Wednesday, October 10, 2012
1) Well, it might be premature to say that there is significant rift developing within the owners ranks, but it IS fair to say that there are quite a few that aren't too keen on where Gary Bettman appears to be going with his 3rd lockout in 17 years. This could explain why it took so long for the league to announce the cancellation of games, and why they only cancelled the first 2 weeks and not the entire month. You see, as soon as games are cancelled, especially regular season games, there is immediate hardship on the owners. The lost revenue in the preseason is a drop in the bucket to regular season games. Additionally fans, season ticket holders especially, really aren't too big on pre season games. Attendance is usually at 50% or less in most US markets for these meaningless tune ups. However with regular season games now being erased, and probably never made up, real money is being lost, and fans are either getting fed up pissed,and/or alienated, (usually both).
2) What owners fear is apathy setting in with the casual fans. Folks who they have cultivated into becoming fans might begin to drift away. Spending their entertainment dollars elsewhere. Markets like Nashville, LA, Tampa Bay, Carolina, to name a few, have invested heavily in to trying to persuade folks to stick with/support their teams. Those ownership groups have remained largely silent publicly, but have not been totally subservient to the hardliners and Bettman in the Board of Governors meetings recently. Our insiders have told us to NOT get excited or expect this group to attempt a coup against Bettman. He's largely bullet proof because of the NHL by-laws which states that it takes 2/3 of the owners to ratify a new CBA, so it would take an avalanche of dissent to change the staus quo.
3) That said, it isn't going unnoticed by Bettman that he doesn't have the level of support he had last go around. The simmering dislike of what is happening to them already appears to be pushing Bettman to avoid any public displays if irritation with the NHLPA. For we are told, and know that the fans are NOT siding with the owners like they were 8 years ago. Fans are already getting restless, and it will be interesting to see how long it will take before someone on the non hardliner side goes public with his disapproval of Mr. Bettman. Billionaires quite understandably have egos and don't enjoy being told what to do. Especially when they are being to told to shut up and lose a(nother) season. WE maintain that it will likely take one of these unheard from owners to break this impasse. The ball, or puck, is clearly in the owners side of the ice. It will be up to them to change the current dynamic. Lets all hope its sooner rather than later!