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Greed Takes Over

from Mark Spector of Sportsnet, 

They should all be ashamed.

The owners, who have let their game come to this, with a lockout every single time the labour contract comes due. And the players, whose absolute greed under former leadership led to their share of the pie being so disproportionate, that nobody I know can answer the following question:

Why is it, when baseball, football and basketball players all take home between 48 per cent and 50 per cent of their sports' revenues, should hockey players -- whose sport is the least popular and lucrative in the United States -- receive 57 per cent?

We've been asking that question for a few weeks now.

"Yeah," offered NHL V.P. Bill Daly, with a smile discernable even over the phone. "And what kind of answer have you been getting?"

None, really, because there isn't one.

continued

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Comments

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Why is it, when baseball, football and basketball players all take home between 48 per cent and 50 per cent of their sports’ revenues, should hockey players—whose sport is the least popular and lucrative in the United States—receive 57 per cent?

Because Hockey Related Revenue is not calculated the same way as Football related revenue or Basketball Related Revenue.  Then maybe you can please have the owners explain to me why the NHL is the least popular sport in the US?

 

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 09/11/12 at 02:32 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

“And I’ll also take some blame for the 57 per cent we negotiated last time. It was too high.”

Pardon?

“The last union administration (namely Ted Saskin) doesn’t get any credit for the job they did when the last agreement was agreed to … in terms of maximizing dollars for the players,” Daly admits. “They did a good job. They were able to negotiate a very substantial (definition) of HRR.”

You heard it here, folks. Bill Daly admits the league got screwed in the last CBA negotiations.

I’d be laughing if it weren’t so goddamn insane.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/11/12 at 02:59 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

Then maybe you can please have the owners explain to me why the NHL is the least popular sport in the US?

Because 90% of the U.S. does not get snow in the winter. Snow + winter = the perfect breeding ground for a hockey culture (see Canada, Minnesota, Michigan, North Dakota). That doesn’t mean a hockey culture doesn’t exist in areas that do not get snow (parts of Massachusetts, hell, even Dallas); but those places do not have the ingrained hockey culture the other places have, developed over multiple decades.

I live in one of those hockey cultures. We called ourselves “Hockeytown USA” four decades before the Wings grabbed part of the title for promotional reasons. Believe me, it’s different here and those other places. The four biggest sports here are

1. hockey

2. hockey

3. hockey

4. football

Other sport cultures develop in the 90% of the U.S. that do not get snow each winter, and rightly so. Southern California will never truly create the hockey culture needed to support hockey long-term; The Yukon Territories will never truly create a culture where baseball is ingrained in the collective psyche.

The NHL should never have expanded beyond 21 teams. 26 was survivable, if tenuous; 30 teams was never realistic, and two lost seasons in less than a decade proves as much.

Hockey is a regional sport, the players need to get that through their greedy skulls.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 09/11/12 at 04:13 PM ET

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So it was the players that were so greedy that they had to grab expansion fees in markets that were unsustainable rather than move teams to markets that could sustain them?

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 09/11/12 at 04:28 PM ET

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Enough with the Pollyanna nonesense.  This is about money BIG money.  These are wealthy people on BOTH sides of the table. 

Using Blue Collar labor analogies is foolish.  If these were really “Unions” they wouldn’t routinely cross picket lines of other “workers”

This is all posturing.  The players many times become part of management when they retire, their viewpoint changes when that happens.  Sit back and save your energy, when they settle this we can go back to the games.  I favor the players but actually none of us have a dog in this fight.  This is not about Coal Miners and bosses.

Posted by 13 user names on 09/11/12 at 05:43 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

So it was the players that were so greedy that they had to grab expansion fees in markets that were unsustainable rather than move teams to markets that could sustain them?

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 09/11/12 at 04:28 PM ET

That is a non-sequiter. The players do not have the wherewithal to do anything like that. Both players and owners take responsibility for spreading the NHL too thin.

I don’t recall the NHLPA screaming bloody murder whenever expansion happened. Hell no, it just put more money in the union coffers, as the talent pool was watered down enough to supply enough bodies for thirty teams, all while the NHLPA reaped the financial reward of more members.

NHL owners are risk-takers, it’s what they do. It’s why they can afford an NHL team - because they took risks earlier that payed off handsomely. But risk-takers are not always right; in fact, many are wrong, and pay a dear price for it. So it is with 30 NHL teams. The owners tested the waters, and the results sure seem to say the waters are not swimmable anymore. So a readjustment needs to be made. The current reality is not sustainable. That happens in life.

Fuch the players on this one. The owners are not blameless in this by any means; but the general default mode of pointing to the ‘greedy’ owners as the bane of our hockey existence doesn’t stand this time.

To think a 50/50 deal is somehow an insult to the players shows just how much the current mindset of “rich=evil” has clouded many a judgment. 

 

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 09/11/12 at 05:53 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

To think a 50/50 deal is somehow an insult to the players shows just how much the current mindset of “rich=evil” has clouded many a judgment.

I’ll let you know if I feel it’s an insult as soon as the league actually makes a 50/50 offer.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/11/12 at 05:58 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

the general default mode of pointing to the ‘greedy’ owners as the bane of our hockey existence doesn’t stand this time.

That wasn’t the default last time. Last time, most people sided with the league.

Also, the players don’t have a say in the expansion, contraction, or relocation of any teams. The current CBA does not give them an ounce of authority over that, so to put ANY blame on them for what you feel is a failed strategy of putting teams in markets you don’t like is completely insane.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/11/12 at 06:03 PM ET

Kate from Pa.-made in Detroit's avatar

The NHL should never have expanded beyond 21 teams. 26 was survivable, if tenuous; 30 teams was never realistic, and two lost seasons in less than a decade proves as much.

Hockey is a regional sport, the players need to get that through their greedy skulls.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 09/11/12 at 04:13 PM ET

And, two lost Teams. Atlanta+Atlanta=Zero vision.  Canada is still waiting for, and, deserves to have a couple more franchises. Hockey is, after all, their Religion.

Lets Go Red Wings!!!!! In’13

Posted by Kate from Pa.-made in Detroit on 09/11/12 at 06:59 PM ET

Jeff  OKWingnut's avatar

There doesn’t appear much disagreement that in the United States, the NHL is not a top tier sport, in terms of revenue and otherwise.  I understand league revenue is largely dependent on the gate.  So, it strikes me as a failure of leadership, on both sides, to do anything to upset the fan base - upon which both owners and players - depend on for a paycheck.

I’m not pointing fingers at any side on the merits of this stalemate.  It’s just idiocy that it got to this point in the first place.

Posted by Jeff OKWingnut from Quest for 12 on 09/11/12 at 07:15 PM ET

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Funny how all of the so called hockey fans blame the sport. Too many teams, bad markets, bad owners, bad or ignorant fans, too little talent.  Well I can tell you if the cap is reduced, the players cut is reduced fo 50% and there is an increase in revenue sharing most all teams will be financially successful. But for those who pine for the original 6 nothing will be good enough until the sport resides in only a few places with frozen ponds. So for those of us who love hockey, want to see it grow, be more successful, recruit more players, get more fans to watch on TV, we know which side is offering the better option and it isn’t the players.

Posted by timbits on 09/11/12 at 09:17 PM ET

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I agree timbits but the players are just posturing and angling for the best deal they can get.  I think Fehr realizes the points you made are valid ones.  Hockey is in it’s infancy compared to Baseball.

Posted by 13 user names on 09/11/12 at 10:15 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

so to put ANY blame on them for what you feel is a failed strategy of putting teams in markets you don’t like is completely insane.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/11/12 at 06:03 PM ET

“Complettely insane”

Good to see J.J. hasn’t lost his penchant for hyperbole and creating strawmen smile

 

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 09/12/12 at 09:57 AM ET

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So for those of us who love hockey, want to see it grow, be more successful, recruit more players, get more fans to watch on TV, we know which side is offering the better option and it isn’t the players.

No, I ask for better revenue sharing for any of those things to happen. If players were paid only 30% of total revenues and the large markets continue to be the only teams generating increased revenues, the small and non-traditional markets will never catch up.  The players percentage can be reduced, but don’t reneg on contracts that you agreed to either. My love of hockey has nothing to do with NHL owners making more money or players making more money or even having more people watch games.

As I recall the last CBA with a hard cap, 24% rollback and a lost season was supposed bring market stability and lower ticket prices too.  It was the CBA that was going to protect owners from themselves, reel in the payrolls of the big market teams and restore a competitive balance (although the big spending teams had sucked for years under the old CBA). The larger markets will continue to charge what the market can bear, but only pay what the smallest markets can survive on?  Can we cut costs by lowering the salary of league officials and management by 48% to cover the last and latest proposed rollbacks? That is money the owners can keep in their pockets.

I don’t believe rich = evil since most of the people involved in this dispute fall under the “rich” category so that has no bearing on this argument. But when owners want zero risk by having fixed costs, public financing of stadiums and tax breaks, a roll back of salaries they agreed to, I don’t see the spirit of risk that they are claiming. Having taken risks in other ventures doesn’t mean they are now to be free of risks in a new investment. With risk comes greater reward, if they are not willing to take any, why should the rewards be even greater? 

The players take all of the risk up front, they bascially drop out at age 15 to pursue a career that most never achieve, they have no choice on which team they play from that point on, they have no option but to play under the terms of their NHL teams for the first three years of their career and severely restricted after that, they can be injured and never play another game, the injury may occur as a contract expires and they are not offered another contract, they may be career minor leaguers whose career ends without any retirement options and a new career to learn in what should be their prime earning years.  Being an NHL player is not without risk, being an NHL player is the only reward.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 09/12/12 at 10:01 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Good to see J.J. hasn’t lost his penchant for hyperbole and creating strawmen smile

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 09/12/12 at 09:57 AM ET

You mean like talking about people complaining about a 50/50 split being unfair, despite that not being the case?  wink

Or you mean when you said the PLAYERS need to learn the lesson that hockey is a regional sport and get around to folding at least four teams, despite having absolutely zero power to do so?  cheese

I’m just marveling at the level of mental gymnastics it takes to essentially say the owners over-expanded the league, which caused their business model to be unsustainable, and that somehow the players need to stop being so greedy so the owners can more successfully run the unsuccessful business model you think they have.

Fine though, you’ve got a point. You called me out for hyperbole and you were right. It’s not “completely insane” to have a stance where you blame labor for the mistakes of management when they had no power to prevent management from making those mistakes.

It’s just kind of dumb.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/12/12 at 10:18 AM ET

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No, I ask for better revenue sharing for any of those things to happen. If players were paid only 30% of total revenues and the large markets continue to be the only teams generating increased revenues, the small and non-traditional markets will never catch up. 

The problem here is that you are presuming the primary point of a new CBA from the NHL’s perspective is to make smaller market-teams more successful.  I don’t think that’s the case.  I think the primary goal is to make a lot more money for the Owners overall, and then to try and make sure smaller markets are more survivable.

The league wants to increase the profits off ALL teams in the league to the point where even the least well-performing club is still break even or better financially, not to spread around existing profits from very profitable clubs to less profitable clubs.

That’s why they are going for the NHLPA’s eyeteeth with those goofy 43 or 46% offers.  They want to take so much money from the players side that even if a team is run by a bunch of idiots that can’t draft or sign player worth a damn or hihre a competent coach half the time (we’ll just call that sort of team ‘Columbus’ for ease of typing), even a team run awfully will be break even.

That way, even if a team is ‘spending’ 55 mil in salaries they’ll only end up paying around 45 or so after escrow rebates.  7 mil from the NBC deal, 3 mil from the CBC deal, 5-10 mil in profit sharing, and you’re looking at 15-20 mil every year in free money.

That 15-20 mil plus whatever you can get for local broadcast rights, say a million bucks, means you’re looking at 16-21 mil.  That means all a team has to do in any given season is get 14 thousand people in the building a night at 60 bucks a head (ticket plus in-arena spending) to go 6-10 million over their roster expenses.

That’s what the NHL is trying to do.  Make their franchises idiot-proof.  It will likely fail because there’s just no immunizing your business model from the truly stupid, but whatever.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 09/12/12 at 10:44 AM ET

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NHL is trying ... make their franchises idiot-proof.  It will likely fail because there’s just no immunizing your business model from the truly stupid, but whatever.

We finally have total agreement on something, but they need to stop building a better idiot.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 09/12/12 at 03:25 PM ET

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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.

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