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Question for Tom Benjamin

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Old
12-05-2003, 08:34 AM
  #1
discostu
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Question for Tom Benjamin

Tom,

We've been having a lot of the same arguments over and over, and instead of hijacking another thread, I thought I would pose some questions to you separately. Other Dave has pointed out that I may be misunderstanding your argument regarding a team's ability to spend, which I think is a definite possibility. If we are going to continue debating the issues on this board, it's better that we make a full attempt to understand each other's viewpoints.

To understand your viewpoint on this matter, I'm using the following scenario:

A higly competent ownership group decides they want to buy an expansion team. Let's say that these guys are extremely talented managers, and that they are able to make the best choice for any given decision (i.e. strongest management in the NHL) including hockey (scouting, trading, player dev., etc.) and non-hockey (maximizing local revenues, etc.) decisions. My question is, what differences would occur if the team they owned was in a very large market (say Metropolis, pop. 8,000,000, strong, but not dominating hockey culture, above average median income levels) versus a smaller market (Smallville, pop. 800,000, very strong and dominating hockey culture, slightly below median income levels). For the purpose of the example, let's assume that Metropolis isn't as lucrative as the largest current NHL market, and Smallville is more lucrative than the lowest current NHL market (to keep the example more grounded in reality). Specifically, I want to know your opinion on the following questions:

Would both teams:
Be able to win a Stanley Cup?
Be able to win the Stanley Cup in the same time frame?
Maintain the same payroll levels over their time to the Stanley Cup?
Be able to keep their team intact after winning their first cup, allowing them to win multiple titles? If so, will they both be able to win the same amount of titles?
Make the same decisions on retaining and releasing star players at the same time of their career (i.e. decide that a certain player gets too expensive, and the better alternative is to spend the money on younger, cheaper players)?

Just so you know, my understanding of your position is "yes" to each of these questions. If I'm misinterpreting your position, then it would be appreciated if you could clear it up.

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12-05-2003, 01:42 PM
  #2
Tom_Benjamin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by discostu
Other Dave has pointed out that I may be misunderstanding your argument regarding a team's ability to spend, which I think is a definite possibility. If we are going to continue debating the issues on this board, it's better that we make a full attempt to understand each other's viewpoints.
Don't worry about it, Discostu. I understand your viewpoint perfectly. I've heard it a million times. And I don't think I could possibly get you to take that "leap of understanding" Thinkwild described.

That's one of the things I've found interesting about this debate over the past few years. When I first explained my position to Senator fans, I thought they would be happy. I told them they had a great young team and they could win and they told me I was crazy. Relax and enjoy, I said, and forget all this money stuff. This team is going to win.

They got mad at me! I mean really mad. It really is strange. I'm saying the same thing to Oiler fans today. They finally have started producing some young players - both quantity and quality - so maybe they won't be dumping Ryan Smyth. If those kids - Comrie (or the return), Hemsky, Semenov - develop into real players the Oilers will take a leap. And with the leap will come much better revenues and the ability to carry a larger payroll. This is good news I present - and they get mad at me too!

It is a crazy world.

Quote:
Be able to win a Stanley Cup?
Be able to win the Stanley Cup in the same time frame?
Maintain the same payroll levels over their time to the Stanley Cup?
Be able to keep their team intact after winning their first cup, allowing them to win multiple titles? If so, will they both be able to win the same amount of titles?
Make the same decisions on retaining and releasing star players at the same time of their career (i.e. decide that a certain player gets too expensive, and the better alternative is to spend the money on younger, cheaper players)?
This is not a good set of questions. I don't think anyone can answer the last three. The first two questions are easy. The answer is "yes".

If the answer to the first two questions is "yes" the league is fair. The next three questions are clearly irrelevant because the first two answers are yes. Whether I win by maintaining payroll levels or I win by cutting them is not relevant. Whether I win be retaining all my players or I win while turfing the likes of Mogilny and Bobby Holik and Doug Weight is irrelevant. I will make exactly the same personnel decisions in both places.

How would I manage the New York Rangers if I want to win as many Stanley Cups as I could? I would manage them like Lou manages in New Jersey, like David Poile manages Nashville, and like Brian Burke manages Vancouver. I would manage Edmonton exactly the same way as I managed Toronto. I would manage Toronto like Edmonton is managed.

I think there is one right way to assemble an elite hockey team. One successful path and only one path. That path is available to every franchise in the NHL.

This is a remarkable achievement all things considered. New York has ten times the population, but the CBA still allows the Nashville's and the Ottawa's to compete on an even footing. They have to do it the hard way everywhere.

The difference between the Tom Benjamin managed New York Rangers and the Tom Benjamin managed Edmonton Oilers is that my profits will be much, much higher in New York. This is fair since I had to pay much more to acquire the Rangers.

Tom


Last edited by Tom_Benjamin: 12-05-2003 at 02:41 PM.
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12-05-2003, 04:00 PM
  #3
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I think the problem that people might have when they they first hear your opinions, Tom, is that they assume that you are a fan of a successful big market team (eg. Colorado) and that you just want to hold on to this cba because it allows your team to have a competitive advantage. Certainly that's what I thought about all those who supported the current cba and I was surprised when I realized that the cba supporters on this board where fans of the Canucks and Senators. I still think the current cba needs some tweaking, but I've realized that your logic is far more rational then I once thought.

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12-05-2003, 05:25 PM
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coolguy3650
is that they assume that you are a fan of a successful big market team (eg. Colorado)
It's pretty ironic that people view Denver as a big market. It isn't any different then Miami or Atlanta or Phoenix. It's just that it has had a winner since day 1. But fans perceive it as a big market while the other three are potential candidates for contraction.

Quote:
I still think the current cba needs some tweaking,
Tweaking is fine.

Tweaking is doing things like changing the rookie salary cap, modifying what constitutes a qualifying offer or altering who is eligible for arbitration.

Some of those things probably do need to be modified. Revenues have leveled off because all the new buildings have been built and the number of sports channels to bid up the rights fees has stabilized. The rookie bonus structure may have gotten out of hand.

However, the NHL isn't interested in tweaking. They want to blow up the system. They want "cost certainty". They're billionaires but they don't understand what a budget it? Isn't staying in your budget cost certainty?

So if the CBA does give well run organizations a shot at winning and cost certainty can be accomplished through a budget, why does the NHL want to blow up the system?

There's only one thing that would motivate them - money.

What's the best way for them to make more money?

Get the bigger markets on tv more often.

How do you get the bigger markets on tv more often?

Figure out a way to keep them in the playoffs longer.

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12-05-2003, 06:10 PM
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If the owners want to make money they should do two things:
1) Improve the product. I don't understand why the owners simply can't comprehend the fact that more scoring and more exciting hockey will result in increased money in their pockets. Regardless of how far big market teams go in the playoffs, if the on ice product is boring, no one will watch.
2) They need to better market their product. The people who market the NHL at the league level must be brain dead. I was listening to ESPN radio the other day, and a great point was made:The NFL markets its teams, the NBA markets its players,while the MLB markets a mixture of both (probably more on the side of teams). The NHL, on the other hand, has no idea what it is marketing, other than "the coolest game on earth."
Personally, I think the NHL should market its teams, as many star players in the league have foreign names, and are perhaps not highly marketable.

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12-05-2003, 07:24 PM
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coolguy3650

1) Improve the product. I don't understand why the owners simply can't comprehend the fact that more scoring and more exciting hockey will result in increased money in their pockets. Regardless of how far big market teams go in the playoffs, if the on ice product is boring, no one will watch.
Bingo. The only fans who will watch boring hockey are winners. Look at the way Carolina plays, for example. People will watch a team play like that and win. But to play like that and lose? Watching a loser is a lot more fun if the game has speed, flow and offence.

I've spent a lifetime cheering for a very bad team. I've never minded rebuilding. I hated veteran teams that sucked. Kids always play hard. They lose lots, but as long as the hockey was exciting I could be entertained by the other team when the good guys lost. When they did win, it was very sweet.

If I'm a Penguin's fan I've applauded the decision to tear that team apart. Tickets are cheap and the team won't be any worse than it is right now. It can only get better. They are going to get draft position with a shot at a franchise player and they do have lots of prospects to try out.

I've liked all of Lowe's trades too. Everybody was going boo-hoo and I was loving Carter for Dvorak. I figured Radek was better and two years younger. Oiler fans did not like that opinion much then, but I think they will sing a different tune by the end of this season.

Quote:
2) They need to better market their product. The people who market the NHL at the league level must be brain dead.
No kidding. They have done well to market the Stanley Cup, but they have also gone out of their way to market competitive imbalance when none exists. The Oilers have done more to convince the fans they can't win than they have done to promote the product they are selling. It is too easy for the small market GM to avoid responsibility for losing. He blames the revenue disparities and player salaries. The fans demand changes to the league rather than changes to the team management.

The rule has to be: When you are great sell the team. When you are not going to win, sell the game, the league and the Goliaths who are the visitors. And always lose with kids if you are going to lose. David was young.

Tom

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12-06-2003, 04:16 AM
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom_Benjamin
Don't worry about it, Discostu. I understand your viewpoint perfectly. I've heard it a million times. And I don't think I could possibly get you to take that "leap of understanding" Thinkwild described.
I don't think you understand my viewpoint, as you've mis-stated my arguments a many times. In actuality, there are some areas where we agree, but I've found you putting words in my mouth in order to further argument.

Like I said earlier, I just want to understand your view point as much as I can. Not so much to convince you, since I feel it I am as unlikely to change your mind as your are mine, but to at least prevent every thread that we both post in to be over-run.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom_Benjamin
This is not a good set of questions. I don't think anyone can answer the last three. The first two questions are easy. The answer is "yes".
If it's not a good set of questions, feel free to tell me why, ad explain it in different terms. This thread is not about debating your arguments, it's about clarifying them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom_Benjamin
If the answer to the first two questions is "yes" the league is fair. The next three questions are clearly irrelevant because the first two answers are yes. Whether I win by maintaining payroll levels or I win by cutting them is not relevant. Whether I win be retaining all my players or I win while turfing the likes of Mogilny and Bobby Holik and Doug Weight is irrelevant. I will make exactly the same personnel decisions in both places.

How would I manage the New York Rangers if I want to win as many Stanley Cups as I could? I would manage them like Lou manages in New Jersey, like David Poile manages Nashville, and like Brian Burke manages Vancouver. I would manage Edmonton exactly the same way as I managed Toronto. I would manage Toronto like Edmonton is managed.

I think there is one right way to assemble an elite hockey team. One successful path and only one path. That path is available to every franchise in the NHL.

This is a remarkable achievement all things considered. New York has ten times the population, but the CBA still allows the Nashville's and the Ottawa's to compete on an even footing. They have to do it the hard way everywhere.

The difference between the Tom Benjamin managed New York Rangers and the Tom Benjamin managed Edmonton Oilers is that my profits will be much, much higher in New York. This is fair since I had to pay much more to acquire the Rangers.
From these comments, it sounds like you your answer to the last 3 question are "yes", as the team in Smallville would be managed the same way as the team in Metropolis. Is this true?

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12-06-2003, 09:05 AM
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by discostu
Like I said earlier, I just want to understand your view point as much as I can. Not so much to convince you, since I feel it I am as unlikely to change your mind as your are mine, but to at least prevent every thread that we both post in to be over-run.
Why do you want to prevent this? I assume you have an audience in mind. So do I. They are different people. The way I see it, you go off on flights of fancy, and I make my points by making your arguments look ridiculous. I think it is pretty easy. Your mileage may vary on that, but that's the plan.

I'd ridicule Bettman's position in the same way if he tried to peddle his crap here. Heck, for all I know you are Bettman or one of his flunkies. If I was him, I'd pay somebody to be Discostu. Why not? It is a cheap way to perpetuate the myths around the business of hockey.

Public opinion does matter in this dispute. The owners won't lock the players out if they do not believe they have the fan onside. We should all be offside for that reason alone.

Quote:
If it's not a good set of questions, feel free to tell me why, ad explain it in different terms. This thread is not about debating your arguments, it's about clarifying them.
Because if both teams have the same ability to build a champion in the same time frame, it does not matter how they do it. The world doesn't stop once I win. I've got a new time frame. I've got just as good a chance to win in the new time frame as in the old.

The three questions relate to how I win. They aren't relevant if I have just as good a chance with my strategy. You assume there is some relationship between signing free agents and winning. That if Vancouver had kept Mogilny life would have been better in Lotusland over the past few years. That's crazy. Mogilny - a salary dump, oh boo-hoo - was one of the four key trades Vancouver made to build this team. (Five, if you count Naslund.)

Vancouver has done an awesome job producing players over the past five years. It would not have been enough without the return from the so-called salary dumps. Linden, Bure, Mogilny, Aucoin out - Bertuzzi, Jovanovski, Morrison and Cloutier in. All of those deals look a lot better today than they did at the time.

Quote:
From these comments, it sounds like you your answer to the last 3 question are "yes", as the team in Smallville would be managed the same way as the team in Metropolis. Is this true?
No. The answer to the last three questions is "Who knows?" or perhaps "Who cares?" is better. Detroit and New Jersey have adopted different strategies with a winner. I think the Jersey strategy will bring more Cups long run, and turn higher profits in the long run. The Detroit strategy may - did - bring an extra Cup in the short run, but the Wings will pay long term.

Me, I'm always reloading. I would make precisely the same decisions no matter where I am. I am going to be very selective about which players I extend beyond age 31 (or I sign beyond age 31). This has nothing to do with how much money I have and everything to do with keeping a steady stream of young players coming into the lineup. I want at least twice as many players between the ages of 25 and 30 as I do players over 30. Arithmetic tells me I have to keep dumping players, not signing them.

Detroit signed both Whitney and Hatcher this season. Vancouver could have easily afforded those contracts. Would they be better off? If you think you can answer that question, you are crazy. Maybe. Maybe not. Who knows? Who cares? The team became excellent by developing players. They can sustain excellence the same way. Passing on those two guys opened up a job for Bryan Allen and Jason King.

That may make me marginally less likely to win this year, but it will definitely make it more likely I will win in the next five years. It is Detroit who do not have a choice. If they did not sign those guys, they get worse because they are old. As soon as they stop signing free agents, they crash.

I applauded Ottawa for acquiring Smolinski and criticised them for signing him. I think they would be better off giving that ice time to Vermette. I don't think it makes a dime's worth of difference to their Cup chances this year, and it may make a dollar's difference in three years. If Vermette doesn't work out I can always spend another prospect to hire next year's Smolinski at the deadline. I'm still producing players and I don't have jobs for them all. I'll spend them on deadline rentals to replace injured players or to apply a patch while I wait for Vermette.

But hey, if Ottawa and Detroit have the money - they do - they can spend it if they want. I think they are trading dimes for dollars and I'd rather keep the fatter profits while smoothly transitioning from one good core to the next. That's part of my job. I want to make money and drive up the franchise value.

If I'm running the Rangers I have to turn a profit of about $35 million to realize the same return on investment that a $5 million profit in Edmonton. Unless Ranger revenues are $70 million more than in Edmonton today, the Oilers are a better investrment.

Tom

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Old
12-07-2003, 06:00 AM
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom_Benjamin
I think there is one right way to assemble an elite hockey team. One successful path and only one path. That path is available to every franchise in the NHL.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom_Benjamin
The difference between the Tom Benjamin managed New York Rangers and the Tom Benjamin managed Edmonton Oilers is that my profits will be much, much higher in New York. This is fair since I had to pay much more to acquire the Rangers.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom_Benjamin
No. The answer to the last three questions is "Who knows?" or perhaps "Who cares?" is better. Detroit and New Jersey have adopted different strategies with a winner. I think the Jersey strategy will bring more Cups long run, and turn higher profits in the long run. The Detroit strategy may - did - bring an extra Cup in the short run, but the Wings will pay long term.
I'm still haven't trouble establishing your position on this. Is there one right way to build a winner, or are there different strategies. What is your position on this, since I'm getting conflicting signals from you. If there are different ways to build a winner, is it dependant on the size of a market?

Another question for you, if the only difference in managing a small versus large team is the profits that are generated, what will this gap be like. At each stage of operation, will the nominal gap in profits between the Rangers and the Oilers remain constant (i.e. the Rangers would be making X amount of dollars more than the Oilers) or will it be a fixed percentage greater, or will it be something completely different. If the nominal amounts are different, do you see this having an impact on the willingness of a larger team to sign or retain players (as it results in greater benefit to the team).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom_Benjamin
Why do you want to prevent this? I assume you have an audience in mind. So do I. They are different people. The way I see it, you go off on flights of fancy, and I make my points by making your arguments look ridiculous. I think it is pretty easy. Your mileage may vary on that, but that's the plan.

As for all your other comments, I'll respond briefly. I do not want to over-run these message boards with our discussions, since they go nowhere. Other people have the right to bring up issues, and discuss it on this board. Once our discussion gets underway, usually the original issue seems to get swept under the table. I prefer to have some respect to these other posters.

For some reason, you feel the need to respond to my posts as often as possible. Even when other posters make a claim well before I do, you wait for my post to issue the response. I do not know why this is. Perhaps, you feel my opinion has more weight, and is thus more important to sway me. I do not know. Perhaps, you truly do think I'm a plant for Bettman, and that your posts to me are a way of exerting influence over the league proceedings. Good for you, you found me out. I'll make sure I brief the rest of the owners at the next meeting on your analysis.

Personally, I enjoy having discussions with people that maintain an open mind. This is not a description I would use for you, I'm afraid. I rather discuss the issues with people that are willing to hear both sides.

However, you say you want an audience, so I've given you one. I have given a thread where you can state your opinion in full. I am not even challenging you on your assumptions, because that's not what I set out to do with this thread. You've used for an excuse to launch stupid allegations. That's your business. Personally, if you think your argument has any merit, I would suggest you focus on that. Otherwise, then by all means, use your existing strategy of ridicule.

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12-07-2003, 04:13 PM
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by discostu
I'm still haven't trouble establishing your position on this. Is there one right way to build a winner, or are there different strategies. What is your position on this, since I'm getting conflicting signals from you. If there are different ways to build a winner, is it dependant on the size of a market?
No. I'm actually worried that Ottawa will decide to start buying players because they think they are close enough, and when you are close enough you are supposed to pull out all the stops. Lots of people believe this. I don't. I think they are better off sticking with the same strategy that made them elite. I can't say for sure that that is the right call, but I can say that it does not make any difference based on the size of the market.

If the Detroit payroll tops out at $75 million for an elite team to give a Stanley Cup Champion a reasonable profit and the Ottawa payroll tops out at $60 million to provide a reasonable profit with a Champion, it doesn't make any difference to how good the respective teams are. Payrolls don't correlate to quality anywhere near closely enough to claim this difference could be a problem to competitive balance. If this is an advantage it is very tiny.

And even then, that's a big "If" because the words "reasonable profit" mean something different in Detroit and in Ottawa. Hockey is a business. You project your revenues and establish budgets to make a profit. The profit is essential, so consider it another cost. That cost is much higher in Detroit.

In our imaginary scenario with Metropolis and Smallville, Metropolis turns better revenues with a bad team, with a mediocre team and with an elite team. This is not a huge advantage in the NHL partly because the costs are also much higher. The biggest cost disadvantage Metropolis faces is the cost of the initial investment. It costs a lot more to rent or build Madison Square Garden than it does the Corel Centre and the team itself costs a lot more because the profit potential is so much higher.

The players don't cost more in Metropolis than in Smallville because there is a league wide price for players. Joe Superstar has to be paid the same in both places, and so does Joe Star, Joe Goodplayer and Joe Roleplayer and Joe Prospect.

This is clearly an advantage for Metropolis because the players are worth more in that city. This would be a problem for competitive balance if players were free to move from Smallville to Metropolis but they are not free until they are in decline and Metropolis can't significantly improve their team by signing aging stars. If they are mediocre, they can't sign a bunch of old guys and become elite. If they try, they end up with mediocre Metropolis revenues with an elite Metropolis payroll. The difference comes directly out of the owner's end.

If Metropolis decides to rebuild with young players, the CBA dictates that the payroll will be small. There is no reason for Metropolis to pay a bunch of young players more than Smallville pays them. There is no reason to pay them more than they could get in arbitration either as the young team approaches prime.

Conclusion? It is bad business to try to turn a revenue advantage into a better hockey team. It doesn't work. The Metropolis revenue advantage should simply turn into a year in, year out higher rate of return in Metropolis and a higher franchise value. Metropolis should not be thinking that just because they can spend more on the players that they should. They should be happy with their fatter profits. They should run the same payroll as Smallville when they are bad, when they are mediocre and when they are elite.

If they want to win, they have to rebuild and do it the same way Smallville does.

Quote:
Another question for you, if the only difference in managing a small versus large team is the profits that are generated, what will this gap be like. At each stage of operation, will the nominal gap in profits between the Rangers and the Oilers remain constant (i.e. the Rangers would be making X amount of dollars more than the Oilers) or will it be a fixed percentage greater, or will it be something completely different. If the nominal amounts are different, do you see this having an impact on the willingness of a larger team to sign or retain players (as it results in greater benefit to the team).
It is the return on investment, a percentage. The Edmonton owners bought the Oilers for $75 million Canadian. They put up $35 milion and borrowed the other $40 million from the bank. If we assume a 10% return is reasonable, a $3.5 million Cdn profit in Edmonton is a good return after they make their payment on the bank loan.

If the Rangers are worth $275 million US, they need $27.5 million US in profits to get the same return.

The mistake that you cannot let go of is the idea that there is some meaningful correlation between spending and winning. What you see as a cause - the elite teams cost more - is really an effect.

It does not help Metropolis competitively to spend more and it certainly does not help the bottom line. The objective of every team should be to spend as little as possible on the players. Obviously "as little as possible" is different when the team is great and when the team is lousy. If Metropolis and Smallville are both elite and Metropolis spends more they don't become more elite. If Metropolis and Smallville are both mediocre and Metropolis spends more they don't become better than mediocre.

All Metropolis can do by spending money on payroll is prevent themselves from being really bad while squeezing their return unmercifully. The hidden cost of doing this is losing the chance to ever produce the young players they need to get better. When the NHL produced their list that "proved" the league was losing $300 million, the biggest loser was the New York Rangers. Even setting aside the accounting issues in the document, this is not a surprise.

They are turning mediocre Metropolis revenues with an elite Metropolis payroll. The record says that team should cost about $30-35 million. What does a $70 million payroll do to their return on investment?

It puts it in the toilet.

This is the real problem with the CBA. It works great for Smallville, but lousy for Metropolis. Metropolis customers want mileage from the revenue advantage and the CBA prevents them from getting it. Teams are forced to demonstrate they are "committed to winning" by spending and all that does is screw up their return.

The New York Rangers have had either the highest payroll or the second highest payroll in the NHL for the past six seasons. They have spent more on player salaries than anyone else and they have missed the playoffs for six straight seasons. Profits certainly can't be where they should be. They may even be negative. In New York!

We don't need to change the CBA to help Smallville. The owners need a change in the CBA to help Metropolis. How do they sell that? They deliberately market payroll imbalance - something that is natural and good - as competitive imbalance and sing the small market blues.

How do they get that? They get a salary cap. This provides Metropolis with a reason to not spend without getting criticised for not being committed to winning.

They also get earlier free agency and more player movement. This provides Metropolis with the ability to access players that can make a real difference without having to actually develop talent.

The result will be that everyone is limited at the top end but Metropolis will be able to spend to that top end even with a bad or mediocre team and get worthwhile players for the money. Hopefully (from the owner's perspective) they will be able to win without rebuilding becayuse they will get younger better players for the money. The revenue advantage is turned into a real advantage.

Smallville will be able to spend to the cap with an elite team, but will face a real revenue disadvantage with a poor team and with a mediocre one. They won't be able to spend more on a loser or a mediocre team. That doesn't matter under this CBA. It will matter a lot under the next one.

Tom

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12-07-2003, 06:54 PM
  #11
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My questions are...

How can teams like Philadelphia, St-Louis and Toronto (and I'm sure several others) built teams that are perennial contenders, despite having sub-standard management and bad drafts, while teams like Edmonton couldn't?

Since there's a loser for every winner, if the same teams can keep on top for say 5 years, this means the other teams would stay at the bottom for 5 years. How can weak hockey markets survive 5 years at the bottom (even if they have the best management) without making heavy losses and having to liquidate their best players? Should the NHL become 10 years at the bottom then 10 years at the top cycles? Or should the winners thrive on their constant high revenues and be able to stay at the top while the other teams (losers) perish in the bottomless pits of bankruptcy? Also, when a team disappears that makes one more loser, thus creating the problem once again?

On the short term, there are some managements that will be superior to others. However, on the long term, other teams should adapt and at some point management quality will be fairly equal around the league. When that happens, how will the lower revenue teams be able to compete, since the basis of competitivity for small markets in your opinion is superior quality management?

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Old
12-07-2003, 07:12 PM
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smail

On the short term, there are some managements that will be superior to others. However, on the long term, other teams should adapt and at some point management quality will be fairly equal around the league. When that happens, how will the lower revenue teams be able to compete, since the basis of competitivity for small markets in your opinion is superior quality management?
I don't see how management quality will ever become equal. It's been unequal since the league began a hundred years ago; I see no reson why that would change now. Some managers will be more intelligent than others; that's a simple fact.

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12-07-2003, 08:33 PM
  #13
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There has to be something that I'm missing in this debate. Likely something that you two have discussed before.

The points made by each of you have merit, I'm not debating that. But the scenario put forth seems too far from complete to be able to answer those questions. Many other factors in the managerial and ownership process of an NHL team that would effect those answers, factors both large and small. It would probably take me much too long to write out the ones off the top of my head, so I'll skip that. But I'm reasonably certain that without including at least some of those aforementioned factors, debating the points you already have seems kinda meaningless.

But like I said, I'm probably missing something. Some info that would tie this together.

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12-08-2003, 04:09 AM
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smail
My questions are...

How can teams like Philadelphia, St-Louis and Toronto (and I'm sure several others) built teams that are perennial contenders, despite having sub-standard management and bad drafts, while teams like Edmonton couldn't?
I don't think those teams have had sub-standard management.

Toronto has been lousy at the draft but they've run their organization well. They also had the benefit of stealing guys like Sundin and McCabe in trades. They've done a good job at signing free agents at bargain prices. They've produced players like Kaberle, Stajan, Antropov, McCauley. But Toronto is really treading water until they start producing players. They've never been a serious Stanley Cup contender and they won't be this year even with their current winning streak.

Philly has done a great job at the draft. Drafting Gagne, Williams, Boucher, Cechmanek, Pitkanen, Zubrus, Fedetenko. They've also made lots of good trades.

While St Louis has also produced lots of good players - Demitra, Handzus, Hecht, Jackman, Reasoner, Nagy, etc. They've also had Pronger and MacInnis to build around.

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12-08-2003, 05:40 AM
  #15
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Originally Posted by BigDaddyMeatWhistle
While St Louis has also produced lots of good players - Demitra, Handzus, Hecht, Jackman, Reasoner, Nagy, etc. They've also had Pronger and MacInnis to build around.
Ironcially, when St.Louis started to flash money around, that's when they started to go down hill. They were President's trophey winners one year, and then after tradiing away Hecht, Reasoner, Handzus etc. to get higher priced players, they became a 4th/5th place western team.

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12-08-2003, 07:15 AM
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coolguy3650
I don't see how management quality will ever become equal. It's been unequal since the league began a hundred years ago; I see no reson why that would change now. Some managers will be more intelligent than others; that's a simple fact.
Management techniques can get reproduced. Don't tell me there ain't 30 people out there that are in the same field as far as management go. I've seen overall management improve yearly in the NHL, I don't see why this would change. Sure, there will still be the odd bad manager but it's going to be the minority.

One of the reasons why there is more "parity" in the league is management (and coaching). You don't need the best team anymore player-wise to perform.

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12-08-2003, 07:25 AM
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigDaddyMeatWhistle
I don't think those teams have had sub-standard management.

Toronto has been lousy at the draft but they've run their organization well. They also had the benefit of stealing guys like Sundin and McCabe in trades. They've done a good job at signing free agents at bargain prices. They've produced players like Kaberle, Stajan, Antropov, McCauley. But Toronto is really treading water until they start producing players. They've never been a serious Stanley Cup contender and they won't be this year even with their current winning streak.

Philly has done a great job at the draft. Drafting Gagne, Williams, Boucher, Cechmanek, Pitkanen, Zubrus, Fedetenko. They've also made lots of good trades.

While St Louis has also produced lots of good players - Demitra, Handzus, Hecht, Jackman, Reasoner, Nagy, etc. They've also had Pronger and MacInnis to build around.
The point is that the top players for all those teams weren't drafted by the team (got them through trades, etc - including Demitra who was drafted and groomed by Ottawa). However, they could do so because they had the money at the start. Those teams didn't go through rebuilding phases. They were pretty poor at the draft table (Philly got a few good players, yet their top line is Amonte-Roenick-Recchi, three guys they got through trades, St-Louis didn't draft any exceptional player except maybe Jackman, Demitra-Pronger-MacInnis aren't players they drafted).

My question was more related to Edmonton Oilers, which have been slammed by Tom saying they were on equal footing. However, I do see a lot of similarities between Edmonton, St-Louis, Toronto and Philly. The big difference is that Edmonton don't have the money to spend and keep their big name players, while the other teams do. All teams were "fairly" poor at the draft table, all teams got good players through trades but in the end Edmonton is struggling and rebuilding year after year because they don't have the other teams money. I think Lowe is a pretty good GM. McTavish is a decent enough coach.

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12-08-2003, 07:28 AM
  #18
The Rage
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smail
Management techniques can get reproduced. Don't tell me there ain't 30 people out there that are in the same field as far as management go. I've seen overall management improve yearly in the NHL, I don't see why this would change. Sure, there will still be the odd bad manager but it's going to be the minority.

One of the reasons why there is more "parity" in the league is management (and coaching). You don't need the best team anymore player-wise to perform.
As certain management techniques become common, new, better techniques will arise. What do you mean there are 30 people in the same field? If you look at the top 30 players in the league, some will clearly be better than others (I'm using players as an analogy because it's easier to assess player ability than managerial ability). The vast majority of NHL managers are incredibly intellignet, but some are simply more intelligent than others.

Parity has nothing to do with management. Parity has everything to do with the trap. If games are low scoring, then they are going to be deceptively close.

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12-08-2003, 07:32 AM
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smail
The point is that the top players for all those teams weren't drafted by the team (got them through trades, etc - including Demitra who was drafted and groomed by Ottawa). However, they could do so because they had the money at the start. Those teams didn't go through rebuilding phases. They were pretty poor at the draft table (Philly got a few good players, yet their top line is Amonte-Roenick-Recchi, three guys they got through trades, St-Louis didn't draft any exceptional player except maybe Jackman, Demitra-Pronger-MacInnis aren't players they drafted).

My question was more related to Edmonton Oilers, which have been slammed by Tom saying they were on equal footing. However, I do see a lot of similarities between Edmonton, St-Louis, Toronto and Philly. The big difference is that Edmonton don't have the money to spend and keep their big name players, while the other teams do. All teams were "fairly" poor at the draft table, all teams got good players through trades but in the end Edmonton is struggling and rebuilding year after year because they don't have the other teams money. I think Lowe is a pretty good GM. McTavish is a decent enough coach.
The bottom line is that the Leafs, Blues, and Flyers did not win the cup. They were able to keep their players, but the only result was that their payrolls kept getting bigger and bigger. The same thing would have happened in Edmonton, but instead they dumped their players and started afresh with a new group. In this way, Edmonton may have even followed the better route, as instead of paying underachievers more and more money, they got rid of them and give themselves a chance to build a better team.

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12-08-2003, 10:58 AM
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smail
How can teams like Philadelphia, St-Louis and Toronto (and I'm sure several others) built teams that are perennial contenders, despite having sub-standard management and bad drafts, while teams like Edmonton couldn't?
None of these teams have won. Toronto has done the best job signing free agents and they have been really well managed. Quinn has said many times that they can patch with free agents but what the team really needed to go to the next level was some good young players.

I think Philly is in the same place as Toronto. I don't think they can win. They can be good, but not truly elite.

The Blues have done a good job of producing players. I give them credit for Demitra. Ottawa drafted him, but decided not to sign him. The Blues got him for an 8th round pick. They developed him. I also think St. Louis made a huge error acquiring Tkachuk and Weight. They had a team that won the President's Trophy with a payroll that was below average. They made two big trades - Nagy, Handzus and two more prospects for Keith and Reasoner and Hecht for Doug. They also signed a couple of free agents. Result? The team is older, more expensive, and no better.

Doing nothing would have been better.

Has any team won without doing an excellent job of player development? No. Not once.

Quote:
Since there's a loser for every winner, if the same teams can keep on top for say 5 years, this means the other teams would stay at the bottom for 5 years. How can weak hockey markets survive 5 years at the bottom (even if they have the best management) without making heavy losses and having to liquidate their best players?
As long as the payroll is low, the losses are not heavy. Nashville has been at the bottom for five years and a favourite contraction candidate. Me, I picked them as this year's surprise team. They are going to get better and better.

Quote:
Should the NHL become 10 years at the bottom then 10 years at the top cycles? Or should the winners thrive on their constant high revenues and be able to stay at the top while the other teams (losers) perish in the bottomless pits of bankruptcy? Also, when a team disappears that makes one more loser, thus creating the problem once again?
If a team folds because the fans don't have the patience to wait while the team is built properly, the team folds. This is not a bad thing, or at least it is better than the alternative.

When a team disappears it creates one less loser, not one more loser. There are 30 teams. Assuming they all survive, we can't pretend anybody's chances are very good. Right now everybody has a 1 in 30 chance of being the next Colorado or Detroit. A 1 in 30 chance of being the next dynasty.

The alternative is to spread the talent around more, create a more random result. This changes the perception, but not the reality. Instead of having a 1 in 30 chance to be the next great team, fans will have a 1 in 30 chance of catching lightning in a bottle and actually winning.

Is that better? The cost for better optics - the real odds don't change - is a lousier game. I think people who want to make that tradeoff haven't really thought it through.

Why don't you think it through Smail, and tell me what you think will happen in a league with, say, a $45 million hard cap and free agency at age 27. What kind of turnover will teams see? How will this work out for the Senators, the Oilers, the Rangers and the Avalanche?

Paint me a picture.

Tom

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12-08-2003, 11:07 AM
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coolguy3650
As certain management techniques become common, new, better techniques will arise. What do you mean there are 30 people in the same field? If you look at the top 30 players in the league, some will clearly be better than others (I'm using players as an analogy because it's easier to assess player ability than managerial ability). The vast majority of NHL managers are incredibly intellignet, but some are simply more intelligent than others.

Parity has nothing to do with management. Parity has everything to do with the trap. If games are low scoring, then they are going to be deceptively close.
Intelligence != best management.

Just like the best chest player ain't the most intelligent being on earth.

The best oil industry management would probably tank it if they switched to the car industry (at least would not be just as "good").

Over the years, a good manager can become a mediocre one, and vice-versa, even though over time the manager's intelligence is the same.

As team's management become better, individual player impact lessens. If that wasn't true, then management would not be doing a good job. In management, the sum of all parts needs to be better than all parts taken individually. In hockey it translates into: the team should be better playing together than relying on their individual strongest parts. The NJ Devils are a good example of that.

Just like it is examplified in F1 Racing, better management and technology can make a more important impact than driver's skills. At that point, a better management/technology combo with a lesser skilled driver will win over a lesser management/technology combo with a better skilled driver. This translates to races where the determining points are the pit stops.

The same happens in the NHL, where less individually skilled teams can win over more individually skilled teams using strategy and with a good management putting the good players (as in the needed player, not as skilled) at the good place at the good time. Remember that NHL teams are business and as such the first objective should be to make a profit and the 2nd objective should be to win the cup. Even teams like Colorado had to adjust themselves because they realized they couldn't just rely on their individual skills to win early this year.

Parity in the league is the end result. The means to achieve it doesn't really matter. The trap is a management tool to achieve it, and good managers will use it. The players don't decide they will play the trap, the management does (management includes the coach btw...). On a short term, the Devils with Lemaire were able to win the Cup using a loose trap and on long term now all teams play the trap one way or another. This is management that adapts. You'll say someone will eventually find something else and so on, but you have to remember that like with all growth curves the growth always increase less with each new improvement.

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12-08-2003, 11:15 AM
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coolguy3650
The bottom line is that the Leafs, Blues, and Flyers did not win the cup. They were able to keep their players, but the only result was that their payrolls kept getting bigger and bigger. The same thing would have happened in Edmonton, but instead they dumped their players and started afresh with a new group. In this way, Edmonton may have even followed the better route, as instead of paying underachievers more and more money, they got rid of them and give themselves a chance to build a better team.
I'm not talking about winning the cup. There's only a handful of teams that won the Stanley cup during the past 10 years. If your only successful model is winning the cup then the NHL is in deep trouble, especially if what you want is dynasties.

I'm just showing that with the same kind of drafting and management, Philadelphia, St-Louis and Toronto were able to keep their high paid players while Edmonton wasn't. I want to know how money isn't a factor here. Why are Toronto, Philadelphia and St-Louis contenders for the Cup each year yet Edmonton is struggling to make the playoffs? I think it's mostly because Edmonton had to trade their highest paid players while the others didn't have.

The whole argument that as the teams will become better they will become richer and will be able to afford their players doesn't seem to hold true when you look at THAT set of teams. Which is my whole point about when management is equal that money matters and that long term managements will be equal (as in stronger/weaker for different periods of time making it equal on the long run).

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12-08-2003, 12:00 PM
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom_Benjamin
Why don't you think it through Smail, and tell me what you think will happen in a league with, say, a $45 million hard cap and free agency at age 27. What kind of turnover will teams see? How will this work out for the Senators, the Oilers, the Rangers and the Avalanche?

Paint me a picture.

Tom
I'll skip most of the rest of message since this would just go on in useless drivel (which is partly answered in already 2 messages to Coolguy) but just point out how "contracting" a team makes 1 more loser. Out of 30 teams, you should have about 15 winners and 15 losers. Since you most likely want to have a multiple of 2 for the # of teams in the league, if you contract 2 teams, you're down to 14 winners and 14 losers. Note that the 15th winner with 30 teams is now the 14th loser with 2 less teams. Less winners.

Now about what you pointed out... First I'll say that imo, the most important thing to fix is the financial situation of the league, which imo leads to boring games. It is my belief that because you want to keep your payroll low not to make losses (well most of the teams), you need to build a strategy that will let you win games with a low payroll... The solution? Defensive hockey... It gives you a chance to win all games yet keeps the salaries down. Also, it helps you trade or dump a higher skilled player for one with less skill without impacting the "sum of all parts". A team that doesn't have much money to spend (due to limited revenues) just can't use a wide-open game strategy (it would be suicide) because their players will stack better offensive numbers (leads to higher payroll) and making the playoffs is a must to make a profit (leads to put importance #1 on winning all games at all cost, including boring games).

Now if you look at the financial problems of the NHL, you'll see that there's decreasing interest in the overall product. Whether 10 teams are doing good, if all other do badly and fold the end result will be worse revenues for the 10 teams that are doing good. In other words, all teams are partners and they need to find a way so that ALL teams can do good given "medium quality management" to ensure larger future revenues for the 10 teams that are doing good. In market economy, a product is influenced by its complementary products, in the NHL, a team's succes is influenced by the league's overall success.

How can this situation be improved in the long term? The CBA gives a good occasion for the NHL to start on a new base. A good financial agreement will result in a more financially stable NHL. Just that will help greatly improve the league's success. How? People will tend to shy away from sports or teams that are financially instable or constantly threatening to move to a new city. If there is a substitute to the NHL product in their area that's many "customers" lost. Anticipations are an important part of the demand. Also, if the NHL's financial state is better, teams will be more eager to take "financial risks", and I'm not talking about signing players. Teams could play and stick with "Wide-Open hockey" even if it threatened to put them out of the playoffs. There would also be more trades since teams wouldn't be as economically restricted. As a fan, I like it when there are trades that aren't salary dumps (like in the 80s).

What should be done in the CBA negociations? Imo, there should be some form of cap (I prefer hard cap) at a set % of total revenues, making the NHL a owner-player partnership. Partnerships between owners and workers usually yield better results as far as product quality is concerned. That way, both owners AND players can focus on increasing total revenues.

I don't think a hard cap would have as much impact on player movement as non-guaranteed contracts. Also, I don't think that such measures in the NHL would have as an impact as it did in the NFL. Why? Well for one, american football plays with many more players than hockey. Also, it's not a continuous sport unlike hockey. Which means that players are more easily disposable in football than in hockey and that more "on the field" stars are needed than in hockey. An average hockey team needs about 5 "star" players while in the NFL you need a star QB, HB, offensive blockers, defensive blockers, receivers, etc... I think there would be more movement than there is currently (and frankly I don' t see that as a bad thing since currently the only movements come from a few UFAs and waivers) but not to the extreme the NFL. It would facilitate the task of selling the hockey product of the teams lower in the standings (since it would be easier for those teams to change their team during the summer with something else than other teams rejects) and give their fans some hope (anticipations, raising demand in those markets).

Even with those measures, the best managements are going to be able to keep all their core players and will be even better at adding quality to them.

Of course opinions do differ but I can hardly agree with anyone saying the current system is fine since market data clearly points out it's weakening the NHL's market yearly. In the end, a strong NHL market (with high demand) will make it better for those teams already doing well (and obviously also those doing bad) AND for the players, so I think that's what the next NHL CBA should aim for.

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12-08-2003, 02:29 PM
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smail
Of course opinions do differ but I can hardly agree with anyone saying the current system is fine since market data clearly points out it's weakening the NHL's market yearly.
What are you basing this claim on? What market data clearly points this out?

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12-08-2003, 02:40 PM
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the doctor
What are you basing this claim on? What market data clearly points this out?
Lower TV ratings, NHL Hockey falling in sports rankings in North America, low attendance in key markets (like NJ the last years cup winners), etc...

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