November 12, 2004

Forbes Magazine: recently studied the numbers surrounding the NHL lock-out and found they while the teams are indeed losing money, the owners are overstating those losses by a significant magnitude. The difference stems from what is included as revenue in the league's numbers. The teams have "wide discretion in deciding how much of the off-ice revenue should be included." The Islanders don't include half of their television rights revenue. The Blackhawks put the revenue from all 212 luxury suites into the United Center's pocket (both are owned by William Wirtz).

The NHL says the numbers are off. But they also claim the New York Rangers are losing money. I'd buy the Brooklyn Bridge before that line. If you were the players, would you feel comfortable negotiating with people who are misrepresenting their bottom lines? How can you begin to negotiate if they the owners are not willing to allow the players a fair look at the books? And why the hell do so many people side with the owners?

posted by 86 to hockey at 09:03 AM - 13 comments

I know this is like beating a dead horse, but the more and more I watch this the more I find myself leaning to the owners-as-evil side of things. I'm sick of their sob stories. I'm sick of hearing Bill Daly and his soundbites. I'm sick of Bettman the way I'd be sick of living with a rusty nail in my eyeball.

posted by 86 at 09:07 AM on November 12, 2004

Doh! First link is broken. Try here.

posted by 86 at 09:09 AM on November 12, 2004

I find myself leaning to the owners-as-evil side of things. Good. Remember to stop listening to anyone who tells you player salaries are the cause of high ticket prices.

posted by yerfatma at 09:48 AM on November 12, 2004

I still think that what is needed is an independent, trusted, 3rd party to do an audit. The players don't trust the owners' numbers, and until that happens, there's no way a deal can be done.

posted by sauril at 10:14 AM on November 12, 2004

Who would both sides agree to as an independent mediator? Someone unafraid of confrontation, who understands the game, who has a grasp on the financial finer points, and who could use a little good publicity that would come from brokering a deal. Two names come to mind: Denis Leary, and Alan Eagleson. Oh, come on. Do you have a better idea? You probably do.

posted by chicobangs at 10:53 AM on November 12, 2004

Ken Dryden? He's public fodder. and I think the Forbes article finally puts to rest the asinine claims that the Kings are losing money, floated by that bogus audit of a couple years ago. (I can't find a link at the moment, but I did find this site, which is sadly at the heart of many sports issues these days) And why the hell do so many people side with the owners? Dude, I wish I could tell you, but Bush is president, so I don't know what the fuck the general public has upstairs anymore. In Canada, the public supports the owners too. Perhaps this can be their 'How can $30,000,000 people be so stupid?!' headline, ala the 11/03/04 Guardian.

posted by garfield at 12:12 PM on November 12, 2004

that's 30,000,000 people, not doll hairs.

posted by garfield at 12:12 PM on November 12, 2004

I still think that what is needed is an independent, trusted, 3rd party to do an audit. And the owners will never agree to it, because hey, the Levitt report is perfectly fine, and totally impartial. There is no chance for skewed numbers. None. What, the union wasn't involved? They asked the union years ago, remember? And it's impossible to ask them again, you see. Impossible! Sigh.

posted by Succa at 12:15 PM on November 12, 2004

The Levitt report is only as accurate as the numbers the owners supplied. The NHL claims the Rangers lost $40 million last season. How can you trust anyone that makes ridiculous claims like that? No matter how impartial the party doing the investigating, unless they're allowed free reign to examine everything, they're figures will be skewed. The names may have changed since the 50's, but these are the same guys that claimed the NHL couldn't support more than 6 teams, that the NHL's pension was the best in sports, and that they didn't make a dime on their teams...

posted by MeatSaber at 12:29 PM on November 12, 2004

I think it is easier to relate to what a hockey player DOES rather than what an "owner" is or does. And when you look at a hockey player making over $10m a season (in the ballparkish of the top end NBA salaries) in a league that isn't as popular as the NBA, and has essentially no TV deal you wonder how hard it would be to play under a system where salaries would be capped at $6m or something. The NFL and NBA seem to be doing just fine systems to limits salaries - and such systems are not among the common ground of the NHL and NHLPA. When the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan owns 58% of the Leafs (or at least they used to, I may not be up to date) I find it easier to put a face to the players side of the money equation. So, a proper audit would be very helpful in sorting through the rhetoric the owners are standing behind. But heck, I don't think any hockey player is worth $10m a season no matter what the owners are making. If the owners need to pay the players less to break even (or whatever) then I am all for that. If the owners are making bucketloads of money while still paying players what they earn now then, by golly, ticket prices need to come down. But what do I know. Besides knowing that it was the Daily Mirror that ran the How can 59,054,087 people be so dumb? cover.

posted by gspm at 04:45 PM on November 12, 2004

I have no problem believing the NHL is losing money - we're just quibbling about the true figure. Forbes puts the loss at $93 million for last year, the NHL says $250 million and the players apparently say they're making money hand over fist. For me it comes down to simple economics - a league with TV ratings lower than Arena football cannot support the top end salaries. That said, it is clear to me that the players are not even remotely at fault for the mess. The NHL business plan wasn't worth the paper it was printed on.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 02:21 PM on November 13, 2004

I'll believe a pro sports owner is losing money when a team folds. It's all a numbers game to sucker the press and the fans -- the Jeffrey Lorias and Jerry Joneses of the world are making out like bandits.

posted by rcade at 07:35 AM on November 15, 2004

It's tough to believe the NHL is such a lousy business to be in when some rich dude just dropped $125M to get into the club by buying half of the Vancouver Canucks. Smart guys don't spend money in stupid ways, do they?

posted by wfrazerjr at 10:38 PM on November 17, 2004

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