Tuesday, September 28, 2004

NHL Lockout Day #12

Vartan Kupelian and Mike O'Hara of the Detroit News say Red Wings owner Mike Illitch is "quiet for a reason," referring to the lack of CBA-related comments from the Detroit businessman. They believe the reason is that there is no way the owners can be as united in their fight as the players, despite all that the NHL says. Their argument is that an owner like Mike Illitch, who has run a profitable organization for years, would never want something implemented that would hinder his ability to continue along that line. Illitch generally has not been guilty of throwing money around but has instead spent wisely and in the process has built up one of the most popular and successful franchises of the past decade. Although he is not saying it, Kupelin and O'Hara believe, Illitch must be against a salary cap because of the limits it would put on his spending abilities. And if you're Mike Illitch, they say,
"You don't want revenue sharing because you don't want to send money down to Nashville, Florida or Carolina. Why would you? You've done your business well, hired the right people at the right times and put them in the right positions."
Apparently, that doesn't mean Illitch doesn't see the need for change to the system on the small market teams' behalf but no likely-to-be-Illitch-approved solution is suggested. I think it's a bit far fetched to say that Mike Illitch disagrees with the NHL. Their reasoning is sound but they ignore the fact that the NHL owners voted unanimously for the lockout. You'd think that if they weren't completely unified, at least a couple guys would have voted against it. It's pretty obvious to me that the big market owners are just as much for this as the small market guys. The Wings may be a successful team but last I heard, they still had to make it fairly deep in the playoffs to turn a profit because of their high payroll. I did like this part of the article though:
The owners don't need a salary cap to protect themselves against the players. They need it to protect themselves against themselves. The archaic argument is that some teams - the Red Wings included - can afford to buy a winner. But it's not about buying a winner, it's about doing your business properly. The New York Rangers have tried to buy a winner. They have spent more money than any team in the NHL and still can't make the playoffs. It's not about money alone, it's about knowing how to put a winning team together. With a system in place which controls players from leaving until the age 31, it shouldn't be all that difficult but for some owners it's a greater challenge than Rubik's Cube.
How true. It's not just teams with money-chucking owners that have sent the League down the crapper, it's their incompetent front offices as well. The player talent pool wasn't the only one diluted by over-expansion. Apparently, there just aren't enough good hockey team management brains to go around. I was a little slow on the draw on this one (the article was published on Sunday). Sorry. Update: Tom Benjamin has a completely different take on this. I have to say that, while there is a convincing argument against universal unity among the owners, the fact that they voted unanimously for the lockout is very telling. I realize that a vote for a lockout is not necessarily one for a salary cap but such a vote implies, to me anyway, support for the NHL's stated position on the issue. Also... -- Be sure to check out PJ Swenson's plan for ending the lockout. It's a good read, especially since it makes too much sense in too many ways for either side to accept it. -- Spector of Foxsports.com points out that a rise in player salaries does not mean there is a rise in ticket prices. That's because ticket prices are more a result of the law of supply and demand than anything else. Because of that, Gary Bettman's promise that ticket prices will be lower under a new CBA is basically BS. Although, he may be right after all. If the lockout goes on as long as he's prepared to take it, he'll alienate so many fans that there will be much more supply than demand and, as a result, lower ticket prices. That's the cynical way of looking at it. If Bettman were going to implement a ticket price cap of some kind (say, at about $8 for a front row seat at center ice behind the benches), he'd be my hero for ever and ever. Just kidding. -- Check out UR Blog for all your NHL lockout news. Cameron scours the Internet (or at least Google News) every day (but that might be changing) to find the latest headlines about the lockout and then posts them along with some commentary. It's a thankless job but somebody's got to do it! Err, no one has to do it but it's no fun to have to find all those links by yourself.


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