What the NHL needs to fix its labour problems: more Canada


Mowich
#1
So who’s to blame? There is no disguising the obvious candidate


Canada has made two significant contributions to professional sporting success: the Stanley and Grey Cups. Too bad these storied trophies are heading in opposite directions.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Grey Cup and the league has commissioned a specially designed train to mark the occasion with a cross-country journey bringing this momentous event closer to fans. Over at the National Hockey League, things aren’t as celebratory, historic, or fan friendly.

Hockey’s current collective bargaining agreement is set to expire and, with no progress in sight, Canadian hockey fans must now steel themselves for a third lockout in just 18 years. So who’s to blame?

The obvious candidate is NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. As Maclean’s national correspondent Jonathon Gatehouse details in his upcoming book The Instigator: How Gary Bettman Remade the League and Changed the Game Forever, since coming to power in 1993 Bettman has ushered in an era of tremendous change for the NHL, including massive revenue increases, huge player contracts and a controversial expansion across the southern United States. The league today is very much Bettman’s vision.

Under his guidance, the owners dominated the players during the 2004 lockout. At the cost of a lost season, the owners successfully forced players to accept a salary cap. Their victory was so complete it led to the immediate departure of players’ association head Bob Goodenow.

Having tasted success, the owners are now back looking for more. The initial offer from the NHL this summer proposed to take the players’ cut of total revenues from the current 57 per cent to 43 per cent. A subsequent proposal has offered players something closer to 46 per cent of the action. Not surprisingly, negotiations have broken down.

The owners’ argument is that the economics of hockey have changed substantially since their last victory, and thus many teams are now struggling to survive. Of course such a situation is entirely of Bettman’s making. The teams in the weakest financial condition are those in unlikely U.S. locations such as Columbus or Phoenix. There is no Canadian financial crisis in hockey.

Players have responded with a scheme that would see owners share revenues in order to prop up financially weaker teams, plus a three-year reduction in players’ share of revenues.

We thus have two distinct and competing visions of hockey economics. One entails a new, lower salary cap to keep poor clubs afloat. The other sees a more financially integrated league with a temporary reduction in costs. What’s best for fans? Whatever plan avoids the need for a lockout every time a collective bargaining agreement expires. That means healthy and sustainable hockey economics at every arena.

The problem with Bettman’s current scheme is that its advantages vary hugely from city to city. Cutting the salary cap from the current $70.2 million per team to $58 million, as the NHL’s latest offer contemplates, may bring temporary financial relief to teams in Phoenix or Columbus, where fans are scarce. However, for currently profitable teams that play to sellout crowds (the Montreal Canadiens or Toronto Maple Leafs), such a cost-cutting move will be nothing short of a cash bonanza.

The ultimate goal of the NHL should be to see all teams make a comfortable profit. Simply lowering the salary cap without changing other features of the league will only entrench the financial disparities between teams. We can also expect this approach to lead to further demands for lower salary caps in the future if teams in poor locations continue to limp along.

The only real, sustainable answer to hockey’s tricky economics is to ensure every team is in a city with fans prepared to support their team. And that inevitably means less Sunbelt hockey.

Last year, prior to the Atlanta Thrashers’ move to Winnipeg, the Mowat Centre for Policy Innovation at the University of Toronto calculated Canada could support up to 12 NHL teams. Such a conclusion was based on the fact hockey depends for the most part on gate revenues and Canadian television rights.

The report noted the five (at the time) Canadian teams produced a third of total NHL revenues. Want to fix hockey? Give Canadian fans more teams to cheer for.

From this perspective, the player proposal comes out the winner. It requires Bettman and the owners to take proper responsibility for the strategic flaw of creating so many weak teams in the first place and offers the league a three-year transition period to fix it. This ought to be plenty of time to arrange moving notices for U.S. teams that will never be profitable whatever the salary scale. Oh, and Quebec City’s new NHL-sized arena should be open by 2015. Just saying.

What the NHL needs to fix its labour problems: more Canada - Opinion - Macleans.ca (external - login to view)





 
wulfie68
#2
More simplistic, quasi nationalistic tripe.

Bettman is not the source of all that is wrong with the NHL: he is a figurehead assigned to do the bidding of the owners... you know those same owners of Maple Laughs, Canadiens, Senators, Canuckleheads, Flames, Oilers and Jets that want more return on investment as their US counterparts. Blaming Bettman for the labour issues in the NHL is like blaming Don Cherry for fighting. I don't really care for Bettman: I think he's a smarmy little twerp, but I'm not going to blame him for crap thats not his fault... and I remember he DID do his damnedest to stop the Oilers from moving, and he tried to stop the Jets from moving to Phoenix as well. He was also willing to work with the Board of Governors to bring teams back to Minnesota and Winnipeg.

Also, if we are looking at an NHL team coming to Canada, Quebec City is not the natural fit, with its small population and smaller corporate base: Southern Ontario is the better choice, be it Hamilton or closer to Hogtown. If you look at the way the demographics of the country, Regina or Saskatoon would be a better choice for an NHL franchise than Quebec City, new stadium or no.

The big fallacy in this opinion piece, however, is that somehow Canadians are morally superior to, and thus more deserving than our American neighbours. "They don't appreciate our game and just want to milk it, so they don't deserve it" is the theme and its shortsighted and false. The comparison of the Grey Cup and the Stanley Cup is absolutely ridiculous as well: for the past couple decades, the CFL has been searching for a way to simply survive while the NHL has grown, despite the struggles of a few individual franchises.

The OP is just another simplistic wrong answer to more complex issues, but its gist will get some traction from people too lazy to think and/or too prejudiced against the US to want to be honest.
 
Mowich
#3
Quote: Originally Posted by wulfie68View Post

More simplistic, quasi nationalistic tripe.
Bettman is not the source of all that is wrong with the NHL: he is a figurehead assigned to do the bidding of the owners... you know those same owners of Maple Laughs, Canadiens, Senators, Canuckleheads, Flames, Oilers and Jets that want more return on investment as their US counterparts. Blaming Bettman for the labour issues in the NHL is like blaming Don Cherry for fighting. I don't really care for Bettman: I think he's a smarmy little twerp, but I'm not going to blame him for crap thats not his fault... and I remember he DID do his damnedest to stop the Oilers from moving, and he tried to stop the Jets from moving to Phoenix as well. He was also willing to work with the Board of Governors to bring teams back to Minnesota and Winnipeg.
Also, if we are looking at an NHL team coming to Canada, Quebec City is not the natural fit, with its small population and smaller corporate base: Southern Ontario is the better choice, be it Hamilton or closer to Hogtown. If you look at the way the demographics of the country, Regina or Saskatoon would be a better choice for an NHL franchise than Quebec City, new stadium or no.
The big fallacy in this opinion piece, however, is that somehow Canadians are morally superior to, and thus more deserving than our American neighbours. "They don't appreciate our game and just want to milk it, so they don't deserve it" is the theme and its shortsighted and...

Quote has been trimmed, See full post: View Post
Glad to see you weigh in, wulfie. Though I don't agree with all you wrote, I do agree that Buttman is not to be held totally responsible for the current state of negotiations. It is the owners - including Canadian team owners - who I hold in contempt. They won't be happy until they are able to suck every last dollar they can out of the pockets of the very men who helped build their huge bank accounts.
 
wulfie68
+1
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by MowichView Post

Glad to see you weigh in, wulfie. Though I don't agree with all you wrote, I do agree that Buttman is not to be held totally responsible for the current state of negotiations. It is the owners - including Canadian team owners - who I hold in contempt. They won't be happy until they are able to suck every last dollar they can out of the pockets of the very men who helped build their huge bank accounts.

And I totally agree with you. The owners won the last round of labour negotiations handily and they still whine that they can't make enough but its their own damned fault: to paraphase Bruce Dowbiggin of the Calgary Herald a couple years ago, Bob Clarke, the Esposito brothers and their ilk aren't qualified to manage a fast food joint, but there they are calling the shots for multi-million dollar organizations. Scouts, yes; coaches, possibly; directors of player personnel, possibly; GMs and CEOs, no.
 
TenPenny
#5
Bettman is doing what the owners want. If he wasn't, the owners would get rid of him.

Does it make sense? Not necessarily. But then again, for the players to get 57% of the revenue share doesn't make sense to me. On the other hand, if the owners weren't willing to pay so much, the players wouldn't get paid so highly.

I'd be disappointed if there was a lockout, but in the end, since I don't work for a rink or a team, who cares?
 
Mowich
#6
Quote: Originally Posted by TenPennyView Post

Bettman is doing what the owners want. If he wasn't, the owners would get rid of him.

Does it make sense? Not necessarily. But then again, for the players to get 57% of the revenue share doesn't make sense to me. On the other hand, if the owners weren't willing to pay so much, the players wouldn't get paid so highly.

I'd be disappointed if there was a lockout, but in the end, since I don't work for a rink or a team, who cares?

I accepted the eventuality of a lock-out awhile ago...........to lessen the shock to my system.

It seems that some hockey pundits and writers deprived of anything substantial to write about the talks are now grabbing at straws.

"If you’re going to argue, it might as well be about divvying up a $3.3-billion pile of loot.

But everyone involved is already fabulously rich and getting richer, so greed seems an unsatisfying and simplistic explanation in analyzing the motives at the NHL bargaining table.

So how’s this for an alternate view: what if ideology is at play in the league’s contract dispute?

It’s established fact that a majority of the group of plutocrats who own NHL franchises is financing the effort to get fellow rich guy Mitt Romney into the White House, but there’s a persuasive argument the guy they really want to see in the executive branch is Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan.

The owners are anything but a homogenous ideological bloc, but at least a few of the voices around the governors’ table subscribe to a stoutly capitalist and virulently anti-union philosophy.

That is to say they’re Rand-ians – adherents to the beliefs of the late polemicist and novelist Ayn Rand – or at very least have strong libertarian sympathies."

More at:

Clash of ideologies: NHL talks not just about money - The Globe and Mail
 
Kreskin
#7
The issue is the owners can't save themselves from handing out long term ridiculously paid salaries. They get in under the cap with 12 year contracts with 10 million paid per year early. All the league needs to do is put a max on terms, like 6-7 years, and make the actual paid amount what impacts the cap. That would stop most of the nonsense that's costing them outrageous amounts of money.
 
talloola
+2
#8  Top Rated Post
Quote: Originally Posted by KreskinView Post

The issue is the owners can't save themselves from handing out long term ridiculously paid salaries. They get in under the cap with 12 year contracts with 10 million paid per year early. All the league needs to do is put a max on terms, like 6-7 years, and make the actual paid amount what impacts the cap. That would stop most of the nonsense that's costing them outrageous amounts of money.

the owners/mgrs have allready stated that they don't want any more long term, front end loaded contracts,
then they quickly contradict their own words by giving out just 'that'.
the owners/mgrs have stated over the years that the salaries must be held in check, then they quickly
compete with each other and pay 'over the top' to win a player.

it is the owners/mgrs who are the children in this picture, and can't control themselves when it comes
to 'getting' players, as they 'want' 'want' 'want', and because they are shrewd business men to begin
with, they end up in a battle with other shrewd businessmen (owners/mgrs) to outbid their opponants,
that is their competetive juices flowing, THEN they blame the players for being greedy. go figure.

just settle at 50/50 for revenue sharing, which it will probably come down to in the end.

the owners/ NHL worked very hard to implement the existing cap, then the lawyers for those owners
quickly got their heads into it, and found a way to 'make mockery' of it, by bringing in the
long term front end loaded contracts.

it is the owners/mgrs who can't be controlled, they speak out if both sides of their mouths.
 
DurkaDurka
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by talloolaView Post

the owners/mgrs have allready stated that they don't want any more long term, front end loaded contracts,
then they quickly contradict their own words by giving out just 'that'.
the owners/mgrs have stated over the years that the salaries must be held in check, then they quickly
compete with each other and pay 'over the top' to win a player.

it is the owners/mgrs who are the children in this picture, and can't control themselves when it comes
to 'getting' players, as they 'want' 'want' 'want', and because they are shrewd business men to begin
with, they end up in a battle with other shrewd businessmen (owners/mgrs) to outbid their opponants,
that is their competetive juices flowing, THEN they blame the players for being greedy. go figure.

just settle at 50/50 for revenue sharing, which it will probably come down to in the end.

the owners/ NHL worked very hard to implement the existing cap, then the lawyers for those owners
quickly got their heads into it, and found a way to 'make mockery' of it, by bringing in the
long term front end loaded contracts.

it is the owners/mgrs who can't be controlled, they speak out if both sides of their mouths.

Well said. It bothers me that people have to suffer for the mistakes of management. No one forced the owners to sign these ridiculous contracts.
 
Mowich
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by talloolaView Post

the owners/mgrs have allready stated that they don't want any more long term, front end loaded contracts,
then they quickly contradict their own words by giving out just 'that'.
the owners/mgrs have stated over the years that the salaries must be held in check, then they quickly
compete with each other and pay 'over the top' to win a player.

it is the owners/mgrs who are the children in this picture, and can't control themselves when it comes
to 'getting' players, as they 'want' 'want' 'want', and because they are shrewd business men to begin
with, they end up in a battle with other shrewd businessmen (owners/mgrs) to outbid their opponants,
that is their competetive juices flowing, THEN they blame the players for being greedy. go figure.

just settle at 50/50 for revenue sharing, which it will probably come down to in the end.

the owners/ NHL worked very hard to implement the existing cap, then the lawyers for those owners
quickly got their heads into it, and found a way to 'make mockery' of it, by bringing in the
long term front end loaded contracts.

it is the owners/mgrs who can't be controlled, they speak out if both sides of their mouths.

Rock on, talloola............my sentiments exactly. Well said.

If there is a light at the end of a lock-out tunnel, it might be that the teams which are struggling to survive right now could be a thing of the past in a post lock-out world. Could we see the collapse of the Phoenix franchise and its subsequent move to a Canadian city- preferably Saskatoon? Something to think about as we search for other forms of entertainment until this dispute is settled. I got my hockey fix this past week as I watched a re-broadcast of the 1987 Canada Cup series.

And let us not forget that while the NHL is a no go, there are other hockey events coming up.

2012 – 2013 International Events

World Junior A Challenge: November 5 – 11, 2012
4 Nations Cup: November 2012
Spengler Cup: December 26 - 31, 2012
World Under 17 Challenge: December 29 – January 4, 2013
World Women’s Under-18 Championship: December 29 – January 5, 2013
Women’s World Championship: April 2 – 9, 2013
Men’s World Under-18 Championship: April 18 – 28, 2013
Men’s World Championship: May 3 – 19, 2013


2012 – 2013 National Events

Women’s Under-18: November 7 – 11, 2012
Allan Cup: April 15 – 20, 2013
Esso Cup: April 2013
Telus Cup: April 22 – 28, 2013
RBC Cup: May 2013
 
talloola
+1
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by MowichView Post

Rock on, talloola............my sentiments exactly. Well said.

If there is a light at the end of a lock-out tunnel, it might be that the teams which are struggling to survive right now could be a thing of the past in a post lock-out world. Could we see the collapse of the Phoenix franchise and its subsequent move to a Canadian city- preferably Saskatoon? Something to think about as we search for other forms of entertainment until this dispute is settled. I got my hockey fix this past week as I watched a re-broadcast of the 1987 Canada Cup series.

And let us not forget that while the NHL is a no go, there are other hockey events coming up.

2012 – 2013 International Events

World Junior A Challenge: November 5 – 11, 2012
4 Nations Cup: November 2012
Spengler Cup: December 26 - 31, 2012
World Under 17 Challenge: December 29 – January 4, 2013
World Women’s Under-18 Championship: December 29 – January 5, 2013
Women’s World Championship: April 2 – 9, 2013
Men’s World Under-18 Championship: April 18 – 28, 2013
Men’s World Championship: May 3 – 19, 2013


2012 – 2013 National Events

Women’s Under-18: November 7 – 11, 2012
Allan Cup: April 15 – 20, 2013
Esso Cup: April 2013
Telus Cup: April 22 – 28, 2013
RBC Cup: May 2013

it seems it could be quebec, seattle or another team in southern ontario, at least that is the chatter
over the past while.
seattle is getting ready to build the multi plex building, which will be offered for a NHL team, and mainly for the NBA, which is what seattle really wants to be
back in their city,as well as an NHL team,
the NHL was contacted to make sure that the building would contain everything needed for a team, i'm
guessing about 5 years.

looks like shane doan has signed in phoenix, kind of glad as now canucks have more money to work with.

burrows has signed a new 4 year contract for 18 million, good for him.
 
Risus
#12
Get rid of yankee Bettman, the owner's boot licking lackie. The owners are their own worst enemy, continually handing out outrageous contracts. They have no consideration for the fans.
The players are a bunch of overpaid crybabies, who have no consideration for the fans.
The solution? Abolish the NHL. Start a new Canadian league. Base salaries for each position, and performance bonuses. No more dogging it once you get a humungous contract...
 
Mowich
#13
Quote: Originally Posted by RisusView Post

Get rid of yankee Bettman, the owner's boot licking lackie. The owners are their own worst enemy, continually handing out outrageous contracts. They have no consideration for the fans.
The players are a bunch of overpaid crybabies, who have no consideration for the fans.
The solution? Abolish the NHL. Start a new Canadian league. Base salaries for each position, and performance bonuses. No more dogging it once you get a humungous contract...

A league of our own entered my mind too, Risus..........until sanity took over and I realized that breaking up the NHL just won't happen. There is far too much moola involved and it goes beyond what the league and players make.

Most athletes are way overpaid. But if someone were to offer me a few million dollars to play, I sure wouldn't turn it down. Again, the owners are to blame for the ridiculous salaries the top NHL players make - they are the ones trying to outbid each other for the best of the best. They are such hypocrites.


Quote: Originally Posted by talloolaView Post

it seems it could be quebec, seattle or another team in southern ontario, at least that is the chatter
over the past while.
seattle is getting ready to build the multi plex building, which will be offered for a NHL team, and mainly for the NBA, which is what seattle really wants to be
back in their city,as well as an NHL team,
the NHL was contacted to make sure that the building would contain everything needed for a team, i'm
guessing about 5 years.

looks like shane doan has signed in phoenix, kind of glad as now canucks have more money to work with.

burrows has signed a new 4 year contract for 18 million, good for him.

I saw an interview with Lu the other day - he was at a golf tournie. He looked so relaxed and spoke of his unity with the team, and that many of them were his friends. Mike Gillis was also interviewed about the Lu question but said little more than he had a lot of different offers to consider - or something to that effect. In any event, doesn't sound like Lu will be going anywhere soon. They can't do anything during the lock-out can they?
 
Liberalman
#14
The owners can afford it so let the players have their merchandising rights.
 
GIANTS_JPP
#15
Well, even though I think you have some solid points. I would have to say I disagree with about 75% of what I’ve read, and I am going to break it down in four easy steps for you. The first is why do you hate Gary Bettman so much? Did he touch you or something? Like the man is doing the best he can, give him a break, the NHL is a money first league if their no money to be made then their should be no sport to be played. The second thing is who cares their all rich and they'll all stay rich. Third it is almost impossible to ensure every team is in a city with fans prepared to support their teams, fans only want to see their team win no one wants to spend hundreds of dollars on tickets to watch their home team lose, teams that win end up doing a lot better then teams that lose. Fourth what makes you think Hamilton or Hog town could do better then Phoenix and Columbus you must be high.
 
damngrumpy
#16
The players are in the drivers seat right now if they stick together. They have money and
no overhead, in the collective sense. The owners have far bigger problems as this thing
continues. If I were the players I would now make the bugg**s beg for a settlement.
Owners were competing with each other for the best and most value and now they are paying
the price of their greed and their bragging rights. I can stand to not see hockey this year after
all there is some really good junior hockey being played. Gary Bettman has to go
 
captain morgan
#17
Quote: Originally Posted by damngrumpyView Post

The players are in the drivers seat right now if they stick together. They have money and
no overhead, in the collective sense. The owners have far bigger problems as this thing
continues. If I were the players I would now make the bugg**s beg for a settlement.
Owners were competing with each other for the best and most value and now they are paying
the price of their greed and their bragging rights. I can stand to not see hockey this year after
all there is some really good junior hockey being played. Gary Bettman has to go


Don't forget that the owners have access to their farm teams and leagues like the WHL, QJMHL, etc.. There may not be that much stopping them from 'firing' all of the players (individual contractual obligations notwithstanding) and starting fresh with the juniors or talent from other leagues.

On top of that, with the relatively short shelf-life of the average player, one lost season can translate into a big percentage of a pro hockey player's entire career.

It wouldn't make life easy for the owners, but maybe this will force the league to let the losing teams go titters and save the profitable and marginally profitable teams.

My opinion is that the players are losing in this deal, and if they decide to hold the league ransom, they will likely be very displeased with the results
 
coldstream
#18
Negotiations seem to have broken down, with acrimonious dueling Press Conferences in New York yesterday.

I still think a deal can be made to save a 48 game season starting in January, the minimum for a season with any kind of integrity according to the League. Given the bitterness of the Press Conferences it seems a deal is increasingly unlikely.

I supported the players in '04 but this time around i think the owners have made a fair proposal for revenue sharing.

The problem with the Players Association is they are working from the premise that Hockey is the "4th Major League Franchise" in the U.S... but in actuality it ranks 7th in box office behind MLB, NFL, NBA, College Football, College Basketball and NASCAR.

Some teams are thriving.. but many are struggling.. some on the verge of collapse. There has to be some realization on the Players part that the wild salaries offered in the last few years aren't sustainable for the League as a whole.. including the guaranteed salaries of 6+ years.. going up to 10.

Personally i've been getting my hockey fix, by watching American College Hockey (with quite a few Canadian players).. the Minnesota Golden Gophers or the North Dakota Fighting Sioux. One of my channels carries a game of the week.

They play a very attractive game on the big European ice, which opens up the game considerably... and wear full wire face masks.. as opposed the half plastic masks mandated by the NHL. The benefits are 1. it allows a much better dissipation of heat AND 2. it is a real disincentive to fighting.

Something the NHL should take note of, when and if they start the season this year.
 

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