Will we see a successful alternative league?

Discussion in 'The Business of Hockey' started by kurt, Jan 15, 2005.

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  1. kurt

    kurt the last emperor

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    I hope people don't allow the hapless efforts of the OSHL and WHA (or was it WHL?) that tried to get off the ground influence their opinion too much, as they were struggling in a landscape where many felt NHL hockey would be returning in the near future.

    Now, there's strong indications that NHL hockey will not return for up to 2 years. Does this create an opportunity for a new league to replace the NHL? Buildings are likely looking for tenants that can bring in some concession revenues, and lots of elite players are looking for work closer to home. I'm sure there's a more than a few wealthy businesspeople out there that are at least considering the idea.

    Could it fly?
     
  2. Bring Back Bucky

    Bring Back Bucky Registered User

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    No, not a chance. Many of those buildings are owned by the NHL teams and or their owners, so they're not letting anybody else in. Wealthy businesspeople aren't going to put up the necessary capital to get something going with no guarantee that NHL hockey won't return and kill the venture at a moment's notice.
     
  3. thinkwild

    thinkwild Veni Vidi Toga

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    As the WHA says now, if they are going to put a league together, it cant be something that will disappear when the NHL comes back. It has to be for the long term. I think this will be difficult to do in this climate.

    Better is to take the next step in competitive hockey. To evolve to the next level. A superleague. What if we had BC, Alberta, Ontario, quebec, manitoba, all with teams in a new league with michigan, california, minn, etc, as well as england, germany, switzerland, slovakia, russia etc. A real super league. For the World Cup. Every year. The new ultimate trophy by the best competitors. Where the best players of the NHL, (whenever it returns), aspire to play in. Because that is where the best competition is.

    Perhaps some current NHL owners will want in on the opportunity and will cross Bettmans line. THe NHL will become the 2nd tier capped league it wants to be. Still trying to appease americans into liking our sport. But America isnt where the future of hockey lies. They arent interested. Europe is.
     
  4. CarlRacki

    CarlRacki Registered User

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    Two words: travel costs.
    Two more words: Never happen.
    A few more words: Without American money, say bye-bye to an average salary of even $1.3 million per year.

    And if America isn't interested, pray tell why Detroit, Philly, St. Louis, Minnesota, Dallas, Rangers, Colorado and Los Angeles all filled their stadiums better (as a percentage of capacity) than Montral, Calgary and Ottawa?

    All those teams, by the way, averaged better than 17,800 per game last year. How many Euro teams were close to that? I'm guessing roughly zero.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2005
  5. CarlRacki

    CarlRacki Registered User

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    More importantly, wealthy business people aren't going to look at the state of the NHL, look at most teams' bottom lines, look at Bob Goodenow and the PA and say ... "I want in!"
     
  6. Bruwinz37

    Bruwinz37 Registered User

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    Why would an alternative league be succesful when the NHL isnt even succesful?

    I guess the answer is no, not a chance.
     
  7. Crosbyfan

    Crosbyfan Registered User

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    Why would an alternative league be run properly when the NHL isnt even run properly? :dunno:
     
  8. struckmatch

    struckmatch Registered User

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    NO! I don't know how many times this dumb notion will present itself, but we will not see another league for NHL'ers to play in. :banghead:

    1. A new league would not have more than 20 franchises, so half the PA would be without jobs.

    2. The new league will probably have cost certainty, or some salary system to keep salaries from escalating.

    3. This league will not be able to pay players higher than an average salary of 1.3 million, which is what the owners have offered.

    4. A new league would take a long time to organize, about 2 years, give or take a little, so the PA would be better off to play in the NHL.

    5. If the NHL, which has a storied history, and breif periods of popularity on the US, is a dying business, how will a random, unknown league with no history and completely different team names and organizations develop any serious fan interest?

    There will be no new leagues. :teach:
     
  9. kurt

    kurt the last emperor

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    This is along the lines of what I had in mind, and I think it's not a matter of will it happen, but WHEN will it happen.

    I think you're grossly under-estimating the size of the European market. We're talking 2.5 times more people than the US. Moreover, many of these countries (Russia, Czech, Slovakia, Sweden, Finland, the list goes on), are much more interested in hockey than the general population of the US. Overlooking the potential of Europe seems to be an awfully narrow-minded perspective.

    Let's back up the truck though. If such a league did rise from the ashes of the NHL/NHLPA debacle, people would commit to ownership. The fact of the matter is:
    • there are major hockey markets worldwide that are not being provided elite hockey
    • the NHL's product could be outperformed by a rival league in many aspects
    My opinion will likely stir controversy, but hey, what else is there to talk about right now? :)

    I don't think there's much debate about my first point, so I'm going to leap straight into point two. The NHL's product has grinded to a trapping halt as the NHL diluted its talent pool too far. Also, they've allowed for so much clutching and grabbing, and have been so complacent about goalie equipment, their game has become progressively less appealing to their customers.

    If a new league called the game as the rulebook suggests, started with only a handful of clubs that are only provided franchises after careful scrutiny of their market potential, employed shootouts after overtime, and removed fighting from the game, among other changes that are good for the growth of the game, it could be a smashing success.

    Travel costs? Please. If the market in New York can afford to pay Bobby Holik dollars, it can afford to fly the boys across the pond from time to time.

    I think it could fly, and if it doesn't now, whenever the NHL gets its &^%$ together it will take this path. It's just a matter of whether someone will beat them to it.
     
  10. Sanderson

    Sanderson Registered User

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    I think you are really overestimating the European market. Only some Russian and Swiss teams can pay a relatively big amount of money, the rest neither has the money nor the corporate support to pay on the same level as North American teams.

    There might be a huge interest in hockey, but that doesn't mean these teams could support a league even close to the level of the NHL or their own soccer leagues.

    Not to forget, most of Europe already has teams. Why should fans leave their team, which they have supported over many many years, to support another one?
     
  11. kurt

    kurt the last emperor

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    Keep in mind, these are teams that have always been operating in an inferior league. I think the prosperity of the teams would be much different if the cities hosted the greatest hockey league in the world. They'd certainly do better than Carolina and Nashville, IMO.
     
  12. Sanderson

    Sanderson Registered User

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    It depends on which teams would play in the league. If you make new ones, they have to fight against the established teams and don't expect many fans to leave their team as most of Europe is pretty traditional in this matter. Most of the fans don't really care if it is the best league in the world or number three or four.

    If you want to use existing teams, you would have to pry them away from their league and that is basically impossible, as teams aren't allowed to just leave their league.

    The past has shown that hockey-fans are more interested in their own (national) league and local rivalries than in a european-wide league.

    Not to forget that Europe has hardly any NHL-level arenas. Right now only Cologne, Bern and Prag come to my mind, with Berlin and Mannheim building new ones as well. There are some more with a capacity over 10,000.
    Doesn't sound too bad, but only three teams sell more than 10,000 tickets per game (Cologne, Bern and Hamburg), none of them over 13,000 as of last season.
     
  13. markov`

    markov` Registered User

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    A European-caliber team in the USA wouldn't sell more than 5 000 tickets a game, no matter where.
     
  14. Sanderson

    Sanderson Registered User

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    Yeah, because it wouldn't be the highest level of play in the USA.

    If people have never seen something better, they don't expect it to be better. It is unfair to compare the highest level of play in Europe with the second best in North America.

    People want to see the best. If the best is the European level, they will watch it. If a country has a better level, less people will attend the lower level. That's the only reason why less people would come to European-level games.
     
  15. grego

    grego Registered User

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    I have always been an NHL fan, but don't knock the hockey in the Europe that much. It not total bush league hockey, or rec level hocky contrary to the views of many people here. I know there would be many players in Europe equally capable of playing in the NHL if they chose that.

    Otherwise the NHL players over in Europe should be leading every category, and setting all kinds of records. Since all those teams are so inferior. It should be like having NHL players against a bunch of AHL players. In fact they are playing pretty good hockey but nothing that spectacular.

    I only am saying this because, why would Europe want to move over to our game from their own. They can even likely afford to take a family to the game if they want to at most of their rinks. People are not avoiding hockey in Europe because it isn't a good enough game. Having "the best" hockey over there would not be a cure to quadruple the attendance of those arenas.
     
  16. Sanderson

    Sanderson Registered User

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    Changing the level of play wouldn't change anything in Europe (not counting ticket prices).

    European hockey is below the NHL and should be pretty much maxed out, as there is much less money available. If you compare it to the NHL, Europe does exceptionally well. The level is lower, but that is nothing compared to the amount of money the teams can spend.
     
  17. leaflover

    leaflover Stanley Cup 2022

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    I hope another league is formed.
    The NHL on ice product isn't what it was even 10 years ago.And it seems to be deteriorating a little more each season,to the point that it needs some serious changes.I realize many changes are to try to draw interest from non hockey fans and i guess in monetary terms thats all that matters.But IMO NHL hockey was far more entertaining 10,20,30 years ago than it is now.
    A rival league that stayed with traditional hockey and didn't expand beyond its ability to maintain a higher than NHL skill level(which if you look at the current NHL game might not be that difficult to do) might just make it.A better game would draw interest from many disgruntled NHL fans,a number that grows with each locked out day.
     
  18. WTF? The NHL is the way it is today because the skill level has improved and players are so well coached in the systems they employ. If you look at the tapes of 20 years ago you'll see that half the players on the ice were brutal skaters. Not that way any more. You'd also see more mistakes in one shift than most teams make in a period now. Players think safety first, then making a dangerous pass.

    The league has nothing to do with this. This is a result of these players being better, being better coached and better trained. A new league would do nothing to improve play. If you're so impressed with the idea of a different league, start watching the AHL. That's a perfect example of the type of hockey you would see in a different league.
     
  19. grego

    grego Registered User

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    The only problem with the NHL in rules is the Neutral Zone trap. As has been stated over and over by many here. Enforce the rules for real in the NHL to keep the game open and you will have an exciting game once more

    It is not necessary to start an entire new league just because of their being too much cheap physical stuff in the game that inhibits that talented players.

    Clean that up and maybe a few other minor tweaks and there is not much wrong with the actual game in the NHL.
     
  20. CarlRacki

    CarlRacki Registered User

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    Pray tell, if the European market is capable of sustaining a professional hockey league with NHL-level salaries, NHL-level facilities and NHL-level fan support, why isn't it happening now?
    And don't give the "because the best players aren't there" excuse.That shows a woeful lack of understanding of market economies. If the European market could bear a comparable professional hockey league, it would and the best Euro players would stay home. And more North American players would be flocking there for the money. Again, why isn't it happening? Because the market won't bear it.

    And if you're going to spout population figures, at least get them right. According to the Economist, Europe's population stands at 482 million. The US is 295 million.
    That Euro figure includes non-hockey playing areas like Spain (40 million), the UK (60 million), Greece (10.6 million), Ireland (4 million) and others. Throw in France, where it's hardly recongized (60 million) and next thing you know your Euro market is smaller than the North American market.
    Want to throw in Russia? Fine. But with a per capita annual GDP of less than $5,000 and 40 percent of the population below the poverty line, I don't see a huge demand for $100 hockey tickets. This is why Super League teams averaged 4-5,000 fans. How's that ever going to compete with the NHL?
     
  21. kurt

    kurt the last emperor

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    Obviously, with the NHL alive and well, Europe wouldn't have much hope of operating a rival league. However, as I pointed out, I'm focusing on a hockey business landscape where no NHL exists, as the CBA conflict has shut them down, likely for an extended period. I'm simply noting that the door is wide open for someone to try to step in and make a go of it.

    Perhaps my population numbers were a little off, I thought I read somewhere that the population of Europe was in the neighborhood of 800 million people. And, your point is well taken, much of Europe couldn't care less about hockey. That statement is largely true about the US too though. It's regionally popular in both areas.

    About the "because the best players aren't there excuse", why should I not use that as a defense? It's a valid statement. It would be like judging Winnipeg's capacity to support WHL hockey based on the support of their Manitoba Moose franchise (as has been hotly debated elsewhere on HF). It's comparing apples to oranges. The best way to get a feel for demand would be to take a look at what the NHL TV ratings are like in some of these countries, and even that wouldn't be an accurate indicator, as there is no sense of regional pride associated with the league and its teams.
     
  22. leaflover

    leaflover Stanley Cup 2022

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    Hockey is better now than 20 or 10 years ago?
    Maybe to you but i very much prefer the hockey of days gone by.
     
  23. me2

    me2 Calling out the crap

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    You'd be looking at a 6-8 team european league. Probably 1 team each in Sweden, Finland, Germany, Czech, Slovakia and 2-3 in Russia, with possibilities of a Swiss or Norwegean team. Basically, 1-2 teams per hockey country.

    It could work, but it will also damage the exisitng leagues in those countries quite significantly. People would rather watch the big dogs play and much of the local focus on regional teams would shift to the national SL team. If Forsberg, Naslund, Ohlund and Lidstrom are playing in the Uberleague what does that do to support for teams like Modo or Lulea.
     
  24. CarlRacki

    CarlRacki Registered User

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    This is why that argument doesn't fly: if there were a demand for it, and if the revenue were there for it, the best players from Europe would stay in Europe. Heck, if Peter Forsberg could earn 75 percent playing for MoDo what he earns in Colorado, he would jump at the chance. Same goes for several of his countrymen as well as Czechs, Finns, Slovaks, Russians, etc. in their respective home countries. In fact, many never would have come to the NHL in the first place. But they do come because they can earn here 5 to 10 times what they'd earn back home.
    The players always have and always will follow the money. It's never the other way around. If MoDo thought paying Forsberg $6 million would boost their revenue to the point they could afford that, they'd do it in a heartbeat. But they don't because they know the money is not there to support those kinds of salaries.
     
  25. kurt

    kurt the last emperor

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    Am I speaking Greek? I said it before, and I'll say it again. I'm strictly talking about an environment where no NHL exists. Pretend there's no Colorado Avalanche to offer the competing salary.

    With the established NHL in operation, already having the rights to the best players in the world, a rival league would be virtually impossible to oust from being the premiere hockey league. However, with NO NHL HOCKEY ON THE HORIZON, a lot changes. All the greatest players are available, and looking for some way to mitigate their losses from the labour dispute.
     
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