I’ve tried to stay away from this subject this summer because it pisses me right off. However, with the supposed September 15 lockout date getting ominously close I just can’t hold back any longer. If you are a regular reader of my blog you know I am a die hard hockey fan, so of course I am one of the suckers that will still come back to watch games even after another useless lockout. However, I can’t guarantee the same will be true for the casual or new fan of the game. The game itself is nearing disaster in my opinion with the state of play last season being the boringest hockey I’ve seen in years. I’m not the only one snoring, Stanley Cup final ratings this year were the lowest since 1995 even though the final showcased teams from the largest metropolitan areas in the US. A lockout would only further hurt viewership in the US and thus affect the bottom line. Ironically enough it is this bottom line or more so the sharing of this bottom line that is at the forefront of the labour dispute.
I don’t feel sorry for either side in this dispute. In fact I want to slap each side in the face.
On one side you have multimillionaire/billionaire owners who are trying to scrounge back as much of their money as possible. While on the other side you have millionaire athletes who get paid millions to play a game for a living. The owners are trying to scale back revenue sharing to a 50/50 split with the players, while at the same time controlling salary cap inflations from year to year. Not surprisingly, the players want more of the revenue pie (57/43) and less salary cap constraints. Really? Is a 50/50 split really that difficult to achieve? What lifestyle changes would this create for the players? Would they now go from a 45,000 square foot mansion to 40,000? A Bentley from a Rolls Royce? C’mon now! As for the owners, trying to scale back the salary cap because salaries are out of control is no fault but your own. Tossing out 15 year, 20 year multimillion dollar deals is obviously not the players fault. The financial system the NHL currently has is a joke. It forces smaller market teams to overspend to keep or attract players. What this does is put small market US teams in inevitable financial ruin, while other teams who refuse to blow their motherlode squander around aimlessly with C-level talent.
If you haven’t already, go and read Michael Grange’s article on how to fix this lockout. I agree with every suggestion he provides. I especially like his suggestions on capping the number of years a team can sign a player to 4 years max and contracting 2 franchises and moving 2 others to Canada. As I said earlier, the double digit year contracts are ruining this league. The league can no longer rely on owners to be responsible enough to not make these awful deals. A strict rule needs to be in place to prevent owners from being dumbasses. Contracting franchises and moving 2 other weak $$$ making teams to Canada makes sense. Doing this would cut out the money leaking franchises and instead increase the revenues for all the remaining teams which means more $$$$$$ for all. However, we all know these seemingly common sense solutions will likely never happen.
I have to admit I’m not too optimistic about the prospects of the league avoiding another lockout. I’ll be royally pissed, but on the bright side it will give me more time to focus on football pools and US college sports…oh…and my wife 🙂