What Went Wrong

Discussion in 'The Business of Hockey' started by orcatown, Feb 20, 2005.

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  1. orcatown

    orcatown Registered User

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    The disaster in hockey has an all too human source - greed. In the 90’s the NHL owners lined their pockets through expansion. It was sort of a pyramid scheme. Buy a franchise and then hope others would buy future franchises so you could collect the expansion fee money. And the players were right there to get their share of the action.

    Of course the League expanded to wherever expansion money could be found. The fact that most of the folks in those towns didn’t know a hockey puck from a cow pie was a non-consideration. Also franchises were maintained in places whose ability to support a major league franchise has been already outstripped by the growing demands of doing so.

    So what was left was a collection of viable, strong franchises which had to share the planet with a bunch of franchises that couldn’t. And what was the solution – well, of course, to bring everyone down to the level of the lowest common denominator. If the Anahiems or Carolinas or Edmontons couldn’t pay the going rate then the rate had to be lowered. Forget the fact that the top franchises were doing fine. Forget the fact that fans in those cities were only too willing to support the product. No, if the people in Phoenix weren’t interested, then everyone would have to suffer.

    In this half assed way the league has stumble over the edge. Rather than shedding the shoddy franchises, whose people had other priorities, the league itself had to be shut down. Rather than letting owners, who had made the unwise decisions to establish franchises in some barren holes, pay the price for these decisions, the league decided that those owners had to be bailed out through collective action.

    And where do we go from here. Replacement players. Is this going to conceivably help teams where hockey is already fringe? No. It will simply devalue a product that is suspect already in those markets. Let both sides freeze till hell freezes over? No. Some type of new League will inevitability move in to replace the NHL. But it will be an extremely messy and long term business.

    The real answers lay where it always did. Contraction. Let those franchises that want and can support a NHL team carry on. Let the others go. Maybe they can form a second tier League like we see in European soccer. And if, in time, support increases they can move up as others move down.

    Right now we are all paying the collective price for the fact that some places cannot support the NHL. The NHL owners are no less a protective union than the players are.
    In trying to protect the owners who made bad business decisions they drag all into the pit.

    If there is a revolt among fans I hope that those fans in Toronto, Detroit, New York, Montreal, Vancouver and every other viable market will at some point demand that they not be used as dupes to support poor franchises and dumb owners. It sickens me to hear people like Maclean say that he will not accept a reasonable cap because he can’t make money in the place he choose to work. Why should others miss out to save his owners money.

    In the end, the League does not need 30 or more franchises. What it needs is franchises that work and don’t lean on the fans in some markets to carry the load.
     
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