meet Jerry Reinsdorf of the Chicago White Sox: He helped kill the World Series by hardlining the MLBPA, then once the CBA was signed, he signed Albert Belle to an $11 million per year contract, when the highest paid player was making $8 million a year.

Franchise location and realignment are hot topics in all the leagues. All league sold out competitive balance for TV start times, rivalry games at the gate, etc.
Great post...

but the NHLPA has been a gong show vs the NFLPA which is considered weak only because of little leverage due to a huge abundance of players available to them...
119 NCAA Div 1 football teams with what is it 50 players each?

Edit:

Div. 1 (BCS) 120 teams
Div. 1 (FCS) 125 teams
Div. II 149 teams
Div. III 236 teams

Edit2:
Quote:
Altogether, there are 630 NCAA football teams: 120 in Division I – FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision), 125 in Division I – FCS (Football Championship Subdivision), 149 in Division II and 236 in Division III. In 2009, about 47.9 million people attended NCAA football games – all divisions combined (source: NCAA official website).


Last edited by DL44: 11-05-2012 at 05:36 PM.
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Old
11-05-2012, 06:01 PM
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Bettman and his predecessors sold the league into trying to be something it's not, with grandiose ideas about expansion into markets that don't really care about the sport (and probably never will). This leaves the league with a number of teams (Phoenix being the best example) that either can't compete economically and/or on the ice. Now you're left with 30 franchises when there probably should be no more than 28, but more likely 24, ideally located in Canada and the northern and large urban western areas of the USA. Additionally, the 30 franchises operate as single entities with no apparent regard for each other (and I know all about collusion) under a salary cap CBA that, when it was introduced, almost all general managers and owners tried to find ways to circumvent.

Because they're single business entities, each franchise operates within its own individual boundaries as to budget, marketing and sales, making "pure" revenue sharing almost an impossibility (why should a Leaf fan pay for a $200 ticket to subsidize a $50 equivalent ticket in Phoenix?). Couple all that with a sour puss commissioner who (and I don't blame him for this cause it's probably his job description) is more concerned with trying to keep his owners all afloat and making some of them some money, rather than doing what's right for the overall league and game. I think the whole NHL system is currently teetering on a ledge and the final solution to the issue(s) is so overwelming that it's almost hard to comprehend the money, effort and time it would take to accomplish.

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