Thursday, 27 December 2012

Blame The Peacock and Liz 2 For The NHL Woes

Well, it is the end of December and still no NHL.  No Hockey Night In Canada and RDS is rebroadcasting games from the 80's.   Sad state of affairs for pure hardcore fans and individuals that have employment related to the NHL.

At the start of the lockout and even now, fans are playing the 'blame game'.  Blaming the owners, the players and even themselves.  Well my friends, I win the 'blame game' because I know the parties responsible for the lockout:  The Peacock and Liz 2. Who, you may ask?

The NHL and NHLPA are in the dispute are ultimately fighting over potential "growth" of the league in terms of future revenue; however, we have to take a look at the two root sources that have fueled the growth over the past two to five years.  Growth that I really think is artificially inflated thanks The Peacock and Liz 2.

The Peacock (aka, NBC Sports) - In April 2011, NBC Sports signed a 10-year TV rights deal to broadcast the league's games on various digital platforms for a reported, $2 billion.   The last time I looked, the ratings for playoff hockey (which the league promotes as "the best type of  sports tournament around" was pulling in a tiny average of 1.2 million viewers for the entire 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. 1.2 million?  Man, even ESPN could do better by re-airing the second half of a last NFL preseason game and that why the network was not prepared to shell out a dime for carrying NHL games but NBC did. Big mistake.  Investing $2 billion for NHL rights, NBC just gave the league a false sense of importance on the North American sports media landscape and an over valuation of pro hockey broadcast content.  As a result, the $2 billion is just a part of the pie that owners and players are quibbling about.

Liz 2 (aka, The Canadian Dollar) - In several interviews, Gary Bettman has gone on record to state that there is no link between NHL's revenue growth and increase in value of the Canadian dollar.  Really Gary.  Anybody with an understanding of economics can tell you that growth in the Canadian currency does contribute to the success of the NHL.  If you don't believe me, remember the context in which the "old" Winnipeg Jets and Quebec Nordiques closed down shop and moved to "Phoenix" and Denver. Plus, why is it that there are arenas being built in the Greater Toronto Area and Quebec City.  Imagine, if the value of Liz 2 dips to $.60 American (just like in 2006) during in the next CBA time frame.  You can safely expect that owners will be looking to claw back more of the revenue that will not be over-inflated by a Canadian dollar.

NHL fans can expect a season starting in mid-January 2013.  Once the press conferences from both sides are over to announce that a new CBA has been signed, the promotional spin to win back the hearts of fans will start.  Fans are going to hear, see and read that they are the "best fans in world" and other crap but I hope that fans will realize that they are going to be apart of a  48-game "cash grab" scam.   Yes, owners and players are going to say, "Finally, the game is back on the ice for our fans to enjoy".  That's the farthest thing from the truth.  It's more like, "Finally, the game is back on the ice for us so fans can pay an insane amount of cash for tickets, jerseys and bottled water to enjoy".

As a hockey fan and a Canadian, I would like to see the plug pulled on the 2013 NHL season.  A lot of NHL insiders on television, radio and in print say that the conflict over the CBA has nothing to do with economic issues but I beg to differ.  Along with the two aspects that I listed above, there are aspects of the NHL salary floor / cap system that are not being addressed and will lead to more trouble down the road for teams that are not making money. See Columbus, Phoenix, Florida and St. Louis.   It is time to let the bottom fall out of these franchises to either fold or move them to other markets.   The time is now to scrap the season and fix the NHL (aka, Niche Hockey League).

Final Taughts:

Want Gary Bettman To Leave? Here's How.  Many people think that if the season is cancelled under the watch of Bettman, he will walk away.  No dice.   The only way to see Gary Bettman out as commissioner is to have "traditional" hockey markets show a lack of interest in the NHL even if it means not tuning into local broadcasts on television and on radio, especially come playoff time.  You think you can do it?

Your 2012 NFL MVP is... RGIII.  Forget Manning. Forget Luck. Forget Wilson.  The Redskins will come back from the basement of the NFC East and win the division all because of the starting rookie quarterback. Enough said. 

Follow me on Twitter : @sportstaughts

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