Awaiting its completion since 2009, Pittsburgh Penguins’ owner Mario Lemieux is just about ready to move into his 20 million dollar mansion built north of Montreal, pictured above.
I just wanted to pass the image of that little chateau along so we could all better grasp the desperation most owners have to get hockey back: slightly more than none, at best. Why, if there’s no puck, all they’ll still have is mostly everything.
Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette wrote a column a few days ago that took a look at the owners who hockey actually matters to from an income standpoint, and how that’s affecting negotiations. He notes that nine of the 10 wealthiest owners aren’t involved in the slightest bit.
So who is negotiating? A collection of losers who need a new deal because, during a period of unprecedented growth in the NHL, they can’t figure out a way to run a business.
Boston’s Jeremy Jacobs, Calgary’s Murray Edwards, Washington’s Ted Leonsis and Minnesota’s Craig Leipold were in the room this month when the NHL took all of 10 minutes to reject a proposal from the NHL Players’ Association.
Jacobs, who was the only owner present this week when the latest NHLPA proposal was rejected, is the only member of this group who actually makes money from hockey.
The Bruins, who would have headed into this season with the highest payroll in the NHL, clear about $3 million a year. But Jacobs, who was among the owners who went on a spending spree in the days prior to the lockout, is seen as a driving force behind the work stoppage and appears to be motivated by greed. He’d like to pad his profit margin without having to share with any of his less fortunate partners.
The other three owners are losing money and you have to ask why? They are all playing in healthy markets where the buildings are full, but they still can’t make it work.
Excuse the text block, but it’s an informative column laced with opinion that’s worth a read.
The Flames, Wild and Capitals, as Hickey points out, have lost varying amounts of money over the past three seasons (Flames made $1.1M last year according to Hickey’s post, lost money in previous two seasons), despite attendance figures near-or-exceeding capacity. Then there’s the Phoenix Coyotes, who single-handedly lose $25 mill per season, and continue to be run by the league. They’re involved in a way too.
The point I see here is that if the richest clubs were actually involved in negotiating these deals, we might have one by now. They’re better off with hockey than without, and aren’t pressed enough to need to scrap for each tenth of a percentage point.
Instead, those wealthiest of men (and their companies) have stuck to the sidelines, knowing the desperate others will scrape to get them the best possible deal, even though they’d be more than fine with a CBA not that dissimilar to the one the players proposed.
It’s not that the owners don’t want there to be a season, or that the players’ latest offer was that terrible. It’s that fraction of owners who need every nickel are the ones doing the deal.
(Stick-tap to Ryan Lambert)