Once again the National Hockey League is heading towards another lockout because its owners could not come to an agreement with its players. And once again the NHL is risking its future.
Before we start blaming the players for not caving into their bosses and stop looking to pad its exorbitant salaries, let’s examine what’s REALLY happening.
First, let’s ask ourselves why the owners want a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in the first place. Let’s see, the NHL has a salary cap – something the owners wanted. As a result, salaries had been curbed, and more teams have been able to compete (seven different Stanley Cup champions since the last lockout) – something the owners wanted. And, NHL revenues have skyrocketed – something the owners wanted.
So, why are the owners pissed off at the world you ask? Why are they looking to take MORE from the players, especially since the players have long said they are willing to play under the salary cap?
It’s simple: to protect owners from themselves.
Despite the presence of a salary cap, there is no revenue sharing system in the NHL. As a result, there are still the “haves” and the “have-nots”. Teams like Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit and Toronto still rank in the most dough and are able to keep their franchises profitable and flush with cash. Others such as Columbus, Nashville and Carolina still continue to struggle to remain financially relevant.
Simply put, without revenue sharing, not everyone is going to be happy. And when some of the owners are not happy, well someone has to pay – the players. After all, the more the owners take back, the more millions of dollars each owners get. Unfortunately, that equates to temporary happiness until the next CBA expires.
It’s a glorified financial band-aid on what is a gushing wound.
I would strongly caution the owners of taking its fans for granted. Sure they came back after the last lockout wiped out an entire season and the Stanley Cup playoffs. I just do not think the fans would come back as quick the second time around.
After all, the NHL does not have the NFL’s popularity. Hell, it’s behind the NBA and Major League Baseball. NHL owners may be wise to not slaughter what has become its golden goose.
As for Commissioner Gary Bettman, why this dude still has a job is a mystery to me.
Bettman helped create this mess by placing hockey teams in southern markets (Nashville, Tampa Bay, Florida, Carolina, Atlanta) and others where hockey is irrelevant (Columbus and Phoenix). He also over-expanded the NHL by a good few teams.
Here’s a thought: eliminate some franchises (Nashville, Florida, Columbus) or move them back to Canadian (Quebec City; Hamilton, Ontario, second team in Toronto) markets or other northern American markets (Seattle, Portland, maybe Milwaukee).
Instead of chasing the $$$ in southern markets, utilize some common sense and take advantage of places that actually CARE about hockey. You think Bettman would get that, but oh well.
Two labor shutdowns confirms that Bettman is easily the worst commissioner in all of sports. And the fans – and the players – deserve better.