Posts filed under “NHL”

Hockey Hockey Hockey

Probably: the two sides have apparently reached a verbal agreement on a CBA framework. So, we’re headed downhill toward a 50- or 48-game season that could start as soon as January 15th. Greg Wyshynski has the details that have leaked at the headline link. It’s going to be a different league for sure.

I need to gear this thing up. Or, as WiiM tweeted:

That we’re having a season saves my fanship. Commence Endor dance party.

TPL Closes Up Shop

The lockout takes its toll. This is the kind of thing that should terrify both sides of the dispute: three very hardcore fans taking a very visible step back. They aren’t the first and won’t be the last. How many more, NHL and PA?

Thanks for some great reading, friendship, and community organizing, guys. I hope this isn’t permanent, but I get it. No matter what, don’t be strangers.

On Maybe Missing the Point on Decertification

Decertification has become yet another fun word those of us who just want to watch hockey are supposed to learn. For more on what it is, see Elliotte Friedman’s introduction.

For one take on why the players should decertify, here’s Tyler Dellow, after quoting himself about the owners’ ability to keep cutting the players’ share down via CBA negotiations:

The thing I wonder is this: how is any of that not true in five or seven years? 50% – 45% – 40%…why would the owners stop, until there’s some reason to stop? Everyone gets a nice boost in the capital value of their team, the number of cities that could plausibly support a team increases (which makes possible some expansion and a nice lockout dividend) and everyone makes more money for five to seven years. Remember that Bettman quote from earlier in the lockout? “There seems to be this notion that the 54% escalating to 57% we agreed to seven years ago is a perpetual entitlement.” You can just file that away for any future negotiation. “There seems to be this notion that the (FILL IN BLANK) we agreed to seven years ago is a perpetual entitlement.” Sure, they won’t have guys like Mark Spector arguing that 50/50 is fair because that’s how mom used to split the candy, but he’ll just seize on something equally stupid and support the owners?

In other words, it seems to me that a decertification threat, followed by a CBA within the next couple weeks is great in terms of getting hockey back on the ice but doesn’t do anything to solve the players’ larger problems: when next time comes, they’ll be asked to take less, regardless of how the league does between now and then. Making a deal now does not solve the basic problem: hockey’s done really well for the last seven years and the owners want to pay them less and limit their rights. I think they’ll end up making a deal, because they’re reasonably close, and I can’t tell guys with short windows to make millions of dollars that they’re wrong to pass on uncertainty and grasp the golden ring, but they should be clear what they’re doing: the only way to ensure that the NHL doesn’t just do this again in five years or so is by pursuing the decertification angle and being successful in doing so. Otherwise, this will just happen again.

Maybe the players don’t care about that. I’m not sure I would if I was Shawn Horcoff, for example. Hopefully enough of them either don’t care, misjudge things or have a taste for wild uncertainty that, for once, the best interests of people who like to watch hockey get served, even if only by accident, and the North American sports labour movement starts to move beyond collective bargaining.

So… the reason to give up the protection of a union is the owners can just do this every few years in an effort to grab more money from the players? The way to stop the owners from taking a larger share is… to make it far, far easier to take a larger share? That doesn’t make sense.

It seems like it’d be a pretty sweet deal for the owners. Maybe it’s a little more of a hassle to have to negotiate with individual players rather than a union, but disbanded players could work out very, very well for them. I guess the biggest threat is they’d have major financial incentive to get the players back to work fast and start, you know, making money again. Scary stuff. A short term win for the players, but a long term win for the owners, it seems to me.

For the fans, it would mean less labor strife and near-immediate hockey again, which is a win from our perspective. But I guess I’d rather see the union find a way to break the owners of this habit somehow than break itself up. Or, to use Dellow’s language, give them a reason to stop. I don’t know if that’s possible without nuking a season or more and winning that particular game of chicken. But I’d be willing to suffer the consequences of that if it dealt the owners a big enough loss that we get an MLB-like peace.

If the players think the best way to steward what they were given by early unionists like Ted Lindsay is to throw it away, that’s their decision. All of them will still make a ton more money than their earlier brothers. But even factoring in labor strife every few years, I’m not sure it’d be the right decision. Collective bargaining provides some kind of counterweight to the billionaire masters of the world who run the league and I can’t say I’m interested in seeing those people gain any more power. I’d rather the players take a long-term view than take up the short-term goal of getting back on the ice now.

What huge benefit to decertification am I missing?

One last thing: Dellow says “free markets produce better outcomes for sports fans” but I’d like examples of how exactly. The collective bargaining model in top-tier pro sports in North America has brought fans pretty solid products, albeit with some periodic labor strike-induced pain. Are soccer fans in Europe (presumably one area he has in mind) really that much happier with the product?

Zetterberg Reads the Tea Leaves

… some of which he had a hand in laying out:

Z’s been playing an active role in the PA’s side of the negotiations, so his decision to jump into the exodus stream to Europe does not bode well for our chances of having a hockey season.

But as JJ points out, the plus side—such as there is a plus side in this situation—is that he’ll be joining Damien Brunner’s team. If they can cook up some chemistry, maybe we’ll have a strong combo when the League returns.

It Gets Real

Now the regular season is starting to suffer.

I should be up in arms now. But I’ve found myself taking my own advice over the past few weeks:

I recommend you insulate yourselves from this idiocy. Find something else to do. You’ll probably hear when the season starts and then you can decide if you like your life better with NHL hockey or without.

And I’m finding that my life is fine without NHL hockey, mainly because I’ve set up a mental block. When I do let myself think about the Wings, it does bum me out. So I’ll be back when they’re back. But it’s not nearly the same degree of automatic it was last time. Real life has filled in the gaps.

Don’t Worry, Local Economy, The Lockout Won’t Hurt You, Says Know-It-All

This is annoying. In a post deriding blanket statements and inaccurate generalizations, Eric T. of Broad St. Hockey makes blanket statements and inaccurate generalizations that only a know-it-all attacking the same can do:

The connection between the lockout and the losses of arena-area businesses are more direct and visible than the connection to gains of other local ventures, which may make them more sympathetic to some. However, the overall net result is not a loss to the city. … The lockout does not have any impact on the local economy overall; it merely redistributes revenue from one business to another.

Yes, clearly, every dollar that would have been spent on hockey will in fact definitely be spent elsewhere in the exact same NHL city. The local realities of a city don’t matter: simplistic economic “facts” will hold true and there will be nothing for the local economy as a whole to worry about.

We all know every city is exactly the same, right? All with vibrant downtowns and equal entertainment opportunities in all cases? There are clearly no cities with different circumstances, with sizable suburban populations that don’t go into the city without a good reason and that vastly outnumber the urban population.


I understand that not every city is looking at a local recession or something because of the lockout. Maybe none are. But the kinds of blanket statements that say there will be no net effect are just as bad as those that are claiming it’ll be across-the-board awful.

A city like Detroit is one example of a specific area that will take a definite hit in the absence of a crowd hitting the town for a hockey game, even with its improvements in terms of entertainment downtown in recent years.

When baseball and football are over, there won’t be a sports reason to go downtown if the lockout goes on long enough. The Pistons are far out in the suburbs. Maybe some of that money will get spent at casinos and theaters in the city, but it’s equally safe to say that a sizeable contingent of suburban JLA regulars will keep their money in the outer ring. That’s great for the outer ring but not great specifically for Detroit.

There are other cities in similar circumstances. The rhetoric on the issue doesn’t have to doomsday on the one hand and nothing to worry about on the other. There’s a middle way. It just takes more nuance.

It’s ironic, because Eric T. goes after copycat reports for missing that kind of nuance, yet does the same himself.

I also find his suggestion that there’s an ulterior motive behind the claim that the lockout will have an economic impact interesting.

After months of saying that I don’t see why the battle for public relations matters to anyone other than the fans, I finally see a possible connection.

Teams get heavy subsidies from local governments in the form of publicly financed arena deals. If politicians believe that the lockout has generally been the fault of the owners and now are led to believe that the lockout is sharply damaging the local economy, one imagines that they would exert whatever pressure they can on the owners to end the lockout — or perhaps they might be less supportive of the next round of arena subsidies.

The lockout does not have any impact on the local economy overall; it merely redistributes revenue from one business to another. The rash of articles suggesting otherwise will likely mislead many of the readers, and if those readers include local politicians, the misleading articles could even impact the lockout itself. Whether or not the NHLPA has suggested this line of investigation to local reporters, there is a reasonable chance that the articles are helping the players’ cause.

That is indeed possible. However, a simpler, less exciting answer may lie in an explanation that accepts that in some cases, it’s simply true the lockout can hurt a city’s economy.

There’s also the fact that we’re in a slow technical recovery from a recession that still feels recession-like, and consumer confidence is low. Take away another reason to spend money and there may be people who opt not to spend it. The entertainment buck is not a guaranteed spend. A quick glance did not reveal anything in the studies Eric T. cites about a recession or slow recovery’s impact in these cases, so I have to wonder how valuable they are here.

I would love to see more detailed and informed reporting on this. I think it’s a necessary part of a sports market reporter’s job. Questions of how much impact a team has on the economy are important to answer, even in bad times. Team owners trumpet their positive impact when venue construction is on the table. We should know the negatives, if any, too.

#ThePlayers Speak

Okay, so it’s obvious PR spin, but the PA’s video to the fans hit the right notes, for the most part. That’s in contrast to the NHL’s statement, with its praise of the CBA the owners just couldn’t stand any longer and suggestion that they’re only looking for marginal adjustments.

This time, it seams, the players’ side understands the audience.