If you are like me, the idea of this Sept 15th deadline on our fix, and the idea of no puck for hockey addicts has been cause for a bit of angst.
OK, more like a raging wildfire of hyperbole at every little development. While some have been more circumspect and informative than others, there is and probably always will be a cacophony of "insiders" and voices of the game pushing the panic button to some degree.
OK, fine. I get it. Hell, Gary Bettman seems to think its the best way to get a deal done, given his history. Those of you that are late to our beloved game, there is some pretty sound reasons for why he seems to be the most disliked of all the Big Four Sports Commish Committee.
I don't even begrudge the owners wanting more than 43% of hockey related revenue. Unfortunately, this is where it gets hazy. After the break, I'll try to shine the high beams and see if that helps.
No real links in this missive. If you are anything like me though, you have been finding as many viewpoints as you can on what's up. In this day and age, Twitter combined with far too many people knowing to keep it quiet has made it pretty easy to follow along. I will say, just to single one voice out for being so sage, Michael Grange has been very good.
Now, the main thing that is going to be the stumbling block is what constitutes hockey related revenue, or HRR as the cool kids call it. To me, it always seems that the most simple concepts are the ones that become the most contentious. One only needs to look south at the current tone of what passes for political debate to see that. And they don't even want to get a deal done!
Which, thankfully, does not seem to be the case here. Both sides have kept a lid of the more incendiary comments that get blown out of all context and reality. ( "You didn't Build that" Gary!...sorry, could not resist, I'll stop now ;-) Donald Fehr does not really give me a sense of fear at this point. Now Gary, well, like I said, there's a reason that people boo the little gremlin.
Which is not to disrespect him at all. He made a deal that resulted in 7 years of relative peace broken only by what always happens. The teams finding a way around the words on the paper to get a competitive edge. You can't really blame them either. It is each GM's job to find every way to make his team better.
So, back to HRR. Since its at the heart of all this, it got me thinking. Simple answers are sometimes the best. So, why not, Gary and Donald, just cutting out the bullshit.
Hockey Related Revenue is, quite simply, when the fans give money to the team. Be it for love of a player or a colours, where you live or how your team plays. When you buy a ticket to go and see the team, or a jersey with your favorite players' number, thats hockey related revenue.
Now, of course when the vast majority of the fans that watch the game on any given night do so in front of a big screen ( and yes, that fee the bar pays would be HRR too ) with whomever, thats where it gets a little stickier. Teams like the Rangers on MSG are but one of many, many NY area teams. I'm sure the lawyers could figure out the formulas needed. I would imagine that there is a way to quantify HRR there. Certainly, the NBC deal is HRR, and I would imagine everyone gets a 1/30th % of that pie.
But the big thing is teams having their own channel as well. I know the three biggest Canadian teams generate mucho dinero with that particular way of feeding the puck jones we all get ( as I write this at an ungodly, couldn't sleep hour, game 2 of the 2009 WCF is playing on the NHL network..also HRR by the way! ), scheduling some primo opponents for that particular cash cow. But not every team has a CanucksTV, os a LeafsTV . I could be wrong, but I don't remember seeing a logo for BlueJacketTV anywhere in highlights!
So, that, given that there is money being made ( come on, its TV, they are making some beaucoup ad dollars ), that should go into the big old pie. But again, thats where it gets sticky. Its not like the NHL has real revenue sharing like the NFL. There are, I am sure, more than a few of the very richest owners of the big market teams that might balk at giving up a cash machine like their own channel, only to see other teams sign away their best young players with that money!
I do get the argument being floated out there of big money promotions like the Winter Classic being entered into the big HRR pile. Its a huge money generator, but all the expenses for it make it profitable, but not as much as we might think, perhaps.
Nevertheless, with all of that communal television money, there has to be some kind of formula where maybe a portion of the incredible amounts of money generated ( and, I love my team being a power financially as well as on the ice, but there is always two teams on the ice whenever I am watching one of the special broadcasts, so, indeed, its not like the Canucks alone "built that" ) by those local channels, as well as the growing new media revenue stream, can be perhaps the basis of where revenue sharing comes from.
Not from ( and this is where a fact checker can correct me if I am wrong ) when a team owner also owns his building, pays another associated company to be "arena management" ( or just does that part themselves under the team banner ), and makes cake from all those Metallica, Britney Spears and Springsteen shows that fill the calendar and the coffers. Yes, if the Tampa Bay Times Forum is one of the most profitable arenas in North America because it runs that business well, that just means the owner is a richer man.
It does not mean that he has more money to spend on a depth defenseman or two. Keep the hockey related revenue simple. Money generated by tickets, broadcast, jerseys, and the various monies that come from our love for our team.
I doubt it helps them, but hopefully one fan's outlook helps the rest of us figure it out. I know I am on the players side this time when it comes to the proposals I have seen. After depriving us of hockey each time he was trusted to make a deal, Gary Bettman has not earned the benefit of that doubt.
Thats no way to negotiate, with a threat. But thats just me. I know Sean has voiced some support for the owners, and I am totally OK with the free enterprise they are engaging in. But that also has to be merged with what is best for the whole. Its a lot simpler for a sports league to accept a "socialist" ideal of real revenue sharing if they are truly committed to the "partnership". Even more especially when we are coming off a time when the last seven years saw Mr Bettman making those smiling pressers about "another record year for total hockey related revenue" year after year.
If the system needs some tweaking or overhauling, well, you guys are both lawyers, and good ones. Get 'er done. But don't tell us the same tired "fundamental differences" bullshit Gary. Everyone made a ton of cash the last seven years. Crying poor for a team that it not generating enough money and spending too much is not poor. There has been a ton of ideas put out, like trading salary, lowering the floor, etc, that would help there.
If that means they spend less, and you have a two tier league, well then, stop dicking around and get a real deal done on revenue sharing.
But don't tell this fan, at the least, that its because there is financial difficulty. Not when you posted year after year revenue increases for the life of the last deal that now has "fundamental" problems. No one is going to begrudge it becoming more of a 50/50 split, and all. That always sounds fair in a true partnership. The rest is just lawyers and such.
And you both like showing everyone how good of a lawyer you are, right? Quit fucking around. Camp is supposed to open soon, never mind signing Doan and trading Luongo.