NHL Lockout: Players to blame

The players aren’t going to win the NHL lockout and are costing businesses and employees billions of dollars in North America.

He Who Is Richer, Will Survive Longer

The billionaire owners have multiple businesses from which they get richer each year. Many have bought a sports team for fun rather than for ROI. They don’t depend on NHL revenue. First you get rich, then you buy a franchise – not the other way around.

The millionaire players are losing a greater fraction of their lifetime income. Only 4% of players play more than 12 seasons worth of games, according to QuantHockey.com. Based on the average NHL player salary ($2.4 million) and average career length (5.6 seasons), a season cancellation results in a gaping hole of $2.4 million from a $13.4 million lifetime wallet (17.9%) for the average player. Whereas a billionaire owner has a lifetime to fatten wealth.

And if it’s not about the money, the players lose as much a chance to win a Stanley Cup. That’s what it’s all about, right? Playing the game for the love of it?

Fans Come To Watch Teams, Not Players

With the exception of a handful of players, fans come out to watch a competitive game. Whether it’s against a division rival, for a playoff push, or for the Stanley Cup, the NHL brand has a tradition. Players come and go but fans will always fill seats in every Canadian city and some cities in the US.

Take into account many mainstream fans can’t mention 5 players from any team, or many of the corporate seats are used for schmoozing rather than watching the sport itself.

Health Of The Game

To expand growth, marketing dollars are needed in many unprivileged cities. This is difficult when the majority of dollars go to player salaries and enough money isn’t left over to promote the game or players to fill seats. Money also isn’t left over to attract the top coaches or trainers, causing many teams to become farm teams for the rest (e.g. NY Islanders, Florida Panthers, etc), unable to take a leap to the next level.

Consequently, this leads to consistently mediocre and terrible teams. They just can’t get out of the funk of the vicious cycle of losing money and putting a quality team out there.

Compare this to the NFL, where only 3 teams had an operating loss last season, but every city has a chance to build a team to compete each year. Granted, the NFL has revenue sharing so they’re only as strong as their weakest, keeping all clubs operating and competing at a high level.

Reality Check

With all the money the NHLPA has, I question their advisors’ foresight in the NHL lockout process. The anger and outbursts by a few players are emotion, lacking any logical basis. For example, if the NHLPA is fighting for 7%, that’s only $168,000 per season on an average salary. Whereas a cancellation costs an average player $2.4 million. Ridiculous enough?

Image Source: Chris Young/CP