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Players Are Misinformed

from John Buccigross of ESPN,

I got this text from a very well-connected hockey source Tuesday night:

"In spending time around the players the last month, I think they are very unified and more misinformed than ever. They don't get it. I know for a fact there are teams that would lose much less money by not playing than if they played. If you are an owner, why would you agree to lose more money when this is your one chance to reset the equation? The players are being walked right down the gangplank and don't see it coming."

Well, here we go again.

The CBA expires at midnight on Sept. 15. The lockout will begin on that day. Training camps will be suspended. Some players and coaches will return home to their summer dwellings, others will probably get some ice time on their own and continue the process of team building.

continued plus Paul Kelly checks in with some CBA discussion...

Filed in: NHL Talk, NHLPA, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Comments

DocF's avatar

I did not realize that Buccigross had become a shill for Bettman.

Posted by DocF from Now: Lynn Haven, FL; was Reidsville, NC on 09/06/12 at 11:58 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

why would you agree to lose more money when this is your one chance to reset the equation?

You can either reset the equation by demanding the players take less money and just wait for the fundamental economics of the league to drive a larger wedge between you and the chance at profitability or you can reset it by demanding that your fellow owners create an economic system which doesn’t create a problem for you by widening the gap between their revenues and yours.

The players know this and they know that losing money is still losing money.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/06/12 at 12:04 PM ET

Son of Flying Pig's avatar

Buccigross is well beyond his prime years.  Doesnt produce any more.

Posted by Son of Flying Pig on 09/06/12 at 12:29 PM ET

MOWingsfan19's avatar

So it’s really the players faults that the league over expanded into “non-traditional” markets that can’t support an NHL team… sheesh.

Posted by MOWingsfan19 from I really like our team on 09/06/12 at 01:15 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Used to like Buccigross when he hosted NHL2Tonight on Eternally Sucky Programming Numbnuts.

Used to.

Dude’s become as flaky as the others.

Posted by SYF from Ball's Hill on 09/06/12 at 01:49 PM ET

henrymalredo's avatar

Not a single proposal from the NHL results in the stabilization of the NHL’s weak markets:

If the NHL wants to continue to operate in non-traditional markets, it needs to do the following:

1. Increased revenue sharing (A no brainer)
2. Better ownership recruiting.  The NHL is terrible at this.  Ownership has to have deep pockets when it comes to operating a bad team in a small market, no new CBA can change that.  No more of these scam artists and patchwork ownership groups.  Get some high rollers.  Have multi-franchise owners like Mike Illitch, Jim Dolan and Ted Leonsis sell their NBA and MLB brethren on hockey.
3. Team owners need to take a closer look at their building leases before they sign.  Even better, bring in the aforementioned highrollers who have the money for their own building.
4. Teams in small markets need good management to get competitive fast and stay afloat.  Teams like the Blue Jackets and the former Atlanta Thrashers spent a whole decade without winning a playoff game.  Only once have the Blue Jackets picked lower than 8, yet they have nothing to show for it.  Many of their top picks aren’t even in the NHL anymore.  Smart drafting and management is key.

Posted by henrymalredo from Lansing on 09/06/12 at 01:55 PM ET

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They don’t get it. I know for a fact there are teams that would lose much less money by not playing than if they played.

They don’t get it. I know for a fact there are A HANDFUL OF teams that would MAKE FAR MORE money by playing than if they ARE NOT played. - fixed

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 09/06/12 at 02:13 PM ET

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OR translated for the slow minded player

The players don’t understand that the owner’s profits are the owner’s profits and the owner’s losses are the player’s losses.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 09/06/12 at 02:15 PM ET

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They don’t get it. I know for a fact there are A HANDFUL OF teams that would MAKE FAR MORE money by playing than if they ARE NOT played. - fixed

Here’s the problem, though.  Yes, there are teams that would make a profit were hockey games to be played.  There are, however, at least as many teams that will lose money if games are played.

In addition, if the owners are able to destroy the NHLPA (again) and get massive givebacks in money and other issues (again) even the teams that make money will make far more under the new system than they would have before, to the point where they could make up the profit losses from a whole season well within the timeframe of a 3 or 4 year deal.

And the owners know this.  And the players know this.  Until the profit/loss fulcrum is actually balanced between owners and players the owners will always have more to gain by crushing the players than they would by giving in to their demands in any meaningful way.

I mean, seriously, does anybody think for a moment that the NHL would lock the players out if they didn’t think they’d make more in the long run by doing so?  That, more than anything else, supports the idea that revenue/cost splits in the NHL aren’t exactly representative of where they should be.

Now, a part of that is because the NHL has a stupid financial system which isn’t designed to help out smaller market teams, and a part of that is the absence of a big money TV deal even approaching the NBA, NFL or MLB’s contracts.

Heck, the TV contract alone may make it much easier for the NHL to hold the line on revenue issues.

If, as in the case of the NBA, the league had a One Billion Dollar A Year contract they’d be far less willing to sacrifice that ‘easy money’ just to chase a few percentage points of player share. 

And that is by far the next smallest TV deal.  MLB is around 2.5 billion a year in total contracts and the NFL is almost FIVE billion a year.

Those owners aren’t going to give up that money for small issues.  For NHL owners, many of whom are either breaking roughly even or losing 5ish mil a year?  Please.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 09/06/12 at 05:13 PM ET

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If, as in the case of the NBA, the league had a One Billion Dollar A Year contract they’d be far less willing to sacrifice that ‘easy money’ just to chase a few percentage points of player share.

And if the NHL weren’t perceived as a “minor” league compared to the bigger 3 they would have a chance at the bigger payday. If the NHL feels they can go a season at a time without being missed, do the sponsors that generate the billion dollar deals not see the same thing?  Stability is the key to growth. Of course the NHL will recoup the money lost due to the lockout, but they will never recover the lost revenues caused by stunted growth.  The sunbelt markets could have grown the sport, but are instead a drain on the entire league.

The NHL acts like a regional niche sport and then wonders why it can’t grow nationally. The NFL became the number 1 sport by the foresight of teams like the NY Giants that allowed teams like the Packers to continue to exist. A rising tide rises all boats. Short sited owners in the NHL means they will continually look for concessions from players than real growth. I guess it is easier to eat an entire pie when it is small than share a much bigger pie.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 09/06/12 at 05:34 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 09/06/12 at 05:34 PM ET

You’re making my brain hurt with all your sense and reason.. just makes too much sense to be right.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 09/06/12 at 06:32 PM ET

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And if the NHL weren’t perceived as a “minor” league compared to the bigger 3 they would have a chance at the bigger payday

No, they wouldn’t.

This is a common pitfall, though… this idea that ‘if only the NHL would do x, y and z they’d be a top 2 or 3 sport in the USA’.

No.  Untrue.

This past year on NBC the NHL drew a 1.0, ratings wise.  That’s nothing.  That’s random people stopping on a channel low.

That gets killed by the NFL, killed by MLB, Killed by the NBA. It gets killed by collge football.  It gets killed bu college basketball.  Heck, it gets killed by PGA golf.  It gets killed by a NASCAR race.

Repeats of the Mentalist get a .7 or a.8.  The Simpsons draws a 1.  Big Brother gets a 1.9, for the love of God.

The NHL is a flatlined sport, nationally.  It always was, and it always will be.  There will be occasional regular season events which draw well, the Winter Classic had a 2.1 for instance, but by and large regular season NHL hockey is a non-entity on the sports landscape.

There is no ‘stunted growth’.  There is no period in the last 20 years where per team attendance has appreciated at a consistent rate beyond 5%.  The ‘growth’ the NHL refers to is moderate (2-3%) attendance growth coupled with rather more than moderate (5%+) growth in ticket prices, lately through the use of ‘tiered pricing’.

The NFL became the number 1 sport by the foresight of teams like the NY Giants that allowed teams like the Packers to continue to exist.

That doesn’t demonstrate a particularly nuanced grasp of sports history in the USA, though.  At it’s worst the NFL was the #2 sport nationally since the 50’s and 60’s.  It was able to go from #2 to #1 by a mile by advancing their marketing, yes, but a huge part of that is just the game itself.  College football is humongous business as well.

So while there is some degree of underutlilized ‘growth space’ that the NHL fritters away with stupid marketing, poorly-constructed CBAs, short-sighted leadership and whatnot… there’s nothing there that could reasonably be presumed to move the NHL past any of the current big three sports.

Maybe a few extra bucks, but nothing paradigm shifting which might move owners off trying to pull out the NHLPA’s spine.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 09/06/12 at 08:27 PM ET

The Hurricane's avatar

Anyone else get an eerie feeling like the contentiousness in the Presidential election is somehow akin to the CBA BS? I’ve never felt like everything on Earth is as monumental and polarizing as it is now…it kind of sucks in a really big way….especially since it now seems to be affecting the only thing in my life that gives me a release from the rest of the crap in day-to-day life that gets my blood boiling. It feels like the movie Groundhog’s Day and I can’t get out…

Posted by The Hurricane on 09/07/12 at 12:49 AM ET

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At it’s worst the NFL was the #2 sport nationally since the 50’s and 60’s.  It was able to go from #2 to #1 by a mile by advancing their marketing, yes, but a huge part of that is just the game itself.

So the game of football is in and of itself is far superior to hockey. Not my opinion, but I guess it is currently more popular.  Boxing was once the number 1 sport in the nation, but poor marketing and corruption has caused it to be a national after thought. Marketing is the key ingredient, but so is stability and a belief that your team can be competitive.  Wasn’t it just 1994 when hockey was going to take over from basketball, but the ownere felt the short term gain far outweighed the growth.

Maybe a few extra bucks, but nothing paradigm shifting which might move owners off trying to pull out the NHLPA’s spine.

The NHL doesn’t have to pull past the big three (NEVER part of my argument to pull past, but to learn the proper lessons or shared growth and stability), but if the expansion into the sunbelt is not intended to be paradigm shifting or generate significant growth, then it was a major mistake by the NHL to place teams in markets designed to bring the rest of the league down. If they want to “save” money, fold those teams and be done with it. That would be far greater savings than anything the players could give up. Apparently that is not what the NHL believes either, so there must be areas for significant growth, the NHL just isn’t very good at doing it becasue they rather take a bigger piece of what they have now.

]

The NHL is a flatlined sport, nationally.  It always was, and it always will be.

So the NHL is still only the original 6 I take it? Did it not go from 6 markets to 30 in the past 40 years? The ratings point argument is meaningless because it is a bigger market today and a more fractured audience. I’d rather have 1% of a million, than 15% of a hundred. NASCAR does not have 82 races per team each year either.  If the NHL is a non-entity in the sport marketplace, why is that? Could it be the NHL’s misguided policy to shut it down since no one will miss it policy? This flatlined league didn’t increase revenue by over a billion dollars since the last CBA? I wish my company was flatlining like that.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 09/07/12 at 10:12 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

but if the expansion into the sunbelt is not intended to be paradigm shifting or generate significant growth, then it was a major mistake by the NHL to place teams in markets designed to bring the rest of the league down. If they want to “save” money, fold those teams and be done with it. That would be far greater savings than anything the players could give up. Apparently that is not what the NHL believes either, so there must be areas for significant growth, the NHL just isn’t very good at doing it becasue they rather take a bigger piece of what they have now.

Well-worded.

The NHL doesn’t have to pull PAST the leagues that it’s easy to argue will always remain more-popular, but there’s a fair bit of difference between being considered a “minor” league in the competition and actually competing. 

Point of the matter is that if the NHL wants to be a northern secondary sport and US-wide niche sport, then they should pull out of the southern half of the states and then can continue to try to beat their own workforce into submission with the knowledge that nationwide expansion isn’t a huge concern. But, if they want to get that big television deal to actually try to compete with what the big boys are bringing in, then part of what they’re doing is hurting themselves through slowing the momentum they’ve gathered.

I think fans will come back and I think the revenues will remain good, even if they lock out for a full year.  I just don’t think the league is going to be better off in the long run for it.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/07/12 at 11:26 AM ET

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So the game of football is in and of itself is far superior to hockey. Not my opinion, but I guess it is currently more popular.  Boxing was once the number 1 sport in the nation, but poor marketing and corruption has caused it to be a national after thought.

I don’t agree that boxing was once the #1 sport in the nation.  I would agree that specific fights within the sport of boxing were hugely watched and specific fighters within the sport of boxing were hugely popular, but that’s not the same thing as saying the sport, as a whole was tops.

That aside, boxing isn’t a sport with seasons, it’s a sport with sporadic individual events at which semi-random participants have 3-6 matches.

The NHL doesn’t have to pull past the big three (NEVER part of my argument to pull past, but to learn the proper lessons or shared growth and stability), but if the expansion into the sunbelt is not intended to be paradigm shifting or generate significant growth, then it was a major mistake by the NHL to place teams in markets designed to bring the rest of the league down.

First off, I didn’t say you said the NHL had to pull past any of the big three.  I’m simply pointing out I find it pretty much impossible for the NHL to do so.

Secondly, I agree that moving into the sunbelt was a mistake, but the reality of the vastness of it’s failure in those regions should illuminate how much of a regional, niche sport the NHL is and how that kind of demographic limitation tremendously curtails the leagues economic upside.

Look, if the only people who supported the NBA in a significant way were in the south and west while the majority of the northeast didn’t give a flip… they’d be the NHL.  That’s pretty much the opposite of the NHL’s attendance circuit.

If they want to “save” money, fold those teams and be done with it. That would be far greater savings than anything the players could give up. Apparently that is not what the NHL believes either, so there must be areas for significant growth, the NHL just isn’t very good at doing it becasue they rather take a bigger piece of what they have now.

Okay then.  So let’s just suppose for a moment that you are one of the owners of one of these to-be-contracted franchises.  Your response to suggestions of contraction (with their associated evaporation of the 100-200+ million you spent on the team in the first place) is… what, exactly?

So the NHL is still only the original 6 I take it? Did it not go from 6 markets to 30 in the past 40 years? The ratings point argument is meaningless because it is a bigger market today and a more fractured audience. I’d rather have 1% of a million, than 15% of a hundred.

Didn’t you just get done criticizing NHL expansion and suggesting contraction?  To go from that to trumpeting the existence of 30 franchises as evidence of league-wide health strikes me as somewhat counter-intuitive.

That said, the ratings point is most certainly not meaningless because that’s precisely how things like, you know televisions contracts are decided.

So yes, while you are technically correct that it is a fractured marketplace in TV-land, when you don’t draw much more of a share of that market than off-season re-runs of TV dramas it’s really, really difficult to believe that a network with more than half a functioning brain would ever offer much to televise that sport.

Right?

This flatlined league didn’t increase revenue by over a billion dollars since the last CBA? I wish my company was flatlining like that.

You’re not grasping my point.  When I said “The NHL is a flatlined sport, nationally.  It always was, and it always will be.” I was referring to national interest in the sport, and I thought I was doing so fairly obviously.

As I also explained, the ‘growth’ the NHL experiences is due to small attendance growth coupled with more significant ticket price growth.

And hey, a 200 mil a year NBC contract that they didn’t have before helps quite a bit, too.

The point is, the NHL doesn’t hold a more relevant national foothold this year than they did last year, or the year before, or the year before, or the year before… etc, etc, etc.

Point of the matter is that if the NHL wants to be a northern secondary sport and US-wide niche sport, then they should pull out of the southern half of the states and then can continue to try to beat their own workforce into submission with the knowledge that nationwide expansion isn’t a huge concern. But, if they want to get that big television deal to actually try to compete with what the big boys are bringing in, then part of what they’re doing is hurting themselves through slowing the momentum they’ve gathered.

Here’s the problem, JJ.  By jamming NHL hockey into non-traditional markets Bettman tried incredibly hard to do what you are advocating: grow the sport through significantly increased exposure nationwide.

The spectacular failure of that experiment provides proof of the accuracy of my position, namely that on a national level the NHL is an afterthought.

NHL hockey has been in the south for 15 years in Florida, 20 years in Texas, and 15 years out west in Phoenix.  The Kings have been in LA since 1967.  In those terms, has the NHL shown any kind of real growth or put any kind of real roots down that one or two years of suck don’t wash right out?  Not even close.

And in all that time, their national ratings roll right around 1.  Because nationally, nobody cares about the NHL.  At least, not much more than they care about watching The Mentalist over and over again.

So let me see if you guys have a suggestion what the NHL could do to get a noteworthy TV deal from some network that hasn’t happened over the past 20 years already?

Posted by HockeyinHD on 09/07/12 at 04:15 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Here’s the problem, JJ.  By jamming NHL hockey into non-traditional markets Bettman tried incredibly hard to do what you are advocating: grow the sport through significantly increased exposure nationwide.

The spectacular failure of that experiment provides proof of the accuracy of my position, namely that on a national level the NHL is an afterthought.

What spectacular failure? Isn’t the league sitting on it’s first actual decently-sized national television contract which still pays them $200M whether or not they have a season?

It’s not as big a deal as the other three sports have, but it’s the biggest damn deal they’ve ever gotten and it’s supposed to build up to an even bigger one.  Part of the problem of how the sport hasn’t grown enough to garner a bigger deal than the one they just got is that they’ve created two work-stoppages in those 20 years which have killed momentum which would have gone into increasing the television deal.

The NHL is watched by more people now than it ever has been, it has a better television deal than it ever has, and is building off an expansion plan that they’ve damaged which already called for a generation of league strength which didn’t happen. The NHL makes more revenue than they ever have before and that’s even factoring in inflationary measures. 

The growth of the national television market isn’t overnight and growing the game in a region where you’ve previously had zero exposure might actually take more than 20 years.  But the game HAS been growing. Intentionally stunting that growth for the short-term is foolish if they’re going to continue trying to create it (which they obviously are).

So yes, we agree that if the NHL wanted to give up that plan, then the idea of locking out their own players to get a bigger slice of a smaller pie isn’t that harmful because they’ll make it back up and more in the intermediate run.  It seems we just disagree on whether they actually should be doing that.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/07/12 at 04:37 PM ET

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Didn’t you just get done criticizing NHL expansion and suggesting contraction?

No, I said that IF the league felt they were not going to have a paradigm shifting increase in revenue THEN they would be better off contracting than getting concessions from the players. The NHL does NOT believe this and neither do I. You believe the NHL has flatlined. The NHL is working at cross purposes.

So let me see if you guys have a suggestion what the NHL could do to get a noteworthy TV deal from some network that hasn’t happened over the past 20 years already?

Not shut down the league every four years and allow the game to gain some traction among the casual fans. Wasn’t this the argument all along?

And hey, a 200 mil a year NBC contract that they didn’t have before helps quite a bit, too.

Thanks for making our point.

 

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 09/10/12 at 03:44 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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