Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 08/18/12 at 10:12 AM ET
from Scott Stinson of the National Post,
When Bettman and his allies insist that the league has financial difficulties, what he really means is that a handful of teams bleed money like stuck pigs. Two teams, Phoenix and Columbus, account for almost a third of league losses all on their own. Then there is the evidence of the past summer that suggests even owners from some of the small, low-revenue markets are a hell of a long way from the poor house. Carolina, which lost money last year, signed Jordan Staal to a US$60-million contract extension and gave Alexander Semin a one-year, US$6.7-million deal. Nashville, which lost money, matched Philadelphia’s 14-year, US$110-million bid for Shea Weber. Minnesota, which lost money, gave Ryan Suter and Zach Parise a combinedUS $196-million. These are not the moves of business entities that are teetering on the edge of financial ruin.
The question of what will break the impasse, most likely, will come down to resolve. Every sports lockout involves a group of wealthy owners who did not become wealthy owners by sticking up for one another and looking out for the little guy. These are highly self-interested people. How much patience will the owners of the high-value franchises have for missing games when the only teams suffering under the current system are a smattering of franchises in lousy markets? On the player side, will they stick to their counter-proposal or be cowed if they start missing paycheques?
Fehr, on a conference call with reporters on Friday, allowed that “no players would like to miss games.” But he also said the players are prepared to do so. They gave up an awful lot in the last lockout, he noted, and the owners’ current demands, including a reduction of the players’ share of revenues from 57% to 43%, would see them give all that up again, and more.
“They understand what that means,” he said.
It means the NHL is trying to lean on them. Grind concessions out of them, especially once the missed games begin. In other leagues, the tactic has produced a win.
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