Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The search for a partner

Tom Benjamin's got a nice post up today detailing just how difficult a task Paul Kelly's going to have as executive director of the NHLPA:
If Kelly is going to find some way to compromise, Gary Bettman (and the clowns who employ him) have to give him some room. I don't see any evidence the league is willing to do so. The question is not whether Kelly can find the middle ground between corruption and confrontation. The question is whether that ground actually exists.
I don't think anyone on the ownership side can even come close to answering this one, given how divided that group has been of late.

It's in situations like this where the whole notion of the NHLPA being in partnership with the league is ridiculous. How do you partner with an entity as disparate and disunited as the board of governors? A revolving door group of billionaires, many of whom have no interest in hockey outside of as an investment, and who are generally led blindly by a few hardliners?

It's almost impossible. And the more you look at it, the more you can sympathize with Bob Goodenow, whose confrontational, pound-the-table style may have been the only way the players' interests were ever adequately represented.

Kelly's talked already about improving the effort to put players front and centre in marketing campaigns and the like, and that's a good thing. Because as it stands, their "partner" is off chasing Jerry Bruckheimer's loose change while hockey's revenue base sits at a standstill.

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At 4:35 p.m., October 17, 2007, Anonymous Gerald said...

Although my deconstruction of the sad Mr. Benjamin's flawed diatribe against the NHL will have to wait until I have some more time, and since his blog is the place for that deconstruction, James, I am more interested in these statements of yours:

How do you partner with an entity as disparate and disunited as the board of governors?

A revolving door group of billionaires

who are generally led blindly by a few hardliners?

Upon what grounds do you make these statements? Because Dolan - one (1) owner - has sued the other twenty-nine (29) owners of the NHL? That is disunited?

A "revolving door" of owners? Come on. Two franchises are being sold. Two (2).

I feel on very solid footing in asserting that none of the NHL's owners are led "blindly" by anyone. There are no milquetoasts who own NHL teams.

their "partner" is off chasing Jerry Bruckheimer's loose change while hockey's revenue base sits at a standstill.

Please cite the evidence that revenue is at a standstill. It certainly was not last year.

For all the putting of the word partner into quotation marks, exactly what is the NHL supposed to do when there is nobody at the NHLPA exec level with whom to partner, while the Chelios revenge party played itself out?

By the way, $200-300 million is nobody's loose change.

Incidentally, on a related note, did you catch Kypreos' interview with McCown on PTS last night, where he had a ton of interesting things to say about what Chelios did and said during the proceedings? Very illuminating indeed.

At 4:36 p.m., October 17, 2007, Anonymous Keith said...

IMO, it is the players that are going to be a bigger problem for Kelly. If he makes any attempt at "partnering" with Bettman and company, Chelios and his merry band of fools will be all over him. Lets face it, the inmates that are running the asylum that is the NHLPA want nothing to do with partnership or working with the league.

Kelly better be getting a big paycheque, because this is one job I don't think anyone in their right mind would want.

At 4:42 p.m., October 17, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Rick Westhead at the Toronto Star is reporting that the contract offered is $10-million over five years. (A deal that's quite Saskin-like, actually.)

At 5:07 p.m., October 17, 2007, Anonymous Gerald said...

I noticed that too, James. Ironic, no?

At 4:45 a.m., October 18, 2007, Blogger George said...

The proposed deal certainly doesn't pass the "smell test"...

I'm with you regarding the ownership situation. The good old boys' club most certainly still leads the charge, and if that wasn't cemented by the decision to name Jeremy Jacobs the new Chairman of the Board, I don't know what else it could have signified.

Despite growing cracks within the owners' ranks as the high-revenue teams begin to grow tired of subsidizing struggling ones by doling out half their playoff revenues, the owners want to enjoy the double-digit increases in franchise equity while actually engaging their players as anything more than "product" (i.e. as "partners") as little as humanly possible, and they want to be reminded of the fact that those increases in equity may be stifled by the questions regarding the solvency of teams like the Predators (among others) as little as possible.

The picture isn't all rosy for either side, and as the growth in revenues have almost entirely been driven by ticket price increases and the gains made by the Canadian dollar, one wonders how exactly the NHL really wants to "grow the game," especially if it's forced to do so by giving the NHLPA a seat at the table.

At 10:32 a.m., October 18, 2007, Anonymous Gerald said...

the gains made by the Canadian dollar

I have said this probably a dozen times on various boards, but the message is not getting through. The revenue growth to date has NOT been driven by $CDN gains. The revenue growth last year due to the $CDN was (even assuming that 1/3 of NHL revenues are CDN sourced) was approximately $19 million, or a fraction of 1%. NHL revenues went up between 6 and 7% (nearly $200 million).

Enough with this particular myth. Please.

The rest of the above post is riddled with further unsupported statements, but i am short on time.

At 2:50 p.m., October 18, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...


If the gain in the Canadian dollar is worth $19 million and the total gain in revenue is $200 million then 9.5% of the gain in revenue is through the Canadian dollar (not a fraction of 1%). Am I misunderstanding your numbers? Because 9.5% is actually pretty significant.

At 10:45 p.m., October 18, 2007, Anonymous Gerald said...

You misunderstand the numbers. The 1% refers to the percentage of league revenue.

I suppose we can argue whether a percentage of 9.5% is significant when we are talking percentages of percentages (9.5% of a league growth of 6-7%). Regardless, the myth is rampant (thanks to uninformed dilletantes like Bob McCown and Stephen Brunt in this market) that NHL growth is due to the escalation of the Canadian dollar. It is not. In a $2.3 billion industry, it is miniscule, barely more than a rounding error. The revenue growth is coming from elsewhere.

At 7:25 p.m., October 19, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

NHL was 2.2 billion industry before the lock-out, now it's 2.3 billion industry.

McCown and Brunt only talks about numbers that Ken Holland and Jim Nill told everybody - in print.

But back to business. Canadian teams bring 690M to total revenues. And CAD has gone up 30% since 2003-4 season so that's 200M out of Canadian teams' contribution.

Revenues have gone up 100M so how can anybody say that CAD has very little to do in total revenues. It has EVERYTHING to do with it.

Basic math.

At 8:19 p.m., October 19, 2007, Anonymous Gerald said...

Wow, that is awesomely ... wrong.

See you all in the other thread above.


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