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The Lockout Commissioner

from Jack Todd at the Montreal Gazette,

You get the feeling that Gary Bettman loves his lockouts. This is Bettman’s thing. Shut down the league. Grind the players to powder. Go back to the owners and get his own salary bumped up for having satisfied the owners’ greed.

Then come back five or 10 years later and say that the salary system he shut down the league to get is unworkable, so he has to shut it down again. Why? Because he wants to. Because he can.

Last time round, it seemed like the owners had a case. We were on the fence, until the latter stages of the lockout, when Bettman morphed into Richard M. Nixon.

This time, it is Bettman who has presented an entirely irrational plan, one the NHLPA would be mad to accept — and it is PA executive director Donald Fehr who responded with a response so rational, so well thought out, that we actually hoped Bettman might accept it, at least as a starting point for a new approach.

continued

 

 

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

Comments

George Malik's avatar

It takes one to know one, and the thoroughly loony Jack Todd is right on about Gary Bettman.

No other sane business would cease operations for an entire year to get labor costs under control, craft a collective bargaining agreement to link salaries to a fixed percentage of league-wide revenues, and, when it became apparent that a business plan wasn’t going to solve the problem of financial inequities between smaller and larger franchises, to simply demand that labor bail out the owners so that they could kick the can down the line until lockouts four and five take place—all while never addressing the fundamental problems which the business faces as a whole and as 30 franchises.

It’s nuts. Plain old nuts.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 08/19/12 at 04:39 PM ET

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It takes one to know one, and the thoroughly loony Jack Todd is right on about Gary Bettman.

You can be pretty certain that when Jack Todd thinks something, it is fuched up!

Posted by timbits on 08/19/12 at 05:02 PM ET

Kate from Pa.-made in Detroit's avatar

What is unworkable is 30 teams. Start there.

Lets Go Red Wings!!!!! In’13

Posted by Kate from Pa.-made in Detroit on 08/19/12 at 07:18 PM ET

Kate from Pa.-made in Detroit's avatar

I almost forgot. Thanks Gary. Ass.

Lets Go Red Wings!!!!! In’13?

Posted by Kate from Pa.-made in Detroit on 08/19/12 at 07:27 PM ET

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What is unworkable is 30 teams. Start there.

Funny so called fans who you want less hockey not more.

Posted by timbits on 08/19/12 at 07:49 PM ET

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Any sane business owner knows that if he has retail outlets that are failing, the smart thing to do is close those stores and let the strong ones thrive.  Somewhere down the line you find new locations to re-open the failed stores, but to insist revenue sharing is the answer is just bad business.

Successful stores can prop up failing stores for only so long before the whole chain goes tits up.

Bettman has to realize that the failing teams are going to drag the successful teams into the toilet with his revenue sharing scheme.

If the league can’t support 30 teams the contraction is the only answer. Eventually, the league may be able to support 30 teams, but until there are 30 healthy markets then shrink the league to fit the economy.

Posted by Hockeytown Wax on 08/19/12 at 07:58 PM ET

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Has Todd never heard a Lennon solo album? Yuck.

Posted by Alan on 08/19/12 at 08:10 PM ET

Kate from Pa.-made in Detroit's avatar

Funny so called fans who you want less hockey not more.

Posted by timbits on 08/19/12 at 06:49 PM ET

How’s Atlanta working out? Twice. Oh, wait….......

Lets Go Red Wings!!!!! In’13?

Posted by Kate from Pa.-made in Detroit on 08/19/12 at 08:25 PM ET

clownfat's avatar

I keep seeing people suggest that the league cut a couple teams… why on earth would the players be okay with a 6.66% decrease in labor force? The NHL suggesting they would do so will not help the dispute it will make it worse.

Posted by clownfat on 08/19/12 at 08:40 PM ET

RWBill's avatar


What is unworkable is 30 teams. Start there.

Funny so called fans who you want less hockey not more.

Posted by timbits on 08/19/12 at 06:49 PM ET

Huh?

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with Super Creepy Rob Lowe. on 08/19/12 at 10:09 PM ET

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Funny so called fans who you want less hockey not more.

Why does wanting fewer teams equal wanting less hockey?

Posted by Garth on 08/19/12 at 10:15 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

Funny so called fans who you want less hockey not more.

Posted by timbits on 08/19/12 at 06:49 PM ET

I’ll take better hockey over less hockey.  A less diluted talent base?  A higher percentage of team owners that give a rats ass about good hockey?  Fewer teams in bad markets that are an embarrassment to the game?  Yeah.  This FAN would like to see ALL of that.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/19/12 at 10:38 PM ET

Keyser S.'s avatar

  What is unworkable is 30 teams. Start there.

Funny so called fans who you want less hockey not more.

Posted by timbits on 08/19/12 at 06:49 PM ET

A 20 team league would produce some great hockey. A 40 team league not so much. What league would you rather watch? Those are two extremes, but you get the point?

Posted by Keyser S. on 08/19/12 at 11:00 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Because contraction is not part of Bettman’s business plan, he needs to better address the means by which the wealthier teams can find a more appealing way of subsidizing their “weaker sisters.”

The answer is not to simply suggest that the current business plan will work based upon reducing labor costs alone. That’s clearly only effective for short periods of time, and will not address the fundamental inequities between teams.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 08/19/12 at 11:13 PM ET

Guilherme's avatar

why on earth would the players be okay with a 6.66% decrease in labor force?

Let the teams carry a 24 or 25-men roster. Same number of players, but playing on profitable markets.

Because contraction is not part of Bettman’s business plan

Like his evil master David Stern, his ego feels like contraction would hurt him in a way a lockout (or multiple lockouts) doesn’t.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 08/19/12 at 11:25 PM ET

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And also, the ‘problem’ isn’t that there are 28 strong teams and two weak ones… the ‘problem’ is that there are 5-9 weak teams, 15 strong ones, and 4-10 that float around the break even point, more or less.

Contraction won’t fix anything unless you’re talking about contracting all of the weak teams, which is patent insanity.  What, do those owners who bought those clubs get nothing?  Just an IOU and season tickets somewhere else?  Stop it.  The NHL would have to cut a check for 150-200 million minimum per contracted franchise, and that plain old fashioned ain’t ever gonna happen.

I say ‘problem’ because, really, Bettman has no idea what the problem actually is.  All he is trying to do is paper over the symptoms of the problem by wringing money out of the players.

Even if he gets every single thing he and the ownership wants (again), there will still be a cavernous gulf between the small-market teams and the big market teams, the only real difference is the small market teams will be breaking even instead of losing 15 mil a year while the big market teams will just be making 15 mil a year more.

So, while a hard cap mitigates the impact of that gulf to a certain degree, the big market teams will be able to hire all the best coaches, have all the best organizational staffs, spend loads more cash on drafting and scouting, have nicer rinks, nicer facilities, better planes, etc etc etc.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 08/19/12 at 11:28 PM ET

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Let the teams carry a 24 or 25-men roster. Same number of players, but playing on profitable markets.

Unless you’re planning on increasing the number of guys out on the ice at the same time, why would any team actually carry that many guys?  A whole load of teams don’t carry a full 23 now.

Like his evil master David Stern, his ego feels like contraction would hurt him in a way a lockout (or multiple lockouts) doesn’t.

It would.  The NHL would have to buy out the current owner(s), which is a negative around 100 times more substantial than merely losing hockey-related revenues, considering hockey related costs go out the door during a lockout as well.

Put differently, the entirety of the players slice of the pie is profit.  The tiny minority of the owners slice of the pie is profit.  This is why labor always loses in a labor shortage.  The instances where this is not true are in the days of yore in the auto industry where a strike at a critical plant could shut down production on a continent. while the company still had loads of overhead.

The owners just shutter everything non-essential and wait it out.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 08/19/12 at 11:33 PM ET

NIVO's avatar

O.K., i really hate having this thought and i know NONE of you like the idea i’m about to propose but here it is. Keep in mind its to help save hockey as we go forward, and to help small market teams. Nothing more, nothing less. Advertisement deals for small market teams to generate revenue. Yes it means ads on uniforms or even ice surfaces. And I must reiterate that I also hate it the same as you do. But what else can you do to generate revenue for the less fortunate teams, that doesn’t take money from the large market teams? Or take away even more money from players that have given up much from the last CBA? Its not fair to the players to keep giving up their livelihood and the large market teams are “penalized” for making more money than other teams by giving up a chunk. Both ways are crap, and all that happens is what we have now. The bickering back and forth when so much is at stake. So, in turn let’s see what we can do outside the box(NHL).

    The advertising for revenue. Yes I’m talking about ads(small patches) or even ice ads. Let’s start off small with something like 3-5 ad deals max per club. Agreements would be made by teams, submitted and approved by NHL to go through. Any team that hits under XXXX amount of dollars at the end of the season would be eligible for this program. Teams that profit above this determined amount would be ineligible. The league determines by committee the size of these ads/patches. To get this started, let’s say the deals would be set according to whatever length of current CBA there is. In other words, if a 5 year deal is reached for CBA, the ad program would be set for 5 years as well. Let’s also say this first 5 year is a trial run on this program. If it doesn’t work out, the league scraps it. But heck, atleast something was tried. All the finer points could be hammered out, etc etc. The thing is, trying and using an idea as far fetched as this sounds, is what it is; trying. This doesn’t take money from other clubs(causing bickering between ownership groups) and it takes no money from players. So what is the harm in trying a program like this? Really, just making your jerseys/pants or even helmets cheesed up a bit i suppose. But come on, if your a die hard tried and true hockey fan, wouldn’t you like to say atleast they tried something to help save hockey as we know and possibly even grow the sport? I would, I don’t wanna throw in the towel so easily, and they shouldn’t either.

Posted by NIVO from underpants gnome village on 08/20/12 at 03:12 AM ET

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I think Todd belongs in an asylum.  Nixon?  He’s about as relevant to today as Andrew Jackson.  Bettman is the face of the owners.  It’s the owners not Bettman.  Vilifying Bettman is missing the forest for the trees. 

Don’t refer to any of this lunatics articles anymore LOL Unless for comic relief.

Posted by 13 user names on 08/20/12 at 09:44 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

“Hey guys, you know that ridiculously bloated television contract we’ve been chasing? No, not the one signed by NBC recently, but the one where multiple networks are making seriously high bids to cover our sport and which take some of the pressure off us being a gate-driven league? You know the business model that we’d love to have?

Yeah, my idea for that is that we abandon the American Southeast. Television networks would love a sport which only reaches about half the US population.”

The NHL talent pool isn’t too-diluted, the way the game has been called got screwy again. You give an inherent advantage to the strategies which obstruct talent and of course it’s going to look like there’s just not enough talent out there.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/20/12 at 09:52 AM ET

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I agree why would a fan want less hockey?  Why not go back to 6?  Play a 60 game schedule?  I hope there are more teams.  More teams =more interest.  More interest more players to choose from.  Better hockey. 

So much sour grape negativity from a lot of fans.  I don’t care about the CBA.  I want my hockey.

Posted by 13 user names on 08/20/12 at 11:36 AM ET

bezukov's avatar

I agree why would a fan want less hockey?  Why not go back to 6?  Play a 60 game schedule?  I hope there are more teams.  More teams =more interest.  More interest more players to choose from.  Better hockey. 

So much sour grape negativity from a lot of fans.  I don’t care about the CBA.  I want my hockey.

Posted by 13 user names on 08/20/12 at 10:36 AM ET

More interest?  Like there was in Atlanta…. twice?  More interest due to more franchises is nice and all, but they still have to generate enough interest to put asses in seats.  More teams doesn’t necessarily equal more interest overall.  Even successful markets would benefit from having fewer low interest matchups in their buildings.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/20/12 at 11:47 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

More interest?  Like there was in Atlanta…. twice?

I guarantee you there was more interest in Atlanta three years ago than there is now.

I’m not quite sure how you equate having fewer fans with having more people in seats. If we want to seriously talk about relocating some teams like Phoenix or the Islanders because of special conditions, then ok, but i don’t think you get a bigger market overall by having fewer teams.

Hell, the Winnipeg Jets weren’t any better than the Atlanta Thrashers and they drew WAY better on the road. If we’re talking about cutting some of the fat based on how well they draw fans to arenas in better markets, then your Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings are on the cutting block as the worst road-draw in the entire league last season. Calgary was 26th in the league.

If the concept is that the best of North American Hockey can’t have 30 successful teams to draw interest, then I disagree.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/20/12 at 12:01 PM ET

Kate from Pa.-made in Detroit's avatar

If the concept is that the best of North American Hockey can’t have 30 successful teams to draw interest, then I disagree.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/20/12 at 11:01 AM ET

But, that is what is happening. Phoenix draws 12,0000 fans at best. Out of those fans,  almost half are fans of the opposing teams that the Yotes are playing against. . It is a transient town.  There is no true fan base for Hockey in Phoenix.  Then, we have the smaller market teams sucking the revenue from the bigger market teams.

These are markets where the sport just isn’t growing a fan base. I say pair down the league, or, at least relocate some of these franchises to Canada. Correct me if I am wrong, but, I don’t think the Jets qualified for revenue sharing this season because they made enough money. One good move by the NHL.

All one has to do is to look at The Leafs, who,have the highest revenues of all Teams in the NHL, and, excel at suck. Still, they are the top dogs when it comes to making MONEY. Fan loyalty is what makes the money machine go round and round.

The model is not working here in the States. Give Canada a shot if you do not want to cut financially unstable teams from the NHL. Otherwise, give em’ the axe.

Lets Go Red Wings!!!!! In’13

Posted by Kate from Pa.-made in Detroit on 08/20/12 at 02:26 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Paring down the league to end the dilution of the talent pool and moving the failing Coyotes to a better market are competing concepts in this discussion.

Sure, move the ‘Yotes because the move from Phoenix to Glendale created a shitty arena deal and the owner who cashed in the real estate and then bowed out of owing the sacrificial lamb of a team launched them into an ugly battle which poisoned the well.

Phoenix didn’t fail simply because there’s not a way to create a hockey market there.

Regardless of the nuances, Phoenix failed though.

BUT, there is a severe difference between saying explode the franchise for the good of the game and saying move them to a better market.  I’m all in the move them to a better market camp because I don’t feel that hockey is better as a sport with 29 teams instead of 30.

I don’t know how we can say the model isn’t working in the states to the point where we’d just simply end the existence of 2, 3, maybe even 6 teams so soon after the NHL got the biggest television deal and brought in the most revenues since the league existed. The model works when people don’t screw with the model.

If the problem is that hockey isn’t exciting enough for some people, then I say call the rules like they were supposed to have. It’s hilarious that hockey suddenly got so boring last year in a year where there’s a calculable difference in the way penalties were called and people are instead saying it’s because there are simply too many teams in existence for it to not be boring.

I don’t have a problem with moving struggling teams to places where they won’t struggle. The Coyotes and the Islanders would be my first choices. I just don’t agree that the NHL would have a better on-ice product with fewer teams.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/20/12 at 02:56 PM ET

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