NHL on Thin Ice?

I find this article quite interesting, and we’ll finally be able to see how good Commissioner Gary Bettman is.http://www.nypost.com/business/72835.htm

By TIM ARANGO
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April 7, 2003 —

The finances of the National Hockey League are in such tatters that a full one-third of the league’s teams are for sale, The Post has learned.

At least 10 of the league’s 30 franchises are on the block – a symptom, critics say, of the league’s troubled times, which have been brought on by overexpansion and an uncertain labor situation.

Some of the planned sales have been announced, but other teams have been quietly put on the block, sources familiar with the matter say.

The teams include the Phoenix Coyotes, which recently hired the New York investment bank Allen & Co.; the Tampa Bay Lightning; and the Calgary Flames in Canada.

The Coyotes’ ownership says it hired Allen & Co. to drum up new investors to fund a new stadium, but sources say the team is also being shopped around.

Spokespersons for the teams in Calgary, Phoenix and Tampa Bay denied that their squads are being actively shopped.

The number of hockey teams available “is unprecedented,” said one sports-industry veteran.

Added John Mansell, a sports analyst at Peter Kagen Associates, “That’s quite a few teams, there’s no question about it. I can’t recall that many for sale at any time” in any sport.

For sure, some teams have been beset by individual problems. The New Jersey Devils, for example, have been unable to secure a new arena in Newark – a move that is seen as key to the team’s long-term financial success.

As a result, The Post recently reported, Puck Holdings Ltd., an affiliate of YankeeNets, is trying to unload the Devils.

Another New York team, the Buffalo Sabres, was part of bankrupt cable giant Adelphia and is close to being sold to Rochester billionaire Tom Golisano for roughly $90 million.

Some say the dire situation in the NHL stems from the league’s rapid expansion during the 1990s. Nine teams were added to the league during that time. Four of those teams – Anaheim, Atlanta, Ottawa and Tampa Bay – are now for sale.

Hampering the ability of current owners to sell their teams is uncertainty over future labor negotiations. Next summer, the current collective bargaining agreement between the players and management expires, and most NHL observers predict a costly lockout.

Team owners blame rising player salaries for the league’s financial difficulties, and they will probably seek to put a clamp on salaries.

The players association, of course, will probably resist.

“Most teams are losing money, and they are looking out for a work stoppage next year,” sports analyst Mansell said.

To make matters worse, the NHL’s television contract with Disney-owned networks ABC and ESPN expires next year, and many expect the league to get less from any subsequent contract than the $120 million a year it gets now.

“There’s no light at the end of the tunnel,” Mansell said. A team’s on-ice performance often has little do with a franchise’s financial state. For example, the Ottawa Senators are the Northeast Division champion and boast the league’s best record – yet the team has piled on $225 million in debt and was forced to file for bankruptcy protection earlier this year.


20 Responses to NHL on Thin Ice?

  1. Hockey_Fan says:

    Thank God someone finally said it. There needs to be a salary cap. Some teams should be conctracted, especially teams that do not have a hockey market, (most of the teams in the south). There needs to be a couple teams in Canada. Bring back the Quebec Nordiques and the Winnipeg Jets! Get rid of the Panthers, Predators, Coyotes, and Mighty Ducks.

  2. MantaRay says:

    “Team owners blame rising player salaries for the league’s financial difficulties, and they will probably seek to put a clamp on salaries.”

    I smell CBA droppings.

  3. Flyers_01 says:

    The only problem here is that the players union would rather see the league fold than take a salary cap. Look at baseball .. they got taken to court so they couldn’t contract and they failed miserably in creating any sort of cap. When a cap only affects one team and that one team is completely able to ignore it regardless, it’s a disgrace.

    If the NHL would opt to contract the players would go to court for an injunction just like baseball. The real question is can the court make you pay them?

  4. mikster says:

    This is the solution i want, which is probably not going to happen.

    UFA’s may only receive a max of $7M a season average.

    RFA’s….hmm, not sure what to do with them yet.

    04-05 season: $50M salary cap.

    Reason: Give an easier time for the higher payroll teams to dump salary by not giving up too many players.

    05-06 season: $40M salary cap.

    06-07 season: $35M salary cap and that’s how it will be in the future.

  5. MantaRay says:

    You can’t set a limit on something that is “unrestricted” and “free”.

  6. MantaRay says:

    What the NHL has to do is to learn from the success stories of the other Pro-sport successes.

    Both Football and Basketball have revenue sharing of their TV contracts which is a huge reason they are successful. Football shares almost of thier revenues which is why a team in a tiny market like GREEN BAY, can survive and thrive.

    Salary caps have to be enacted for the Fans and the game. Each team should start with a $30 million budget and increase it 5% each year.

    Another option:

    Standard contracts $300K for each player with team bonus incentives for team WINS and maybe minor, minor monetary incentives for individual awards.

    The extra money in revenue the league makes should go into promoting the league.

  7. mikster says:

    Change the words then.

  8. titans says:

    Man is it just me or is Gary Bettman the biggest moron ever! Is there anything this guy can’t manage to screw up?

  9. Kroeter says:

    I don’t think a team salary cap is the best idea, I think they should have a player salary cap instead. Its about saving the small market teams like Calgary Edmonton and others. Having a team salary cap is only going to stop teams like New York, Toronto and a couple other rich teams from spending. there are small market teams that barely have a $30 million pay role. Having a player cap (eg. 5 million max, no bounses , maybe limit contract years to 4 and have an arbitrator determine what a player is worth) then the small market teams can save and make money. And not to mention keep their star players. But all in all something has to be done or we’re going to see more teams go though what Pittsburgh went through this year.

  10. NYRrule says:

    You can post all the solutions you want but the players union will not take any of it lying down. The union is going to fight to the death to keep any kind of cap from happening. I personally think there should be a cap of around 40 million a year but I just don’t see that happening without a significant work stoppage. After this is all said and done, there will be alot of bruised egos and bad blood between players, management and the league that will take a while to heal. Unless the players put their egos aside and start buying Buick’s instead of Mercedes’s, a strike or lockout is unavoidable.

  11. Rushing says:

    Exactly. They put a $135 mill. cap and then NY goes well over $150 mill. What a cap.

  12. Rushing says:

    I can “possibly” see leaving it at $50 million. But droppping it below(especially to $35 mill) is utterly ridiculous.

    We already have the great majority of the teams paying more than that now!!!!!!!! That is just idiotic!

  13. Aetherial says:

    There will be a lock out. It will probably be a year.

    The players will not win this time. There will be revenue sharing AND a salary cap. I see an individual cap also and further restrictions on things like rookie signing bonuses and amounts.

    I truly believe the labor structure in the NHL will change dramatically. This isn’t a joke and it is not just small-market Canadian teams in trouble.

  14. Slovakiaz says:

    You’re totally right, he’s a moron who screwed this league …

  15. BlackJackman5 says:

    i understand what you are saying about the TV contracts, but football’s contract is like 10 to 20 times what the nhl recieves, and basketball is at least 3 or 4 times more, so it would help, bu not that much…..

  16. Habfan1234 says:

    No its not you Titans because he is dumb and ignorant when it comes to the NHL. During his tenure he has failed to get new fans (not fans who go see a hockey game because it is the new it thing in town than they never go see a game five years down the line) and he has alienated the true hockey fans. He has dumbed down the game by making it seem to many people in North America that the NHL never existed prior to 1990. He has slowly eroded the historical elements of the game such as the naming of the conferences and divisons. I want the league to go back to the Prince of Wales Conference and The Campbell conference and bring back the Smythe, Norris, Adams, and I think Patrick divisions.

    The main problem is that he has expanded to non hockey markets where the NHL has no reason to be such as Carolina, Tampa Bay, Nashville, and Atlanta.

    I just hope that 4 to 6 teams would be contracted and a salary cap and revenue sharing be imposed in the 2004 CBA.

  17. defenestrate says:

    How about “indentured servant?”

    Seriously, if you go below 50 million or so, you may see a lot of your European talent bolting for home. The Rangers will end up with a top line of Michael J. Fox, Chris Jehrico, and Dave “Killer” Carlson.

    Come to think of it, that’s better than the top line they have now…. you may be on to something..

  18. TrojanMan says:

    why should higher payroll teams benefit? its their fault they didnt forsee this happening or chose to ignore it.

  19. TrojanMan says:

    from what i understand, green bay is owned by the fans. the fans buy stock in the team, at least thats what I think i heard, im not 100% sure though and am too lazy to research it.

  20. TrojanMan says:

    the players cant win, they have to realize this ISNT basketball or baseball where owners can dish out 8yr $100,000,000 contracts. The players say that hockey is the working mans sport, if thats so, then they shouldnt be asking for millions upon millions of dollars. How many factory workers go to their bosses and request a $2million pay raise? Heres something I found funny during the Kovalev debacle. he said he loved playing for pittsburgh but wouldnt play for less then the 8-9 million he was looking for because “he needs to be able to support his family” how insane is that?!?!? A person can live off the interest of a million dollars alone if u stick it in a savings account. Its unreal. I myself will be able to support my family in the lap of luxury making 50k a year. FFS man. Its time for the NHLPA to step up and admit their players are overpaid.

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