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PostPosted: Mon Feb 21, 2005 3:13 pm 
Obviously this is not end of the world stuff, and obviously this isn't impacting the US mindset like the end of Seinfeld. But it is noteworthy in the realm of (north) American sport and suggests some generalities worth considering for other sports and leagues. Will the NHL learn it's lessons? Will the other pro leagues? Will the NHL be the first of America's Big 4 to lose ground to professional leagues in Europe?

I can't say that I agree with Boycott on the other thread, as the current market is such that the fans wield less power over the NHL than before, IMO. Clearly they are powerful within the Original Six cities and elsewhere, but as a whole not so much as viewed by the economic crises that drove this situation to begin with.

Some things to consider, outside thoughts greatly appreciated:

- See recent articles in SI.com and ESPN to offer reasons why pro hockey in Europe may grow into a legit contender to pro hockey on this side of the Atlantic. The volume of smaller national leagues can't truly match the scale of the NHL, but that same condition essentially prohibits one league from having a salary cap due to the ease with which players can find work elsewhere. As a result multi-million dollar contracts remain possible in Scandanavia, Germany and other Euro countries. How long, if ever, might a European league or Cup competition spur the money to create wages similar to NBA levels?

- I am an avowed supporter of some form of salary cap structure within a league. Several professional soccer clubs throughout the world use income from other industries to leverage their wage structure so as to remain on top. IMO that's like having a chess tournament and letting some players have extra pieces. After all leagues are not completely open markets but self-contained micro-markets of specialization wherein the value of each player is highly sensitive to league conditions. For the NHL I thought the conept of tying the salary cap to league revenues was a must, no matter how outrageously high the cap would likely have been.

- So what will the future of the league be, franchise wise? Though I'm desperate to keep the Thrashers alive I agree the NHL reached way too far geographically and culturally. The more teams were added simply for TV market gains the more the league abandoned its core fan base. The likes of Boston, Montreal and Toronto faced ever harder conditions in which to prosper and that undercut the value of the league to common fans. I can't imagine that what passed for hockey-knowledgable fans in Nashville and Columbus bought into the league with excitement over the prospect of facing Pheonix, Carolina or Florida.

- What will this mean for the future of pro-sports relations between the US and Canada? Financial hardships entertained by Canadian clubs in other leagues have thus far not truly curtailed the idea of mixing the two, but the NHL operates on a different scale and competes against a more dynamic variety of opposing forces as discussed above. Surely there would never be seperate US and Canadian leagues, would there? And if there is a resolution might it be something that could be transfered to other leagues allowing for more, and better crossover?


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2005 2:43 pm 
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IF the chances have increased for an owner-friendly solution, the less likely it is that any team will fold outright. I can see a couple moves, but who in Canada is going to build a new barn? Who else would take a team?

Surely, the big clubs aren't going to let the NHL just piffle away. There is some history and goodwill built up with the thing, and it doesn't all go away overnight, despite the wishes of hopeful deconstructionists.

Know what's funny? I look at Boycott's post, I see some signs from Canada, and of all things, I start to equate the prevailing boycott attitude out there to the ManU(re) fan reaction to Malcolm Glazer's bid to buy ManU.

http://soccernet.espn.go.com/headlinenews?id=325725&cc=5739

http://217.151.110.45/ri_forum/showthread.php?t=19861

I've already heard radio shows (national-based) that describe the anti-Glazer effort as xenophobic... but I'd tend to characterize it as, um, perhaps "anti-corporate." Even then, I think I'm not being fair in the description, and I'm seriously struggling to find one.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2005 3:49 pm 
Hola Pounder.

My take on the ManU effort is three-fold:

- Glazer seems to be scraping to pull this off, erego there's a lot of fear it's too risky and that he'll mismanage the team while number crunching. This is understandable;

- The concept of a single owner scares them. Especially from having come from the other extreme, the idea that such a global enterprise could be under the direction of a single person leaves many suspicious of what may happen. At least under a BOD there's the opportunity for collective thought;

- The "d**n Yankee/Ugly American" factor. Not only is he a foreigner, he comes from a land historically ambivalent towards soccer and his approach has been less than congenial. This has left the perception he's no interest in soccer whatsoever and is only in it for the $.

While the Arsenal fan in me would love to see the northern franchise suffer some indignities, I can understand the fans' pleas. But, alas, this is always the possibility when you're business is an open listing on the market!

Back to the Puck! My cousins in NY and NJ shared with me the occassional press opinion and otherwise regarding the game while all the negotiations were not taking place. One thing that the writers and press wonks began to shed light on is that the collective mismanagement of the franchises must be reviewed in light of the leagues monetary woes. Obviously this stretches beyond one or two teams, yet the league was also just as guilty as others of spending "like it's someone else's money," totally ignoring their books. While the league could/should engage in some new standards for fiscal prudence among the franchises, it suggests that the owners themselves appear Glazer-esque, as in less enamored with the game and simply thinking of investment opps. Something like 50% of owners had never played the game or considered themselves capable of good skating.

The result is a league mentality of envy towards other sports and blindly thinking that any growth is good growth. The league then approves investors and owners who's motivation is geared in the generic pro-sports franchise sense and not the hockey sense. A multi-layered detachment from the real appeal of hockey within each community. Sure new franchises had their honeymoon appeal, but what are the lasting impacts that will prove beneficial to the game? Thus far, it appears there are none, if not in fact serious detriments.

I'm so angry about this one compared to the other lockouts/strikes because you'd think the NHl would have the benefit of learning from other leagues while also moving with caution given the slimmer margin for error. I was wrong once or twice last year, too! ;)

Anyway, there is a movement afoot now to restore the Canadian roots. If not ASAP then through new league policies that make it easier for Canadian teams to succeed. If at least the committment is there then perhaps the various cities, owners and more will buy in (again).


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2005 4:15 pm 
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Between the Canadian dollar gaining on the US dollar and Canadian courts permitting a tax loophole allowing tax depreciation of player contracts (something allowed in the US for some time now), the gap between American and Canadian clubs has closed some. Now, if the arena holders can just avoid paying max property tax north of 49...

The NHL was caught trying to fill arenas instead of markets... having poked around the business with minor league hockey and other sports, it's a common Southern tactic to invite that kind of thing. It's failing, though it should be noted that the failures seem to be in markets like Nashville and Raleigh, which aren't that big "yet," and perhaps Florida (extremely oversaturated), but while Atlanta is similarly oversaturated, the corporate base there doesn't seem keen to let go. TSN had an interesting assessment of the teams:

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/feature.asp?fid=5246

Still, I think Portland would be well suited for NHL. ;D ;)


Last edited by pounder on Tue Feb 22, 2005 4:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2005 4:42 pm 
Ugh! Bayern 3 - 0 Arsenal.
We need defenders in a HUGE way.

Thanks for the link. I'll read that tonight.

I disagree somewhat on the filling seats instead of markets assessment, depending on whether I'm reading you right. Obviously the league and owners wish to do both, but I saw the placement of franchises in Pheonix, Miami, Tampa and elsewhere as misguided attempts to latch on to the growth of the sun belt region. Too presumptious on how many of those new residents were northern hockey-loving transplants ? Misjudging the economy? Who knows. This is where I accuse the owners of not knowing their home town and the viability of the franchise.

True, compared to our favorite sport American pro sports are over reliant on revenue from elsewhere than the stands, but the NHL expansion seemed the antithesis of MLS's current strategy wherein they wish to foster the next Columbus, Rochester (I know, USL) or other community with local fan buy-in. You could also call this approach the anti-NBA model: Selling the game and the home TEAM as opposed to marketing players.

I'll read the article, do more research and come back. Have to work now and bury my CL woes. :-[


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2005 11:38 am 
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Okay, 3-1 as the final is less intimidating but doesn't resolve the defensive woes. Maybe Wenger should emply a 7-3 in two weeks?!! ;D

I read the article last night and found the info very insightful. I had no idea of Anaheim's plight. The question now becomes, in lieu of all the other concessions the owners must make to appease the bruised players union could they also get away with contraction? And that assumes the league/owners want to go that route?

If so, I read it that Nashville, Florida, Anaheim and Carolina are your top contenders for such dis-honor. ("Whew! Thrashers survived first cut!") I would be content with any/all four, or if at least two were uprooted for new Canadian homes. The latter might be the best option though, especially if the league is seeking to buy out one club (Ducks) and possibly others. This would keep the union happy by stabilizing the job market while resolving the sin of having a "southeast" division for hockey!

I think it's time I begin browsing some NHL message boards. "Come, Robin! To the Batmobile!"


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 24, 2005 11:00 am 
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No, they shouldn't fold.

There are, believe it or not, enough teams that will actually have a hint of goodwill in their markets that folding would be more disastrous than starting over. Additionally, they'd lose the Stanley Cup, which becomes an immediate political circus for those who want to stick it to the big money folks by, say, using it to replace the Memorial Cup for the juniors or awarding it to women's teams (Canadian Governor General's suggestion).

Besides, Frank Deford doesn't think there's anything to throw out. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4509623 ;D Not that there aren't times where I'd wish that he be caught trying to blow up Mount Davis in order to free Oakland's stadium for baseball again, which I don't put past the man.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2006 5:56 pm 
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Anyone notice that the league is increasing the salary cap by around $5 million next year?

The salary restructuring, rule changes, et cetera apparently erased any fan backlash resulting from the loss of the 04-05 campaign. They almost averaged 17K per game, which I believe is league record attendance. While ticket prices went down, overall revenues went up. Go figure.


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