Friday, November 30, 2012

It's A Minor Thing People Forget About The NHL - Or Is It?

I'm too lazy to try to sift through Google for articles about the 2004-05 lockout, but one thing I remember which may or may not be true was that the salary cap and floor were touted as a panacea for small-market owners.  I remember quotes from people like Peter Karmanos and Charles Wang.  Maybe those didn't happen - I wasn't following it too closely.  What's interesting is the teams that have changed ownership since the lockout.  These teams are as follows:

St. Louis
Tampa Bay

* Aquilini bought 50% of the team during the lockout, bought the rest afterwards

If I called Anaheim, Dallas, Florida, Nashville, Phoenix, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, and Atlanta small-market teams would anyone get upset?  St. Louis is the only one that's questionable, maybe Anaheim too.  If I called Columbus, Carolina, Colorado, and Long Island small-market teams would anyone get upset?   Again, Colorado's questionable.  So we've got 8 out of 12 small-market teams changing hands between lockouts - why did those owners sell?  Hard to say in each case, but it's hard to imagine these teams have Bettman's ear.  Bettman was established as an NHL commissioner for 10 years before these people got on board as owners, and it's hard to know where they might stand on this prolonged work stoppage.  I don't believe that either party - Bettman or the New Owners - has the other's back.


  1. I think Bettman's got the New Owners' backs in the sense that they are part of his Southern expansion plan and he badly wants that plan to succeed.

    The narrative this lockout is that the small and large market owners interests were at odds, but the one thing they could all agree on was the players should be paid less. As long as Bettman delivers that he's done his job and the New owners will be happy with him and "have his back". Although the costs of ensuring that may be reaching unwelcome heights.

  2. He's going to deliver that, but he's reaching a point at which the owners' share is being eaten up too.

    I'm just not seeing what huge benefits the small-market owners get out of the NHL's plan. Longer until players hit free agency, yes. Okay, long-tail deals are out. But shortening contract lengths doesn't benefit them (deals like DiPietro's and Jordan Staal's could be worthwhile risks to take for small-market franchises). The NHL has been willing to move on revenue sharing, but they're keeping the salary floor in place where it is - this to me seems like six of one, a half-dozen of the other. Other than reducing player salaries, which was a given, the NHL's small markets seem to be getting nothing here - as long as what they have to pay out in salary is tied to big markets, they're going to struggle to make any money.

  3. I think small market owners might not be thinking that deeply with regard to contract length. For small market owners revenues 5-10 years from now are not as certain as they are for large market owners so immediately that makes long term deals riskier for them. They possibly just saw that Nashville was required to give Shea Weber 14 years and recoiled at the thought of doing that for their own players.

    As to the other components of the offer, it certainly doesn't seem like it was created in order to try and help small market owners. It seems like a compromised offer that all the owners could agree on.