Draper's Comments Make It Easier For Fans To Side With Owners


Kris Draper has come out a day before the NHLPA and NHL brass will meet to discuss a CBA for the first time since September 9, 2004. Draper, before boarding a plane to play in a European exhibition with other NHL stars, blamed the NHL’s ills completely on Gary Bettman and Bettman’s plan for expansion.

Draper said “”Bettman’s plan was expansion,” Draper said. “He brought in the Florida’s and Nashville’s of the world and now he wants the players to fix it. I don’t know what exact role the (union) played in (expansion), but I don’t think it’s right he wants us to fix it.”

In some ways Draper is right but the owners OWN the teams. They can do whatever they want to get the financial model that fits their needs for the NHL element of their portfolio.

Draper’s next comments are more disturbing when talking about Detroit Red Wings owner, Mike Ilich and his success: “”He did it by making pizzas and building up his company,” Draper said. “I mean, people forget in the early 1980s that Detroit wasn’t doing much. Crowds of 8,500 weren’t uncommon there. Mike came in, built up the team and turned it into one of the greatest products in the game. He spend $60-70 million US for salaries and so forth, and now the franchise is worth about $300 million. He did that, so what’s stopping other owners from doing it?”

This comment hits on the real problem with the NHLPA. They see strong, vertically integrated business and people who own them as able and willing to pay ANYTHING for their services. While that may work in a few cases (the Yankees come to mind) how dare players suggest that Comcast or Cable Vision or Disney have to eat away at the profits from their better performing sectors to increasingly pay NHL players, long term, guaranteed contracts EVEN if they don’t perform. Say what you want about CEOs but if they stop making a profit – they are GONE. I can think of some players in the NHL who make nearly 10 million per year and don’t score anywhere near where they did when they got the deal. The current CBA has them getting paid no matter what.

Both Shane Doan and Kris Draper have come out this week to attack Bettman at a time when their careers and livelihoods are in jeopardy. Someone needs to remind them that they don’t own teams – they just play the game and are INCREDIBLY well paid to play the game to boot. Is any reader on HTR going to cry if Kris Draper or Shane Doan (or any other player) has to take a 10% cut? Not me. They play a childs game and are paid better than rock stars to do it. Their entitlement is shameful.

43 Responses to Draper's Comments Make It Easier For Fans To Side With Owners

  1. NjDEVSFN says:

    i wouldnt care if the players lose 10%, if theyre young enough, the NHLPA proposals have them making it back eventually anyway

  2. simplyhabby says:

    Kris Draper is right like i or not. If somone can come in and take a floundering franchise and turn it into a profitable winning combination then he is a sound businessman. I want him running my company.

    He increased attendence, improved the product and increased profits. Sounds to me he did a great job. If you need to blame anyone about this particular situation, blame the fans who pay the high prices to go watch the games. Nothing stopped them from forking out the money.

    It is wrong for rich owners to saturate the league with over priced contracts and it destroys small market teams. Is it wrong for the players to accept the over priced contracts? I would want to make as much money as possible.

    Just remember, as much as i agree the previous system favors the players and should be fixed, the owners agreed to it.

    They both f***ed up the game both on and off the ice. Its really difficult to pick sides.

  3. Flyers_Fan_In_LA says:

    You notice people aren’t lining up to take a dumpy franchise and turn it around. Even fewer will after the game goes a year without playing.

    Illich and other big teams can watch their 300 million dollar teams be worth 125 million starting the day the lockout goes for the whole year.

    the stakes are HIGH right now. I hope both side see that and ink some sort of deal.

  4. habsoverserver says:

    By adding 10 teams, Bettman created 250 union jobs. The bottom third of the NHLPA should be kissing Bettman for convincing businessmen to lose millions a year employing these fringe players.

    The players really are ungrateful. First, thanks to the NHL’s lavish spending, their salaries have grown at a rate far beyond the incremental entertainment they provide. Second, without Bettman’s expansion, many of Draper’s NHPLA buddies would be toiling in Europe or the AHL.

    Attention NLPA: you have met the goose who lays your golden eggs and his name is Gary Bettman.

    Don’t slay him. Be nice to him.

  5. Flyers_Fan_In_LA says:

    GREAT point.


  6. hockeyhead says:

    i gotta back draper on his first comment because it makes my last article hold water. bettman made a mistake royallly.

    but here is the thing…nesn shows old bruins games in a compact 2 hours. last night they showed bruins vs caps where there were 250 + minutes in the first period. all players in a scrap including best friends byron dafoe and olie kolzig. 5-4 in ot.

    tonight is an 87 game when the bruins score 3 goals in the last 2 minutes to upend the habs. i am getting 2 hours of great hockey without delays and i am loving it.

    the players are going to lose….they are replace-able…in fact they already have been. i am content watching these old games.

  7. simplyhabby says:

    I would not take over an expansion market in the southern USA that never had or does not currently has a decent fan base.

    Would you want to take over Nashville, Florida, Atlanta, Carolina? I always agreed that one Florida team is great for the Canadian snowbirds but the rest were doomed at the start. (Atlanta is still up in the air). Simply put the expansion was not viable and its putting a drag on the rest of the league. The owners agreed to the expired CBA which put them in this situation.

    The owners want an idiot proof plan to make money be competitive regardless on how bad the fan base is and incompetent ownership can be.

    Don’t you find it funny that the owners are speaking as one voice? The owners of Calgary, Edmonton, Carolina, Florida and any other small market teams standing side by side with the owners of Detroit, Dallas, Toronto, NYR who are the guys who basically put them in this mess.

  8. Flyers_Fan_In_LA says:

    I would take over either of these teams.

    As for Carolina, I would look to move them to San Diego or Seattle. I lean towards SD. Huge population, wealthy, good sports fans, destination location for players. You would need a building no matter what there

  9. Flyers_Fan_In_LA says:

    With TiVo or any DVR you can do the same thing with HD or NTSC content of your favorite teams – not reruns where you know the outcome.

    If it makes you feel better, I watched a Flyers-Kings game in HD on HDNET from Staples center last year. I knew the Flyers (who looked NOTHING like their playoff version of the team) were going to lose 4-0 because I was AT THE GAME!!!! But you know what – I watched it ANYWAY. HD is transfixing. I have been calling for the NHL to get ALL of their games in HD. It might cost 20 million – (that’s leclair + forsberg for a year OR 8% of their war chest). Just yesterday the CEA came out with HDTV sales numbers of over 1,000,000 units for the MONTH of October 2004. That’s a lot of sports fans starved for content yet the NHL isn’t even creating content now.

  10. simplyhabby says:

    Are you saying you would take over these teams if there was an idiot proof CBA or in a true free market system?

  11. hockeyhead says:

    what do you mean not reruns????

    you mean that you can just pick a game and not remember the outcome….not having the station tell you what game it is and what is going to happen???

  12. guinsfan4life says:

    Great post, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    It is obvious that Draper’s convoluted thinking one of the reasons why the players continue to squabble over millions.

  13. cgolding says:

    I would go to Portland.

  14. PayUpSucka says:

    Teams like To, Dall, Det,, NYR, not to mention Philly, St lou, La, aren’t the reason the league is in the state it is. The reason the league is in the state it’s in is because nobody gives a crap about the NHL. Only Canada and a handful of American markets care about the game. If it wasn’t for the teams you mentioned, Toronto, NYR, Det, there wouldn’t be a league. To point them out as the culprit is just retarted.

    Both owners and players are to blame, not the markets where the NHL is strong. Owners in the successful markets are forced to pay players demands if they want to keep the fan in mind. No leaf or wings fan is going to sit silently by while teams like the rags and flyers and devils are spending to build a champion.

    Expansion was a killer, and whether Bettman wants to admit it or not, of the 18 teams that lost money, every team the Bettman era produced are those that are losing. I don’t believe any of the Canadian markets lost money last year. It was the Anahiems, the Coyotes, the Nashvilles, the Carolinas of the league that should be crying poor.

  15. cgolding says:

    Oregon… place with the incarcerated basketball team.

  16. hockeyhead says:

    that is what i thought. i go to portland maine every now and then. they have the pirates and the mariners used to be there (former flyer farm hand). it is a little small i guess.

  17. simplyhabby says:

    “To point them out at the culprit is just retarded”

    Although I agree the financially viable teams are the heart of the league (refer to my first comment) it is ignorant to indicate that they had no fault at this.

    These teams saturated the market with huge contracts that set presedence that created havoc on the small market teams. To deny this is pure ignorance.

    You know, just refer to my original comment.

  18. slugger says:

    Draper doesn’t know much other than hockey. expanion was and is a good Idea given that there is some cost certainty. 35 to 40 mill cap can let you have 30 teams with no problems the only thing is that before they didn’t have any cost certainty and now the owners are trying to get that.

    In order for nhl to do good it has to expand any franchise that is successfull does expanded so expanding is not bad it creates more fans and more fans = more money. If I was the commish I would try to expanded to where ever I can.

  19. PayUpSucka says:

    My point I guess is if the Rangers for example, go out and sign a Joe Sakic for 10mill a season, and a team like the Flyers or Leafs sit idle, you just know fans are going to rip management to hell knowing the profits they’re raking in.

    So at the end of the day maybe we should be taking some of the blame for complaining so much about who to sign.

    Anyway habs, looks as though we might, and I stress the word might, have a 36 game regular season, after what the players are prepared to give up, i’d say we should get that wish.

    Looking forward to watching the buds and habs go at it!!!!!!

  20. simplyhabby says:

    I definately agree. Its all about the supply and demand that set the ticket prices that we complain about which are needed to pay for the players we whine about keeping to make our favortie teams competitive. Its a vicious circle and even if we get to see a habs vs buds game at the ACC or the bell center this season, its still going to cost us the same.

    The one thing I will look forward too if they get a season going is where are all these free agents going to go?

  21. PayUpSucka says:

    All I can say is if this deal goes through as is JFJ has to be drooling at the concept he’s going to drop 19 million of his salaries without giving up a player, how sweet is that for a financial machine like the leafs.

  22. Aetherial says:

    Will I cry if they have to take a pay cut?

    I will go you one step further… I won’t cry if I never see these guys play again. There are only a handful of people I would pay to watch in the NHL…

    Mogilny, because he has been my favorite player since he broke into the league

    Sakic, needs no explanation

    Yzermen, needs no explanation

    Not necessarily the *best* in the league anymore, but the only ones I would actually care if I never saw play again.

  23. 19Yzerman says:

    You have taken Drapers comments completely out of context. By reflecting on Draper making reference to illitch’s business success you seem to think

    “They see strong, vertically integrated business and people who own them as able and willing to pay ANYTHING for their services.”

    This isn’t what he was saying. iIlitch took the Red Wings team which was having trouble getting the fans into the arena and turned it completely around by doing what it took to do so. One of those things was to get with Chrysler which was also struggling at that time and they both agreed to GIVE AWAY A CAR at every home game to one lucky ticket holder by Section/row/seat number. This turned a $40.00 hockey game ticket into a free raffle ticket with a 1 out of 10,000 odds of winning a new car.

    The Red Wings won its Stanley Cups not only because illitch had money. They won because of GOOD team management by doing things like picking up guys like Draper for a dollar. Yes the Red Wings compensated Winnipeg for Draper and the cost was $1.00 sounds like something right out of the Eddie Murphy movie trading places. The GRIND LINE may not be an all star cast but, Draper , Maltby and MaCarty are a huge part of this teams success.

    You think All Draper sees is $300 million and I am telling you he is only reflecting on some very successful entrepreneurial skills that should be a standard for NHL franchise ownership.

    The players entitlement is directly proportional to how much is being collected from fans to watch them play. Bottom line here is that fans pay money so see the players exhibit their skills not to see and not an NHL logo on anyones back skating around the ice. The product is the players not the NHL logo. This a reality that the owners need realize just as the players need to realize that the potential profits are not infinite.

    Maybe the owners are expecting the players to bail them out. If they are in that desperate of a state of finance then perhaps the players should do whatever they can to get the industry which is hanging by a very thin thread back on track. However the players should not have to commit to something that would be of lop side benefit to the owners in the event of sudden prosperity of the NHL overall either. What is so hard about an agreement of what is fair for both?

  24. PayUpSucka says:

    You can’t blame players as much as we should be blaming owners, I must admit I was against the players in the beginning only because they didn’t want to acknowledge the league was in trouble, but with the offer they submitted yesterday, I know now they understand the league is in termoil, and have responded with an unbelievable offer to the league, the league better take this proposal serious or there will be hell to pay from fans and media alike.

  25. Beckfan5 says:

    But why bring the league down? So you can add more teams?

    The league was fine ten years ago before expansion. Now it sucks. And now the league is in a deep deep hole.

    Now tell me how brilliant it was to include Atlanta and Nashville and Colunbus and Florida and San Jose……….

  26. Beckfan5 says:

    And the reason why your Penguins suck is because of expansion………..like Draper said.

  27. Beckfan5 says:

    And by creating 250 jobs, Bettman diluted the talent pool.

    And now thats why hockey sucks.

    Do you really give a rats ass about a team being in Atlanta? Or Columbus?

    Atlanta has already failed once and got a team back. They cant sell out for baseball playoff games in that city! So why not just put a team back in Kansas City? Great hockey market like Atlanta right?

  28. 19Yzerman says:

    New NHL franchise city ideas for Bettman to spoofeed Hockey to market with no appitite for it.

    Mobile , Alabama

    Biloxi, Mississippi

    Baton Rough, Louisianna

    Albuquerque, New Mexico

  29. Flyers_Fan_In_LA says:

    I can’t go along with you here. It is the players and their AGENTS that created this mess under a poor CBA.

    Take a team like TO or Philly and watch the fan reaction after they let a STAR player in his prime walk as a free agent. the fans would be going crazy. In smaller markets, the fans might not follow the team (thus the reason why Phoenix is stocked with young and veteran talent)

  30. PayUpSucka says:

    I said the exact same thing in my post up above and was ripped by habby. I agree 100% with your comments. I’m only now giving the players some props for finally owning up to it, after seeing what they are willing to give back in yesterdays proposal.

    Let’s just hope and prey for another Philly/Leafs tilt in June, best rivalry in hockey!!!!!!

  31. Freeze says:

    “This comment hits on the real problem with the NHLPA. They see strong, vertically integrated business and people who own them as able and willing to pay ANYTHING for their services. While that may work in a few cases (the Yankees come to mind) how dare players suggest that Comcast or Cable Vision or Disney have to eat away at the profits from their better performing sectors to increasingly pay NHL players, long term, guaranteed contracts EVEN if they don’t perform. “

    Mike Illitch’s Red Wings would not be worth $300 million if Illitch had to “eat away at the profits from (his) better performing sectors to increasingly pay NHL players.”

    He originally used the proceeds from his pizza empire to buy a floundering Red Wing franchise for a bargain and turn it into one of the premier organizations in all of sports, as noted by its financial stability and competitive excellence. Why can’t other owners do the same?

  32. 19Yzerman says:

    It would be a good time for Bettman to set new standards of NHL franchise requierments to be an owner and draft new owners. 19 teams lose money and its the players fault?? Yea right!! The owners should be the ones held accountable for their own buisness desions.

    The players are being vilified by articles like this one as though they performed embezlement or armed robbery.

    2005 NHL owners Draft list

    Bill Gates

    Donald Trump

    add more to this draft list if you like.

  33. 19Yzerman says:

    that was an Actor named Fred Berry from the 1970s TV show “What’s Happening!!”


  34. Flyers_Fan_In_LA says:

    I can give the NHLPA only so many props since the NHL told them they wanted ONE MAJOR POINT – a cap and the NHLPA refused to give them what they want. It is a flawed sales pitch. Imagine if you were to go into a car dealer and tell them you want a convertable. They do everything they can to get you to buy a coupe including taking 25% of the price off the sticker. Considering cars have a retail margin of about 7% this is QUITE a deal but if you want a convertable – in fact you DEMANDED that you would only drive a convertable – isn’t the salesperson wasting your time.

    The players themselves would take quite a haircut in this deal which is good. If the Tax has more teeth to it – it could be like a cap. Surely the NHLPA didn’t expect the NHL to accep this version but at least they are talking. I wrote an entire post on the topic and submited it earlier that include my projections as to what will happen next.

    As for TO-Philly– I will see you at the game in TO and I will buy you a Molson! The games I saw this year sucked monkey balls last year (game 3 and 4) but the Flyers proved who was better by game 6.

  35. Flyers_Fan_In_LA says:

    Gates is a computer nerd with a lot of cash and Trump just took his casinos bankrupt. Those two aren’t the best 2 guys but your point is well made.

    Harold Baldwin (former pens owner) wants a team but he wants one in KC. Bettman needs to make that clear that he doesn’t need teams in hard to promote cities.

    The idea of finding owners and or groups of owners is an excellent one. Guys like Mario may be good for the game but might not have the money to really make a team rock. In a more “certain” system in terms of cost – investors might see the chance to buy a team for 30 million (like the pens or anahiem) and make them worth 300 million like the Rangers, TO, Flyers and Detroit.

  36. Flyers_Fan_In_LA says:

    As a Habs fan, I’d like to see what you have to say when they decide not to sign Ribero, Ryder, Komasarik, Kovalev etc… because their greedy agents had your team over the barrel.

    Be realistic, the teams need asses in seats thus they had VERY little option. If you want a run at the playoffs and the windfall profit that comes from them – you also can’t be shipping your best players off becasue they want big contracts. Cost certainty makes this problem a much smaller one. Note examples from the NFL.

    Nevertheless, the owners if they do this deal with the 24% rollback, will need to control themselves. They need MAJOR arbitration changes to keep John Leclair from getting 9 million a year for 4 years with no way out if he tanks.

  37. hockeyhead says:

    and his friend was roge(r)

  38. simplyhabby says:

    As a flyers fan, I would like to here what you have to say about overpaying John leclair and Tony Amonte.

    I see your point but sound management creates profitable competitve teams.

    To your question, i say why are teams like Philly NYR, and others paying ridiculous contracts to players that results in a precedence being set for the greedy agents to prey on?

    Can you seriously blame an agent for maximizing the money their client makes or do you blame the owner that pays the bills?

    My major point is that i find it a Bettman idiocy trying to put in an idiot proof CBA. Why Should your flyers have to pay an equalization to Carolina because that owner is too stupid to realize the crap job they are doing?

  39. Beckfan5 says:

    Well why not put one in Montery Mexico? Baseball tried their had there a few years ago. And put one in Pueto Rico since they lost out on the Expos.

    Its funny, but when the NHL did their stupid little “neutral site” experiment a few years ago I guess they didnt see that these people had no interest in going to the game let alone the players had no interest in playing there. Stupid Bettman.

  40. 19Yzerman says:

    I have posed this question everytime this comes up. Why doesn’t the NHL just come out and tell the players here is a CBA for ya. It has a salary cap so take or leave it???

    Oh you wanted a CBA without a CAP? Sorry we no longer plan to sell convertables anymore. Your welcome to try the dealership down the road though. Its called the WHA. I here a lot of our convertable buying clients are going to europe instead.

  41. rojoke says:

    Did you ever stop to consider that these guys don’t want to own sports franchises? No sane person buys a sports franchise strictly because it’s a good business investment, as it rarely is. They do it because for one main reason; ego. It’s a small group. It’s all about their image. Being a team owner gives them the ability to get noticed, and associated themselves with the people they used to be, or they wished they were.

  42. 19Yzerman says:

    I think an example of what you are refering to is the Dallas Mavericks owner. There maybe are some cases of owners who have an Attention Deprevation or Identity Crisis situation. However most owners of sports franchises use the team to controll a large cash flow entity. They are actually the middle man in between the fans and the players. This is the area I am talking about standards of owners should be taken into consideration. Those who have displayed a diverce ablity to generate outstanding profits are the ones to consider or those who truely care about the state of hockey.

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