Friday, September 17, 2004

The NHL Won't Look The Same Again

Contraction.

And ugly word….but it has been thrown around recently in sports. Especially the MLB and NHL. Well, we all saw how well it went for baseball….and they have a team that plays in 3 different countries!!!

But, the NHL may look at contraction to help deal with their financial woes.

The pros are that with less teams…there would be less travel. Less destinations. Also, the worst players in the league would all be in the minors or Europe. The worst officials would be back in the minors. Also, all of their TV money would be divided up with less slices.

Or course, just how much better played will a game be with less teams?? If the best of the best can’t score on these fringe players….then how will they do with these guys gone?? The game would actually have LESS scoring. The better defenders and goalies would all survive.

But, when the NHL was at 24 teams, back in 1992-93.…the top 10 scorers all had at least 123 points. Since that season, only Gretzky, Lemieux and Jagr have amassed 122 points.

A problem the NHL must realize is that there really is no pressure here. Unlike the NBA, NFL or MLB….there won’t be as many fans clamoring for the NHL to get back to business. The NHL isn’t as popular as those leagues. Also, when the NHL season is going on….there is the NFL, NBA, NCAA football and NCAA basketball filling up our sports appetite. Also, unlike those other leagues, NHL players can go other places and make good money. They all can go back to their home countries and make good money in their leagues. The NFL has nothing. The NBA has Europe…but who would want to go there?? They can’t even handle Toronto!!! MLB players could go to Japan…but again….why would they??

So, who to kick out?? How many?? And why? Well, there is a bunch of ways to decide this. Let’s just start with a basic SIX teams to contract….and get the league back to 24 teams.

*Carolina Hurricanes. This isn’t going to work in Raleigh. Yeah, it was pretty intense when they battled the Red Wings in the Cup Finals a few years back. But, the Carolinas aren’t “hockey crazy”. It is rumored that the Canes lost $20M last year alone. Good bye.

*Pittsburgh Penguins. I’m sad to say this….but if Mario cannot get this team moving…no one can. This franchise is barely holding on, even with its recent tradition. Please, put these fans out of their misery.

*Atlanta Thrashers. No offense, but nip this one in the bud. TheFlames didn’t work in Hot-lanta and the Thrashers will soon follow suit. This team is losing tons of money and doesn’t show any trends to suggest it can turn it around. People, Atlanta isn’t exactly the best sports town, either. No one cares about the Hawks. The Falcons need Michael Vick to get anyone to care about the Dirty Birds. The Braves have won 300 straight division titles….yet cannot sell out a playoff game. So, who are the Thrashers??

*Nashville Predators. Hmmm…a third southern team. Just one of those deals that everyone likes a new toy….but we grow out of it after a while. Especially now, with the Titans entrenched in Nashville. Attendance is very low…..as is overall interest. The Preds just do not fit and may need to become extinct like the Sabertoothed tiger, which is their logo.

*Florida Panthers. An early Cup appearance…but this franchise is finished. Maybe the Lightning could play some of their home games in Miami so those fans can get their hockey fix.

*….or just kill hockey in Florida. The Tampa Bay Lightning. That’ll be hard to do after their Cup.

If you wanted to slash even more….say down to 20.….here would be the next round of cuts:

*Mighty Ducks of Anaheim [great name, but just not the interest when you have Clippers, Lakers and Kings during the winter]…..Columbus Blue Jackets [another great name, just not tradition]…..Phoenix Coyotes [a hockey team in the desert…..riiiiight]……either the Edmonton Oilers or Calgary Flames….the Buffalo Sabres.

Most likely, contraction may not happen. Teams may just end up folding or closing up shop. Six teams [allegedly] have filed bankruptcy in recent years. The most likely candidates to fold are those franchises in the Sun Belt…..who are more endeared to NASCAR and college football…..sports that those fans will more than happily spend their money on. And, with most of those franchises fairly new…..not many would really miss the NHL if they closed up shop.

At least, they’ll get to find out starting now.

11 comments:

aeneashunter said...

You're thinking about it in the wrong way.  The key is the ownership of the teams.  You pay off the weak owners, then move teams around as needed.

For example, the Mighty Ducks are owned by Disney.  You are not going to eliminate that franchise.  If you need to move a team out of LA, you eliminate a weak franchise somewhere else and move one of the LA teams.

Personally, I don't see any of this happening.  The players would take enormous paycuts back home, and the owners are facing a loss of investment.

a27goalie said...

y move out bluejackets, If im not mistaking they pretty much have a sellout crowds at everygame(or pretty dam close to it).  COyotes, they will turn around since the gret one took over, If anyteam need to leave is the pens,flames,carolina,and even the panthers.  Keep tampa but for real how big is hockey int he warm states??  It dont matter nhl needs a cap and these players need to wake up.  Im sorry no athlete in any sport is not work 10 million dollars and if u people think they are then u need to wake up no one in this world who plays sports is worth it. By the way im a huge hockey fan been inolved with the sport for 25 yrs, so i know the ups and downs to hockey..

male4bustybbw70 said...

Cutting the Penguins is insane. They will soon become a premiere franchise. They are getting slot revenues from the state and will get their new building and be able to afford star free agents.

hrc1224 said...

I AGREE WITH YOU WHEN YOU MENTION THAT THE PITTSBURGH PENGUINS SHOULD BE CONTRACTED
MARIO LEMIEUX IS A WEAK OWNER.  HE SHOULD QUIT TRYING TO CONVINCE PEOPLE THAT HE CAN STILL PLAY. HE IS NOT VERY GOOD ANYMORE. OFTEN INJURED ISN'T THE KIND OF LEADER PITTSBURGH NEEDS.  SLOTS FOR TEH PENGUINS?  NOT GONNA HAPPEN. GET RID OF EM!

foomanchoo69 said...

Everyone in Pittsburgh forgets that the Penguins were one of their most successful franchises of late. Yeah the Steelers do Ok from time to time. The same can't be said for those Pirates! The Pen's may have lost for a few seasons, but with the young talent they have coming up, it's only a matter of time until they are in a winning season(s) again. I disagree with the cutting of this team, and of the Atlanta Thrashers. They too are coming up!

msoligan said...

Contraction of teams doesn't solve all the ills that plague the NHL. Cut the rosters to 18 players (25%) and play 4 on 4 the entire game. That would save an average of $10,000,000 in salary per team (Note: The NHL claims to have lost approximately $300,000,000 last season; the math works). The best players would get more ice time. The best players would get more ice to work with. Traveling and other expenses would also decrease. Scoring would increase and therefore fans would stay until the end of the game (A 3-0 lead after two periods sends many fans home). Don't believe scoring would increase? The new league in Ontario had a 16-13 game in the past week.

Goaltending would be more important and trapping would all but be eliminated. The NHL players have feared this might happen since the OT rule went into effect. They said as much as it was being instituted. Lets see the best players play more and have more ice. It's really what the game needs.

sm4print said...

I would agree with every point you made (excuse the pun).....if expansion in the south would have been attempted in a slower time frame maybe it could catch on....go flyers.........steve in las vegas

hockeyfan195 said...

The owners have no one but themselves to blame. If a team offers a player a boat load of money what is the player going to do? Take it not tell the owner no thats to much money. The Tampa Bay Lightning won the cup with a 35 million payroll. The Rangers and the Flyers paid more than double that and haven"t won a cup in years. Organizations have to be smart not greedy.

caddyguy1963 said...

I believe contraction is not the answer.The bottom line is increasing revenue.How?Goal scoring.6-4 games are more exciting to see than 2-1 games,more excitement,more people in the seats.Add shootouts to decide ties after overtime.Reduce the size of goaltender equipment(the best goalies will prevail).And most of all...GET RID OF THE INSTIGATOR RULE!!!Let's face it,we watch NASCAR for the wrecks,and we love old time hockey fights...hence,more people in the seats.These things would increase revenue across the board.And whether the players like it or not,a salary cap is on the horizon.Minimum around $45 million,maximum around $65 million.It worked for the NFL and look where they are now.     ciao for now.

sportzassassin said...

"Contraction of teams doesn't solve all the ills that plague the NHL. Cut the rosters to 18 players (25%) and play 4 on 4 the entire game. That would save an average of $10,000,000 in salary per team (Note: The NHL claims to have lost approximately $300,000,000 last season; the math works). The best players would get more ice time. The best players would get more ice to work with. Traveling and other expenses would also decrease. Scoring would increase and therefore fans would stay until the end of the game (A 3-0 lead after two periods sends many fans home). Don't believe scoring would increase? The new league in Ontario had a 16-13 game in the past week."


I have been one of the [I thought] few people that LOVED the idea of 4-on-4 hockey.  Yeah, it is quite the drastic change and would skew a lot of the numbers and all of that....but if the NHL is wanting and counting on getting the "fringe fans" and their dollars....they MUST do something to get in.  And now is a perfect time.  Fans of the NBA are grumbling and the NFL excludes many fans being able to actually attend a game.  So, the NHL has a shot at grabbing these people.  

Many people don't realize that the rink is so small in the NHL with the players getting so much bigger...that there just isn't enough space to manuever around.  And, we all know there is no chance that the rink will get bigger since that means some prime seating will be gone [which is where a nice bulk of money comes from]....so it's obvious that the next trick may be to knock two guys off the ice and eliminate the red line.  

Under this condition...you're right.  The payroll would go down....and possibly TV and attendance revenues go up.

BTW.  Don't be surprised to possibly see an almost entire intra-conference schedule, either.

sportzassassin said...

FROM HOCKEYFAN

"The owners have no one but themselves to blame. If a team offers a player a boat load of money what is the player going to do? Take it not tell the owner no thats to much money. The Tampa Bay Lightning won the cup with a 35 million payroll. The Rangers and the Flyers paid more than double that and haven"t won a cup in years. Organizations have to be smart not greedy."

But, HockeyFan....it's not these owners that are doing the complaining.  These franchises are some of the few that actually make money.  That's why they can overspend.  That's like complaining in the MLB that the Yanks and Red Sox spend too much money.  They can because they bring in a lot of money.  Its the Royals, Devil Rays and Pirates that find it tough to compete with that with a much lower income level.  

Same in the NHL.  It is these lower tiered franchises that are barely hanging on.  They just don't have the revenue to field a great product....yet there have to pay someone some major bucks just to have a shot at winning some or their fan base will abandon them entirely.