The Pending NHL Lockout

By Blaidd Drwg

Imagine that, I actually wrote a hockey related post.

The NHL is in line to shoot itself in the foot yet again with another labor dispute. If the players and owners can’t come up with a revenue sharing plan by September 15th, the NHL will be headed for its second lockout in less than 10 years.  The last one resulted in an entire season being missed and it hurt the league badly, such that hockey’s attendance was just starting to get back to its pre-2004 levels in the last couple of years.

The central issue, like every labor dispute in sports is money. The players currently get 57% of the revenue, the owners want to drop that to 48%. In the middle, the fans are the only ones who get hurt with no games to watch and higher ticket and concession prices in the stadia.

You want to know what the problem with the NHL is? This statement sums it up:

The NHLPA believes it can play a part in bolstering small-market franchises such as Phoenix, Florida, and Dallas.

Even Eeyore smiled when Winnepeg got back an NHL team. Why doesn’t the league move a few more teams around to where they will see actual fan support.

Ok, for those of you who don’t follow hockey, Florida’s team is located in Miami. Do you want to know how small those markets actually are? According to Wikipedia, Phoenix is the 14th largest metro area in the country, Miami is 8th and Dallas is 4th . On what planet are those “small market” teams? Heck, the NHL couldn’t sustain a team in Atlanta, which is the #7 metro area in the country. Support was so bad that the team in Atlanta moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, a metro area roughly 1/8 the size of Atlanta and a city probably most famous for lending its name to a cartoon bear.

It is simple – the NHL needs to get out of most of those southern cities. The teams get no support from a huge population base and if you can’t survive in markets with 5 million potential customers, you should be out of the business. The smart thing to do would be to contract a few teams, but the owners and the players would never go for that. Plan B would be to move the floundering franchises to cities where they would be supported. Montreal and Toronto could both easily support a second team. Quebec City is building a new arena with the hopes of attracting another team to replace the long departed Nordiques. Heck, Seattle would be a great place for a relocated franchise, and you have a built in rivalry with Vancouver. Dallas, Phoenix and Miami are not hockey towns, no matter how much the NHL wants them to be.

Of course, none of this really resolved the core issue – millionaires fighting with billionaires over how to split the money they earned from sucking dry the wallets of the average fan.

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