To Gary Bettman, NHL Owners (And Greg Jamison):
Seven years ago you forced the NHL Players Association into an agreement that rolled back their salaries and instituted a hard salary cap to prevent a certain few teams in bigger markets, with bigger fanbase from continually paying players more money, driving up salaries and ruining your profits (and the game, I think, at some point I feel you mentioned the actual game of hockey and keeping it fair).
Here we are, not even a decade later and we are staring at the probability of another lockout. More NHL games cancelled and once again, its because the players are making too much money.
As a hockey fan, who owns too many NHL jerseys than is appropriate for an adult, attends multiple games in multiple cities per year, purchases the NHL Center Ice package (much to the dismay of my wife) and actually watches the NHL Network year round, I feel that I’m in a position to voice some concern over this potential work stoppage.
I recently watched Zach Parise, Ryan Suter and Shea Weber sign contracts for 10+ years for over $100MM. That is an incredible amount of money. But I do believe that your own employees are the ones that signed these players to those contracts, correct?
From what I’ve learned in the business world over the years, when an employee is doing something that the owner/CEO/President doesn’t like, they get reprimanded and fired. If you, as an owner did not want to pay these ridiculous contracts, then may I suggest letting your General Manager/Director of Player Personnel know this?
Also, I do understand that you have to pay the players something, you can’t send out a team of beer league players for next to nothing for a few reasons, first, no one would pay to watch that crap (as a beer league player, I know this, my wife won’t even come to our games, even when I offer to pay her) and second, the Union…oh those goddamn unions, RUIN EVERYTHING (remember when your sweatshop tried to unionize and you fired all of them and replaced them with even cheaper labor? yeah, that was great, you showed them).
So, you have the ability to keep the players salaries under wraps to an extent, no team can pay more than a certain number, which is determined by the loving fans who keep spending money on the league and driving TV ratings. But because of this, you also have a minimum to hit which is REALLY killing a lot of you since you only see an average of $103MM in revenue per season and you HAVE to pay the players a minimum of $53MM this coming season.
However, your revenues have grown at close to 9% every single year for the past 7 seasons AND you just signed a new TV contract that will pay the NHL $120MM more PER SEASON than the previous contract. The reason you were able to do that is because the fans want to watch the players, not you. I do not tune into games because of the owners of the teams. I watch games because these guys are incredible (except for Jonathon Scott, that guy is terrible) at hockey.
After paying for the players salaries that are getting higher and higher (because your GMs keep signing players like Mike Komisarek to $20MM contracts and James Wisniewski to over $30MM) you are making less and less, however, this doesn’t even include the $9 beers and $5 hot dogs that you see profits on.
You may want to see more money, a profit into your pocket of $22 MM instead of just $20MM. But you don’t own a professional sports team to get rich. You get rich then buy a professional sports team because you were never any good at sports and its as close as you can get to winning a sports title.
If you make ANY money, consider it a win. Even if you lose money, think about the fans, I probably pay a higher percentage of my earnings on the NHL than you do AND you get the benefit of owning the team so you don’t have to pay for beers during the game and get to watch every game live in a suite…I usually have to sit next to some fat slob rooting against the team I want to win (I go to a lot of games on the road).
So, before this silliness goes any further, chop the players revenue percentage down from 57 to say 53 or 52%, sign the stupid new CBA for 8-10 years and make sure we don’t miss anymore games because as the 4th favorite sport in the United States, you don’t have a lot of room for error.
Oh, and let the players play in the Olympics in 2014…its fun and exciting for two weeks and just because you can’t profit off of it, it does bring a few new fans into the NHL when it returns, which will help your bottom line.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to you getting the NHL started on time this year and look forward to the Winter Classic.