Tagged with "bettman"
Hockey is Back!!!
Category: NHL
Tags: NHL NHL lockout NHLPA Gary Bettman Donald Fehr

It appears that NHL lockout is over. After a 16 hour marathon of meetings between Bettman, Fehr and player union reps the NHL is moving to have the current deal ratified by the players and owner's. The season, which if the deal is done in the next few days has the season starting with only IN-Conference games with a schedule of 48 games. If this deal had not been reached and negotiations had stalled much longer the season would have been bagged...which is where I was convinced it was heading. 

Perhaps Bettman and Fehr heard what I said to Jeff yesterday when I told him how much the loss of hockey has sucked for me. Sure, I love all sports but hockey is my number one and not having games to watch nightly has been a real drag, it's made this winter boring as hell and the days and nights just seem a bit longer. However it got done I'm just glad to see the players getting back to the pond where they should have been in the first place, but of course, the almighty buck got in the way, as is always the case. 

I know there are many who are miffed about the lockout, myself included, but I don't think the game will suffer as much as some predicted, hockey fans generally are a loyal bunch, but I guess you could say that about the NFL and the NBA and neither of them seem to have suffered much from their recent contract woes, in fact the NFL has never done better, they gross higher dollars each passing year. I don't know how well the NBA is faring in their actual dollar amounts per season, because I don't give a shit about tall guys slamming a ball thru a hoop. Like I've always said, you can watch the last 2 minutes of a basketball game and you've seen it all, there's not much difference between the start and finish, just up, down, shoot, slam, repeat. I'd rather get a root canal. 

I'll keep you posted as the players and owners work on sealing the deal! 

Oh, one last thing - GO IRISH!!!

YGS Tool of the Year 2012
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: Roger Goodell Lance Armstrong Gary Bettman Donald Fehr Jeffrey Loria Tool of the Year

Another year has passed us by, but before we get fully engrossed in what’s on tap for us in this New Year there’s some unfinished business that needs some tending to…we need to hand out the hardware for the “Tool of the Year”. Like death and taxes, another sure thing we can always count on in the world of sports is those individuals that stand out above the rest for all the wrong reasons. Before I hand out the Golden Plunger by Binford to the TOTY we’ve got some parting gifts for a few folks that fell short, but not by much for TOTY honors.

 “The Padlock Award” – Once again hockey fans find the ponds empty, the owner’s locked out the players and so far nothing offered by either side has come close to getting the season started. Meanwhile, a good portion of the players in the NHL are playing abroad and making bank while others are sitting around just waiting to see when the season will be bagged. I don’t think they’ll be waiting much longer, news should be handed down soon that won’t see them back until the 2013-14 season. Maybe in the New Year Gary Bettman will get hit by a car crossing 5th Avenue and Donald Fehr will be the driver convicted for vehicular homicide…it’s win-win for everyone, Game On!

“Tool Bag of the Year” – Roger Goodell. The NFL commish who makes no bones about flaunting his power recently had the penalties handed down to Saints players for BountyGate overturned by the very man he replaced and his mentor, Paul Tagliabue. Goodell has governed with an iron fist while trying to implement higher safety standards due to concussions. But during this time he’s turned this contact sport into nothing more than the NBA on turf. Don’t touch him, don’t breathe on him…why not just wear flags and take the hitting out of the game altogether? I shouldn’t say that too loud, he might just jump on that next season. I could write a book about this douche, but since everyone already knows his story I won’t bore you with any recap.

“Dumb Ass of the Year” – Bobby Petrino. I can’t even type this guy’s name without laughing. That photo says it all doesn’t it?

“Knocked from the Pedestal Award” – Has there been a bigger fall from grace than Lance Armstrong? This guy literally woke up one day and everything he had was all gone. 7 Tour De France titles – stripped, sponsors dropped him like a bad habit and he was basically banished from his own charity, LIVESTRONG, that upon it’s inception took the country by storm and it seemed like overnight everyone was wearing the wristbands sporting the organizations label. His comeback story from cancer which became the catalyst for his increasing popularity left questions lurking from many that he was doping as he kept winning but there were many in the cycling world that just couldn’t accept that this guy had such a miraculous recovery and then was able to win cycling’s biggest event. In the end his masking techniques caught up with him and he has now gone and buried his head in the sand, yet to admit to cheating…at least Marion Jones had the berries to do so once she was busted. Oh wait, Lance only has one berry…but it still is one more than Jones has.

 

 

Now to the Tool of the Year… There are a lot of owner’s of sports franchises that are despised, if you’re from Boston, you went years hating the very existence of Jeremy Jacobs, owner of the Boston Bruins. Jacobs was notorious for putting a “decent” team on the ice but never was willing to go deep into his pocket to put together a Stanley Cup caliber team. Then he hired Bruins favorite Cam Neely and things changed overnight. But Jeffrey Loria has now become the new Harry Frazee of the sports world; in fact Frazee’s trade of Babe Ruth may be dwarfed in comparison to what Loria has done in recent months. Hated by Florida Marlin fans and anyone who enjoys baseball or common decency, Loria stooped to an all time low. After getting the taxpayers of Florida to ante up almost $2.5 billion for a new stadium and promising fans he’d field a winning team in exchange for the new digs, Loria ceremoniously began to dismantle the Marlins. It started with Hanley Ramirez going to the Dodgers and Anibal Sanchez and Omar infante sent off to the Tigers for prospects. Then came the curtain call at season’s end, Loria ordered up the U-Haul and loaded it with Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio to the Jays, again for prospects. Can you imagine waking up and seeing this on the sports page? Frankly, if this happened in NY, Chicago or Boston there would be riots in the streets from pissed off fans and really pissed off tax payers!

 

How this guy is able to even look at himself in a mirror or step outside of his house without wearing a bulletproof suit is beyond me. Talk about having a pair of brass cojones. It’s this very type of behavior that gets you the nod for Tool of the Year and Loria has actually gone above and beyond the call of duty to get his Golden Plunger by Binford. And here I was thinking Miami already had more than enough bullshit just dealing with Wayne Huizenga and how he turns just about everything he touches to shit.  

Monster View: The NHL's Cold War?
Category: FEATURED
Tags: NHL Lockout Donald Fehr Gary Bettman NHLPA NHL

 

So why write about hockey? It's football season. Baseball's Hot Stove is heating up. The NBA somehow is attracting crowds. The NHL? It exists right now only in name. Oh, sure, there's a new proposal out. More talks are scheduled. The remaining short-term question, should there actually be a stortened season, is how much interest will remain in what is the quintessential winter sport. But there's a much bigger question: does the NHL really have any long-term prospects of success, regardless of how this season pans out?

First of all, why is the league in its current standoff? Bettman is a popular scapegoat. The owners are the target of class warriors everywhere. You hear "It's not a strike, it's a lockout!" That's pure spin. Of course it's a lockout. Uncontracted players can't be allowed to use team facilities in this lawsuit-driven era. And no one who can read or hear could be missing the elephant in the room, Donald Fehr. It's all pretty complicated until you boil it down to an unappealing but accurate scenario --- the billionaire owners and millionaire players are all trying to make more money. That money comes from the customer base, as in any industry. We call them 'fans'. That's short for 'fanatics' in old-time baseball lore. They may have to be fanatics (rich fanatics at that) to support what emerges, if anything does.

But as for the current absence of hockey, it's all about Fehr, the guy who torched baseball, the sport now almost universally acclaimed to have the most unworkable contract structuring. Nothing is about long-term sustainability. It's all about a raid on the cash box while it lasts.

Baseball rides its sadly diminishing status as the National Pastime, but even a quick look at old newspapers and tv shows (e.g. Ted Williams' appearance on What's My Line) tells you that it's not in the public imagination at that level anymore. The market is just bigger. Kind of like Def Leppard's albums out-totaling the Beatles at one point, or nearly everybody outselling Bing Crosby, who dominated the pop music culture like nobody before or since. People just have gotten more access to recordings and to media on which to play them as technology has increased. Sports are in the same boat of entertainment and media. Hence big markets. But 'big' doesn't mean 'too big to fail'. They rise faster --- and they disappear faster. Just like corporations, they have their bubbles. It's a business. Baseball rides revenue sharing right now (more on that below).

Which brings us back to the NHL. Why are the owners suddenly so adamant on lowering the cost of being an owner? And why is the union entrenching itself with an infamous character like Fehr?

The ultimate answer: not enough revenue. See this article. It's informative:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2012/09/18/nhl-lockout-is-all-about-the-benjamins-and-who-doesnt-have-them/

The article also explains how MLB is using revenue sharing with success to prop itself up. It doesn't explain that a huge amount of revenue comes now from cable. The Yankees' YES network props up a lot of stuff. The Red Sox own NESN. That's something hockey doesn't have. The Bruins get $22M/yr. from NESN (and the Red Sox) in return for broadcast rights. These days that ought to pay for Carl Crawford's spikes.

Looking deeper for particulars doesn't take long. For actual details, take a look at these breakdowns of team value, profitability, cost, revenue etc. in Forbes for the 2009 NHL season. Newer listings are available, but this one is easier to decipher. Here's the link to the first team in the chain. Look at all of them. The vast majority operate at a loss and are kept above water by the few that do not.

http://www.forbes.com/lists/2009/31/hockey-values-09_Toronto-Maple-Leafs_312012.html

So the culprit is over expansion, right? Everybody knows that folks south of the Maxon-Dixon line aren't ga-ga over hockey. Yet the population of the US is headed there, so it makes demographic sense to instill interest in a sport you could never play on the local pond. That seems to have been the thinking back in the late '60s and '70s when the great over expansion got its impetus. But those were recession years. Barrooms, TVs and arenas traditionally get a lot of attention when a lot of people don't have anything more pressing to do or yearn for escape from reality, and absolutely every sport was in a state of uncontrolled expansion back then. Seemed the thing to do, and it worked monetarily. There's also no coincidence that it came immediately on the heels of Curt Flood, Andy Messersmith et al shattering the age-old structure of sports contracting. The leagues suddenly needed more money. That means more customers. That means more cities and more TV contracts.

The NHL, however, had something working for it, if for no one else. That was Communism. With the spread of Canada's sport overseas, Northern and Eastern Europe had become a bastion of major-league talent. But... most of it was cooped up behind the Iron Curtain. Only the rare defector got out. As doctrines like peristroika and glasnost came around in the '80's more Euro-Slavic talent became available to the NHL, giving the over expanded league more quality. But then the Cold War ended. It has taken a while, but the dust has largely settled and Europe now includes the old Soviet Bloc. That is a huge number of people, almost all of them seemingly hockey fanatics. Per-capita income may not yet be huge, but numbers can help offset that. The KHL becomes more of a force every year, and other leagues exist. Western Europe's trend toward socialism is about the only thing that keeps them from becoming yet another more tempting destination for home boys (and maybe for Canadians and Americans?) than the NHL.

In other words, the NHL now has competition it didn't anticipate some 25 years ago. It doesn't have the national appeal (in the US) for huge network contracts. Outside of Canada, the local cable revenues aren't propping anybody up. It's mostly gate. And the few truly profitable franchises don't make sufficient profit to want to prop up an entire league. Toronto is the most profitable. It is owned largely by the unionized Ontario teachers. If they don't want to help their NHL union brethren in a heartwarming show of solidarity (or, as owners, perhaps philanthropy), then who does?

The markets of true hockey fandom are concentrated in Canada and the extreme northern US, just as they were in the six-team heyday. The great experiment for creating legions of new hockey maniacs under palm trees has largely failed. Canada and the northern US can't match the power of hundreds of millions of Russians, Byelorussians, Latvians, Poles, Finns, Swedes, Germans, Czechs, Slovaks etc. etc., and as their economies grow, especially in the still-rebounding eastern zones, the situation becomes worse. Note that Europe doesn't rely on success in places like Spain, Italy or Greece. The South, in other words.

30 years ago Zdeno Chara never would have returned to his homeland to play during a work stoppage for fear that he might never leave except on heavily-guarded road trips. Now he's there. He'd probably prefer to be here, making more money, but how long will even that lure remain? As we sit and twiddle our green thumbs, the liberated Communist world catches up by leaps and bounds every year. They can't get enough of it. It's understandable, considering what they've been through. And the Far East is now sprouting hockey leagues. China, Japan, South Korea and the Pacific Rim going nuts for hockey? With billions of people and huge economies? Champing at the bit to have Canadian/US talent to showcase? Game, set, match.

One thing's for sure, even without an Asian nightmare... the NHL won't continue anyway unless the league comes up with a miracle cure and the union agrees to it. Hint: the union will never agree to a contracted league. And even if they do, that will raise the question of whether even a contracted, more northern league will have the economic clout to lure European talent. Maybe it will. Maybe it won't. Maybe it can't. Maybe their guys should stay there and our guys should stay here. There's plenty of talent to go around from Canada and, increasingly, from the US. But you can't ban players from leaving, nor ban imports from coming. What's that, the Aluminum Curtain? Is there really a sustainable long-term solution now? The end will come quickly when and if the owners calculate that their time will be better spent focusing on less expensive, perhaps less litigious, and more profitable ventures. At the moment, that prospect must look tempting. The value of NHL franchises has multiplied hugely since the bulk of expansion took place. That boom has stagnated and profits have evaporated (if they ever were a factor). What do you do with an investment, say a stock, that made you rich on paper and has now flat lined? You get rid of it before it tanks --- if you can find a buyer. If worse comes to worst and it's an industry (which hockey is), you lay off the workforce and liquidate property to cut your losses.

I don't pretend to know the answers to the NHL's issues, but I suspect I may have the $64K question down at least. Hockey is succeeding as never before --- worldwide. But the league that could be said to have made it all happen is in trouble. Players like to use the cliche "It's a business" to explain team-hopping. Caveat Emptor, fellas. That, ultimately, is just what it is.

 

Q-o-t-D 11/26/12 Tags: NHL Gary Bettman

After telling both sides to take two weeks off from the negotiating table...Then canceling games through December 14th...All this after the NHL had been making huge strides in getting more mainstream attention...So the question needs to be asked...

Is Gary Bettman the worst commissioner in pro sports?

I'm back, I'm pissed
Category: NHL
Tags: NHL Bettman Fehr Lockout

I have spent my summer relatively offline for the most part.  I would check my twitter or facebook feed for tidbits of info, and I would check in occasionally to check on the lack of progress with the current CBA talks.

From what I can determine, the major sticking point with the PA and the NHL is the revenue sharing.  Now, I am going to go off on a tear here, and I personally don't care if you are offended or upset with my perspective.  I am putting it out there for you, and if it causes discussion, then I have done my job.

This whole debacle kind of hits close to home for me.  The Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty, has introduced legislation to force all education workers back to work for the start of the school year.  However, my union has never stated that we will strike and have said nothing that would imply the school year would not start on schedule.  We have even cancelled our strike vote.  As a result, our contract is just going to roll over, without scheduled raises or improvements.  We are going to continue working until a new contract is in place.

And then we have the NHLPA.  They want more money.  Valid argument if they were being grossly underpaid.  However, if you cannot support yourself on $575,000 a year, which is what I believe the league minimum is, then you have some problems.  I make it work for me, and I earn much, much less.  If the NHLPA does not like the idea of employer and employee, then maybe they should go back to school, further their education and start their own business.  The owners want to make their money, and the NHLPA want theirs as well. 

I went to school.  I found a career which I truly enjoy.  I pay to play hockey a couple of times a week.  Yes, even during the summer here in Thunder Bay.  I love hockey.  However, all of this is starting to leave a shitty taste in my mouth.

We are hearing the arguments coming from the players; they want a cut of the money off of the game that was made on their backs.  Well, there came a time in life when they had to make a decision; try to make a career out of this hockey thing or get a real job.  They chose hockey.  Granted, I'm glad they did, because I truly enjoy watching it.  When is the greed going to stop.  The owners are the employers, and the NHLPA are the employees.  Get used to it. 

Another argument from the players is the fact that they beat up their bodies.  True, hockey is very rough sport and the potential for injury is there.  What would happen to someone like me if I was hurt playing the game I love?  First of all, I would not be paid for the days I miss from work.  I enjoy the game, so I take the risk.  The players take the same risk.  For those of you that know me, I am also in the Canadian military and have spent some time overseas.  I knew the risks, I chose to go.  Did I sit there and try to get more money because there is a chance I may get injured?  I'm pretty sure the risk of injury for those members of our respective forces that serve overseas are drastically different than what a hockey player may encounter.

And so now, the negotiations have stalled.  They are being recessed temporarily.  I guess meeting 3 times a week for 45 minutes at a time is a trying process.  And you have players calling the latest owners offer "a pig in lipstick."  You are not endearing yourself to the fans or to the owners at this time by resorting to insults. 

And Bettman, fuck you.  You arrogant, little wormy piece of shit.  You are a classless douche.  Coming out and stating the the NHL will be okay because you have the worlds best fans is a fucking insult.  By no means am I a fucking doormat.  You can only piss on my back so many times and tell me it's raining. 

This is one fucking fan that may not come back to your game you greedy, selfish sons of bitches.

Thanks,

Andrew

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