Kukla's Korner Hockey
From Tarik El-Bashir in Wednesday’s Washington Post,
But as the NHL prepares to open season tonight—the third under the new collective bargaining agreement—some league executives and outside observers are again voicing concerns about the growing disparity between high- and low-revenue teams.
Although the average player salary this season is expected to be about $1.8 million, which is what it was in 2003-04, the salary cap ceiling has grown to $50.3 million per team, an increase of nearly 30 percent in two years. The salary cap floor, meantime, is up to $34.3 million, substantially more than some clubs spent before the lockout that scuttled the 2004-05 season.
more… (*a detailed overview the NHL’s financial situation)
*may require free registration to read
Since everyone reading these words is either reading them on this blog or via some rss feedreader, the audience here might be a bit biased in believing hockey fans are very tech-knowledgeable. But in this instance, your bias is absolutely correct—NHL hockey fans are indeed very well-wired.
From the Sports Business Journal on Monday, October 1 (sorry, no link. subscription only):
The NHL has long asserted that its fans are the most tech-savvy in sports. Exclusive data provided to Sports Business Journal by Scarborough Sports Marketing seems to support that belief. Twenty-four percent of NHL loyal fans live in households that own an HDTV and more than seventy percent have a broadband connection (cable or dsl) at home.
See the graph below.
from the Tennessean,
The leader of a local group trying to buy the Nashville Predators said Monday that he doesn’t expect the deal to work out.
The group on Saturday asked for new tax money and several improvements to the Sommet Center, where the Predators play. According to leader David Freeman, the city has rejected the requests.
Eric Duhatschek at his Globe & Mail blog discusses the various luminaries attending the Esquire party tomorrow night in Manhattan, launching the new NHL season. The guest list includes a number of notables but also features one notable exception, as well.
NHL luminaries for the Esquire party include the commissioner, Gary Bettman, the deputy commissioner, Bill Daly, plus members of the New York Islanders (Bill Guerin, Mike Comrie), the New Jersey Devils (Patrik Elias) and some as yet-to-be-announced members of the Buffalo Sabres. Curiously, there are no New York Rangers’ players listed as possible attendees, even though the Rangers boast two of the NHL’s most attractive free-agent acquisitions, Scott Gomez and Chris Drury, at least one of whom (Gomez) is an unbelievably great talker.
One wonders if the Rangers’ absenteeism is merely an oversight, or has something to do with that curious decision by Madison Square Garden (MSG) to file a lawsuit against the NHL last Friday for violating antitrust laws and acting like an illegal cartel.
*For more on the MSG lawsuit, see earlier today on KK
Prior to joining the NHL in November as evp-corporate sales and marketing, John Collins was an executive for more than 15 years at the NFL, including svp-sales and marketing (in 2000 he was named one of Brandweek’s “Marketers of the Next Generation”) and then was president/CEO at the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. In May he was given added responsibilities and a new title, svp-business and media, to work with league marketing partners including Pepsi, Reebok, Anheuser-Busch, XM Satellite, Verizon Wireless and Dodge. He spoke with Brandweek executive editor Barry Janoff about the NHL’s marketing strengths, weaknesses and future.
Brandweek: How was the lockout in 2004-05 a turning point for the NHL?
John Collins: It’s a dramatic step if you shut down any business for a year. In terms of business and marketing, the first season after the lockout was all about restarting the business. The NHL represents a classic marketing opportunity and we hope a classic marketing success. Based on franchise values, revenue growth, the rise in salary cap and other numbers that commissioner Gary Bettman presented this month to the board of governors, the business has come back and is poised for growth.
fromm Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
Make no mistake. After supporting Bettman and the Board on issues contrary to their own self-interests such as the hard salary cap, revenue sharing, and cancellation of the 2004-05 season, the Rangers are no longer amenable to ceding control of their business to Sixth Avenue, and neither are a growing number of the big-market teams who carry the league on their backs.
These clubs may support Bettman’s lowest-common-denominator approach to competition on the ice, but they most certainly do not support Sixth Avenue’s concept of parity when applied to individual bottom lines. Slap Shots has obtained a copy of a letter Garden CEO Jim Dolan sent by fax to the 29 other NHL owners Friday night. While affirming respect for the league Governors, Dolan leaves no doubt he not only is engaging the NHL in a philosophical battle, but is challenging the league’s competence in generating revenues and growing the game.
from Evan Weiner at MCN Sports,
When publications and websites put out lists of the Top 100 this, the Top 100 that, they are should always to be taken with a grain of salt. BusinessWeek has posted a list of the Top 100 Power People in sports with National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell on the top of the list. BusinessWeek should have asked me to be part of their panel because their list is filled with questionable choices and omissions. But BusinessWeek in their wisdom didn’t ask me or Darren Rovell at CNBC or Ronald Blum at the Associated Press or Murray Chass at the New York Times for our opinions or sports business experts in Europe or Asia for their thoughts which is why it is flawed and nothing more than an exercise in futility.
It’s too bad because that Power 100 list might be far more accurate with real sports business experts than the BusinessWeek 100 that was presented. There really is nothing on the list that indicates that the panelists thought about the UEFA 2008 football tournament. That happens to be the second most watched sports event in the world behind the World Cup.
There is nothing about cricket or boxing on the list. The National Hockey League Commissioner is rated just 27th on the list even though the NHL has lots of eyeballs watching its product in Europe far more eyeballs than the NFL on that continent.
from the AP via Sports Illustrated,
Hockeytown needs to get its groove back.
The organization has aggressively tried to market its once-popular product, dropping some ticket prices as low as $9 and plastering images and messages on billboards.
A week before the opener against the Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks at Joe Louis Arena, a block of 15 seats was available - at $44 apiece - in a corner of the upper bowl.
“The No. 1 thing that has hurt us from a fan’s standpoint is the Michigan economy,’’ general manager Ken Holland said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Madison Square Garden sued the NHL on Friday, saying the league has monopolized promotion of its teams.
According to the lawsuit, the NHL has claimed it will fine MSG, which owns the New York Rangers, $100,000 per day if it does not give the NHL complete control over the team’s Web site and other promotions.
update 6:55pm, a little more on this from Bloomberg…
from NHL Digest,
Trying to swoon the majority of the United States market into adopting ice hockey as a major sport worthy of prime time television slots, major advertising dollars, and premium ticket prices has been a daunting task for the National Hockey League.
To the seasoned hockey fan, the sheer speed and grace of the professional game is enough to send goosebumps up our spines. As hard as it may be for us to understand, that is simply not the case for the average North American television viewer.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org