OT: Is NHL Lockout #2 on the Horizon for the league?

Submitted by WingsNWolverines on August 9th, 2012 at 4:45 PM

Heard a statement that if the league does not reach a CBA by September 15th the league will lock out the players thus leading to a possible strike and another missed season. There's already one blank space on the Stanley Cup. I don't want to see another. This will cripple the NHL and possibly end it if this happens. Thoughts? http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=53&id=185154&lang=en 




August 9th, 2012 at 4:58 PM ^

C'mon man! They just almost killed the league, they've finally got a long term TV deal in place, they took SO MUCH from the players last time, now they're thinking MORE MORE MORE.


The last lockout was 100% the owners fault. This one would be 100% the owners fault.

What I've read is that no one expects the season to start on time, and no one expects to miss the whole year either.


August 9th, 2012 at 11:17 PM ^

They hate their fans? Why would you say that? Its not like they make the playoffs almost impossible to watch on networks with the most annoying analysts of any sport. Or they keep manipulating the rules to give the refs more influence on the game than the players. Or they force feed you the team or individual player you should adore by hyping the hell out of them while marginalizing other equally legitimate teams/players.
Wait, no. They do do all that stuff. You may have a point.


August 10th, 2012 at 7:28 AM ^

It's not the players wanting more money, it's the owners wanting to stop players from being free agents for 10 years after being drafted and limiting contract length to 5 years max. Limiting the contract length is what the players really don't want cuz it means the role players will get scraps because the stars will be causing huge cap hits.


August 9th, 2012 at 6:39 PM ^

The financial system before the last lockout was outrageous and completely unsustainable. You had regular guy hockey players making more than NBA stars that played for smaller teams in a more successful league. Big change was absolutely needed.

I tend to agree that this time it's the owners that are the problem, though I can't confirm all the details. They are total fools if they miss any hockey, though.


August 9th, 2012 at 5:05 PM ^

There is and always be some speculation about a league being crippled or no longer existing after a lockout/strike.  IF there is such an issue, whenever the hockey starts the fans support will start.  The fans will eventually and usually always come back.  Sure people will talk about spoiled rich players and wealthy billionaire owners comparing them to the 1%.  But eventually it will be business as usual.  I remember this kind of talk back in '87 with the NFL.  How many Super Bowls have we had since then?  How many expansion teams came into the league since then?  These sports bring in way to much money for almost everyone involved so I doubt there will be any serious repercussions. Lockout/strikes is part of American sports culture just like unions, CBA's and most of all sports are part of the American culture.......   

snarling wolverine

August 9th, 2012 at 5:18 PM ^

The fans will come back in the cities where hockey is established.  In the Sun Belt cities where it's already struggling, there is a real risk that this could alienate the fans for good.  Unless the players are trying to get rid of the salary cap, I don't see the point of doing this.



August 9th, 2012 at 5:31 PM ^

Most of the sun belt teams have strong fan support/fan base and ownership other than Phoenix maybe.  Maybe another one or so but I don't expect a city to lose a franchise because of fan support dwindling due to a lockout/strike.  When the hockey starts and they drop the puck, the fans will come back.

Phil Brickma

August 9th, 2012 at 5:47 PM ^

The Atlanta Thrashers (RIP) disagree...

Phoenix averaged 72% capacity for home sales, worst in the league. Carolina was 86%, Florida was 86%, Dallas was 76%. Those are not strong numbers. Now, I'm not saying those figures are indicative of the lockout, but it does say something to the lack of attraction in those markets.

Another lockout would cripple hockey. The NHL has set all-new highs in revenue this past season, namely because of their TV contract. I think it is bad enough they relegated themselves to NBC Sports. Shutting down would be a huge mistake. The owners only have themselves to blame if they lockout. Their demands are unfounded in any other U.S.-based sports league. The players see the increases and revenue and must be dumbfounded at the owners' demands.

Here is a short story on Bettman's statement.


Here is a link to the attendance figures.


Also, fuck Bettman.


August 9th, 2012 at 6:21 PM ^

Poor attendance or slow attendance after a LO/S is totally different than teams folding up or a league folding because of a lockout or strike.  THIS IS NOT THE USFL WE ARE TALKING ABOUT.  Since I was 5 years old and started following sports way back in '74, there have been 15 LO/S in the 4 major leagues.  How many leagues or teams have folded because of the LO/S?  You can link attendance stats all day long but the fans will come back.  Maybe not all of them, but enough will come back.  I've seen this same arguement made every time this happens for the last 38 years and there is and always will be people stating the this will kill the league.  Much like the arguement of how hockey will not survive in the south.  Lets hear that one again, I always need a good laugh.  Keep in mind that struggling is different from folding.  What teams or leagues have folded because of a lockout?


snarling wolverine

August 9th, 2012 at 7:06 PM ^

You shouldn't compare the NHL to the other major leagues.  The NHL has much, much less of a footprint in the U.S. than the other three, and is consequently more sensitive to shifts in fan tastes.  Fan support is particularly weak in the Sun Belt, where the league has little history, and a lockout sure won't win anyone new over.  

I'm not saying franchises will fold.  They'll relocate, like the Thrashers did.  Quebec City, Kansas City and Seattle will get them.  But if the league is really committed to having teams all over the Sun Belt, a lockout would be a terrible mistake.

Phil Brickma

August 9th, 2012 at 7:27 PM ^

It's a hypothetical situation, so there is no honest answer, but could you imagine where the NHL would be if they didn't hold out in 2004? The most notable change is that they likely would have kept their deal with ESPN, which, if you notice, has shifted any and all focus to pimping their own product as much as possible. (hence why the college baseball world series got more time on SportsCenter than the Stanley Cup playoffs).

No, a lockout won't end the NHL. Hockey is too much of an established sport in the U.S. and Canada. That being said, this potential lockout, just like the one in 2004-2005, could substantially stunt the growth of the league and cause more problems down the road.

That being said, having no hockey provides bigger problems to southern teams than it does to those in traditional hockey markets (Canada, Detroit, Minnesota). Non-traditional market teams rely on the league as a whole to build the game. No league, no growth in those markets and they get passed by other events. When the NHL returns, Detroit will love the Wings. Florida might be stuck on the Miami Heat than the Florida Panthers. That's all I'm saying.


August 9th, 2012 at 6:46 PM ^

accepting that the NHL would fold (it won't) the Stanley Cup would still be awarded. Per the 1947 agreement between the Trustees and NHL, the League only retains exclusive rights if it's the dominant North American league. The Cup has a long and rich history independent of the NHL and would live on, no question.

Edit: World's dominant league, not North America.


August 9th, 2012 at 6:41 PM ^

but, I think it would be great if they removed the salary cap, killed any revenue sharing, and let every owner know that if you cannot keep up with the big dogs then you should probably get out of the game.  Once a dozen teams or so fail economically the talent level of the remaining teams would see an uptick in skill.   I think the product would look fantastic.


August 9th, 2012 at 8:48 PM ^

The Original 6, the rest of the canadian teams, Pittsburgh, Philly.... 

Yeah, So we have 13 teams and everyone else would fold. I could almost see Minny making a go of it, but they would suck. The Isles and the Devils would go down the shitter, as would Colorado, LA, Anaheim, San Jose, Dallas, Tampa, Florida, Hurricanes, and Caps. Dunno about Nashville. They did match Philly's offer for Weber. Not counting Phoenix as they're already down the shitter. Don't know what to say about Columbus. They're so damn pathetic they shouldn't even be in the conversation. They should demote themselves to the AHL. Or the ECHL. 


August 9th, 2012 at 11:25 PM ^

article http://www.forbes.com/nhl-valuations/#p_1_s_a0_  there are 18 teams that operate at a loss. 

Here they are listed from greatest to least defecit:

(numbers are in millions of dollars)

  • Phoenix              -24.4
  • Columbus         -13.7
  • Tampa               -8.5
  • Anaheim            -8.4
  • Islanders           -8.1
  • San Jose           -7.8
  • Washinton         -7.5
  • Nashville            -7.5
  • Florida                -7
  • New Jersey       -6.1
  • Minnesota         -5.9
  • Buffalo                -5.6
  • Winnepeg          -5.2
  • Carolina             -4.4
  • St. Louis             -2.7
  • L.A.                      -2
  • Dallas                 -1.1
  • Pittsburgh             -.02

Many teams are owned by billionaires and so a small (million dollar) defecit every year is no big deal.  Especially if you have a passion for your team.  Pittsburgh for example has Mario who would do whatever it takes to keep a franchise in his city even if it meant he had to spend a million dollars of his own money. (every year)

Other franchises are owned by shareholders and their only vested interest is making money.  They lose money by bidding up player contracts which they cannot afford and then ask the weathier teams to share some of their money so that they can ice a competetive team. 

This is done to "level the playing field"  but from a fan standpoint we should let the marketplace level the playing field.  If a team cannot compete it fails.  If it can compete then the playing field will be leveled by the ones that remain.  If an owner wants to lose money every year in order to "compete" so be it, but I don't like using profitable/competetive teams to subsidize the teams that lose money  just so that they can have a level playing field.   Sure the hockey is "competetive" but the talent is spread out so thin that the product suffers.  I would rather watch teams with all star players compete against one another then watch the next expansion franchise clutch and grab and choke the fun out of the sport of hockey.


August 10th, 2012 at 12:39 AM ^

But how far off the mark are these numbers?  And what kind of oversight does the NHL have in bookeeping.  It would be in the owners best interests (at least the ones who make money) to make sure their members are not under reporting profits.  And how much money would a team reasonably be able to hide? 

Not every team on this list would fail if caps were lifted and revenue sharing was rescinded but it would be safe to assume that the ones who really are hurting financially would suffer even more.  They would be forced to keep pace with rising salaries while at the same time deal with the loss of millions of dollars in shared revenue.  Some of them with strong ownership would suffer the losses and keep playing the game because they love it but I think many of them would throw in the towel.

snarling wolverine

August 10th, 2012 at 12:24 AM ^

This is done to "level the playing field" but from a fan standpoint we should let the marketplace level the playing field. If a team cannot compete it fails. If it can compete then the playing field will be leveled by the ones that remain

There is an example of your proposal in action: European soccer. It's pure dog-eat-dog: no salary caps, no entry drafts, little to no revenue sharing. However, its playing field is miles away from being level.  The same handful of teams are competing for the Champions League yearly.  The NFL, in contrast, shows that when tight financial restrictions are imposed, there is considerable parity.  

The free market doesn't lead to balanced competition.  It usually leads to domination by a few interested parties.  You cannot realistically expect a league with no financial boundaries to have good competitive balance.


August 10th, 2012 at 1:10 AM ^

I am not informed enough on the financial or competetive nature of European Soccer to make any sort of rebuttal.  If what you say is true (and I have no reason to doubt you) then it makes a good point.  There may also be additional factors that influence European Soccer that make it that way.  I don't know.    +1snarlingwolverine


The NFL on the other hand is king when it comes to making money.  They only have two more teams than the NHL but they make a ton more money overall.  After browsing Forbes list of NFL franchises it appears as if only two teams are operating at a loss. The Cleveland Browns and the Detroit Lions.  http://www.forbes.com/lists/2011/30/nfl-valuations-11_rank.html   This is in stark comparison to the NHL where more than half of its members report operating at a loss.  If the NHL only had to bail out one or two teams I would have a different opinion but when 18 of 30 teams cannot turn a profit then it appears as if the market is saturated.  The NHL owners (the ones who make money) need to decide whether expanding markets is worth the cost of subsidizing weak franchises. 

I don't think revenue sharing is wrong per se.  I just would like to see it suspended in this case in order to bring about contraction.  Once the league finds balance in the marketplace from a supply and demand point of view then I could see propping up one of your members with a little cash money.


August 9th, 2012 at 6:53 PM ^


Now, the league is not going to die if they have a lockout, even if they lose a whole season. But this is a classic example of a small-time niche group fighting with itself over the scraps of the big boys table. And I say this as a hockey fan. The NHL is not popular enough to mess with its fans like this, it just isn't. It has gained a lot of momentum and goodwill for the play on the ice, the quality of the playoffs, and its visibility on NBC Sports Network; it will lose all of this if it locks out for any length of time.

Now, there are some things that need to be addressed: For starters, the argument that "its the owners fault for paying large contracts and if they don't want to pay so much they shouldn't award those contracts" is utter baloney. In professional sports, if the market is not limited by collective bargaining, teams will inevitably pay out large contracts to hold onto good players. If they don't, the players go somewhere that wants them. And if all teams refuse to pay such money, they are sued for collusion (take the NFL, for example, which is going to get pantsed by the players union for its actions during the uncapped season). 

Further, teams that don't pay for players are destroyed by their own fans for not doing so. @yostbuilt has kept a running commentary on the Red Wings offseason, and his criticism of the generally brilliant Ken Holland has been brutally harsh. And probably with merit. The problem is that the Red Wings did not want to commit to gigantic contracts to guys like Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, and so those players went to Minnesota. The Wings, by being fiscally responsible, are going to peform poorly and lose good will and ticket sales as a result.

Anyway, that argument is bunk. But the League would still be foolish to lose serious time this year. What they might gain in dollars, they will lose in public perception and brand value, and those are things you cannot buy.

The NHL is just not an essential part of the lives of many people. LA has a lot of momentum and a chance to genuinely claim mindshare in a crowded market, but if the league shuts down, fans will just go back to the Lakers and the Dodgers. They won't care. Chicago fans will spend more time watching the Bulls; Bruins fans will watch the Celtics and get ready for baseball; Caps and Rangers fans will do the same with their teams. These are markets with a lot of people and a lot of momentum that will shrivel like a California Raisin if they go forward with this.

And if they lose another season, even die-hards like me will start to get restless. Oh, and players may just decide to play for rich teams in Russia, too--and then you have a long-term star problem when you come back.



August 10th, 2012 at 8:56 AM ^

Zach parise,Ryan suter, Dustin Brown, Jonathan Quick, Patrick Kane, TJ Oshie, Ryan Miller, Dustin Byfuglien, Ryan Kesler, Joe Pavelski,Phil Kessel. I'm sure there are more I just can't think of them. The argument is so tired that there isn't any american NHL players good enough to be "stars" because there are plenty. Just because Crosby and Ovechkin aren't American doesn't make them any less appealing to US fans or at least it shouldn't.


August 9th, 2012 at 7:06 PM ^

The NHL has gained a lot of momentum in influential markets over the past years since the lockout. Consider that at the time of the last lockout, the defending champion was Tampa Bay; the powers of the previous decade had been New Jersey, Detroit, and Colorado; and Chicago didn't even have a local TV deal. The "stars" of the game were old guys who could even break 50 goals or 100 points in a season. Not to mention departure from ESPN to little-watched Versus. 

Since then, the top 3 markets in the country (New York, LA, and Chicago) have all seen huge jumps in success and fan interest, with two of them winning Stanley Cups. Boston and Washington, both tremendously influential, have also become powers with Boston winning a Cup; and NBC Sports Network now enjoys a far wider audience, with outstanding and critically respected game productions. The league has a boatload of young talent that make ESPN highlight shows every night and achieve legtimately solid stats, with names that every sports fan in America recognizes. 

The League has momentum. It would be absolutely insane to change the narrative to one about labor politics. It would be lunacy to kill the momentum that they're gaining in their most important markets, markets that were moribund for 15 years prior to the last lockout, fans that used to not care at all and now can't miss a game. It would be idiocy.

But perhaps that is what the NHL does best.

As the NHL continues to study the effects of concussions on players' long-term brain function, perhaps they should study the effects of power on Gary Bettman's brain function.


August 9th, 2012 at 8:49 PM ^

The players make too much money.  In their Stanley Cup year, Tampa Bay didn't get into the black until the Stanley Cup semifinals.  I can't imagine it having gotten much better since then, especially since they added a salary floor to the salary cap.  

NHL players see other professional athletes winning lotto every year, but the other major sports have much better TV contracts.  

Professional sports have pretty much been ruined by greedy players, greedier agents, and judges who call it "collusion" when owners conspire to limit salaries, but "freedom" when players and agents conspire to drive them up.

The main problem is that it only takes one owner to alter the salary cap by grossly overpaying a player in hopes of buying a championship.