Misguided emphasis

Discussion in 'The Business of Hockey' started by RingWraith, Nov 5, 2005.

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  1. RingWraith

    RingWraith Registered User

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    This is probably the Bettman influence, but the NHL seems to me to be spearheaded with an extremely misguided demeanor towards the development and sustainment of the fanbase. For some reason there is a trend to force hockey onto non-traditional markets with "potential" needlessly, ceaselessly and ultimately wastefully. Naturally here comes the uproar from the south. Please shut up and listen. I am not at all parading some arrogant ideal that any team south of Philadelphia and Denver should callapse and move north. Risk taking is apart of business and experimentation in risky but potentially lucrative markets is something I accept. But only in moderation and within logical bounds.

    There is a much better place to be focusing such efforts right now. I'm talking about struggling traditional markets that innately have much larger potential fanbases. It should be an absolute priority of the NHL's to advertise the hell out of hockey and ensure a quality product in markets such as Chicago, New York city and Boston. These are sports markets where hockey has seen glory in the past, and where great potential still exists. Unfortunately though the sport we all love has been relegated to a tertiary thought in cities like these. Can we not all agree that a vibrantly healthy franchise and hockey culture in Chicago is more valuable to the NHL than continued efforts in Phoenix or Carolina or Nashville?
     
  2. Resolute

    Resolute Registered User

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    What exactly do you want the NHL to do? Force Calgary to trade Iginla to Chicago and Tampa to trade Lecavalier to Boston? There is nothing the NHL can actively do to force incompetent teams to improve. The league's job is merely to oversee the sport as a whole, and ensure that everyone is treated fairly.

    Also, lets face it. Hockey has always been tertiary in these three markets. Baseball and Football have been the dominant sports for decades.
     
  3. Sens Rule

    Sens Rule Registered User

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    They could force Chicago to put home games on TV. Might be nice to have the 3rd largest US market actually get to watch hockey.
     
  4. Crazy_Ike

    Crazy_Ike Cookin' with fire.

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    Chicago should know to do so on their own, if they weren't owned by a dinosaur. I'm not sure the league can legally do anything to "force" them.
     
  5. Sotnos

    Sotnos Registered User

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    No :shakehead

    If Chicago wants to shoot themselves in the foot by not even televising games, I don't see what the League or anyone else can do about it.
     
  6. Sp5618

    Sp5618 Registered User

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    What is the NHL's Objective?

    As far as typical fans are concerned, you are right. We only need to care that "our" team is doing well, and that we have enough legitimate competition to keep things interesting. In a broad sense, we could say we care about hockey too, so we want to see it succeed in general.

    However....the league has been chasing that national TV contract for over 30 years now! They will never get it without large market interest, and the pillars of that have to be NYC, Chicago and metro LA. We can get Squiddy in here to order the rest of the markets up after these three, but it cannot be done without them.

    So, if the NHL's primary objective is still a TV contract in the US, it is important that Chicago is a "healthy" market. Isn't this what drove the NHL's expansion plan to begin with, and why Bettman was brought over from the NBA?
     
  7. GSC2k2*

    GSC2k2* Guest

    Both Phoenix/Carolina/Nashville and Chicago are equally important.

    Any league in any sport is only as strong as its weakest link. A strong Chicago franchise and a woeful sunbelt are as bad as the reverse.
     
  8. Sp5618

    Sp5618 Registered User

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    Hey, you are here too , I noticed. I was famous for saying that about a year ago, the weakest link bit. It is true. Businesses need to grow and expand, but the trick is in balancing themselves out so that they are not overextended. A link at a time, 2 links? It could be that they pushed for expansion too quickly. We won't know until the new CBA at least alleviates the pressure on some points. The other issues that affect the popularity of the NHL, or lack thereof, are not solely dependent on economics. The table has been set at this point, so the course cannot be so easily - and painlessly - altered.
     
  9. GSC2k2*

    GSC2k2* Guest

    Yeah, i've been here for a while. I get a better reception here than on Tb's board, I would say.
     
  10. kdb209

    kdb209 Global Moderator

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    I agree that it is important to make all markets as strong as possible, but I think you are over generalizing a bit here.

    Do you really think the NHL as a whole was only as strong as the Kansas City Scouts, Cleveland Barons, and Hartford Whalers?

    The league as a whole needs to balance the large established markets which bring in the most current revenues but have limited possibilities for growth and new non traditional markets which may not bring in the revenue of a NY, Detroit, or Toronto, but provide untapped growth opportunities.

    And new CBA or not, this is still a Darwinian business, and it may very well be that in the long run, the league as a whole may be better off with relocated teams in Houston, Portland, or Vegas, than in <insert your favorite expansion whipping boy here>, but that's not our decision (or really the league's) to make. That will be up to the current (and potential future) individual team owners or ownership groups.
     
  11. Sp5618

    Sp5618 Registered User

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    Careful with using terms like Darwinian, or someone might come up with the idea that the NHL is really governed by Intelligent Design!

    The complexity of the new CBA alone could be used as evidence.[​IMG]
     
  12. Hoek

    Hoek Stanley Principal

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    That was the MLS approach in the early years, and all it led to was contraction of the teams they poached for talent, and no better attendance in the big markets.
     
  13. CHRDANHUTCH

    CHRDANHUTCH Registered User

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    There are 2 franchises in Chicago

    who is the better franchise Blackhawks or Wolves??????? Think about it ;)
     
  14. kdb209

    kdb209 Global Moderator

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    It doesn't matter.

    The Hawks are Wirtz' toy and he can do pretty much what he wants with them - televise games, not televise games, whatever - and there's not a thing the league can do about it.
     
  15. GSC2k2*

    GSC2k2* Guest

    I agree with everything you say here, except for the part quoted above (with which I infer you disagree). When teams are in trouble, all teams suffer. The NHL has suffered from the multiple bankruptcies in the last few years. All teams suffer from that. Perhaps it does not affect attendance in their arenas, but it affects sponsorships, tv contracts, future growth, future expansion, etc. So, yes, the league is only as good as its weakest franchise makes it.
     
  16. kdb209

    kdb209 Global Moderator

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    I think we'll have to agree to disagree then. I try to avoid absolutist views and sweeping generalizations and look at specific individual situations.

    Yes, if there are a significant number of trouble franchises, then yes that is a significant indicator of the health of the league. This is especially true if the root cause issues are league wide structural issues - see the disparity of revenue and payrolls before the lockout.

    But, the health of one or two troubled franchises do not reflect the health of the entire league. Yes, they might have a marginal impact on league wide issues as TV deals, sponsorships, etc, but the NHL (unlike the NFL and the NBA) is driven much more by regional revenues (gate, local corporate support, and local cable deals), so it is quite possible that the league as a whole could be doing fine, seeing overall attendance and revenue growth, while still having one or two franchises with issues.

    If this post-lockout attendance boom continues, league wide revenues recover and then exceed pre-lockout levels over the next several years, and some/most of the non-traditional markets show growth, then I would say the league is healthy, even if there may still be one or two problem franchises - due to market issues, arena/lease/revenue issues, or external financial factors of the owners.

    The ultimate solution in those cases is either an owner willing to cut payroll and/or absorb loses, or one that eventually moves or sells the team. As I said, it's a Darwinian business and it may in the long run be better for the league as a whole for there to be teams in Houston, Portland, or Vegas than in <you know who you're thinking about here>.
     
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