• Brian Burke Tells Us What the NHL Will Wreck Next

    by  • August 20, 2010 • Uncategorized • 86 Comments

    If Brian Burke wasn’t the GM of the Maple Leafs, Bleacher Report would pass on this:

    In no other sport do the players, the management, the owners and the fans treat The Game with such respect. That’s what they call it, too — The Game. And everyone’s actions are still guided by what’s good for the game.

    2004-05 lockout? Good for the game. Six game mini-packs to watch the defending worst team in the NHL that cost more than $100 per game? Good for the game. Making threats that, if you aren’t given a few hundred million dollars, your hockey team located in the heartland of hockey is no longer viable? Good for the game.

    Alternate theory: everyone’s motives are a mix of what’s good for the game (stronger with people who have an emotional connection to hockey) and what’s good for the individual. What’s good for the individual is a mix of things that differs from individual to individual. For Burke’s employer, it’s the sheer thrill of exceeding the projected returns on the quarterly financial statements. For other owners, it will be a mix of financial and on-ice success.

    Our game is only played in a comparatively small area on the planet. We need to grow the world’s greatest game, and international hockey competition is a critical component.

    Tournaments must be staged in a manner that is consistent with the interests of the fans, the players, and the teams they play for. International competition needs to benefit all of the stakeholders.

    This seems reasonable enough, although I don’t see why I’m supposed to care about the interests of the teams that the players play for. Let the owners sort it out with the players when they negotiate contracts with them. Washington can just fire Ovechkin if he doesn’t show up for work in February of 2014.

    The current format simply does not meet everyone’s needs. The National Hockey League currently sends its players to the Olympics and the world championship, but receives no compensation for doing so.

    That’s ok. It’s good for the game. After all, hockey is the world’s greatest game, we need to grow it and international competition is a critical component. I vaguely recall reading this somewhere.

    Each NHL team shuts down its business for close to three weeks while the Olympic Games are played. In return, fans, management and owners are often rewarded with tired or broken players on their return from Olympic competition.

    I can’t comment on the tired player part, although only a small percentage of players actually play in the Olympics – the rest of them get a delightful break from a long grind of a season to spend some time on a beach somewhere. As for the broken players – I genuinely don’t remember anyone coming back from an Olympics who was broken. Closest I can come is Mario Lemieux in 2001-02 but I have something of a suspicion that the Olympics were the only reason he played that year.

    Nobody requires the NHL to shut down its business either. It shuts down its business because the players badly want to play in the Olympics and the fans are enthralled by Olympic hockey. Literally nobody complains when the NHL yields the stage to the Olympics for three weeks except NHL owners and management. This should tell Burke something about what’s good for the game.

    Assured only that the game must be growing as a result of an Olympic bump in interest, what results instead is the game’s most dedicated stakeholders see their own games being diminished.

    There really is nothing like the dedication of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment is there? Dedication drove it to conspire with the other owners to get rid of hockey for a year. Dedication gets it out of bed every morning to work to make sure that they can continue to make monopoly profits from a city that desperately needs another hockey team. Thank god for their tireless efforts.

    And it is not fair that the athletes themselves are not compensated for their participation. They run the risk of injury in international tournaments, which can threaten their NHL livelihood.

    Let the players get insurance if they’re worried. Or let them negotiate something with their club teams. Believe it or not, this is actually built right into the CBA – players are permitted to play in the World Championships, provided that there is adequate insurance in place. The players don’t seem to care that they aren’t compensated for their participation. Brian Burke’s concern for their interests is touching but they seem to have the matter well in hand.

    While some would argue that the chance to represent their country is compensation enough, it is unfair when the International Ice Hockey Federation and the International Olympic Committee receive multiple millions of dollars from these tournaments.

    I’m not going to defend the IOC or the IIHF but that sounds like a problem for hockey players and their governing organizations to work out. The players also do a bit of payback by their participation in these tournaments, as money comes into organizations like Hockey Canada and the other national federations which provided resources (in Canada at least) which benefitted the players as they were growing up.

    Even the healthy player is impacted negatively in years requiring overseas travel where distance and time changes compound fatigue in an already gruelling schedule.

    The post-Olympic slump that often impacts player performance can result in lost bonus opportunities and further lost endorsement revenue owing to missing the playoffs or Stanley Cup final.

    “Lost endorsement revenue”? Are there any NHLers with significant endorsement revenue outside of Sidney Crosby? I’d like to see some data on this post-Olympic slump in any event. If hockey is a zero sum game – and it is – one player’s slump is another player’s hot streak. Someone else will get the revenue. Again, Burke’s concern is touching but if the players – by and large a collection of millionaires with all sorts of bargaining power – aren’t worried about this, why is he suddenly such a passionate advocate for their interests?

    Basically, athletes and leagues are not paid or protected for their participation in either tournament while the tournaments themselves make millions. With that money going to the IOC and the IIHF alone, it jeopardizes future NHL player participation.

    I feel very comfortable with a confident prediction that this will change.

    FOR THE GOOD OF THE GAME. All of you fans and players who love Olympic and World Championship hockey are too stupid to know what’s good for you and the game. Only NHL owners and management know what is really in the best interests of the game. Like not having hockey for a year in order to establish a system to prop up financial blackholes in Phoenix. NO LOCKOUT, NO PHOENIX. NO CAROLINA. NO TAMPA BAY.

    Burke goes on to propose a late summer tournament which I would love but really, this is all a pile of crap. The NHL is not hockey. NHL owners are conduits through which money passes and organizers. They are parasites. They can be tolerated so long as they produce useful outcomes – the scheduling of entertaining hockey matches – but when the negative consequences for the host of the parasite start to outweigh the benefit of their presence, they should be killed as quickly as possible.

    If the players and fans want the Olympics, I say tough shit for the owners. They shouldn’t have their thumb in the pie of international hockey either. The players shouldn’t let them. I’m not even sure why the IIHF is needed, to be honest. What’s to stop the players from organizing a sixteen team international tournament, with the money divided up amongst the players who participate, in August of every fourth year? Why, exactly, is the consent or involvement of the NHL owners necessary? The highest level of the game is the property of those who can play it – if parasites like NHL owners or the IIHF are somehow necessary to facilitate it, their presence should be tolerated but they should never be mistaken as being somehow essential to it.

    About

    86 Responses to Brian Burke Tells Us What the NHL Will Wreck Next

    1. David Staples
      August 20, 2010 at

      My favourite Dellow rant ever. Brian Burke’s arguments are pathetic rationalizations.

    2. August 20, 2010 at

      I’m really starting to enjoy your politics, TD.

    3. Tyler Dellow
      August 20, 2010 at

      I’m also thinking that instead of a blog, I should devote my energy to forming a group of ultras that takes over a section at Rexall, sings all game, demonstrates in favour of firing management and throws road flares on the ice when the Oilers score. The whole NA experience in which we’re consumers of sport with teams owned by corporations is screwed up on so many levels. I say to hell with it.

    4. August 20, 2010 at

      Wow, great post, way to give it to Burkie/Toronto.

      I’m sure that the Stanley Cup finals this year having some of the highest ratings since the Stars/Sabres series had NOTHING to do with the Olympics.

    5. Ravnos
      August 20, 2010 at

      The whole NA experience in which we’re consumers of sport with teams owned by corporations is screwed up on so many levels.

      I’m not sure how it’s much different than the modern international (specifically European) experience with clubs owned by corporations, other than the fans of certain sports overseas tend to be more passionate and have more traditions associated with them. Singing fight songs at Rexall is something I can get behind, though.

    6. August 20, 2010 at

      Burke is GOD.

    7. bill needle
      August 20, 2010 at

      I had this fantasy that at one evening’s worth of games that fans attend the games until the moment the puck is dropped. Once the game is started, everyone – everyone – walks out. It would go well with the Gandhi-esque rage this article has.
      Another theory: when a sport’s organizers or announcers use the phrase “good for the game” or “good for the league,” it has nothing to do with improving the quality of the sport or the fan’s experience. It just means that more money should go to team’s that aren’t receiving their fair share, with fair share defined by the owner of said team.

    8. Joseph
      August 20, 2010 at

      Overall, I like this post and agree with 99% of what you write about, but was the shot at Carolina necessary?

    9. Tach
      August 20, 2010 at

      I think Burke’s position is particularly odious when you consider that neither the NHL nor its member franchises have any stake in the development end of the game. This is in contrast to at least (by my understanding) professional soccer in the UK and Europe where the teams recruit and develop players from the earliest stages, giving them a true interest in the youth levels. With the NHL they basically fop this off to the minor and junior hockey ranks (including things like the Hockey Canada junior program which is probably the number one source for elite NHL talent) and then scoop the players they want for basically nothing to the leagues that developed them.

      Also ignored in all this, while I could see a grunt level player being bullied about in all this, the players that drive the international tournaments are basically the superstars who have all the leverage. If any sizable contingency of the elite players decided to opt out of the Olympics, the whole thing would come crumbling down.

      God I dislike Brian Burke. And I’m a Calgary fan having to deal with Darryl Sutter!

    10. roddie
      August 20, 2010 at

      What’s to stop the players from organizing a sixteen team international tournament, with the money divided up amongst the players who participate, in August of every fourth year?

      What’s to stop the players from picking a decent leader to lead the PA?

      To call the NHL owners “parasites” is a bit extreme, IMHO. Someone has to put in the initial investment, take the initial (and ongoing) risk, and organize all of the million little details that makes a league that spans North America, a league (travel, arenas, uniforms, refs). “The highest level of the game is the property of those who can play it” only applies to the on-ice product, not to the business surrounding the organized playing of it.

      Now, I’m not saying we should feel sorry for the owners, or give them government grants, or agree with anything/everything they say, or even like them; but I don’t know how accurate it is to say that they’re just useless middle-men getting rich in all of this (even if some/most/all are getting rich).

      That said, what’s Burke’s agenda with this article? What I get out of it at face value is that he’s not saying that having the NHL in the Olympics is bad for the game or not worth it, but that if it is going to continue, the system should be fixed so that the owners (with a gratuitous nod to the players) get some monetary benefit. Is he posturing for something else here?

    11. August 20, 2010 at

      “Why, exactly, is the consent or involvement of the NHL owners necessary? The highest level of the game is the property of those who can play it – if parasites like NHL owners or the IIHF are somehow necessary to facilitate it, their presence should be tolerated but they should never be mistaken as being somehow essential to it. “

      Isn’t it in the CBA that they can’t go play sports without the Team’s permission? I wasn’t sure which clause but I glanced through the SPC and found this,

      Accordingly the Player agrees
      that he will not during the period of this SPC or during any period when he is obligated under
      this SPC to enter into a further SPC with the Club engage or participate in football, baseball,
      softball, hockey, lacrosse, boxing, wrestling or other athletic sport without the written consent of
      the Club, which consent will not be unreasonably withheld.

    12. marconiusE
      August 20, 2010 at

      there’s that pesky question of what is reasonable or not again

    13. mclea
      August 20, 2010 at

      The whole NA experience in which we’re consumers of sport with teams owned by corporations is screwed up on so many levels.

      I know you’ve been a soccer super fan for all of five seconds, but I’m confident that you will soon realize that professional soccer has just as many warts as professional hockey.

      Soccer teams sell the rights to player’s labour in order to make debt payments for God sakes.

      As hard as it might be for you to cheer for the Oilers, I’m sure it would be a lot harder to cheer for Chelsea, a team that is being financed entirely by money stolen from the Russian state and effectively is being used as an offshore money parking vehicle by a Russian Oligarch.

      All professional sports are run by cynics. It’s obvious that cheering for a collection of multi-millionaires and their billionaire owner, who is selling back to you your regional identity and shared experience, is entirely irrational. It’s best to just not think about it.

    14. Tyler Dellow
      August 20, 2010 at

      Ah, but it’s been a productive five seconds: my apartment and ipad are now littered with soccer books.

      As I understand it, the rights are reasonably limited pursuant to some EU decision. If you want to go free agent, you can go free agent at the end of your agreement. That seems reasonable to me. I’m not entirely sure yet how they deal with young players – there’s law in Canada saying that contracts saying you’ll pay a chunk of money to your junior club aren’t binding, IIRC – I think John Tonelli was involved.

      There’s no reason that a club has to be run by a billionaire. Abramovich is obviously a pretty bad guy. There’s a lot more community ownership in soccer though, particularly in the German league and the idea seems to be gaining some steam in England as well. If there was an NHL team run along the lines of Real Madrid, I’d be interested in buying a membership and becoming a supporter of that team. Might be a way for one of these shit southern franchises to bail themselves out, actually – I’d plunk down $500 to own a share of the Coyotes and have the right to vote on a Board every three years.

    15. Tyler Dellow
      August 20, 2010 at

      Oh, and mclea – Abramovich isn’t really an answer to my point on the NA experience. My general point is that Euro fans seem to have stronger ties and have a different relationship with their teams. It’s one of the things that’s struck me. Our relationship with our teams is really much more one of being consumers – they offer us a product, which we can accept or not, without comment because we sort of accept that they own the product. That last bit doesn’t seem as well accepted over there. It doesn’t really make sense that we accept it either.

    16. Schitzo
      August 20, 2010 at

      For what it’s worth, Dom Hasek blew himself up pretty good at the 2006 Olympics. Ottawa was awfully choked about that.

    17. Tyler Dellow
      August 20, 2010 at

      Ah, there we go. That’s a good example. Still though, good of the game, not good of the Sens, right?

      If Burke had written this whole thing as a piece about what’s good for NHL owners, I wouldn’t have bothered. It’s when he tries to drape himself in the mantle of “good of the game” that I get a little irritated.

    18. mclea
      August 20, 2010 at

      I think transfer fees are essentially compensation provided to a player’s team in order to buy them out of their existing contract. I imagine it’s the same for youth players. The players enter into a contract with a team in order to take advantage of their training facilities and program, and the team is compensated for the investment they put in the player by selling the right for the player to get out of their contract. There was an article in the New York Times that showed that is how Ajax makes a good chunk of their cash.

      My point was that a lot of these teams are so highly leveraged that they are often forced to liquidate their assets in order to make debt payments. Transactions as crass as selling your players so you can pay Goldman Sachs sort of takes away from the mystique of sports.

      I’ve always wondered why community ownership isn’t more prevalent in North America. I imagine it’s because none of these teams actually make any money outside of changes in ownership (and therefore a government purchasing a franchise would be political infeasible), but I think it would be interesting if Glendale bought the Coyotes and financed the purchase by selling equity in the team to fans.

      I think we would all prefer that teams were operated like trusts, with the “owners” acting as trustees in exchange for an annual management fees, and the members of the team (or the citizens of a city) being the beneficiaries. The idea of an owner having the legal obligation to run a franchise for the benefit of the fans is likely appealing to just about everybody. I just don’t think it will ever happen.

    19. Jay
      August 20, 2010 at

      Leave Carolina out of your rant! Lots of new hockey markets are doing terribly; NC isn’t one of them. Florida? Should be gone. Phoenix? Should be gone. Atlanta? Should be gone.

      Carolina, except on years they field a shittacular team (last year), are usually in the top 15-20 in attendance, above some more well-regarded teams like the Islanders and Devils.

    20. Tyler Dellow
      August 20, 2010 at

      Sorry, I wasn’t clear on the youth contract thing. There’s a principle in Canada (and, given where a lot of our law comes from, presumably England) that minors aren’t bound by contracts, subject to certain exceptions. Some googling seems to show that the EU has similar rules, so I’m not quite sure how it works.

      If you’re Sidney Crosby and you’ve come up in the Canadiens system since you were 13 or so, unless you’re insane, the first thing you’ll do at 18 is void the agreement you have with them.

    21. Tyler Dellow
      August 20, 2010 at

      Carolina fans – congratulations on filling your arena to 15th or 20th in the league during good years. You can buy season tickets behind the net for the price of about 8 games in a similar spot in Edmonton. And that’s with the Oilers coming off their worst season in history.

    22. August 20, 2010 at

      I’ve always wondered why community ownership isn’t more prevalent in North America. I imagine it’s because none of these teams actually make any money outside of changes in ownership (and therefore a government purchasing a franchise would be political infeasible), but I think it would be interesting if Glendale bought the Coyotes and financed the purchase by selling equity in the team to fans.

      Hey, it works in Green Bay!

      I’ve always wondered about this too though.

    23. Mr DeBakey
      August 20, 2010 at

      “There really is nothing like the dedication of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment is there?”

      They are also dedicated to keeping cheap, sleazy, carpetbaggers from owning a NHL team in Hamilton.

      For the good of the Game

    24. Quain
      August 20, 2010 at

      Pinko. The ability for people to skim massive amounts of money, with zero added value, off the talents of others is what makes us better than the apes, Slovakians, and Carolina fans.

      Just you wait until J. Edgar Hoover hears about your assault on democracy.

    25. The Other John
      August 20, 2010 at

      Burkie

      Always worries about the good of game. He is also perfectly positioned to absolutely destroy the NHL salary cap. He is in control of hockey operations of the NHL team that generates obscene amounts of cash. Burkie could sign, annually, the top free agents in each and every year.If he controlled the purse strings he would sign a series of top FA ‘s and when any of them did not pan out (Fingers??) ….he would continue to pay them and simply ship them to the minors a la Malakov. Their farm teanm would have a payroll of $50 million

      All for the good of the game!!!

      Only problem is that the Ontario Teachers pension fund actually looks at MLSE as an investment and expects the asset to roll over annual rates of return to pay ongoing obligations to their pensioners.

      It is actually HILARIOUS and not something I think he thought through sufficiently when he took the job. Put simply, the OTPP wants their money, annually!

    26. dawgbone
      August 20, 2010 at

      My general point is that Euro fans seem to have stronger ties and have a different relationship with their teams.

      Meaning they are fucking insane right?

      My theory always was that it was soccer, and what else are you going to do at a soccer game besides sing songs and do stupid shit?

      Kind of like sitting around a campfire, except there are no marshmellows or spider dogs.

    27. Woodguy
      August 20, 2010 at

      Tyler,

      From what I understand you practice Insurance law.

      It sounds to me like you should brush up on labour law and work for the NHLPA.

      If you can find someone in charge to hire you.

    28. The Other John
      August 20, 2010 at

      Woodguy

      I actually think what the NHLPA should do is quit with the we need a “Union” side lawyer to negotiate the next collective bargaining agreement and should instead find the smartest and best management side lawyer, not connected to the NHL, and hire that firm to protect their interests. That firm would truly understand that they are not in a weak bargaining position. I would then lay out to the NHL that if they want to pursue a non confrontational approach it requires a full partnership…… rules, new initiatives, expansion,etc. With the exception of Don Fehr in MLB, not a single union side lawyer has ever successfully understood and communicated to the “talent” that they have a co -equal bargaining position with the owners.

      If anyone believes that 15 to 20 teams in the NHL can take another year off with a work stoppage. You are crazy

      Hire the best legal talent you can find, explain that it may take 12 to 18 months but a true partnership IS doable

    29. overpass
      August 20, 2010 at

      Hasek in 2006 was a really big deal in Ottawa. The Senators had the best goal differential in the league at the Olympic break. Hasek was playing great, but everyone was a little nervous about his health, and the Olympics seemed like an unnecessary risk.

      And then the worst case scenario happened and he missed the rest of the season. Ottawa lost a playoff series in which they heavily outshot Buffalo but rookie Ray Emery had a 0.864 SV%…and the two teams that ended up in the Finals had a +25 goal differential and a +6 goal differential, while Ottawa and their +104 sat at home.

      But I can’t really blame the Olympics for that. Stuff like that happens when you count on a 40-year-old Hasek staying healthy.

    30. August 21, 2010 at

      Carolina fans – congratulations on filling your arena to 15th or 20th in the league during good years. You can buy season tickets behind the net for the price of about 8 games in a similar spot in Edmonton. And that’s with the Oilers coming off their worst season in history.

      IIRC, after the ‘Canes won the Cup in 2006 they did a pretty steep hike in ticket prices, and the fans didn’t run away screaming from them at first. They sold pretty well in 06-07. It was only after the team started sucking ass and it was clear they were going to miss the playoffs that they had to start slashing ticket prices left and right.

      I understand that obviously ticket prices are more expensive in Canada win or lose, and as a Rangers fan I can relate (Dolan gouges us for tickets pretty badly too, regardless of how good or bad the team is, and the fans do largely still gobble them up so more power to them I guess), but it’s never going to be like that in a majority of American markets. Even in Philadelphia, which is looked at as a “real hockey market”, the ticket prices are surprisingly cheap for regular-season games. Chicago’s huge hike shows that Americans are by-and-large willing to pay huge prices for a winning product, and I don’t think it’s fair to hold it against Carolinains that their team has been so goddamn inconsistent. If they had followed that Cup run up with numerous playoff seasons, I have no doubt ticket prices would be much higher right now.

    31. Woodguy
      August 21, 2010 at

      TOJ,

      I was more thinking along the lines of “a man who loves what he does for a living never works a day in his life”

      Tyler has an obvious passion for hockey and also shows contempt towards some NHL management and ownership.

      The perfect job then would be to work for the NHLPA.

    32. The Other John
      August 21, 2010 at

      WG

      We would be better off if Tyler worked for the Oilers

    33. Triumph
      August 21, 2010 at

      While it’s impossible to see this as anything but what it is – an appeal to naked cash grabbing – the NHL is right to be skeptical of going to Sochi in 2014. However, the league’s stance on the Olympics seems to be akin to getting a free meal and complaining because there’s no ketchup. It saw the Olympics as a mostly free way to advertise the game, and now that it’s not really getting any returns on that advertisement, it wants to pull back. That’s only fair – it does interrupt the only time of year when hockey is free of football and baseball, causes havoc with scheduling, and puts teams’ players in other people’s hands for 2 weeks.

      Olympic participation is a pretty great union-dividing carrot, though, seeing as how most of the union does not and will not participate. This could obviously be posturing. Still, I don’t blame the NHL for wanting out of the Olympics – it’s gotten almost the perfect result both times the tournament has been in North America, and has nothing to show for it.

    34. August 21, 2010 at

      I think another part of it all is what Don Meehan told me on this — that the league has to essentially jump through whatever hoops the IOC puts up in order to be part of the Olympics. It must drive Bettman batty to have so little control over that three week portion of the season and to not be able to get any type of concessions out of them.

      What Ted Leonsis talked about here is along the same lines. And other U.S. owners hate the fact that, as Triumph points out, the season shuts down just as NHL ticket sales generally pick up.

      It’s a lot more complex than simply saying “oh the NHL’s using the Games as a bargaining chip with the PA.” The league has multiple gripes with the Games.

    35. Mr. Koolaide
      August 21, 2010 at

      I’m guessing that you are speaking from a position that clearly not based on any facts. Such as your comment about endorsements. As someone that deals with that subject, you are way wrong about other players not having endorsements because they are not Sidney. Are you aware players in any city has offers from many business and organizations to do appearances or ads? Maybe there will be no correlation with what Burke said unless in the case of said player is injured thus not being able to physically commit, then Burke has a point.

      Your last paragraph is classic… all I heard from you was the same thing as you telling someone that has a car, you have the right to use that car because you like it so much. Hockey players (in this case NHL players) are the owned property of the teams they play for. So really fans like yourself ought to be thankful that owners allow the risks and cost to have their players play at a tournament for free for us. Looking at Burke’s words, it is clearly not done at their benefit.

    36. mclea
      August 21, 2010 at

      So really fans like yourself ought to be thankful that owners allow the risks and cost to have their players play at a tournament for free for us.

      Ya, I don’t know if I buy the parasite argument considering the owners pay these guys fair market value for their labour and the NHL, whether we want to acknowledge it or not, is a business no different from any other. Players are by far the owners’ most valuable assets. When these players go to play in international tournaments, the owners are loaning these players to another corporation in exchange for zero consideration. No other business on earth would loan their most valuable assets to another business in return for nothing, so why would we expect NHL franchises to?

      I appreciate the romanticized notion that hockey belongs to the people and the NHL is merely the custodian of a public good, but man, this is the real world.

    37. sv
      August 21, 2010 at

      Not to drag soccer into things again but it seems like the national teams have little problem accessing players from their club teams throughout the year.

    38. glgbill
      August 21, 2010 at

      Leaf fan…and I agree with this article.

    39. The Other John
      August 21, 2010 at

      Not a Leaf fan, or at least not since they traded Lanny McDonald, but the reason the NHL “lent” their players to their own individual Olympic teams was for exposure to the widest possible number of viewers on TV. It was not any streak of altruism on the NHL owners part. They wanted to expose their product to the widest possible market

      While still saying watch the Olympics, …….the level of play is just like a regular season game in March on a Wednesday night between St Louis and (groan, this hurts) Edmonton

    40. August 21, 2010 at

      As a Leaf fan, I really wonder at the animosity towards Brian Burke. I am certainly happy with the job he has done so far.

      For the poster bashing the OTPP, like they wouldn’t make “MORE” money if they won the cup… or played some playoff games. Give your head a shake.

      What I got out of Burkes message? He finds the current situation with the IOC and IIHF inequitable. He is suggesting a new deal.

      So what?

      As for players being tired after the Olympics, big difference between a team with 5 or 6 players participating vs a team with nobody participating.

      Cheers

    41. Gerald
      August 21, 2010 at

      Tyler, this is a rather surprising – and disappointing, to be frank – post from you.

      I am surprised that you would feel the need to Fisk such a pathetic piece of claptrap from Blowhard Burke. A stunning notation of the fact that the Olympics falls in the middle of the NHL season is an inconvenience and a groundbreaking suggestion of a summer tournament? It would deserve to be summarily ignored, if not for the idiotic idea that hockey is a special sport that is inherently “better” than any other sport, that hockey players are unique among other athletes and that players are uniquely “fearless” (notwithstanding the fact that his main strategy in building a hockey team is to fill it with players who can and will intimidate those other “fearless” players) – observations which you have given a pass to, apparently. As the kids say, LMAO at Burke.

      [On a side note, just to defend Burke for a moment, when he says "the game’s most dedicated stakeholders see their own games being diminished", I am pretty sure that he is also - perhaps even primarily - referring to NHL fans, who are certainly stakeholders and are dedicated to the games.]

      As to why I am disappointed, I must first say that I regard you as among the more intelligent and perceptive commentators on the hockey blogging scene. You have earned this through your body of work. In short, your work is consistently that of a thoughtful grown-up. Accordingly, when I read this post, I am disappointed, since it is little more than a rant, and an ill-considered one at that. My bill of particulars:

      1. You suggest that the players don’t care about getting paid to play in the NHL. Says who? You? Have you asked them all? In any event, whether they care or not, the fact of the matter is that someone – the Olympic organizers, in this case – is making a gigantic pile of money off the labours and profile of the NHL players. In case you have not noticed (but I am sure you have), the Olympics is big business, with big dollars involved. They are also making that money off the profile and patina provided to those players by the NHL. Whether or not the players or the NHL are complaining about it, it is perfectly valid to observe that the Olympics folks are making a ton of $$$$ off the labours of the players and the marketing efforts and largesse of the NHL. Ignoring that and saying simply “who cares, all I care about is my team, yay for US” is the reaction of a kid, IMO, and not worthy of your efforts. IMO, of course. If we are talking about the Olympics, then we are talking about money. If money is made, then it is a worthwhile discussion to consider who should get it and in what proportions. You point out that some money goes to hockey organizations; much more goes into luxury accommodations for IOC members, their bloated organizations and shady business practices.

      2. Regarding your out-of-the-blue part about the hockey lockout, are you actually still litigating that ancient history? Are you trying to suggest that a year without hockey was some sort of end-of-days event as was supposed during the lockout, when in fact it was clearly demonstrated that hockey fan interest has only been intensified? And what is with the idea of calling out various southern franchises, including ones like Carolina and making incorrect allegations about the price difference (EDM is not 5 x the price of CAR) in some sort of effort at cheap shots? Same thing for TB, whose top end season ticket price significantly exceeds the top end season ticket price in EDM, by the way. What’s next – a rant about how Canadian fans are subsidizing US hockey? That will be the day that I become convinced that your blog has been hacked by a 14 year old from HFBoards. I hope that day never comes.

      3. Owners are “parasites”? WTF? I had held the opinion that your politics were fairly conservative, somewhat to the right of mine. A touch Libertarian, even. Have you suddenly turned into a “workers of the world unite” advocate of the downtrodden protelariat? It seems so when you write things like “The highest level of the game is the property of those who can play it”. You are talking about the means of production, there, Tyler – straight out of the Marxism playbook. Is that where you really intend to go? I am positive that you understand the role of capital in sports leagues and the production of sporting events. Without that capital, sports leagues do not show up on your television screen. The games are not conducted in arenas where you can get a good seat. I would expect you to already know all this. Calling owners “parasites” indicates to me that you have forgotten it.

      4. In essence, a significant part of your post seems to be based on some sort of idealized version of what pro sports should be, as if somehow the genie could be put back in the bottle (assuming there is a genie that needs to be put back into some sort of bottle). As if there actually was something inherently better with community ownership. It is more than a little naive to think that there is some sort of idealized structure that will recover the purity of sports. Do you actually think that players could finance and organize a tournament as you suggest? At this stage, they could not organize a two-car funeral.

      As James points out above, the NHL has several gripes with the Olympics, and they are legitimate ones, none of which has to do with Burke’s moronic blather about “The Game”.

      The players own 57% of those gripes, whether they realize it or not.

      Taking the attitude of the 14 year old hockey fan with an argument based on “why should I care about this money stuff??? I just care about us (my team) and watching great Olympic hockey for a few weeks, Yaaaaay CANADA!!!” advances the discussion no better than Burke’s crapola.

      One thing we are agreed on, though – Burke is a fool.

    42. Tyler Dellow
      August 21, 2010 at

      Gerald

      [On a side note, just to defend Burke for a moment, when he says “the game’s most dedicated stakeholders see their own games being diminished”, I am pretty sure that he is also - perhaps even primarily - referring to NHL fans, who are certainly stakeholders and are dedicated to the games.]

      This is a beyond charitable interpretation, given that you would be hard pressed to find ANYONE who complains about the diminishment of NHL games who isn’t employed by an NHL team. In any event, do you seriously think that Olympic participation isn’t favoured by about at least a 90% margin by the fans? I assure you I didn’t spend any time during the Olympics wishing I had an Edmonton-Columbus game to watch that night, particularly since I was getting all of those games anyway and what we’re really talking about is the glory of an Edmonton-Columbus game in a non-Olympic year versus the diminished Edmonton-Columbus game in a non-Olympic year.

      You suggest that the players don’t care about getting paid to play in the NHL

      Is this supposed to be a reference to the Olympics? If it is, I’m basing my comment on the observation that almost nobody refuses to play in the Olympics, even though they aren’t getting paid. You might be able to quibble that they would prefer to get paid to play in the Olympics but then I would have preferred to get paid for attending the soccer game I went to today. Even without the possibility of payment, I wanted to go. Even without the possibility of payment, the players want to go to the Olympics.

      The IOC is, as I alluded to in my piece, a terrible organization. The players would prefer to play despite this, as can be seen from the fact that they do.

      Regarding your out-of-the-blue part about the hockey lockout, are you actually still litigating that ancient history? Are you trying to suggest that a year without hockey was some sort of end-of-days event as was supposed during the lockout, when in fact it was clearly demonstrated that hockey fan interest has only been intensified?

      I’m making the point that that event was in the best interests of the NHL, not the best interests of the game. Burke has the two concepts muddled together. I’m not sure how you can say that it has been clearly demonstrated that hockey fan interest has only been intensified since the lockout. What’s more, I don’t know you can demonstrate any sort of causal relationship between the two, assuming that it’s proven that fan interest has intensified.

      And what is with the idea of calling out various southern franchises, including ones like Carolina and making incorrect allegations about the price difference (EDM is not 5 x the price of CAR) in some sort of effort at cheap shots?

      Ah, I checked again, you’re right – their site is sort of misleading in that they use the phrase “Total Season Ticket Price” for packages that aren’t season tickets. A season ticket behind the nets in Carolina costs you $2,520. The same ticket in Edmonton would cost you $4,444.20, which is about $4,221.99 at current exchange rates. So it’s about 67% more.

      Which is, you know, still a pretty clear statement about the appetite for hockey in Carolina versus the appetite for hockey in Canada.

      What’s next – a rant about how Canadian fans are subsidizing US hockey?

      While I object to the term “rant”, I suspect that Canadian fans probably are subsidizing American NHL hockey.

      I had held the opinion that your politics were fairly conservative, somewhat to the right of mine. A touch Libertarian, even.

      I’m not sure that libertarianism is necessarily to the right of conservatism. On social issues, it’s probably well to the left. In any event, my politics are pretty difficult to categorize.

      “The highest level of the game is the property of those who can play it”. You are talking about the means of production, there, Tyler – straight out of the Marxism playbook.

      It seems pretty obviously true to me, in this case. The NHL literally cannot produce elite hockey without the players. They can sign guys like me to play but it’s not going to be elite hockey. They can only get that type of hockey from a very small group of people. NHL hockey – the spectacle – requires their involvement. They bring organization, marketing and, yes, capital. I don’t dispute any of that nor do I dispute the necessity of capital.

      They are, however, operating as a cartel. They use their position to extract money from state and local governments that are too stupid to say no. (I note that this is beneficial to the players; it’s certainly not beneficial to the taxpayers with whom I have sympathy.) The only way that they’re able to generate any return on their capital (because enough of them either don’t care about getting a return on their capital or they get enough of a return from other ancillary businesses) is by basically breaking the player’s union.

      I would also be more sympathetic to the owners if it was their own capital that they were playing with. The game in the NHL seems pretty clear in the last twenty years or so though – you build the asset value by finding ways to get public money. The NHL has essentially built itself a privileged position with huge barriers to entry on the back of public money. Now they want to use that position to play games with the involvement of NHL players in the Olympics if they don’t get their piece of the action? Come on.

      In any event, I’m not denying the importance of capital. We can be reasonably certain though, that there are people who would gladly replace them, if they were given the same access to cheap facilities and such. There’s never really been a problem finding capital for hockey teams.

      Do you actually think that players could finance and organize a tournament as you suggest? At this stage, they could not organize a two-car funeral.

      I think that with the proper leadership, they can do it fairly easily. Financing a tournament isn’t going to be all that difficult. You don’t actually need that much in the way of capital to run a tournament like I’m suggesting, where the players defer their expectations of payment until after the tournament is over.

      As James points out above, the NHL has several gripes with the Olympics, and they are legitimate ones, none of which has to do with Burke’s moronic blather about “The Game”.

      Fair enough. That’s not what I was responding to though.

      The players own 57% of those gripes, whether they realize it or not.

      They seem to pretty explicitly not give a shit.

    43. Tyler Dellow
      August 21, 2010 at

      Olympic participation is a pretty great union-dividing carrot, though, seeing as how most of the union does not and will not participate. This could obviously be posturing.

      Yeah. I kind of thing that the PA should encourage the star players to take this issue off the table by having them push during negotiations for terms in their contracts that release them from any obligation to attend at work between February 10 and February 28, 2014, with protection if they suffer injury. You get those from enough teams (and teams would give them, I suspect) and you’ll make the point moot. It also puts the issue where it really should be and removes it as a cudgel during negotiations. If 15 teams have given this right to players, the NHL’s position is going to be destroyed anyway.

    44. Tyler Dellow
      August 21, 2010 at

      Such as your comment about endorsements. As someone that deals with that subject, you are way wrong about other players not having endorsements because they are not Sidney. Are you aware players in any city has offers from many business and organizations to do appearances or ads? Maybe there will be no correlation with what Burke said unless in the case of said player is injured thus not being able to physically commit, then Burke has a point.

      I’ve spent eight of the past thirteen years living in two of the biggest hockey markets in the world, the markets where people actually give a shit about hockey and where hockey matters. I don’t see hockey players on TV selling products, I don’t see them in print selling products. At most, they get some personal appearance stuff which, I imagine, is pretty small beans. You claim to be plugged in – tell me if I’m wrong – but I doubt most guys have an opportunity to make much beyond $50K annually and it would be time intensive stuff – showing up at car dealerships and doing autograph sessions, that sort of thing. When you wipe out the taxes and consider the time involved, I can’t see how it’s significant for most of them.

      Hockey players (in this case NHL players) are the owned property of the teams they play for. So really fans like yourself ought to be thankful that owners allow the risks and cost to have their players play at a tournament for free for us.

      No, that’s not quite right. The owners have the right to whatever bundle of services and rights they agree to pay money to the players for. If they players aren’t willing to sell certain rights – some of the Russian guys have already said that they’re playing in Sochi regardless – then the owners don’t own them.

      As I indicated in my previous post, I don’t think that this should be a CBA issue – the vast majority of the players don’t get the opportunity. The stars are the show though and if they want to play in the Olympics and are willing to negotiate it into their deals, as a practical matter, the league is going to the Olympics.

      I cannot believe that, when Taylor Hall comes due for a new deal, if he and the Oilers have agreed on a four year deal for $25MM or something, that his demand to be permitted to go to Sochi is going to be refused by the Oilers. He’s got a pretty good alternative – he’ll go to the FA market and find a team that will let him play.

    45. The Other John
      August 22, 2010 at

      Scott Loucks

      My comment about the OTPP was not bashing their motivation. I think it is funny actually. They would absolutely love to make an extra $25 million by going to the SCF. They are just not prepared to spend $15 or 20 million dollars in buried contracts to do it.

      See, the OTPP are not fans…….. In any way. They have a swack of retired teachers that want to get paid. It is truly one of the GREAT investment stories of the last 50 years.

      There simply is zero incentive to jeopardize necessary returns for the possibility of higher income.

      Pssst: your owner has limited incentive to win

    46. August 22, 2010 at

      http://www.coppernblue.com/2010/2/1/1286616/carolina-struggles-at-the-gate-and

      Carolina sucks as a market. Luckily they have a deep-pocketed owner.

    47. Travis Dakin
      August 22, 2010 at

      A season ticket behind the nets in Carolina costs you $2,520. The same ticket in Edmonton would cost you $4,444.20, which is about $4,221.99 at current exchange rates. So it’s about 67% more.

      Not to mention the fact that getting your hands on those tickets in Edmonton is at least a 2 year wait on the list. A wait which will only let you get nosebleed tickets when you do finally get picked. Nosebleed tickets that you will happily take in the hopes that you can one day work your way down to a seat that is to your liking.

    48. speeds
      August 22, 2010 at

      I don’t know if Hall can force that clause into a deal Tyler. I’d have to re-read the offer sheet section, but I thought there was something in there about teams only having to match the financial terms of a deal, not anything else agreed to in a contract. If that’s the case, Hall could sign an OS with someone that would give him that clause, but EDM could match without the clause as part of the contract.

    49. August 22, 2010 at

      I think Burke’s position is particularly odious when you consider that neither the NHL nor its member franchises have any stake in the development end of the game. This is in contrast to at least (by my understanding) professional soccer in the UK and Europe where the teams recruit and develop players from the earliest stages, giving them a true interest in the youth levels. With the NHL they basically fop this off to the minor and junior hockey ranks (including things like the Hockey Canada junior program which is probably the number one source for elite NHL talent) and then scoop the players they want for basically nothing to the leagues that developed them.

      To be fair, that used to be the way things were done, from the ’40s until 1969. A lot of people got upset about NHL teams owning players from the age of 14, funny enough. (Also, it got real unwieldy to try to arrange feeder systems for 12 and 14 teams, rather than six, I would assume.)

      “The highest level of the game is the property of those who can play it”. You are talking about the means of production, there, Tyler – straight out of the Marxism playbook.

      To be fair, the players are the means of production, for all intents and purposes.

      You might be able to quibble that they would prefer to get paid to play in the Olympics but then I would have preferred to get paid for attending the soccer game I went to today. Even without the possibility of payment, I wanted to go. Even without the possibility of payment, the players want to go to the Olympics.

      If anything, paying the players to go might diminish their innate desire to go. Money does funny things to motivation, one of them being that it supplants natural desire as the primary motivating factor for performing an action, to the point that later removing the financial compensation leads to the removal of all desire to perform the action.

      That is to say, I’m sure the players wouldn’t mind the extra paycheque, but I don’t think we’d get the same patriotic fervor out of it; it’d just be another paycheque. Then it really would be like a mid-February regular-season game.

    50. Gerald
      August 22, 2010 at

      Carolina sucks as a market. Luckily they have a deep-pocketed owner.

      As compelling as a link to your own writings may be, and not to take the thread off topic, but your contention is unsupported, based as it is on the ridiculous notion that # of sellouts is the de facto standard for successful achievement in the area of attendance. Whatever suits the argument, though, I guess. Interesting as well that you would assert HERE that “Carolina sucks as a market”, when you assert repeatedly in your responses to Carolina supporters among the comments on your website that you aren’t saying that Carolina is hurting the NHL (even going so far as to assert that it is THEY who are overstating the problems in THEIR head and attributing it to you). Whatever suits the audience, I guess.

      BTW: Assuming you don’t know me, and just to cut off the potential response, I am Canadian and not a Carolina fan. I am also not a fan of Canadian hockey fan superiority complexes.

    51. Gerald
      August 22, 2010 at

      This is a beyond charitable interpretation, given that you would be hard pressed to find ANYONE who complains about the diminishment of NHL games who isn’t employed by an NHL team.

      I am just going by the words of the article, wherein Blowhard Burke references the various stakeholders in the paragraph immediately preceding that statement, and cites the fans. It seems pretty clear to me.

      As for people who don’t enjoy the Olympic break, I would dare say that the fans of any team that is hot going into the break would rather not cut off their team’s momentum.

      In any event, do you seriously think that Olympic participation isn’t favoured by about at least a 90% margin by the fans? I assure you I didn’t spend any time during the Olympics wishing I had an Edmonton-Columbus game to watch that night, particularly since I was getting all of those games anyway and what we’re really talking about is the glory of an Edmonton-Columbus game in a non-Olympic year versus the diminished Edmonton-Columbus game in a non-Olympic year.

      I honestly don’t know, Tyler. I haven’t done a survey. I suppose it might depend on when you ask them. During the Olympics, everyone loves watching all-star teams playing playoff-intensity hockey. When you ask them during periods when their team is playing a lot of games in a compressed period of time because the NHL shut itself down for three weeks and have to make up those 9 games or so at other times and their team is gassed as a result, you might get a different answer. Again, though, I don’t know. What I would suggest, though, is that ignoring the repercussions simply because one wants something right then and there, and who cares what the choices are, is not an attitude that helps advance the discussion much. IMO.

      Is this supposed to be a reference to the Olympics? If it is, I’m basing my comment on the observation that almost nobody refuses to play in the Olympics, even though they aren’t getting paid. You might be able to quibble that they would prefer to get paid to play in the Olympics but then I would have preferred to get paid for attending the soccer game I went to today. Even without the possibility of payment, I wanted to go. Even without the possibility of payment, the players want to go to the Olympics.

      Yes, I did mean the Olympics. My error, sorry. That probably seemed like a pretty odd sentence.

      If you are going to quibble with my quibbles, then I would expect a better quibble than what you wrote above. Comparing your desire to be paid for going to a game is not analogous to players being paid for playing the game.

      Obviously there are significant externalities that cause players to play for their country. What is not at issue is whether players are willing to play for free and have other parties commercially exploit that willingness for their own profit. The more relevant point is what is the more appropriate commercial arrangement.

      I’m making the point that that event was in the best interests of the NHL, not the best interests of the game. Burke has the two concepts muddled together.

      Who the hell knows what “The Game” has to do with anything. I think we are on common ground that this “The Game” stuff spouted by Burke is an unadulterated steaming pile. We would all do well to dismiss it. The NHL is a commercial enterprise whose primary focus is on its own interests. Same for the players. Sometimes those interests intersect with the common good.

      I’m not sure how you can say that it has been clearly demonstrated that hockey fan interest has only been intensified since the lockout.

      One word: data.

      More attendance, more revenue, more television viewers. Dramatic improvements in all. I hope that you would agree that those data points are appropriate measures of intensity of fan interest.

      What’s more, I don’t know you can demonstrate any sort of causal relationship between the two, assuming that it’s proven that fan interest has intensified.

      A fair point, to be sure, but I do not see anything else that one could point to. The game is still played on ice with skates and a puck. Certainly the perceived parity that has ensued (note the use of “perceived”) has helped. To me, the less likely scenario would be that the absence of hockey had NO effect. The lockout and absence of hockey was a dramatic change in the hockey world. Given that all the indicators show an intensification of interest (even in our country), the conclusion would seem to be that absence made the heart grow fonder. I am not suggesting that it was the entire cause, though.

      Ah, I checked again, you’re right – their site is sort of misleading in that they use the phrase “Total Season Ticket Price” for packages that aren’t season tickets. A season ticket behind the nets in Carolina costs you $2,520. The same ticket in Edmonton would cost you $4,444.20, which is about $4,221.99 at current exchange rates. So it’s about 67% more.

      That is far too simplistic. CAR and EDM have different pricing schemes. CAR charges more for its first two rows. EDM charges more for its center ice prime seats. CAR also charges more for its club seats. CAR has some cheap seats, but those are seats that do not even exist in EDM. It is a bit of a mish-mash. Certainly, EDM seasn ticket prices are higher overall. NHL Ticket revenue data that has been reported bears that out. Not exactly a breaking story.

      Which is, you know, still a pretty clear statement about the appetite for hockey in Carolina versus the appetite for hockey in Canada.

      What puzzles me is why so many of my countrymen – even the sensible ones’ like you – feel a need to point that out, including our friend at coppernblue. What are you all trying to prove? Why? What hole are you all trying to fill? Are you trying to develop a two-tier system of “real hockey fans” and “southern hockey fans”? It seems that some of my countrymen are trying to do just that. It is a dismal trend. What makes it even worse is when those same folks throw their hands up and say “Who, me?”.

      One point needs to be understood: you don’t have to be Coca Cola to have a viable business selling soft drinks. You don’t have to be the Leafs to be a viable NHL franchise.

      While I object to the term “rant”, I suspect that Canadian fans probably are subsidizing American NHL hockey.

      See above.

      I’m not sure that libertarianism is necessarily to the right of conservatism. On social issues, it’s probably well to the left. In any event, my politics are pretty difficult to categorize.

      I don’t think I suggested that libertarianism is necessarily to the right of conservatism. Darn tooting that it is far to the left on social issues. I cannot point to any single writing of yours politically that led e to think you were a conservative, but more of an overall impression (the libertarian thought came form your writings on the G8 “riot”, though).

      It seems pretty obviously true to me, in this case. The NHL literally cannot produce elite hockey without the players. They can sign guys like me to play but it’s not going to be elite hockey. They can only get that type of hockey from a very small group of people. NHL hockey – the spectacle – requires their involvement. They bring organization, marketing and, yes, capital. I don’t dispute any of that nor do I dispute the necessity of capital.

      Good to hear, although the production of NHL hockey is – like every activity of capitalism -is the product of the combination of capital, organization, marketing and the individuals who produce the product itself. Players need owners, and owners need players. The CBA recognizes this, of course.

      They are, however, operating as a cartel. They use their position to extract money from state and local governments that are too stupid to say no. (I note that this is beneficial to the players; it’s certainly not beneficial to the taxpayers with whom I have sympathy.) The only way that they’re able to generate any return on their capital (because enough of them either don’t care about getting a return on their capital or they get enough of a return from other ancillary businesses) is by basically breaking the player’s union.

      They are not operating as a cartel. They are operating as a joint venture. They collaborate to provide a product. People never seem to distinguish between teams operating in competitition on the ice and in collaboration on the business end.

      As for “breaking the union”, that is a drastic overstatement. Obtaining a CBA that is more consistent with other NA sports leagues is hardly being broken. The NHLPA is broken now, but it is hardly because of signing a CBA with a cap system.

      I would also be more sympathetic to the owners if it was their own capital that they were playing with. The game in the NHL seems pretty clear in the last twenty years or so though – you build the asset value by finding ways to get public money. The NHL has essentially built itself a privileged position with huge barriers to entry on the back of public money. Now they want to use that position to play games with the involvement of NHL players in the Olympics if they don’t get their piece of the action? Come on.

      Nonsense. Any alternative league can avail itself of the same arguments as the NHL. As for “playing games” with the IOC, that is irrelevant to whether the NHL has accessed public money to build stadia. Olympic hockey generates lots of money. THe question of who gets it has nothing at all to do with what you are talking about.

      In any event, I’m not denying the importance of capital. We can be reasonably certain though, that there are people who would gladly replace them, if they were given the same access to cheap facilities and such. There’s never really been a problem finding capital for hockey teams.

      You sure about that? Winnipeg and Quebec are on the phone, and they are pretty sure that is balooney. Same thing for PHO so far. EDM and CAL would have disagreed at certain points in their history. There are a lot more replacement hockey players than replacement capital providers, by any measure.

      I think that with the proper leadership, they can do it fairly easily. Financing a tournament isn’t going to be all that difficult. You don’t actually need that much in the way of capital to run a tournament like I’m suggesting, where the players defer their expectations of payment until after the tournament is over.

      With the proper leadership? Well, if things were different, they wouldn’t be the same. You would need money, but more importantly you need organizational infrastructure and knowhow. The PA has none of that, and I believe they never have (it is not their ore competency to put on hockey games).

      They seem to pretty explicitly not give a shit.

      Again, silence is not my idea of “explicit”, but that is just my opinion.

      Thanks.

    52. Julian
      August 23, 2010 at

      “The NHL is not hockey. NHL owners are conduits through which money passes and organizers. They are parasites. They can be tolerated so long as they produce useful outcomes – the scheduling of entertaining hockey matches – but when the negative consequences for the host of the parasite start to outweigh the benefit of their presence, they should be killed as quickly as possible.”

      Fucking love this part. The NHL is not hockey indeed. They support the good of the game so long as it’s good for their bank accounts. Fine, it’s a business, I understand, but Burke sounds like a douche when he goes all self-sacrificial there.

      If the NHL really cared about the good of the game, the majority of their profits would be going to minor hockey around the world. THAT is the good of the game.

    53. Julian
      August 23, 2010 at

      As for people who don’t enjoy the Olympic break, I would dare say that the fans of any team that is hot going into the break would rather not cut off their team’s momentum.

      I think the stats guys have shown that momentum is pretty much an invention of the psyche. If the fans don’t realize it, that’s the problem. It doesn’t affect their teams.

      There’s never really been a problem finding capital for hockey teams.

      You sure about that? Winnipeg and Quebec are on the phone, and they are pretty sure that is balooney. Same thing for PHO so far. EDM and CAL would have disagreed at certain points in their history. There are a lot more replacement hockey players than replacement capital providers, by any measure.

      I think it’s worth pointing out there was/is capital on hand in those situations, just not in the city where it was needed. Quebec and Winnipeg moved to where there was capital, and if the Coyotes were allowed to move by the NHL/their lease/whatever it is holding them back, well…. Balsillie’s offer probably still stands.

      When you ask them during periods when their team is playing a lot of games in a compressed period of time because the NHL shut itself down for three weeks and have to make up those 9 games or so at other times and their team is gassed as a result, you might get a different answer.

      Tyler did something in 2006 showing that the NHL schedule isn’t actually compressed during olympic years, at least it wasn’t for the Oilers. They actually had more time off between games in 2002 than they did in 2003, if I recall correctly.

      Plus even if there is compression, which may have been the case last year, doesn’t a two week break for 80% of the team (on average)count for anything?

    54. R O
      August 23, 2010 at

      As for people who don’t enjoy the Olympic break, I would dare say that the fans of any team that is hot going into the break would rather not cut off their team’s momentum.

      Momentum. Hunh.

      Your knowledge of law is almost assuredly better than your knowledge of hockey.

    55. Gerald
      August 23, 2010 at

      I think the stats guys have shown that momentum is pretty much an invention of the psyche. If the fans don’t realize it, that’s the problem. It doesn’t affect their teams.

      I appreciate the work of “the stats guys” as much as anyone, but the moment that the game is played by robots and watched by robots, then we can ignore psychological impact. Till then …

      I think it’s worth pointing out there was/is capital on hand in those situations, just not in the city where it was needed. Quebec and Winnipeg moved to where there was capital, and if the Coyotes were allowed to move by the NHL/their lease/whatever it is holding them back, well…. Balsillie’s offer probably still stands.

      It is worth pointing that out, but I would also simply observe that Tyler’s point was that there is not any trouble in finding capital. There most assuredly have been, which has caused NHL owners to modify their requirements dramatically (to the point of relocation, and past).

      Tyler did something in 2006 showing that the NHL schedule isn’t actually compressed during olympic years, at least it wasn’t for the Oilers. They actually had more time off between games in 2002 than they did in 2003, if I recall correctly.

      i would be interested in reading that, for sure. If one has an unchanged number of games, and a three-week break in the regular seaosn schedule, the only way to avoid schedule compression is to extend the schedule accordingly. It is elementary level mathematics.

      Regarding your point about non-Olympic participants, that is a worthy point (although I don’t know if it is 80%, more or less). As tyler observes, though, it does affect the key players, who take up a disproportionate amount of ice time.

      @ R O:

      Your knowledge of law is almost assuredly better than your knowledge of hockey.

      My knowledge of both law and hockey is almost assuredly better than your knowledge of me and what I know or don’t know. Thanks for the gracious comment.

    56. Mr DeBakey
      August 23, 2010 at

      “I am also not a fan of Canadian hockey fan superiority complexes.”

      So
      Then
      If we discuss the bottom 10-12 NHL teams in
      - attendance
      - revenue
      We’re showing our Canadian superiority complexes?
      Even if our friend at Copper’N’Blue does it?

    57. Zachary Kline
      August 23, 2010 at

      I’m curious as to how you found this site, Gerald.

    58. Julian
      August 23, 2010 at


      I appreciate the work of “the stats guys” as much as anyone, but the moment that the game is played by robots and watched by robots, then we can ignore psychological impact. Till then …

      The point is that momentum doesn’t exist, wins occur randomly, like a weighted coin flip, depending on how good or bad the team is. What looks like momentum is just a team getting lucky. I recall hearing about studies showing that the past 10 games of a team’s record have little correlation with how likely they are to win or lose their next game, compared with their overall record. No idea about a link, but I’m sure the more stats-oriented guys know what I’m talking about and can explain it better. Pretty sure that’s what R O was getting at.

      And the Olympic compressed schedule thing :
      http://www.mc79hockey.com/?p=2457

    59. Gerald
      August 23, 2010 at

      So
      Then
      If we discuss the bottom 10-12 NHL teams in
      - attendance
      - revenue
      We’re showing our Canadian superiority complexes?
      Even if our friend at Copper’N’Blue does it?

      Not sure why you would want to be so disingenuous.

      I’m curious as to how you found this site, Gerald.

      I have been reading, and occasionally commenting, for quite some time. i have also exchanged views with Tyler on other sites.

      I’m curious as to why you, or anyone else, would care the least bit about the answer to that question. i answered your question; please extend me the courtesy of answering mine.

      The point is that momentum doesn’t exist, wins occur randomly, like a weighted coin flip, depending on how good or bad the team is. What looks like momentum is just a team getting lucky. I recall hearing about studies showing that the past 10 games of a team’s record have little correlation with how likely they are to win or lose their next game, compared with their overall record. No idea about a link, but I’m sure the more stats-oriented guys know what I’m talking about and can explain it better. Pretty sure that’s what R O was getting at.

      And the Olympic compressed schedule thing :
      http://www.mc79hockey.com/?p=2457

      Thanks for the link, Julian. Tyler’s post is more than a little unclear. The right-hand column is the source of my lack of clarity. Is he simply counting up the days in the season and dividing by the number of games? If so, that is rather flawed, for obvious reasons. If not, then what?

      I am familiar with the thesis that R O was getting at. While I respect the ability of statisticians to amass data and understand what happens and in particular debunk longheld assumptions, it is the old issue of determining correlation vs. causation, isn’t it? I readily buy many statistics-based sports theories, but this is not one of them, sorry.

      Moreover, for R O to act like the question of momentum is beyond having been settled – on a par with gravity, it seems – is not sound, to be nice about it.

    60. Zachary Kline
      August 23, 2010 at

      An apparently faulty assumption on my part, Gerald, about the overlap between the readership of this site and that of others.

    61. Tom Benjamin
      August 23, 2010 at

      I am familiar with the thesis that R O was getting at. While I respect the ability of statisticians to amass data and understand what happens and in particular debunk longheld assumptions, it is the old issue of determining correlation vs. causation, isn’t it? I readily buy many statistics-based sports theories, but this is not one of them, sorry.

      I don’t think you are familiar with it if you think it has anything remotely to do with correlation or causation. This ship sailed years ago with a study done by the renowned psychologist Amos Tversky, who conclusively determined that there is no such thing as a hot hand in basketball. Or rather, a player on a hot streak is more likely to miss his next shot as make it, just like a team on a winning streak going into the Olympics was more likely to start losing than continuing to win.

      There is tons of data available in every sport. It would be very easy to prove that momentum is meaningful if it was. Go ahead. Pull some data. Make a case. A creationist is as likely to disprove Darwin as you are to disprove Tversky. A lot of the stats based stuff is nonsense, but this one can be taken to the bank.

    62. RiversQ
      August 23, 2010 at

      What is the latest best guess at the NHL revenue sharing breakdown?

    63. RiversQ
      August 23, 2010 at

      Gerald said…
      based as it is on the ridiculous notion that # of sellouts is the de facto standard for successful achievement in the area of attendance.

      Was that a rebuttal? I havent read the piece linked to but The Canes’ average attendance appears to be 23rd in the league and undoubtedly they earn less per ticket than the average NHL team, so they come by their mediocre tag quite honestly I would say.

    64. Tyler Dellow
      August 23, 2010 at

      Gerald may not know but the author of that piece is an American.

      The momentum point has been answered as has the schedule compression point – I checked Anaheim and Edmonton for this year and last. The Ducks played their 82 games in 185 days in 2008-09 and 175 days in 2009-10. An extra game every five weeks. The Oilers played their games in 2008-09 in 175 days and in 181 days this year. An extra game every ten weeks. I really don’t think that this is material.

      Obviously there are significant externalities that cause players to play for their country. What is not at issue is whether players are willing to play for free and have other parties commercially exploit that willingness for their own profit. The more relevant point is what is the more appropriate commercial arrangement.

      Well no, with respect, I disagree. Brian Burke is cloaking things in what’s best for the game. I think we’re in agreement that how the money gets divided up has nothing to do with the best interests of the game – it’s a fight about how the money gets divided up.

      I don’t think that the NHL has much of an interest in that, to be perfectly honest. It’s not their fight – it’s between the players and the IOC. The NHL will let the players go to the Olympics because the star players want to go to the Olympics.

      You asked on twitter today why players are signing longer term contracts. I think that, with the exception of the five I pointed out, they’re doing it because it allows them to mix having a good chance to win with getting paid. Teams are willing to sign those endless deals because they’re paying less than the true worth for those players. If the hold up in selling a guy to a five year deal is releasing him for the Olympics, teams will fold. The PA really should be encouraging them to do it.

      More attendance, more revenue, more television viewers. Dramatic improvements in all. I hope that you would agree that those data points are appropriate measures of intensity of fan interest.

      I don’t agree that more attendance necessarily means more interest. I’m not a big believer in the NHL’s numbers. As far as revenue goes, they’re up, although at least a chunk of that is due to the Canadian dollar. I assume that the league takes in a pretty signficant chunk of revenues in Canadian dollars and the dollar was about 76 cents during the 2003-04 season.

      As for TV ratings, I honestly don’t know enough to say one way or the other. There’ve been changes in how they’re calculated and the whole deal. I’d want to see it laid out for me before I bought that they’re up. Saying it doesn’t make it so.

      NHL Ticket revenue data that has been reported bears that out. Not exactly a breaking story.

      Well if it’s not a breaking story, I don’t know why you take issue. You quibble about stuff when my general point – that Carolina’s respectable attendance numbers are driven by cheap tickets – doesn’t seem to be challenged. You’re right, it’s not exactly a breaking story. I’m not sure why you’re making an issue of it then – pricing structure aside, we know that the Hurricanes have serious problems generating revenue because there isn’t enough demand for hockey there. The NHL’s approach to fixing this is by taking it out of the players as a whole.

      What are you all trying to prove? Why? What hole are you all trying to fill? Are you trying to develop a two-tier system of “real hockey fans” and “southern hockey fans”?

      I would have thought it was obvious. A bunch of teams (largely in the American south) don’t generate enough revenue to ice competitive teams without all sorts of restraints on the system. These restraints do all sorts of weird things. They came at a significant cost to fans in terms of lost games. I figure we’re going to see it again in 2012.

      I don’t care if few people give a shit about hockey south of New York. I’m just not sure why I’m expected to quietly tolerate the fact that that reality means I can expect to see the hockey season screwed with once every six years or so.

      They are not operating as a cartel.

      The NHL owners are a classic example of a cartel. They just are. If you don’t recognize that, you don’t know enough about cartels.

      Any alternative league can avail itself of the same arguments as the NHL.

      Well no, they can’t. As a practical matter, cities aren’t going to finance a second set of stadia. The NHL’s access to revenues that it generates from publicly funded stadia that aren’t available to potential competitors means that any competing league is going to take enormous losses because they weren’t gifted the free capital.

      It is worth pointing that out, but I would also simply observe that Tyler’s point was that there is not any trouble in finding capital. There most assuredly have been, which has caused NHL owners to modify their requirements dramatically (to the point of relocation, and past).

      YOu have my point wrong. The person who points out that there’s been no real problem finding capital for hockey teams has it right. I’m not sure how it only being available if the team will move matters.

    65. August 24, 2010 at

      Long time, no see, Gerald.

      i would be interested in reading that, for sure. If one has an unchanged number of games, and a three-week break in the regular seaosn schedule, the only way to avoid schedule compression is to extend the schedule accordingly. It is elementary level mathematics.

      Actually, without even reading the previously mentioned posts, I can imagine it pretty easily – how often have you seen your team (whoever that is) have those inexplicable 5-10 day breaks during the middle of the season? You have those months where you’re playing every other night, and then the next month you feel like you’re not playing at all – it honestly almost feels at times like it’s just random. Some teams complain that they had a glut of games at the end of the season, some complain that they had it at the start. It’s never been particularly slow and steady, its a lot of start and stop. Plan it slightly differently, with less start and stop, and more slow and steady, and you can still fit in a 21 day break, instead of a bunch of random 4-10 day breaks.

    66. Gerald
      August 24, 2010 at

      .Long time, no see, Gerald.

      ditto, joe. Uusually i am over at HF Boards business of hockey (although I am on “sabattical” for a bit, ahem.)

      Actually, without even reading the previously mentioned posts, I can imagine it pretty easily – how often have you seen your team (whoever that is) have those inexplicable 5-10 day breaks during the middle of the season? You have those months where you’re playing every other night, and then the next month you feel like you’re not playing at all – it honestly almost feels at times like it’s just random. Some teams complain that they had a glut of games at the end of the season, some complain that they had it at the start. It’s never been particularly slow and steady, its a lot of start and stop. Plan it slightly differently, with less start and stop, and more slow and steady, and you can still fit in a 21 day break, instead of a bunch of random 4-10 day breaks.

      What are these 10 day breaks you speak of. I randomly looked at the habs schedule from the past few seasons, and five days is the absolute max (and rare themselves, at that).

      My contention on this point in any event is that, if you are simply calculating start-of-season to end of season, dividing by the number of games played and then comparing those ratios to non-Olympic seasons, then you are completely fanning on the puck, since you are ignoring the fact that there are about 17 days during which the season is suspended. Based on a game every 2-3 days, that is 5-6 games that must be fit into the rest of the schedule that would otherwise be spread throughout those 17 days. Schedule compression is self-evident, unless the league starts earlier and ends later.

    67. Gerald
      August 24, 2010 at

      Gerald may not know but the author of that piece is an American.

      Nope, i didn’t. I confess to not knowing the nationality of the blogger in question. Fine. It is not hard for Americans to become infected with Canadian Hockey Fan Superiority Syndrome, given the right circumstances.

      The momentum point has been answered as has the schedule compression point – I checked Anaheim and Edmonton for this year and last. The Ducks played their 82 games in 185 days in 2008-09 and 175 days in 2009-10. An extra game every five weeks. The Oilers played their games in 2008-09 in 175 days and in 181 days this year. An extra game every ten weeks. I really don’t think that this is material.

      See my post to Joe above. I am shocked that you would do the above calculation and think that is even relevant. 17 days down = 5-6 games of compression. Is it relevant? Hard to say; i simply cited it as a potential factor as to why a fan might not like the Olympic break after the fact, if they perceive that their team was affected.

      .Well no, with respect, I disagree. Brian Burke is cloaking things in what’s best for the game. I think we’re in agreement that how the money gets divided up has nothing to do with the best interests of the game – it’s a fight about how the money gets divided up.

      Feel free to disagree by all means, but let’s at least agree to not reference Burke. We are agreed that his column is nonsense and speak of it never again.

      I don’t think that the NHL has much of an interest in that, to be perfectly honest. It’s not their fight – it’s between the players and the IOC. The NHL will let the players go to the Olympics because the star players want to go to the Olympics.

      Whether the NHL has any interest is dependent on the size of the dollars. If it is material, i am sure they do have an interest.

      .You asked on twitter today why players are signing longer term contracts. I think that, with the exception of the five I pointed out, they’re doing it because it allows them to mix having a good chance to win with getting paid. Teams are willing to sign those endless deals because they’re paying less than the true worth for those players.

      So THAT’S what you meant by “W”! As i replied on twitter, it is not just five. It is the “cap dodge contracts” as well. As well, now that you have cleared up what you meant by “W”, I must respectfully disagree. No player signing a longterm contract of, say, 8+ years, can effectively project out the team’s chances of winning in the second half of their contract, assumign they can do so even for as long as the first half of their contract. The league is too dynamic. any agent advising someone that they are helping their chance to secure wins by signing a long term contract is engaging in malpractice.

      .If the hold up in selling a guy to a five year deal is releasing him for the Olympics, teams will fold. The PA really should be encouraging them to do it.

      An interesting theoretical point, but we will never find out if your theory as to a team folding on this point in negotiations holds true. i doubt it, myself. no hockey player worth his salt will leave his team voluntarily for 2.5 weeks in the middle of a competitive season, IMO, without incurring the wrath of his teammates.

      I don’t agree that more attendance necessarily means more interest. I’m not a big believer in the NHL’s numbers. As far as revenue goes, they’re up, although at least a chunk of that is due to the Canadian dollar. I assume that the league takes in a pretty signficant chunk of revenues in Canadian dollars and the dollar was about 76 cents during the 2003-04 season.

      Well, I would have hoped you might trust the NHL Canadian teams’ numbers which went up in all material respects after the lockout, up to and including a now-sustained norm of sellouts for all (which was not the case before). As I think you know, i did a fair bit of number crunching on the exchange rate impact, and found it to be a little over $100M – a chunk, to be sure, but only a fraction of the growth.

      As for TV ratings, I honestly don’t know enough to say one way or the other. There’ve been changes in how they’re calculated and the whole deal. I’d want to see it laid out for me before I bought that they’re up. Saying it doesn’t make it so.

      Certainly CDN ratings calcs have changed, but I do not believe US ratings calcs have changed materially. I believe the data is out there on the interwebs.

      Well if it’s not a breaking story, I don’t know why you take issue. You quibble about stuff when my general point – that Carolina’s respectable attendance numbers are driven by cheap tickets – doesn’t seem to be challenged. You’re right, it’s not exactly a breaking story. I’m not sure why you’re making an issue of it then

      I would be happy to explain it. It is because of the apparent motivation of those who do so. I am not making an issue of it. Those who feel a need to trot out an obvious fact and use it to make a point that almost always revolves around how much awesomer Canadians are as hockey fans make an issue of it. I could go on, but I think you get my point withotu further belabouring.

      – pricing structure aside, we know that the Hurricanes have serious problems generating revenue because there isn’t enough demand for hockey there. The NHL’s approach to fixing this is by taking it out of the players as a whole.

      Serious problems generating revenue? Says who? Last time I checked, CAR is in the mushy middle of ticket revenue where a lot of teams reside. The other blogger cited disgraced data from the Team Marketing Report. You and i have now looked at their ticket prices directly. Higher prices for some, lower for others, many more suites in CAR, CAR controls their arena. There is this idea among the Oilogosphere (do i have that right?) that the Oil rake in the cash and are an elite revenue team. I believe you guys are sadly mistaken.

      I would have thought it was obvious. A bunch of teams (largely in the American south) don’t generate enough revenue to ice competitive teams without all sorts of restraints on the system. These restraints do all sorts of weird things. They came at a significant cost to fans in terms of lost games. I figure we’re going to see it again in 2012.

      One thing i would agree on: it is obvious why it is done. As for the rest, I would point out that the restraints were put in place to save teams like the Oilers just as much as southern teams (heresy!! Burn him!!!”), I confess to have no idea what “weird things” you are referring to, I disagree as to whether the cost is “significant” (the cost of doing nothing is worse for all), and I would prefer to wait to see what the CBA discussions bring before breaking into Chicken Little Mode.

      I don’t care if few people give a shit about hockey south of New York. I’m just not sure why I’m expected to quietly tolerate the fact that that reality means I can expect to see the hockey season screwed with once every six years or so.

      I would think that self-interest in the survival of your preferred team would help you out in that regard.

      The NHL owners are a classic example of a cartel. They just are. If you don’t recognize that, you don’t know enough about cartels.

      Thansk, but with respect, I know plenty about cartels. I would submit that you don’t know enough about joint ventures (a subject about which I know a ton, since it is a big part of what i have done the last twenty or so years of my career) if you cannot distinguish one from a cartel.

      .Well no, they can’t. As a practical matter, cities aren’t going to finance a second set of stadia. The NHL’s access to revenues that it generates from publicly funded stadia that aren’t available to potential competitors means that any competing league is going to take enormous losses because they weren’t gifted the free capital.

      So the position is that the NHL got there first. Who cares? BTW, there are a reaosnable amount of cities with alternative stadia. There is nothing that requires leagues to start with 20k stadia.

      YOu have my point wrong. The person who points out that there’s been no real problem finding capital for hockey teams has it right. I’m not sure how it only being available if the team will move matters.

      Are you suggesting that it makes no difference that capital is only available for a completely different transaction – specifically, a team in a different city? That is analogous to me saying that there is available capital for my hot dog stand, as long as I turn it into a dry cleaning store.

      Good discussion, though.

    68. Gerald
      August 24, 2010 at

      Was that a rebuttal? I havent read the piece linked to but The Canes’ average attendance appears to be 23rd in the league and undoubtedly they earn less per ticket than the average NHL team, so they come by their mediocre tag quite honestly I would say.

      Rivers, i do not think that I would have a problem with the term “mediocre”, either. Unfortunately, that is not the term bandied about. Tyler lumps them in with PHO and the moniker “black hole”. Read the pejorative in post #46 above.

    69. Gerald
      August 24, 2010 at

      I don’t think you are familiar with it if you think it has anything remotely to do with correlation or causation. This ship sailed years ago with a study done by the renowned psychologist Amos Tversky, who conclusively determined that there is no such thing as a hot hand in basketball. Or rather, a player on a hot streak is more likely to miss his next shot as make it, just like a team on a winning streak going into the Olympics was more likely to start losing than continuing to win.

      Well, among my varied background is a degree in psychology, so I can speak to the work of the estimable Tversky, although my paltry 3.7 GPA in undergrad would not compare with Teversky’s PhD or his Nobel (in other areas). As far as i am aware, his work in this area related to the hot hand in basketball. If someone can point me to other research he did on hockey games, I would be grateful.

      In my four years of undergrad work, one thing that came clear to me was that psychology is a mere pretender to being an actual science. They certainly do their level best to follow the scientific method, but the very thing that they study is too chaotically dynamic to study with any degree of confidence in respect of causation. Guys like Tversky who try to apply math to solve quesitons of the psyche are akin to the goofballs in Chicago who try to apply mathematical equations to economics and think that they can explain it all.

      There is tons of data available in every sport. It would be very easy to prove that momentum is meaningful if it was. Go ahead. Pull some data. Make a case. A creationist is as likely to disprove Darwin as you are to disprove Tversky. A lot of the stats based stuff is nonsense, but this one can be taken to the bank.

      Tom, i know it will shock you to hear this, but to compare Tversky’s work in a basketball study to the theory of evolution is so ridiculous it almost made me cross-eyed to read it.

      I cannot look inside your head, to be sure, but I would posit that this theory is one that you like a lot and subsequently feel is decided beyond all dispute. Although you don’t need me to say it, I want you to understand that I would acknowledge your entitlement to that view. Simpy allow me to register my incredulity at your suggestion that the matter is settled (to the same extent as evloution, even!!!).

    70. E
      August 24, 2010 at

      while it is perhaps unjustified for anyone to act as though the question of momentum in hockey is conclusively settled, given that nobody has been able to cite a specific study of the matter, the fact remains that there is objective evidence that momentum in sports is a belief rather than a measurable phenomenon. i have not seen any evidence presented to the contrary, or at least, no evidence beyond a statement of personal belief. as with all things, if you want to contradict something that has evidence behind it (even if you think that evidence is inconclusive), it behooves you to bring some counter-evidence. everyone has a right to an opinion, but opinions without research or data or a clear argument behind them are generally unpersuasive.

    71. August 24, 2010 at

      What are these 10 day breaks you speak of. I randomly looked at the habs schedule from the past few seasons, and five days is the absolute max (and rare themselves, at that).

      My contention on this point in any event is that, if you are simply calculating start-of-season to end of season, dividing by the number of games played and then comparing those ratios to non-Olympic seasons, then you are completely fanning on the puck, since you are ignoring the fact that there are about 17 days during which the season is suspended. Based on a game every 2-3 days, that is 5-6 games that must be fit into the rest of the schedule that would otherwise be spread throughout those 17 days. Schedule compression is self-evident, unless the league starts earlier and ends later.

      Maybe I’m misremembering things (or maybe it happens more in the West, where you see more/longer trips), but as a Red Wings fan, I seem to recall a lot of those types of schedule breaks, and even remember Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond discussing them on Fox Sports Detroit – The Wings would play a lot of games over a 2 week period, then have something like a week off, and Mickey would grumble about the NHL schedule makers. I could be wrong, or more likely just exaggerating a bit.

    72. Tyler Dellow
      August 25, 2010 at

      Nope, i didn’t. I confess to not knowing the nationality of the blogger in question. Fine. It is not hard for Americans to become infected with Canadian Hockey Fan Superiority Syndrome, given the right circumstances.

      OK – so “Canadian Hockey Fan Superiority Syndrome” has infected anyone who thinks that there is a hard core group of disaster teams in the United States? Seems to me a better name for the disorder would be “People Who Disagree With Me Syndrome.”

      I am shocked that you would do the above calculation and think that is even relevant. 17 days down = 5-6 games of compression. Is it relevant? Hard to say; i simply cited it as a potential factor as to why a fan might not like the Olympic break after the fact, if they perceive that their team was affected.

      You like to change the framework of the discussion Gerald. To start with, it’s not 17 days down – it’s less than that, because they start the season earlier in Olympic years generally. The Oilers started their season on Oct. 3 in 2009-10. In 2008-09 it was Oct. 12. Both seasons ended on Oct. 11.

      All of this, of course, is a digression from an assertion that you don’t really want to challenge: the vast majority of fans are in favour of participation in the Olympics. We’re down to not even debating whether the compression is relevant, but whether a fan might not like the Olympic break because they perceive that their team was affected, without that having any basis in reality.

      In effect, we’re into the (as you concede) potentially irrelevant complaints of a narrow minority. Why argue this point?

      Whether the NHL has any interest is dependent on the size of the dollars. If it is material, i am sure they do have an interest.

      I’m not using interest in that sense. I’m using interest in the sense of it being their product. My point is that the players want to play in the Olympics. The Olympics wants the players to be there. The only reason that the NHL has any say is that the players are contracted to NHL teams for the period of time when the Olympics are underway and because the players have made certain contractual concessions as far as activities in which they won’t participate. This isn’t like actual NHL hockey in which the league has an interest. There could be a trillion dollars made off the hockey in the Olympics and the NHL would be entitled to none of it if the players negotiated individual rights to participate. The NHL would then have a choice between looking like Major League Soccer and angering however many teams signed these deals or capitulating. I see this as an issue where the players can take this out of play as a CBA issue (and, really, they should – it’s not right for Raffi Torres to be asked to make concessions on the CBA so that Drew Doughty can play in the Olympics).

      No player signing a longterm contract of, say, 8+ years, can effectively project out the team’s chances of winning in the second half of their contract, assumign they can do so even for as long as the first half of their contract. The league is too dynamic. any agent advising someone that they are helping their chance to secure wins by signing a long term contract is engaging in malpractice.

      They can project out their team’s cap space though and, if their team is stocked with talent and is attractive to star players, they can make an educated guess. It’s only common sense, in a capped league, that your team can expect to win more games if your cap hit is $5MM instead of $7MM. Edmonton excluded, where the savings will be spent on Ethan Moreau.

      i doubt it, myself. no hockey player worth his salt will leave his team voluntarily for 2.5 weeks in the middle of a competitive season, IMO, without incurring the wrath of his teammates.

      If 50 stars have terms in their contracts permitting them to do so and say that they will, the league doesn’t really have much choice. The owners aren’t unified on this point in any event. There’s going to be huge pressure on the Canadian teams (five of which are owned by people or groups of people who don’t want to be seen as unpatriotic) to let their players go. Guys like Leonsis and Lemieux probably already want the players to go so that they can avoid their own headaches. The NHL would look ridiculous playing games if their stars were all in Sochi. Unfortunately for the NHL, the threat is enough – the players don’t have to prove they’ll do it because the league needs to make a schedule before February 2014.

      As I think you know, i did a fair bit of number crunching on the exchange rate impact, and found it to be a little over $100M – a chunk, to be sure, but only a fraction of the growth.

      Do you have a link to this?

      There is this idea among the Oilogosphere (do i have that right?) that the Oil rake in the cash and are an elite revenue team. I believe you guys are sadly mistaken.

      Edmonton’s paid into revenue sharing every year since the lockout, according to the team. Some years they’ve paid in a fair amount – the number floating around Edmonton is $3MM. There’s a rarified class that nobody thinks Edmonton is part of – Toronto, Montreal and New York, maybe Vancouver. Edmonton’s in the upper group in the next tier. And, I can assure you, the hockey has been shit for four years now.

      The Toronto Star’s ticket data (warning: .pdf) makes it pretty clear that there’s a gulf below the Canadian teams. Incidentally, in 06-07, it had the Oilers at $950K in ticket revenue/game and the Canes at $700K. The following season, the Oilers were at $1.2MM/game while the Canes were still at $700K. A $10MM to $20MM gap in ticket revenue is pretty substantial.

      I’m not sure that suite revenue is included in there but it presumably favours the Oilers – they appear to have 67 suites to Carolina’s 66, based on Wikipedia’s data and I expect you can sell suites to hockey games for more in Edmonton than Raleigh.

      Certainly CDN ratings calcs have changed, but I do not believe US ratings calcs have changed materially. I believe the data is out there on the interwebs.

      Well it’s tough to do any sort of comparison, given the changing composition of the teams in the Finals. The league’s been blessed with attractive finals the past few years. I don’t know how you can really use these numbers to draw any conclusions.

      As for the rest, I would point out that the restraints were put in place to save teams like the Oilers just as much as southern teams (heresy!! Burn him!!!”)

      I disagree. The Oilers have acknowledged being a profitable team by 2003-04. As we can infer from the fact that they’re paying into revenue sharing, they’re a wealthy team (or at least one that generates a lot of revenue) now. What ailed the Oilers didn’t need to be fixed by the CBA – it’s been fixed by the United States trashing their economy and their dollar.

      So the position is that the NHL got there first. Who cares? BTW, there are a reaosnable amount of cities with alternative stadia. There is nothing that requires leagues to start with 20k stadia.

      No, the position is that the NHL has, in effect, been able to convince stupid local and state governments to use taxpayer money to help build the NHL into a league with which a newcomer effectively cannot enter a major market without sustaining horrific losses. The NHL can pay players far more, with revenues generated from buildings built on the public dime, than can a new league. The NHL’s position is, in effect, solidified by taxpayer money. It’s insane.

      You can start out in 5K – 7K stadiums if you want to build a competitor league but you can’t really compete unless you can compete for talent. The NHL has been gifted an advantage in competing for talent for a generation because so many teams occupy taxpayer funded stadia.

      Are you suggesting that it makes no difference that capital is only available for a completely different transaction – specifically, a team in a different city? That is analogous to me saying that there is available capital for my hot dog stand, as long as I turn it into a dry cleaning store.

      Nah, you’re moving the goalposts again. My point was that there’s no problem finding capital to run hockey teams – one reason being that stupid state/local governments will give you all sorts of money to bring a hockey team to town. When that’s the business model, when that’s what you have to compete against if you’re Winnipeg or Quebec, teams are going to move. The US economy being in the midst of a massive boom, with all sorts of new billionaires (or people who could spell billionaire) able and willing to lose money on teams as toys didn’t help things either. If you’ve got a league in which teams are used to leverage free money out of the government or as toys for rich people, you’re going to have a much harder time getting sufficient capital in a place like Winnipeg or Quebec City, where govenrmetns don’t want to give teams money and billionaires are not common.

      I could otherwise say “Of course there’s a problem with finding capital for NHL teams – nobody will own one in Dawson Creek!” and be perfectly justified. It’s senseless. The question has to be whether there’s capital for high level hockey in North America. There has been, historically.

    73. Tyler Dellow
      August 25, 2010 at

      Oh, and:

      I would think that self-interest in the survival of your preferred team would help you out in that regard.

      I don’t get how southern interest in NHL hockey helps me out in that regard. I’m probably better off if they don’t care about hockey – nobody’s eyeing up Mobile, Alabama as a place where the government will give them all sorts of development tax credits if they bring the Oilers to town then.

    74. Tom Benjamin
      August 25, 2010 at

      Well, among my varied background is a degree in psychology, so I can speak to the work of the estimable Tversky, although my paltry 3.7 GPA in undergrad would not compare with Teversky’s PhD or his Nobel (in other areas). As far as i am aware, his work in this area related to the hot hand in basketball. If someone can point me to other research he did on hockey games, I would be grateful.

      Who gives a shit whether you have a degree in psychology? Or cares about your GPA? I’m only interested in knowing whether you really have anything to contribute to the discussion. Why don’t you address the issue?

      In my four years of undergrad work, one thing that came clear to me was that psychology is a mere pretender to being an actual science. They certainly do their level best to follow the scientific method, but the very thing that they study is too chaotically dynamic to study with any degree of confidence in respect of causation.

      So what? Tversky was interested in fundamental reasoning errors. While I agree that there is little science in his explanations for those reasoning errors, that’s not the issue here. The issue is the reasoning errors themselves, or rather, one particular reasoning error. That has nothing to do with the science of psychology and everything to do with the data.

      Clearly this digression into whether psychology is a science is a deliberate red herring. Why not just ignore the argument if all you are going to do is work to confuse it? This is intellectually dishonest.

      While Tversky did his study in basketball, it is very easy to show that the same patterns exist in hockey, in baseball, in everything. Probabilities rule. Sending the ball to the player with the hot hand for a crucial shot is a losing strategy. The best shooter – hot or cold – should take the crucial shot.

      The longer a streak lasts, the more likely it is to come to an end. This would not be so if momentum was real. If momentum was real, streaks should just get longer and longer. Momentum is a word applied after the fact to explain a chance occurence, an improbable run, something that happens if you are flipping coins or playing hockey. It is a reasoning error to explain a hot streak with momentum or confidence or anything else because no explanation at all is required for a hot streak. They are inevitable when probabilities are at work.

      Tom, i know it will shock you to hear this, but to compare Tversky’s work in a basketball study to the theory of evolution is so ridiculous it almost made me cross-eyed to read it.

      Obviously I did not compare Tversky to Darwin in the way you imply. More intellectual dishonesty.

      I’m asking you to find data that demonstrates that a hot team is more likely to win its next game than a cold one. That would contradict Tversky, who found that hot shooters aren’t any more likely to sink their next shot as cold ones. I think you have zero chance of doing that, just like I think a creationist has zero chance of demonstrating that Darwin was wrong.

    75. August 25, 2010 at

      OK – so “Canadian Hockey Fan Superiority Syndrome” has infected anyone who thinks that there is a hard core group of disaster teams in the United States? Seems to me a better name for the disorder would be “People Who Disagree With Me Syndrome.”

      Until everyone understands that Gerald is a troll of the highest order, comment sections are going to be filled with enormous amounts of words that respond to meaningless arguments.

    76. Mike W
      August 25, 2010 at

      Isn’t it obvious at this point that Gerald should be given a red card for acting like a guy on HF Boards?

      IF he was really here for a fair debate, he’d spend less time willfully mis-characterizing people’s points, perhaps concede a few, and maybe look at Tyler’s previous posts instead of forcing him to repeat some fairly obvious stuff that’s been out there for a while, especially for someone familiar with Tyler’s blog (Oilers revenue sharing, as an example).

    77. Mr DeBakey
      August 25, 2010 at

      “Canadian Hockey Fan Superiority Syndrome”

      Its not only Gerald who starts moaning about haughty Canucks every time crappy NHL franchises are discussed.
      There are several crappy NHL cities, and it happens that the national anthem of all of them feature someone asking Jose about his eyesight.
      And even if I were Romanian, and very meek, those same crappy NHL cities would have NHL teams and they’d still be south of the 49th.

      Its tiring.

    78. August 25, 2010 at

      “The report also showed that the Canes received a total of $23 million in NHL revenue sharing last season, down from $25.3 million the previous year.”

      –Source: Triangle Business Journal

    79. August 25, 2010 at

      Until everyone understands that Gerald is a troll of the highest order, comment sections are going to be filled with enormous amounts of words that respond to meaningless arguments.

      Yep. I think Tom’s old strategy of simply ignoring everything he said was the correct one. Gerald’s utility is limited to hearing the Bettman/Daly party line on issues that Bettman/Daly haven’t felt the need to discuss in detail. There aren’t a lot of surprises or insights.

      I will say, though, that I’m not sure we should be extrapolating Tvesky’s work too far or drawing too many conclusions from it. While the mainstream sports commentating community’s use of momentum to explain game play is mostly likely largely nonsense (as is the vast majority of everything they say), I tend to think that on a micro level, the factors which explain player performance and fluctuations in performance are pretty complicated and varied. A player’s mental state – I would think inarguably, or at least experientially – affects performance, and past performance would seem to affect mental state. I wouldn’t mind seeing someone Tversky-ize Ray Allen’s shooting performance over the past few years, and I’d pretty pretty surprised to see larger than purely random lengths of hot and cold streaks.

    80. The Other John
      August 25, 2010 at

      “As I think you know, i did a fair bit of number crunching on the exchange rate impact, and found it to be a little over $100M – a chunk, to be sure, but only a fraction of the growth.”

      You may have a degree in psychology but clearly your math skills are not too good.The Canadian teams are all in the top ten in revenue in the NHL. The Canadian teams gernerate all of their income in Canadian dollars. . The HNIC and TSN contracts are also in Canadian dollars.

      When the Canadian dollar goes from .76 cents to .95 cents that is a 25 % increase in revenue. ALONE!!! On all Canadian team revenue and on the lucrative HNIC and TSN contracts. I suspect, but am too lazy to actually figure it out, that more than 50% of the increase in NHL revenue is directly connected to the increase in the value of the Canadian dollar

      Or do you think the Sunbelt attendance, etc has gone up 30%. NHL is making money off that NBC tv contract

    81. Julian
      August 25, 2010 at

      For the record, Allan Watt says the Oilers are a $120M/yr business :

      http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Hockey/NHL/Edmonton/2010/08/24/15130461.html

    82. August 26, 2010 at

      The longer a streak lasts, the more likely it is to come to an end. This would not be so if momentum was real. If momentum was real, streaks should just get longer and longer. Momentum is a word applied after the fact to explain a chance occurence, an improbable run, something that happens if you are flipping coins or playing hockey. It is a reasoning error to explain a hot streak with momentum or confidence or anything else because no explanation at all is required for a hot streak. They are inevitable when probabilities are at work.

      Because there’s no connection at all between the brain and the muscles. Gotcha.

      I will say, though, that I’m not sure we should be extrapolating Tvesky’s work too far or drawing too many conclusions from it. While the mainstream sports commentating community’s use of momentum to explain game play is mostly likely largely nonsense (as is the vast majority of everything they say), I tend to think that on a micro level, the factors which explain player performance and fluctuations in performance are pretty complicated and varied. A player’s mental state – I would think inarguably, or at least experientially – affects performance, and past performance would seem to affect mental state.

      This makes a lot more sense to me. Just because we can’t quantify stress/emotion effects doesn’t mean they don’t exist. In fact, it’s absurd to think they don’t; we simply don’t know (and arguably can’t know) what they are, other than the fact that they’re volatile and ruled by small-sample effects (and may, indeed, rule small-sample effects).

      Athletes are neither robots nor dice. Full stop.

    83. Tom Benjamin
      August 26, 2010 at

      I tend to think that on a micro level, the factors which explain player performance and fluctuations in performance are pretty complicated and varied. A player’s mental state – I would think inarguably, or at least experientially – affects performance, and past performance would seem to affect mental state. I wouldn’t mind seeing someone Tversky-ize Ray Allen’s shooting performance over the past few years, and I’d pretty pretty surprised to see larger than purely random lengths of hot and cold streaks.

      I certainly agree with this Raj although I don’t think the distinction between macro and micro is useful. Ask Tiger Woods if emotional distraction can affect performance. A player’s performance is certainly affected by his physical and mental state as well as his level of skill. The skill – the speed, the physicality, the hands, the shot, the muscle memory, the ability to focus mentally – are mostly within the control of the player. They are the factors that determine how good the player is, the average level of performance over time. This is skill, not luck. The ability to block out yesterday and focus on the now is a skill.

      But Alex Ovechkin’s skill – including his mental focus – does not vary significantly from shift to shift or game to game. If that skill was all that produced a result, I don’t think results would display such randomness because there is nothing random about it. We would not be having this discussion.

      However Ovechkin’s performance is not the only factors at work to produce a result. There are many others involved, all out of control of the player. Who else is on the ice? How skilled are they? What do they choose to do to respond to an Ovechkin rush? How well do they execute that choice? Does an opponent make a mistake or a great play? Does a teammate zig or zag? Is the ice good or bad? Is the game being called tightly? And so on.

      To Ovechkin these other factors are luck. Good factors and bad factors come at him randomly and it is the external random factors that insert the randomness in Ovechkin’s numbers.

      He wants to score on every rush and he has the ability to score on every rush. He applies his skill as well as he can. Why does he score this time, and not the next? If his skill – including his mental abilities to bring his best – is more or less a constant, the factors external to his skill – luck to Ovechkin – determine the success or failure on a given rush.

      The random factors can swamp the normal ups and downs in the application of his skill. Ovechkin can have a great game, but because his teammates do not do well, because a goalie has a hot hand, because a million things happen, he has nothing to show for his effort. On the other hand he can feel lousy, not be mentally sharp and deliver up what is for him a poor performance. The results can still be good if the goalie whiffs a couple of shots or an opponent hands him a couple of opportunities on a platter.

      Ovechkin’s skill – including the mental – only determines his results over the long term. In the short run, hockey (and life for that matter) is luck.

    84. July 14, 2012 at

      Today, I went to the beach with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave
      it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to tell someone!

    85. November 12, 2012 at

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    86. November 14, 2012 at

      An outstanding shaгe! I’ve just forwarded this onto a co-worker who has been conducting a little homework on this. And he actually bought me dinner due to the fact that I found it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending the time to talk about this subject here on your web site.

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