Predators and Contraction
Ok, so the focus of posts recently has been on the ideas of change in the NHL and contraction as the way to fix the myriad of problems in the current system. Here is the opinion of an adult kid from one of those non-traditional hockey markets that host a current team (and the one most often mentioned by contraction lovers.)
What in the world made TPTB place new teams or move from traditional hockey markets into these non-traditional markets? Maybe it was the fact that the traditional hockey fans weren’t doing the things necessary to keep their teams. And maybe it was that in order to remain competitive, hockey needed to look outside of it’s tiny world and try and attract new fans. The strange thought that growing the fan base might actually help owners to keep up with the rising cost of player salaries and the fans demands that their city host a cup contending team.
I keep hearing how watered down the talent is, and I have to wonder, is parity really the issue? Teams like the Rangers keep buying up talented roster pieces to produce substandard results. Last years contenders end up not making the playoffs while new teams start pushing from below to fill the vacated spots. The level of play seems to be getting closer and closer, as the league keeps adjusting to the new dynamics it has created. What has happened is a leveling of the field talent-wise. The major issue is that some teams have the money to spend, while others don’t
My city, Nashville, for example has forked over a lot of money to get professional sports. Our arena is top of the line, with good sight lines and the luxury boxes our owner needs to sell to be profitable. Nashville has used a grow through the draft program of building its team. Slowly stockpiling draft choices. This has not been understood by the fans as well. The Titans came to town at the same time and then made a quick superbowl run thereby making hockey a quick second-fiddle (pun-intended.)
The NFL has what seems to be the best marketing and salary structure of any of the leagues, allowing players to make lots of money, owners to make lots of money, and networks a lot of money. It also gives cities a great amount of pride to have a contending team. The Predators are now starting to contend, but wont get much notice in the city until the Titans are out of the playoffs.
I believe many fans spot out “Contraction!” at the drop of a hat. Our friends north of the border seem to forget the pain that losing a team causes to a city. Perhaps this is that pain still being voiced. For whatever reason, with the new expansion, Canada was not chosen. Two new markets were opened and two old ones in which the economics had changed enough to support teams. I personally think that Nashville would not have been chosen if they had known about the NFL relocation about to happen. Contraction is bad. It will not work economically – the new team arena contracts lock in the teams for extended periods of time. This is only fair to the taxpayers who built these arenas are able to hold the teams to play there. Where was this learned from? Teams that relocated in the past.
The NHL will not contract. If it does it will no longer exist. Perhaps the AHL or WHL would replace it, but it would never gain the momentum that the NHL has had. For the NHL to survive it needs these new markets. It needs to have as wide a base as possible to contend for a national network to carry games. It needs to promote the players it has and get them out there on TV and in print.
Sorry Canada, I don’t see you getting new teams anytime soon through the NHL.