Business of Hockey

A lockout is not what Dolan wanted

While many are quick to blame Gary Bettman for the third lockout under his regime, the blame lies equally with the owners as well. Over 50% of owners in the NHL barely break even or lose money, and they have no qualms with locking out the players. These owners lose less money with a lockout than they do while the season is in full swing.

James Dolan is not one of these owners.

While many may think that Dolan wanted this lockout to help line his own pockets, they couldn’t be further from the truth. There are several reasons why he did not want this lockout. In fact, I’m willing to bet that the vote for a lockout was only unanimous because Dolan was a reluctant participant to show his support for his fellow owners.

Note: This is speculation on my part. I have no proof whatsoever if this is the case.

The most obvious reason why Dolan did not want a lockout is because the Rangers are pretty good. Like Stanley Cup contender good. The addition of Rick Nash for what amounts to bottom-six players made the Rangers the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.

But the NHL is not hockey. Hockey is a game. The NHL is a business. It doesn’t matter how successful the Rangers are if Dolan isn’t earning money. Therein lies reason number two why it is highly unlikely Dolan didn’t want this lockout: The Rangers earn money. They earn a lot of it. While the majority of the Dolan’s income is from Cablevision, the Rangers are another solid chunk of income that the Dolan’s are missing out on.

But the biggest reason why the lockout hurts the Dolans is something that has been occurring of the past two summers and will continue for the next summer. It is the Dolan-funded MSG renovation project.

The Dolans have put just short of $1 billion into renovating The World’s Most Famous Arena. They need the NHL season to be in full swing to recoup some of that income. For every day that the NHL is not in action, the Dolans lose millions of dollars. The NHL is a business, and it made the Dolans enough money to renovate The Garden without using a cent of taxpayer money.

While the irrational may blame the Dolans for the lockout, logical thinking shows that they were likely the last hand raised in this “unanimous” vote for a lockout. Blame whoever you want for this predicament, but don’t blame the Dolans. After all, they didn’t use your money to renovate MSG. They used their money. About $1 billion of their money. This hurts them much more than this hurts us.

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  1. One other note: Barclays Center is going to make it easy for sports fans to get their fix and Dolan won’t be making money off that.

    1. @Sally, not sure if that’s entirely true. Barclays only has the Nets. When it comes to concerts, anyone playing the Barclays will play MSG.

  2. Your probably right about the Dolans in this case, but if you have principles, you vote no just the same!

    The marriage made in hell is Snider, Jacobs, and the asshole Buttman. If everyone got smart, they would stop watching any NBC broadcasts. Why you ask, because Snider owns NBC. He also owns Comcast, switch providers, maybe the jerk will get the message.

    Once the contract is setteled, Dolan, and the rest of the small market owners, should start a movement to rid the NHL of Buttman. The only big supporters would be the other two clowns mentioned before. Buttman has been a cancer for the NHL, and all he worries about is lining his pockets, at the expense of the game, fans, and some owners who want the games played.

  3. Dave, you’re totally on point here. I remember during the NBA lockout there was a lot of talk about how Dolan was one of the only sane owner voices in the room, and it’s probably because he knew he was losing money then and knows he’s losing money now.

    1. @Zach, at this point for Dolan it’s more than just losing money. He just laid out a billion dollars for a building that isn’t going to be filled for 41 hockey games plus playoffs.

    1. @JB, technically the vote itself was unanimous. The quote states that the the 10 or so owners eventually voted with the majority to show soliarity.

      My point in the post is that Dolan likely didn’t want the lockout.

  4. I guess I need to be clearer. I was attempting to support your point, that the owners were not truly unanimous and Dolan was probably with the 10 owners who were against the lockout. You do agree with that?

    The vote was only ‘technically’ unanimous if you believe Bettman’s version of what happened. I’m not in that camp.

  5. Ah, now I understand. The internet makes me misread things a bunch of times.

    What Bettman said isn’t really a lie, it’s true because the final vote was unanimous.

    But you can bet your life that the Rangers, Flyers, Leafs, Habs, Bruins, Hawks, Wings, and a few others voted against it initially.

  6. You say that they didn’t use your money for the transformation… However where did they get the money?

    Ticket sales. It comes from us! Including rate hikes every year and drastic ones during transformation

    . Watching on tv? They get money from our cable bills monthly… and from advertisers who pay higher rates because we watch the team and buy their products.

    Merchandise? They get a cut of the money we pay.

    Therefore while they did not ask for tax payer subsidies they still are using money; just in different way of getting it.

      1. @Dave,

        While CableVision probably lines the Dolans pockets well…

        You need to remember that Madison Square Garden is no longer a subsidiary of CableVision as it was spun off as its own corporate entity “the Madison Square Garden Company” and it is that company that is paying for the Transformation and getting all the money from MSG Sports (Knicks, Rangers, Liberty), MSG Networks and so forth….

        I was a stock holder in CableVision around the time of the split… did you know that CableVision was borrowing money from Madison Square Garden; as in the disclosures they stated that they had to do create a deal to account for and the repayment of such… so one has to wonder where the most money comes from…

        1. @Gary, the teams are carved out of the MSG public holdings. The money made from their prior ventures, be it Cablevision or MSG, is what is funding this transformation.

  7. I think Illich put Devellano up to his $250,000 tirade to get the message out that all is not unanimous with the “ranchers”. Devellano lumped himself in with the “cowboys”.

    If ticket money doesn’t come in to play for the Dolans,then why have the least expensive seat gone up almost 50% since the last lockout?

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