Blog Entry

NHL Commish: Losing season worth it

Posted on: November 4, 2011 10:17 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2011 10:21 pm
By Matt Moore 

The NHL sacrificed an entire season to get the deal they wanted from the players. It was draconian, it was brutal, it was effective. For months, there have been rumors and speculation that the NHL lockout provided a template for the NBA owners. If the NHL could effectively reset everything back to zero, perform a complete realignment, and then walk out as a legitimate sports league that at least in some senses in thriving, why can't the NBA?

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman joined Yahoo! Radio to discuss the NHL and the correlation between its lockout and the current NBA lockout which is currently threatening the entirety of the 2011-2012 season. Our own Brian Stubits of Eye on Hockey caught the appearance and transcribed quotes for us. The theme is pretty simple. First, Bettman discussed how painful the lockout is for everyone involved. Players, owners, workers, everyone. 

"Any time you have a work stoppage for any length of time in any sport or any business, it's very painful. There are the people that are involved, there are the people that are indirectly involved and in a sports context, you've got the fans. 

"It was very painful for us when we lost the season. We didn't have a choice. We had some pretty fundamental problems. And in our case, I'm not necessarily suggesting it's a template for anybody else, we came back stronger. We were back stronger than ever on Day 1 because our fans understood that we had problems and that they had been addressed in collective bargaining and that gave us great optimism for the future. 

"But a work stoppage is painful for everybody, in any context."
Well, I'm sure it was comforting to arena workers to know the commissioner felt the pain for them. But Bettman's comments on not having a choice is the same kind of ideology at play in the NBA. Justifying brutal negotiating tactics that cause job losses and hurt fan interest is easier when you claim there was no alternative. Bettman elaborated on how losing an entire season was unavoidable. 

Bettman was asked if he would tell the NBA owners the pain of losing an entire season was "worth it" for what the owners gained from the process:

"Well I wouldn't be presumptions enough to tell an NBA owner anything at this point. But our case, and that's the only thing that I can address, we didn't have a choice. We needed a new system. We needed to change our circumstance, our model. Without that, I'm pretty sure we couldn't have continued. 

"So in our case we did what we felt was absolutely necessary. We've come back stronger and people believe the game and the business of the game has never been better. But again, that was our circumstance six years ago and it would be presumptious for me to suggest to the NBA or any other league what they should be doing." 
And that's how the NBA will justify the damage they have done and will do to the league. That they had no alternative. If you remove your options, you can claim that you were "forced" into the desperate and extreme measures you undertook. 

This is the model the NHL has given the NBA.

Thanks, hockey.

Since: Oct 28, 2006
Posted on: November 6, 2011 2:31 pm

NHL Commish: Losing season worth it

It's ard to compare the NFL lockout to the NBA lockout because of the juggernaut that the NFL is. The money is massive and everybody knew that missing time just shot everybody in the foot. The NBA probably does need to take a page from the NHL because they aren't going to do it themselves and in the end the owners will get what they want, for most part, because they aren't losing the money players are. It's the players only paycheck and the for the owners it a hobby.

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: November 5, 2011 3:30 pm

NHL Commish: Losing season worth it

Another voice of reason - Tom Penn, ESPN Analyst says this:

Even with union givebacks, NBA players will still be the best paid, best taken care of athletes in their peer group (all professional athletes). The new proposed deal still makes a ton of dollars and sense for NBA players, especially compared to the deal that was recently accepted by their NFL brethren.

In August, when NFL players agreed to reduce their share of revenues from 50 percent to between 47 percent and 48.5 percent and to lower the per team salary cap from $128 million to $120.4 million, I thought they set a horrible precedent for NBA players. NFL business has been booming and virtually all teams have been making money; yet, NFL players were willing to take less. How could NBA players expect to earn a greater share of their league's money than NFL players at a time when most NBA teams are losing money and many are absolutely hemorrhaging cash annually? Yet the deal on the table for NBA players, whether a 50/50 or 52/48 split in revenues, remains appreciably better than the NFL players' deal by all measures.

The union leadership for the NBPA and the player agents demanding more from the owners is just wrong, now that games are being lost. Posturing in negotiations is one thing. Blowing off a good offer and shutting down the games is entirely another. The players say they are concerned with the little guys in the arenas. They have not shown that. The players say they want a fair deal. They have not shown that - how can keeping the owners losing money from their franchises be a fair deal? Perhaps the union leaders have taken lessons from the politicians - tell them what they want to hear and then do what you want to do.

Since: Nov 5, 2011
Posted on: November 5, 2011 12:01 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Dec 10, 2006
Posted on: November 5, 2011 10:55 am

NHL Commish: Losing season worth it

I am a Canadian basketball fanatic but up here in Canada you can't go anywhere without being exposed to the NHL. I can tell you I love the changes the contract dispute forced in the NHL. Elite players get paid maybe 8 million per year: that is enough. All teams have a fairly level playing field in that caps are pretty much respected. No one goes out and attempts to purchase a championship with triple the payroll of most teams. Players know that there is only room for a few elite- top paid players on each team. All the stars can not go to New York or LA or wherever they want and stack a few teams with all the best players.

What I really like is that you can go from worst to first or from first to last very quickly. No team can continue to manipulate the system so they reamain strong decade after decade. Solid management is rewarded with a winner (based on their decisions), dumb management ends up with a loser based on strapping themselves with really bad contracts that can't be changed.

The NBA is different in some ways: only 15 players per team (so salaries can be higher than hockey), maybe a more generic all round appeal (Hockey is hard to sell out of the snow belt) but there are a lot of lessons to be learned from the NHL:

If they are going to keep 30 teams, all teams needs some stars and salaries must be at least close to in the same ball park.

Stars are overpaid and salaries need to come down. This will never happen but some of the savings should be passed on to fans. Ticket prices are too high.

There are too many long term contracts that are not panning out- management's fault for getting into bidding wars and signing big contracts with guys getting older.

So here is hoping the NHL model is adopted to some degree.

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: November 4, 2011 11:46 pm

NHL Commish: Losing season worth it

Ah, Matt. Will you ever learn?
Bettman's comments on not having a choice is the same kind of ideology at play in the NBA. Justifying brutal negotiating tactics that cause job losses and hurt fan interest is easier when you claim there was no alternative.
And that's how the NBA will justify the damage they have done and will do to the league. That they had no alternative. If you remove your options, you can claim that you were "forced" into the desperate and extreme measures you undertook.
Most likely you have never owned or run a business. I say that because you seem ignorant of the basics involved. The facets involved in owning a business include capital formation (get the money to buy the facilities/franchises and working capital), business plan, customers targeted, facilities acquired, employee acquisition, product produced and time frame to profitability. You seem aware only of employee acquisition.

The USA labor laws establish the options available to both management and labor in a labor dispute. I am no labor lawyer. Yet I do know that employees are allowed to strike (withhold their services) an employer when their contract has expired. It also allows employers to lockout employees when their contract expires. It is illustrative that the employees in this labor dispute did not strike. Why? Because the expiring labor contract was so one-sided toward the employees that they wanted to keep playing as if the old contract was still in effect. So the employer locked them out. This is a wise and legal choice and in not a 'brutal' negotiating tactic. It is less common than strikes because the employees are usually demanding increases and will not work under the terms of the expiring contract.

The league lost $1.8 billion over the last CBA. They clearly cannot operate this way for the next 6-10 years. No business can survive losing money every year. The players have been presented with the facts for two years. They have refused to accept the clear (audited financial statements) evidence of the losses and the need to drop to below 49% BRI for the players for the league to return to profitability. The league, in seeking to prevent the lockout, offered the players a $2 billion guarantee over 10 years even though they would still lose money over the first five on everyone's projections. The players were insulted. The league came up from 44% BRI (a 1-2% return on investment for the owners) to 47%. That is a 3 percent bump. The players came down to 53%. That is a 4% bump. The league then asked if a 50-50 split would be accepted. The players refused and demanded 53% or nothing. They got nothing. The damage is clearly done by the players. They will not get a better offer and likely will sing for less in the future. The NHL player negotiator states now he wishes they had taken what they could get and played that lost year. The NBA players should learn likewise. The owners are neither desperate or extreme. Just doing what you would do if you were an owners. But wait - you would not have earned the hundreds of millions these men earned in order to acquire their franchises.

Since: Jan 1, 2007
Posted on: November 4, 2011 10:50 pm

NHL Commish: Losing season worth it

If Bettman can lend a hand in getting the NBA season cancelled he would instantly come off my three most hated human beings list.

Since: Aug 15, 2009
Posted on: November 4, 2011 10:44 pm

NHL Commish: Losing season worth it

Te real loser's are not the players.....not the owners...THESE PEOPLE ALREADY HAVE MONEY.

Who it REALLY hurt's, the REAL loser's of this are the hundereds of thousands of people that lost their jobs over the year that worked in the front office, box office, concessions, apparrell shops.

Screw the players. Screw the Owners....i could do WITHOUT BASKETBALL and you guys are going to run into a rude awakening one of these days that basketball just ISNT what it used to be and has already started it's slow decay and death in popularity in america.

That is if they havent already seen the lack of "concern" by these so called fans that are frequently "quoted".

Does anyone even buy basketball jersey's anymore?

i havent seen anyone were those things in years....

the ones i do..are........well.....

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