Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 08/12/12 at 09:06 PM ET
A Globe and Mail editorial,
National Hockey League teams, particularly in this country, enjoy a rather enviable arrangement with their fans. No matter how much they raise prices – for tickets, for merchandise, for concessions – supporters keep showing up, in some cases regardless of whether the teams win very often.
And yet those teams and their players continue to have a difficult time living up to their end of the bargain – which is simply playing the games they are scheduled to play. It was less than eight years ago that the NHL missed an entire season because of a labour dispute. With commissioner Gary Bettman threatening yet another lockout if there is no new collective agreement with the players’ association by Sept. 15, it now appears headed toward its third lengthy work stoppage in the past two decades.
With fewer teams facing financial difficulties than previously, the latest trouble appears to be caused less by urgent flaws in the NHL’s business model than by a dispute over how to divvy up the spoils of fans’ loyalty. Players now receive a 57-per-cent share of (consistently rising) revenues; team owners think it should be well below half.
Neither side seems to feel a great imperative to reach a compromise. The league and the union appear to have been emboldened by the response to the last lockout; if fans returned in droves then, they surely would again.
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