No reason to celebrate
The NHL lockout may be over, but the NHL remains broken.
Maybe I’m a pessimist; perhaps I focus too much on the worst case scenario. I might even admit that there was a part of me that wished the National Hockey League had stayed locked out and eventually folded. Maybe, I just hate people who suck at their jobs.
Gary Bettman sucks at his job.
Don’t get me wrong, I like that there will be an NHL season after all, I’m happy to have real hockey back in my life. However, I refuse to treat this like its “business as usual.” The 2012-2013 NHL lockout, the capper on Gary Bettman’s hat trick of work stoppages proved yet again that the NHL is broken and desperate. I have been surprised and I might even say appalled by the many I have read and heard rushing to his defense.
“He is a puppet for the owners; he’s forced to take unfair blame. His job is impossible; no one can get 30 owners to stay on the same page”
“Bettman has grown the NHL, they’ve made record profits under him.”
It’s all hogwash. I will admit that Gary Bettman is a puppet for the owners and his task of keeping them together is impossible. That is a problem Bettman created by his own doing however. The root of the NHL’s problems can be traced back to Bettman’s absurd idea that hockey could survive in the southern United States. If the NHL was a 20 team league the league would actually be healthy for a change. According to Forbes 81% of the NHL’s revenue comes from Toronto, Montreal, and New York. I have a hard time believing that teams like Philadelphia and Boston make up the same share of the remaining 19% as Florida and Dallas.
It’s true the NHL has made record profits with Bettman as commissioner but the numbers behind those having profits are deceiving at best. First of all, the whole “record profits” thing ignores inflation; three billion dollars now isn’t what it was in the early 90’s. More importantly, the NHL’s revenue is still eons behind other professional sports. In fact, it isn’t even on the same level as college athletics. NBC’s television contract with the NHL is worth about the same as ESPN’s deal to cover Pac-12 football. NBC gets seven nights a week of coverage instead of two for the Pac-12 on ESPN, eight months of telecasts instead of four, and five times as many games. Yet, the money is the same. We’re not even talking about Alabama, Ohio State, or Notre Dame here. In America, Washington State vs Arizona is worth the same on the TV market as New York vs Chicago.
Bettman’s financial fallacy of prosperity even ignores the fact that over one third of the NHL teams actually made money during the lockout. Attendance and TV ratings are so poor in most American markets that the teams actually operate in the red every time they put a game on.
Simply put, Gary Bettman and the National Hockey League have proven they can’t take care of your money. He will lie to you and tell you the league is doing great, that getting a CBA done and saving this season is a great victory. But, it’s all a lie. Gary Bettman spent the last five months repeatedly dropping his pants and taking a dump on all of us who love hockey. The deal he signed off on was on the table back in September and he knew it was all he would ever get all along. The reason he allowed the lockout to drag on though, was to protect his league from losing more money.
SO don’t celebrate this new deal. Don’t go buy a new T-shirt, don’t buy a pair of tickets to the game this weekend. Sit on your money and wait to give it to his successor. Bettman and the NHL have proven that they don’t deserve you.