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NFL CANADA


Should the NHL contract teams?
Tue, February 3, 2009

By BILL LANKHOF, SUN MEDIA

The NHL never has seen a time filled with such tumult.

Attendance woes beset not only pauper franchises, but vacant seats are showing up in even its more traditional cities. Owners bemoan the cost of salaries and fret over a depressed economy. Others complain unsuitable arenas make franchises unsustainable.

Unemployment is not only crippling the world economy it is keeping fans on the living room couch rather than in arena seats. Cash constraints make the long-term survival of franchises tenuous. Speculation is rampant of teams folding or moving.

It is pro hockey's harsh new world. And, it is the 1930s. It just sounds a lot like the NHL we know today.

But, this was the NHL of the Montreal Maroons and the original Ottawa Senators, who along with the Americans of New York, the St. Louis Eagles, Philadelphia Quakers and a club in Pittsburgh would disappear -- victims of the financial ruin wrought by the Dirty '30s. What NHL franchises are experiencing today is nothing that hasn't happened before. Most of us just weren't around to see it the first time.

Do you think the NHL should contract teams to become a more viable league in the long run? Have your say in our forum.

NHL in turmoil



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26 Comments

The present NHL is like a mother dog who has too many pups in her litter and not enough milk to feed them all.Cull out the sick runts and all the rest will remain healthy and grow stronger.Bettman should be the first dog to go !
John Boy, 2009-02-05 11:41:37

Okay...here's the solution...you outsource all the weak teams to India...problem solved!
MGee, 2009-02-05 10:36:07

Hey Rusty, stop beating around the bush. How do you really like Bettman?
Roy, 2009-02-05 09:10:41

The answer is quite simple. Move the weak market teams from the US to Quebec City,and Southern Ontario.
Vince in Ottawa, 2009-02-05 00:19:27

Ok first, to those who suggest that the talent is 'watered down' due to 30 teams being in the league, do you actually think about what you say? The league gained access to Russian and European talent AND the game has expanded in Canada and the USA making the Pool probably 3x larger than in 1980. Watch some of those old games and you will see watered down talent.

Second, the game or the league is not the problem. The problem is that Sporting events went up quicker than house prices over the last two decades. The answer is for them to fall back down to reality.
Bob, 2009-02-04 22:29:55

Contraction ???????

I'm reading all these string

entries and I can't believe it!!!

What is the problem ???

Gary Bettman seems like the most honest and personable guy on the face of the planet, and such an easy going and simple talker too.

I'll just bet he gets along with everyone especially the journalists and scribes.

Just the guy I'd like my daughter to meet, or to buy a slightly used car from.

And the company he keeps

guys like Bruce McNall and Boots DelBaggio - They're saints - all.

I'm 100% certain that contraction can't even be considered for the simple reason that all is so well economically in the NHL.

Pheonix absolutely - positively - is not a problem. High ticket prices in some markets ? No problemo ! Partially empty arenas or tickets being given away in others is rhe

figment of imagination and the accusations of jealous wannabe's who envy the perfection shown by Gary Bettman in running the NHL and the guiding of the governors and team owners.

What an incredible coup de grace - locking out the players, grabbing them by the jollies and making them succumb to earning a pittance, and then there's that incredible TV revenue stream with $$$ coming from the heavens it seems.

And now what? The North American economy is said to be melting down ????

there is NO WAY THAT THIS OR ANYTHING MENTIONED ABOVE COULD ADVERSELY AFFECT THE NHL - Why?

because Gary says so.
Andy V., 2009-02-04 18:49:33

Alan...Thank You on behalf of us "southern" fans!
MGee, 2009-02-04 17:12:06

The one comment I agree with is the economy could push the game -- and salaries -- back to where attendance matters more than luxury box sales and that might slap a ceiling on the total cost of going to a game. That keeps many fans home now. You're worried about a buck and for $2,000, you get half a season ticket or a great high def TV, NHL Center Ice package with a lot left over for beer money. Which do you take?

But on everything else, you guys are thinking way too simplistically and parochially.

Bettman's "beloved Sun Belt franchises?" Hmmm...when Bettman took office in Jan. 1993, here's what had already happened or was happening: the Board of Governors had a plan for a 30-team NHL; San Jose and Tampa were playing, Anaheim and Florida's franchises had been granted; Minnesota was readying for a move to Dallas at the end of the season; the economic forces that drove Winnipeg to Phoenix (which supported the Roadrunners over 25 years and two leagues) three years later and Quebec to Denver two years later were in motion.

He makes a nice, easy target because he's short, American and tries to put a sunny face on everything unless absolutely necessary to do something else.

But you people who complain about the Southern fan bases..take a look, folks, at the product and, sometimes, where they play (Phoenix and Florida's arenas are great, but well away from the population centers). It isn't that those fans don't "understand" hockey -- it's a game, not quantum physics and how many of you play on frozen lakes now? Or do you play on the same kind of indoor artificial ice you find in Minnesota, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Dallas, Miami, etc...

Anyway, they understand they don't want to pay for futility. Does anybody anywhere? San Jose and Dallas have no issues and there hasn't been a frozen lake in either place in many a year. But Phoenix hasn't won a playoff round since well before the move and hasn't made the playoffs in years. Columbus never has. Florida hasn't since 2000. Atlanta, once and got swept out in the first round. Once Tampa started to rebuild their fan base after five of the worst seasons in professional sports history -- BAM! lockout closes down a season. Nashville's had ownership issues hanging over its franchise for half its 10-season history. It's cold in Long Island, but the Islanders stink, play in a dilapidated building and can't get a new one. Don't think this wouldn't slam the same franchises if they moved to Canada. You know, when the economy was just fine but the fan base was fed up a few years back, Boston, Chicago and the Rangers all played home games before lots of empty seats. Edmonton and Calgary, too.

Contract? Nice thought but reducing the NHL's footprint isn't going to help the bottom line. National, corporate sponsors on both sides of the border as well as advertisers on even local TV broadcasts (which aren't very local anymore thanks to dish packages) won't pony up nearly as much to reach a smaller potential audience. And as for watered down talent, it's been 10 years since the last expansion and the talent pool is larger than ever.

What needs to happen is the CBA needs to be redone so the salary cap is tied to hockey-related revenues, not gross revenues. That's creating the same kind of economic haves and have nots as we had before the lockout. They reintroduced sane scheduling, so the most entertaining, showcase players actually don't go a Daigle's career without playing in certain cities. Also (and it pains me to say this) if you're willing to have a 24-team league with a 16-team playoff, 2/3 of teams making the playoffs, you should be willing to have a 30-team league with 20-team playoffs. I don't like the idea because 16 of 30 makes playoff spots worth something and the current conference-based playoff setups make every game important. But it's something to think about -- keeps more fans interested longer.

Not every market is perfect and maybe a couple shouldn't be in the league. But the contract-or-move-'em-to-Canada mindset doesn't address some of the reasons these franchises are in financial trouble.
Alan, 2009-02-04 15:23:39

BETTMAN has to go,,,no personality,confrontational when questioned,worse english than CHERRY,eats like a pig and looks like a chipmonk..BETTMANS a PR nitemare.
rusty power, 2009-02-04 15:17:44

Then again, you could reduce salaries and ticket prices so people could actually GO to games...but that's just plain stupid. What was I thinking...
MGee, 2009-02-04 14:54:23

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