Monday, January 26, 2009

Bettman Selling Kool-Aid!

1) We felt compelled to write a response-post to Gary Bettman's unbelievably-unbelievable All-Star address this past weekend. Specifically we both laughed out loud and yelled at our monitors when he had the audacity to proclaim: " Economically, we are having a great season..... I know that there are some who suggest that we somehow have lost any sense of reality in terms of how we're doing.." Um Gary, ya think? Lost reality is one possibility. Lying through your teeth is an alternative theory as well?

2) Gary goes on: : "we are actually experiencing real growth. Not to the extent we did last season, but we are still experiencing real growth, probably in the 5 to 5.5% range in native currency" You may be asking why did Gary add that caveat, 'Native currency'? Easy, the Canadian Dollar has lost 20% of its value the past 6 months, thus the teams north of the border have lost a lot of their previous buying power that they had when the currencies were on par (not the norm by the way) In previous addresses Bettman always downplayed the beneficial effects of the currency differential, now he is using it as an excuse? Sorry Gary, you can't have it both ways!

3) Then to top it off Bettman actually blames the players for the escrow going to as high as 25%. To review for the uninitiated. The players are due a fixed percentage of all revenues. Escrow is the money that the league withholds from players salaries in case revenues don't keep up with expenditures. Last season the players received ALL the escrowed money back despite having 13% initially withheld. This season the same 13% was initially withheld, but with the revenue forecast looking bleak it was recently increased to 25%. Yes the salary cap only went up this season by about 12%. By those numbers, even if revenues stayed static escrow should have stayed the same AND the players should expect their money back.

4) Instead we hear Gary say: "The biggest factor in terms of needing a larger escrow is the fact that player salaries are up so much, relative to the increase in revenues." Huh? Here we thought player salaried were fixed? Hence, hard salary cap. No? So IF revenues are higher (albeit at a slower pace than last season), as Gary is stating, then even with the higher salary cap the escrow should be only the same as last season with the only change that the players may actually lose that escrow this season. So the BIG Question is: why would the NHLPA voluntarily relinquish an additional 12% of their rank and files income if things weren't so bad?

5) Which brings us to the inevitable. The players now can rightfully start to question the spending practices of the league and the placement of franchises. Such as:

  • Nashville Predators' owners buying thousands of unsold tickets so they can qualify for a full share of the NHL's revenue-sharing plan. The players can't be happy with this. Can the owners call selling tickets to themselves income? If not (and it doesn’t sound Kosher if they can) then there is decreased overall league revenue, and thus less of the financial ‘pie’ to share.

  • The whole Phoenix/Nashville/TampaBay/Atlanta ownership Debacles

6) It should have come as no surprise when NHLPA president Paul Kelly confirmed he's met with BlackBerry billionaire Jim Balsillie, who tried to buy the Nashville Predators/Penguins and move them to Hamilton and said: "There's no question that Toronto could handle a second team". His query goes strait to the heart of the CBA. Are the players full 'partners' with the NHL or not? If the answer is yes, then they should have some say so on how to grow the game and where to place (or move) franchises. Look for that point (and as we consistently maintain, guaranteed contracts) to be the major bones of contention between the league and the NHLPA. In the meantime enjoy the next 2 1/2 seasons of NHL hockey. We are again afraid we are on collision course for (yet another) Bettman lockout. That unless the players drink the Bettman Kool-aid too.


Antzmarching said...

Nashville Predators' owners buying thousands of unsold tickets so they can qualify for a full share of the NHL's revenue-sharing plan. The players can't be happy with this. Can the owners call selling tickets to themselves income? If

Hey Faux, that's an example of "spreading the wealth." LOL


1)Antz: It should be illegal, and we can't imagine the big revenue teams will take kindly to that kind of maneuver.
2) It illustrates what we have been saying for quite some time: The biggest fiscal issue is NOT between the players and owners, its between the big and small revenue owners!
3) The last CBA did NOT change that, and we fear the next round of labour strife will be yet another avoidance of this by the NHL when they again blame the players for all the financial ills in the game.

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