Players or Sweaters

Discussion in 'The Business of Hockey' started by Hockee, Feb 22, 2005.

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  1. Hockee

    Hockee Registered User

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    At this point, it looks like fans are going to have to choose between players and sweaters.

    The blame cannot be placed 100% on the players or the owners for this one. Both sides are to blame at least partially, and to try to blame the one over the other would be shortsighted and pointless. In the beginning, both sides asked for too much, and as the negotiations got more and more heated, both sides did some things that they shouldn't have. Where we are now is that the PA will not budge, and the owners are holding firm because they know that it's good for their financial well-being (and subsequently the league's well-being). A $45m cap would probably be a good thing, but at this point I am excited to see the breakdown in the talks, because this allows for a new era in professional hockey.

    The Union is broken. If the NHL holds firm, the Union is dead. Period. The NHL holds all the cards now, and to give in and sign any sort of deal that does not have ties to revenue or a cap over $40m would be stupid on their part. The PA holds no bargaining power at this point. The NHL has won.

    Basically, a lot of the players currently in the Union would love to be able to play under a $40m cap. You have to remember that the majority of NHL players did not make $8m a year, so the cap is not an issue for them. They would be happy to make $800k a year, much less the $1.6m average that we would see under a $40m cap.

    The NHL at this point has a wonderful opportunity. They have nine months to restructure the league without worrying what the PA will do. The can contract teams if they want to, change rules, do whatever and the PA has nothing to say about it. Don't underestimate the importance of this and what it can do to restore hockey to where it once was and where it should be. There is a huge silver lining to this mess, and the end result could be very good for us as fans.

    First, the NHL needs to contract. Separate the wheat from the chaff. Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Anaheim, Florida and Carolina need to go for sure. The NHL needs to be careful about this, as they don't want to go too far and end up leaving too many quality arenas open for the WHA (more on that in a bit). But these markets cannot sustain an NHL team on their own (Pittsburgh could, but that's a different situation...the 'Guins need to be put out of their misery). Further, the Lightning should "bolt" to Detroit and play in the Palace, which is probably the best arena for hockey in the US. Davidson and Illitch would have to work out a deal, but I don't imagine that this would be THAT big an issue.

    I would also look at combining the Flames and Oilers if it works out economically. I would consider putting another team in Montreal and one in Hamilton if a quality ownership group could be found. Basically, the NHL needs to abandon, for now, the sun belt markets that aren't working out. Stop trying to sell the South on something they don't really want.

    Next, I would talk to the AHL and get them to either come along for the ride or sever ties with them. It's ridiculous for teams like Denver to have their minor league affiliate in Hershey, PA. Philly has it right, with the Phantoms across the street. To build the league as well as this needs to be built, the NHL needs to promote its young players better, and to gain momentum in this area, minor league affiliates need to be closer to their NHL teams.

    To accomplish this, I would have the chief minor league affiliate within an hour or two of the NHL team, with the ECHL-level team a few hours from the minor league team. For example, the Yotes' chief minor league team should be in Tucson or Flagstaff, with their ECHL-level team in Albuquerque (wishful thinking?), Las Cruces or El Paso.

    Don't scoff at this. In Albuquerque, we have the Scorpions, but nobody is a Coyotes fan really. We do have a lot of Dodger fans though, and that is no doubt because the 'Topes are the Dodgers' AAA team. If the Scorps were affiliated with the 'Yotes, Albuquerque could become a viable secondary market for the 'Yotes.

    The idea behind this would be to build regional interest in the teams that isn't there right now.

    The Jackets should be popular in Dayton, Akron and Cinci. The 'Guins (if they are going to continue) should be popular in Wheeling, Youngstown and Morgantown. The Blackhawks should be popular in Milwaukee. You get the point. This is how teams can make a ton of money.

    But I digress...

    The next change that should be made is style of play. The trap is very functional, but it's an ugly thing to watch. The NHL needs to go back to firewagon hockey, as was seen with the Oilers. This could be done by making goalie pads smaller and enforcing the rules that are in place. Get everyone on board from the start and this could happen.

    Most importantly, the NHL can and should negotiate with players individually. The NHLPA is and always has been corrupt. The NHL owners lie about their revenues, but the PA does not serve the best interests of their players as a whole. The Union needs to go, for everyone's sake. The NHL needs to institute a new pay structure tied to revenue, and the books need to be open.

    Everyone gets a fair deal if salaries are tied to revenue. Players know that if they play harder and build their image, the team benefits and they make more money. Owners know that player salaries will never cut into their profits more than a set percentage.

    So what about the players?

    Right now, their options are limited. They can play in Russia, the AHL, or try to help bring the WHA back. The NHL holds all the cards here though, because the NHL controls all the best arenas in North America. The WHA will never compete with the NHL for the same reason that the IHL couldn't when they tried.

    In essence, the players' hands are tied, and that is a GOOD THING for us as fans. If the players had their way, their salaries would escalate uncontrolled and ticket prices would be even more outrageous.

    This whole mess will force the NHL to focus on the fans. They will have to drop ticket prices to get us to come back. They will have to offer more to make up for this. If the NHL is wise, they can turn this into something that cements their niche. Because the way things were going, the NHL was about to die.

    Look at this as an opportunity to retool. If you are a hockey fan, a true fan, you are rooting for these changes to take place. A deal now would be bad for everyone involved.
     
  2. The thought of a European league or any other league becoming more powerful than the NHL is more laughable then Mr.T kicking Goodenow's ass.
     
  3. pacde

    pacde Registered User

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    What would the benefit of amalgamating the two Alberta franchises be? they both have respectable ticket sales and their rivalry generates a lot of interest in the NHL in this part of the world - a part of the world where the kids are inspired to grow up to be hockey players and help provide the NHL with players that will keep the game exciting.

    Not only that, but then you want to put a second team in Montreal? Montreal is in the same financial boat as both Calgary and Edmonton. I think the Hamilton idea might float - or possibly a second Toronto team but I think you are underestimating the people who cheer for the sweater. Most leaf fans, flame fans, hab fans cheer for the logo in front of the jersey over the name on the back and even if you put a second team in Toronto, they wouldnt compete with the leafs for popular support.

    I guess what I read in your blurb is that you consider yourself a hockey fan but would love to change every thing about hockey.
     
  4. Whakahere

    Whakahere Registered User

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    not a hope of a European league going. We don't have the rink sizes and there are too many languages over here. A nightmare to market.

    Basicly Europe is like a small market Canadain team. Many fans just not the resources.
     
  5. A lot of players come from Dirty France, and the rivalry between Montreal and Quebec was just absolutely vicious. Some of those games made the Moore-Bertuzzi incident look like playtime at Ikea. Now THAT was entertainment.
     
  6. pacde

    pacde Registered User

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    How many fans can there be? my understanding is their average rink holds less than 13000 seats and ticket prices rival the beer prices here. I dont get the comparison. I think 'small market' when being used to refer to Canadian teams is a misnomer, they fall into that category because of circumstances beyond their control. Things like the difference in the $, tax structure etc. To use the Flames as an example, they have only fallen below the 16000 average tickets per game twice since they moved to the dome from the Corral and I think the Oilers have similar numbers except for one bad period. These teams have public support and if we can ice a competitive team I think they would be the pride of the NHL. I dont doubt that there are hockey fans in Europe, but I dont see the comparison to Canadian teams.
     
  7. Hockee

    Hockee Registered User

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    Change everything about hockey? Not at all. I want to save hockey. Because the way it is now, it's not going to survive.

    Combining two destitute teams into one might save NHL hockey in Alberta. Otherwise, they are both going away.

    My plan is to try to keep the game the way it is and sell it to people who want to buy it. The way the NHL is headed, they are selling it to people who don't want to buy it. And Mario wants to make it 4 on 4, which is NOT HOCKEY.

    Montreal is not in the same boat as the Alberta teams. Montreal has a large population base to draw from, and there are cities nearby that will help Montreal sustain itself. There are two cities in Alberta and both of them have teams they can't support. That's a recipe for disaster.
     
  8. Hockee

    Hockee Registered User

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    Imagine a new Habs-Maroons rivalry. Maybe do something crazy like have both of their minor league teams be based in Quebec City. Imagine a rivalry that starts in the minors...
     
  9. SuperNintendoChalmrs

    SuperNintendoChalmrs Registered User

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    OUCH!!!!!! ENGRISH PREASE!!!!!!!!!

    :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad:
     
  10. Lanny'sDaMan

    Lanny'sDaMan Registered User

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    As a Die Hard Flames Fan and a die hard hold over from the Battle of Alberta Days I can tell you NO true Hockey fan of either of those teams would be able to stomach such a move. Hell the rivalry went so deep that a true hatred of eachother's cities has developed.
     
  11. pacde

    pacde Registered User

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    Montreal is in the same boat as Calgary or Edmonton because they have similar revenue figures. Actually I think Montreals is a bit higher but pays a higher tax so that makes it about even. And what makes you think the Alberta teams are destitute? I mean if 16-17000 fans a game makes a team destitute, what are we talking about here? Its not like the public isnt supporting the teams here and both of these cities are over a million in population.
    Let me ask you - if a team is run responsibly and has more than 80% attendance and exceeds a million (significantly if you count all the other areas in alberta that are split fanbase to these two teams) in population base (with more than 67% of interviewed people being self described hockey fans) shouldnt that be enough? If these teams are struggling - I think its an indication of a problem with the system rather than 'destitution'. Both of these cities are bigger than Ottawa or Hamilton - maybe you think the sens should be moved to Halifax or something? The real problem here is difference in the dollar and difference in taxes, and these problems arent going away anytime soon. Look at your figures - Montreal isnt bringing in tons of cash either - you are suggesting that Montreal by itself can support two teams but that Alberta and Saskatchewan together can only support one?

    I think the Alberta teams can be a model for the NHL. Both are run relatively responsibly, both have a passionate and vocal fan base, and both are very well supported (contrary to your misinformation).
     
  12. Isles72

    Isles72 Registered User

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    I watched every Islander game pre-Wang , y'know , Tim Connolly #1 centerman lean years .

    so , I do believe the die hard fans of each respective team root for the crest on the front of the jersey
     
  13. Lanny'sDaMan

    Lanny'sDaMan Registered User

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    Very well said!!!! And I think Calgary <and the Bolts sigh> proved that a lower payscale team can do what it takes.
     
  14. i am dave

    i am dave Registered User

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    How much does a loaf of bread go for these days in Moscow?
     
  15. sundstrom

    sundstrom Registered User

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    please stop talking about contraction like it is a remote possibility. it is not. each team contracted would cost more than $150million each for the league to buy out. the lawsuits by the NHLPA (with or without a CBA) would last years, and the franchise values of the other remaining teams would plummet. contracting one team let alone 4 or 5 would be the death of the NHL. they would never get another long-term loan or sponsorship deal for any team or league because of the fear that they could easily be wiped away.

    please do not bring up contraction again unless you can completely account for all of these issues.
     
  16. NYFAN

    NYFAN Registered User

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    2.1 billion in non support! The fact that they don't spend it properly isn't the fans fault.......is it?
     
  17. Sotnos

    Sotnos Registered User

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    Oh yeah, Illitch would have no problem letting someone else in on his "turf! :shakehead That is not to mention that the two reportedly hate each other...

    Funny how you mention all these other teams as targets for contraction, but not the one closest to you. Interesting.

    Sorry, but I must. You're adding a great deal of expense on to these affiliate teams and a TON of travel time. Not feasible..well I guess it might be if you contract all the teams you want to as well.
     
  18. Hockee

    Hockee Registered User

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    OK then, that's very easy.

    First, you have no source for your $150m dollar figure. The league can contract if it wants to. Further, my scenario was a league restructuring. You are playing by today's rules. Today's rules do not apply tomorrow. Today's rules don't even apply today.

    Second, there would be no lawsuits from the NHLPA, because, if you had read my post, you would have seen that the NHLPA would be decertified. The NHLPA would have no more grounds for a suit than would the NFLPA.

    Third, the franchise values would NOT plummet for the remaining teams. Quite the contrary. Ever heard of capitalism? Even if demand were to remain constant, the supply would be smaller. Hence, the value would increase. If Anaheim contracted, that would make LA that much more valuable, because there would be no competition there.

    Long-term loans are always available. The NHL doesn't take them out, individual owners do. And they get money lended to them all the time for things far less economically viable than a hockey team.

    You have no grasp of the concept of capitalism.
     
  19. Hockee

    Hockee Registered User

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    Did I say he would have no problem with it? Nope, I said it wouldn't be THAT big an issue.

    And no, they don't hate each other. They have a friendly rivalry. Illitch-Karmanos, Illitch-Monaghan and even Illitch-Ford are much bigger rivals.

    Contract the 'Yotes. I don't care. It's not going to happen though, because Gretzky is involved with them. The 'Yotes have too much support to be contracted.

    Travel time? Have you looked at the layout of the AHL recently? What's the difference?

    You could even set up a relegation system like they have in European soccer. Wouldn't it be a trip to see the Scorpions in the NHL one day? One season, I should say. Because that's all it would be. One season.

    Talk about driving competition. Who wants to be relegated? Instead of teams tanking it at the end to get the next Patrik Stefan (yippee), a #29 vs #28 matchup in the final week of the season becomes more heated than Canucks-Avs or Leafs-Habs.
     
  20. Bicycle Repairman

    Bicycle Repairman Registered User

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    This is possibly the greatest thread in HF history. Absolutely stunning in its scope and all-encompassing in its breadth.
     
  21. Boltsfan2029

    Boltsfan2029 Registered User

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    It would be a huge issue.

    The fan base for the Auburn Hills Lightning would have to come from Detroit's existing fan base. Mr. Ilitch is too smart a businessman to allow that to happen, and Mr. Davidson is too smart to take a franchise with an existing solid fan base & plunk it down into a situation where it will struggle for years while playing in an empty building.
     
  22. Sotnos

    Sotnos Registered User

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    "Friendly"? That's why Davidson won't set foot in the arena to watch his own team when they're in Detroit.

    Davidson probably wishes he could get the Bolts in the Palace, but there's no way it'll happen. Illitch would be nuts to let someone horn in on his lucrative market.

    Support from who? I just think it's hilarious that a 'Yotes fan is touting his own market while discouting southeastern markets.

    You do realize new teams had to pay expansion fees, don't you? You think the League can just wave a magic wand and make teams disappear for free?
     
  23. Hockee

    Hockee Registered User

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    You mean like how the Vipers sold out the Palace during the playoffs (regular season too, but the IHL and NHL playoffs occurred at the same time) at the height of the Wings' dominance?

    Detroit/Windsor is a huge fanbase. There is an emerging hockey base in Flint, Lansing and Saginaw as well. Toledo, Ann Arbor, etc.

    There are plenty of fans, and enough support for two teams. If the Vipers could sell out on the same night as a Red Wings playoff game, the defending champs could as well.

    And if it meant a stronger league overall and natural in-division rivals, yes, Illitch would go for it. Illitch is talking about building a new arena with more seats. If there's a cap in place, the Wings will have a tougher time remaining a top team. You don't think the prospects of a guaranteed sellout a half dozen times a year, no matter how bad your team is, would be appealing to him?

    Especially when he is looking at the chances of his Wings team going down the drain right now?

    The NHL is at a crossroads, and it's going to take some sacrificing to build the league back up where it was. Putting another team in Detroit is not a bad idea for Davidson, Illitch or the league. And definitely not for the fans and the future of the game.
     
  24. Hockee

    Hockee Registered User

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    Who said I'm a 'Yotes fan?

    I love the sport first, the NHL second, and individual teams third. Forced to pick a team, I would probably pick the 'Jackets, given that I am from CBus.

    But thanks for making a ridiculous assumption.

    Who said the league would have to do it? Pittsburgh is probably gonna fold no matter what.

    Besides that, the league can do whatever it wants. If it has to pay, it can pay. Most likely though, the league will do something like what MLB did with the Marlins and Expos. Look into it. Leagues can do all sorts of things. Look at what the MLS has done. Look at what the NFL has done. Contracting teams for the stability and growth of the league is nothing compared to what has happened in other sports.
     
  25. Boltsfan2029

    Boltsfan2029 Registered User

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    You're talking two different leagues, of course, and far different price ranges and ticket availability. I have a suspicion that it would have been far easier to sell out a Vipers game than it would be to sell out a second NHL match.

    Most fans aren't going to forsake their long-time favorite for a new team just because it's suddenly there. It would take years to establish a new, solid fan base and it's just too dangerous a proposition for a team that already has that fan base in place. You want to make the league healthy, not hurt it even more by placing a successful franchise in a position to fail.

    This is supposition on your part, so we'll agree to disagree, as my supposition is that a smart businessman doesn't jump at the chance to give a rival company a prime chance to take away his customers.

    With the alternative of having the other team eat into his fan base for all the other home games?

    Not a bad idea for Davidson? I think he might disagree -- moving the Lightning out of Tampa means Mr. Davidson loses the Ice Palace (er, Times Forum). It's one of the most successful entertainment venues of its type in the country. I somehow don't think he'd consider that a particularly good idea or smart business move.
     
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