My second favorite excerpt from a media story (again, the NYT):
Ryan Miller, the Buffalo Sabres goaltender, took a dim view of Bettman’s stewardship.
“Gary has basically run this business for 20 years, so if he’s operated at a loss for how many of those years, how is he still in a position of leadership, or even have a job?” Miller said, and then answered his own question. “Gary’s doing exactly what the owners all want, and Gary’s doing a great job in their minds.”
All kidding aside, both players and owners, however, should be concerned about the ridiculously high ticket prices for games. It shouldn't cost more than $30 to sit in the upper deck for a regular season game and spending $80 or $90 to sit in decent seats is beyond stupid.
The 2004-5 lockout cost the N.H.L. all 1,230 regular-season games and the Stanley Cup playoffs. The first lockout of the Bettman era, in 1994-95, cost 468 games, almost half the regular season.
That total since Bettman took the job in 1993, 1,698 regular-season games, exceeds the totals over the same period in Major League Baseball (948 games in addition to the postseason in the 1994 players’ strike); in the N.B.A. (704 games in owners’ lockouts last season and in 1998-99); and in the N.F.L. (no regular-season games lost).
Teams can get away with it when they're really good -- but hockey isn't so popular that they can get away with it the rest of the time, perhaps the reason that so many franchises in the NHL are ailing and the reason the owners want a new deal with players.Then again, here's the league's mentality, from their statement to fans this morning about the lockout:
The most meaningful regular season in pro sports? Are these guys injecting themselves with heroin while on acid?
Thanks to the conditions fostered by seven seasons under the previous CBA, competitive balance has created arguably the most meaningful regular season in pro sports; a different team has won the Stanley Cup every year; fans and sponsors have agreed the game is at its best, and the League has generated remarkable growth and momentum. While our last CBA negotiation resulted in a seismic change in the League's economic system, and produced corresponding on-ice benefits, our current negotiation is focused on a fairer and more sustainable division of revenues with the Players -- as well as other necessary adjustments consistent with the objectives of the economic system we developed jointly with the NHL Players' Association seven years ago. Those adjustments are attainable through sensible, focused negotiation -- not through rhetoric.
Let's review the facts: the NHL plays 82 regular season games in order to eliminate 14 of 30 teams from the post-season. In most years, the last half of the regular season is basically a competition for the order of the seeding and perhaps a race to see who captures a couple of the bottom seeds.
There's not even a ton of incentive to be in the top seeds, also rendering the regular season as a bit of a sham. The top seed still has to play four rounds of the playoffs. Yes, there's home ice advantage -- but it's in a 2-2-1-1-1 format, meaning that to get the home ice advantage a team has to get back on their plane and potentially fly across the country to their home arena. They'd probably rather just stay put.
The NBA is also a joke playoff-wise, allowing 16 teams to attend the post-season party. But baseball and the NFL have it right. In the MLB, 10 of 30 teams qualify for the post-season and the two wild-cards have to face eachother in an elimination round to advance. In the NFL, 12 of 32 teams get to the playoffs and there's real incentive to be in the top two of six seeds in each conference -- those teams don't have to play in the first round and are guaranteed a home game in the second round.