The NHL continues to shoot itself in the foot

It’s amazing what two months does for to the perception of the NHL. After receiving well deserved praise for executing the NHL bubble from August through September, the owners are now toying with a cancelled 2021 NHL season. A January 1 start date is gone, and while there is still time to get a February start date, the sides aren’t talking.

The reason is always the same – money. The owners are again the bad guys here, now looking to renegotiate on the CBA they just signed this summer. Gary Bettman insists that the league is just “reacting to a changing landscape.” The landscape has changed, sure. But this was a predictable change. Did they not see a second wave coming?

Little Revenue Coming In

The owners were assuming that fans would be in the stands at some point in the 2021 season. That was a poor assumption. A second wave was inevitable. It always is. Yet the owners thought there would be large indoor gatherings as soon as February 2021? Even with masks and limited fans, you’re looking at a minimum of 6,000 people gathered inside one building. This is just common sense.

The reverse retro jerseys are a cash grab. As are $100 hoodies with the same design. It’s a desperation move by a league that has finally figured out that there will be little ticket and concession revenue coming in this season.

They are only four months late on this. Is that the fault of the NHLPA? Nope. That’s on the owners. They negotiated a bad deal for them in the short term.

Negotiating in Bad Faith

This is what the owners are doing right now. They realized they signed a deal that, in the short term, will hammer them financially. You know who is crying for billionaires losing $10 million? Not me. Nor should any of you.

The owners signed a bad deal in the short term for them. The ink is dry. If a player can’t go back on any contract signed, then why should the owners? They agreed to it. Again, it it signed. The bed is made. Deal with it. A cancelled 2021 NHL season is the answer to a bad deal? Come on.

Big Ramifications

ESPN and NBC are watching this unfold. All major TV networks are watching this unfold. A shortened season was always going to happen, no matter what the league said. But now with the NBC deal expiring at the end of this season, the NHL has a chance to capitalize on momentum gained from this summer’s playoffs.

Of course they won’t though. The NHL could have had a plan in place to begin on January 1. They deserve the benefit of the doubt in their execution, considering how well they pulled off their bubbles. Yet here we are, on December 3, and the only issue that’s been publicized is the need to renegotiate. To me, that reads as they have a plan, but don’t like the bottom line. So they are willing to cancel the season? Come on.

The NHL took almost a decade to recover financially from the 2004-2005 lockout. They were on the Outdoor Life Network! The NBA has a plan to start their season, and that’s an indoor game too. Bite the bullet, and deal with short term losses for long term gains. It’s not a novel concept!

Considering how rich these owners are, you’d think they’d understand that concept. Apparently not. They are just being greedy. And it’s at the expense of the fans. The owners should be embarrassed. They aren’t, but they should be. This delay is one of the dumbest delays I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen delays from an 18 wheeler get stuck on the Belt Parkway.

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  • I feel you summed it up very well. My only point is no matter how much money an owner has (or anyone for that matter), no one is in business to lose money.

    That said, the short term is and was very predictable. Have some sort of a plan with longer homestands and less travel and hope that by the time playoffs come (June perhaps) we can have some fans in the stands.

    If money is that big of a problem, take a loan, as many Americans have had to do during this pandemic.

    Note to NHL – You are NOT an essential service.


  • I read Bettman’s comments yesterday. He stated the owners were not looking to renegotiate. What are you reading? Also, like it or not the league has to solve the Canadian quarantine/travel issue. Why aren’t you addressing that rather than burying the owners as greedy?

  • ouch, that must have been some delay on the Belt, I don’t envy that, there is traffic there even with no issues.

  • From what I understand, the owners aren’t asking for actual concessions. They are asking to defer salaries at a higher percentage to account for the shortage in revenue. Unless I missed something else, this isn’t an unreasonable ask. It’s deferred not eliminated. If that’s all the owners are asking for than who is the greedy party here?

    • Czech

      You and I agree on just about everything, but this one we’re 180 degrees from each other.

      We make an agreement, then you want a second agreement due to your inability to plan in advance at what’s coming down the road, bad news my friend. Secondly, if some franchises go belly up, who’s stuck holding the bag. Bankruptcy laws are such that the players could be paid a portion of what they gave up, are you willing to get into a deal like that? The interest rate currently paid by banks is minimal, so why not pay at least that amount to the players, again bad deal, and they look cheap again.

      The threat of shutting down came from the usual suspects, that scumbag Jeremy Jacobs being the ring leader. He was embarrassed into paying for his staff during the lock out, due to pressure from the NHL, and the optics. He is a cheap bast*rd, and was the cause of the previous shut downs. Bottom line, screw him, and the other cheapskates that are behind this ploy.

      Let me make one point clear if I can, the players are paid for playing, and have a vested interest in doing so, and should work to get resolution to a problem. But a deal is a deal, and they are dealing with some low life type of people!!!!!!!

      • I would agree with on principle that a deal is a deal . However we are dealing with unprecedented times with this China virus and it’s hard to plan with any type of certainty . Like I have been saying, you can’t get blood out of a stone. One thing is certain, canceling the season hurts both sides badly especially with TV deals on the horizon.

      • What you are saying is that the NHL should not have played last summer. For it is absolutely clear that there is no way the owners could have foreseen all of the contingencies.

        This is not supposed to be an adversarial relationship. The teams and owners are supposed to be on the same side. Both of them should be striving to create an environment where both can succeed.

        The owners are not asking the players to solve their problem. They are asking the players to share in the solution of a problem faced by the sport.

        • Ray

          “The owners are not asking the players to solve their problem. They are asking the players to share in the solution of a problem faced by the sport.”

          That’s exactly what they are doing, so I have to beg to differ. Ray, just stop and think how they approached this situation in the first place. They didn’t ask for a meeting to discuss the problem. They instead made demands with a cloud over the players head having a vailed threat of a shut down. If they are truly partners, they would have said there is a problem, let’s see what “WE” can do to resolve the problem in the best interest of the NHL, and all parties concerned. Instead they come in like a bunch of bullies, and make threats that would make me say no on principle alone.

          Bottom line, if I’m a player, I’d say work this out on your own, and call me when the season is ready to start…..Again, whenever Jacobs is involved, I’d fight that dirt bag tooth, and nail!!!!!!!!!

      • Here’s the thing, Walt. Under normal circumstances you would be absolutely correct. However, take a second…look around, look what has been going on in this world for the last 9 months. This is not about greed. I see nothing wrong with a deferral. If the owners wish to pay a tiny interest, ok, but that should not be necessary. What good does it do the players to see bankruptcies in the NHL? This is about not having the money, i.e. from the franchise to pay the bills. It seems like you want the owners to go into their personal pockets to pay the players. Why? The players are not hurting. The 1000’s of people waiting in food lines are! I see nothing wrong with a deferral. Indeed, I see it in the players best interests to accept it and get back on the ice and to the business of hockey.

        However, That’s just me!

        • JoeS

          What you say makes plenty of sense, except that they knew all this four, or five weeks ago when they signed the agreement. They also feel that the players are over a barrel, and they can take advantage of them. Here’s a quote from an article I just read, think it thru and respond, because the owners are just trying to play hard ball, and the union should do as suggested.

          “The NHL Players’ Association’s lawyers are investigating whether to file an unfair labour practice complaint with the U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) or pursue a grievance with an arbitrator if the NHL decides to cancel the upcoming season, two people familiar with the matter told TSN.”

          I suspect that the players have had their fair share of garbage forced down their throats, and they are at a breaking point, and are willing to play a game of chicken with the owners.


          I have never in my life supported unions, even though my dad was a member of the Longshoremen’s Association!!!!!!

          • well FYI, I was in a union my entire career and fully support them. This is not about unions. This is about real, cold, hard cash. Not having people in the stands really hurts the NHL. This is not the other sports that have amazing TV revenues, this is the lowly NHL that we love more than all the rest. But…..It is what it is….

    • Hey bro.

      Here’s the issue: The league (Bettman and the owners) are complete morons for not stating, VERY CLEARLY, in the CBA, how comp would be paid out, based on the various ranges of games actually played for the foreseeable future (if 70-80 games payed, if 60-70 games played, etc.).

      Anyone claiming “we did not know” or “we did not anticipate” is utter nonsense and an excuse to reneg on a deal they just signed. Look at the internet, maybe they will know what’s going on in the world.

      Normally, I am not one to go against the owners because gouging them is not good for anyone, as they pay the bills. But come on, they screwed up royally, signing a bad deal, given the current environment. They need to suck it up, IMO.

      They have $650M coming from the Seattle franchise, let them use that money towards their shortfalls now.

      • Hey pal!! Hope all is good with you. You are right. They were stupid not to structure the deal with contingencies but at the time it was hard to foresee how this would proceed. In hindsight, yes they could of or should but this is an unprecedented situation and the players are partners with the owners and should be willing to help somewhat . Canceling the season helps no one and if the league determines that they lose less money then the players will get nothing.

        Asking the Kraken owners to pay up now is a silly idea. They are facing the same financial crunch many business owners are too and may not be in position to cut a check ahead of the scheduled time. Nor should they be forced to do so.

        The owners and the players need to find a creative way forward . Host multiple outdoor games with 50-75% capacity to raise revenue that way. Perhaps allow 25-50% capacity indoors too . I mean if you can have thousands of people in Walmart and Costco coming and gong than you can do the same in a huge arena .

        • My problem with all this, and this is only my gut feeling based on past performance by the league, is that they figured that they just would re-open the agreement, if needed.

          What leverage do the players have? None. Getting no comp vs modified comp is not an option. The owners know that and they knew that all along. It’s dishonorable and that’s the problem that I really have here.

      • Easy to say suck it up, but as I have said before….I cannot give you a gallon of water because all I have is a quart. Again, they should not have to go into their personal income. This is a business. If it was General Motors, and, assuming there was not left government bailout, they would go out of business. How does that help the players??? Please tell me! I need to know.

        • Joseph, I’m a small business owner, what guarantee do I have to make money? If I’m short on cash, who is there to bail me out? That’s business.

          Here, you have billionaires who own the teams. They are SUPPOSED to be good business people. No one twisted their arms to sign this CBA the way it was. They KNEW about the virus. We ALL know about the virus. HOW can anyone on this planet say “I didn’t know” about the virus? And the potential impact of playing less games in sports? Or the fact that attending fans was probably out of the question for this season, at least? Resulting in less NHL revenue?

          How was this not considered? All that needed to be done was to put into the CBA a formula for player comp based on the possible range of games played, without fans as an assumption, and then it would have been fine.

          How did the owners/Bettman not think of that?

          My business income isn’t guaranteed, why should the NHL owners’ be guaranteed? They signed a bad deal, oh well. And they can outlast business shortfalls a lot better than I can.

          • Tony

            Spot on, and stated perfectly my friend. The players are working for, as stated DISHONORABLE people!!!!!!!!!

          • Walt, Bettman and the owners have shown over and over again how they act in bad faith.

            I am usually more sympathetic to the owners’ side in sports, because it is in everyone’s best interest for them to succeed, to keep the leagues going. But not here. The NHL is dishonorable, starting with its leader.

  • Billionaires fighting with Millionaires while tens of millions of people are struggling and out of work just makes me nauseous.

    I pick no sides in these fights. They’re all wrong in my eyes. No side has sympathy from me. Honestly, both the billionaires and millionaires can just suck it up and get on the ice IMHO. Neither party is actually “hurting” here.

    • The NHL is void of real leadership. This is not new.
      If they did, they would have had more realistic conversations around the current and future back when the deal was signed.

      TV revenue is all they can home for at this point. Figure out a way to minimize travel, protect the players and teams, and put together a 60 game schedule that will make a season possible. I have to believe both players and owners want some sort of season.

    • no but if they keep playing games with each other, the working people in hockey, i.e. security, concessions, parking attendants et al will continue to hurt. So turning a blind eye is not helping the “tens of millions”

  • I still like Larry Brooks’ idea of asking the Seattle owners to make a partial payment of their entry fee early. Supposedly, the other owners are down about $300M more than the expected (although, I do have my doubts about that), and Seattle’s entry fee is $650M, so half of that would cover the additional losses without affecting the players’ contracts, and it wouldn’t cost Seattle anything extra. It would also make the entire league (including Seattle) more credible in negotiations on the new broadcast contract.

  • My grand grand mome used to say: when you don’t have money – you don’t build communism.

    Some point on NBA or MLB or NFL, they just spend as much they need to spend, but NHL audience is way way shorter, and while fat will get skinny, skinny may die.

    Despite all, I am on owners side here, should be both teams and players responsibility….

  • Let us forget about the owners, shall we. There are two sides here – the players and the teams. The players will make money if there is a season and they will break even if there is no season. The teams will lose money if there is no season and lose even more money if there is a season.

    So we are talking about teams who are already losing money increasing their losses to pay players a salary which they don’t really need and which in the current climate they don’t really merit either — of course the teams do preserve continuity this way which does have real value.


    We live in times where people need to be flexible. The two questions “Should the NHL be a profitable enterprise?” and “Should the NHL exist?” are not two questions. They are one question. The league has to make decisions that allow the teams to survive.

  • “You know who is crying for billionaires losing $10 million?”

    Wow, I highly doubt that’s the amount of money any one owner will actually lose here.

    These are unprecedented times (at least in relation to the public health reaction to the virus). Normally I would be all in on the “you made the deal, now live with it (barring bad faith on the other side)”, but I think it really depends on what they’re asking for … let’s be honest, the situation is bad for both sides, so being open to some level of compromise as the situation shifts and changes week by week isn’t the worst idea I’ve heard this calendar year.

    • tanto

      In normal times we would be on the same page here, but when the billionaires come with a hand out, and demand you make concessions, while holding a gun to your temple, sorry man, tell the owners to take a walk. This from a group of men that shut us down several times in the past, and would do it in a heartbeat again, if there’s more money in it for them, I can’t feel sorry for them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • And they ask millionairs for it 🙂 I would say is one of the most disgusting human habit is to look in someone packet….

      • I favor the players more than the owners, that said I think they need to continue to talk (in good faith of course) — after all the owners are guaranteed to lose money (some much more than $10M) and the players stand to make “some” money (significantly less than normal). It’s a bad situation all around.

    • To be honest, this is not really taking sides, it’s about honoring a deal that was just signed.

      No one told the owners about Covid? lol.

      I’m an accountant, and every single financial statement for my clients has a footnote relating to potential future financial ramifications due to Covid.

      It’s common sense. But, IMO, the owners, in their arrogance, figured that they could just reopen the CBA any time that they wanted to. Very dishonorable.

  • I simply loathe this guy Bettman. Just a troll and an embarrassment to a great sport. About as untrustworthy as they come.

    Another black eye for the league.

    • Tony

      True statement, and to make matters worse, he’s in the back pocket of that piece of dog manure Jackobs, that’s the icing on the cake!!!!

      • Walt, Jacobs is the scum of the earth.

        You had the 3 stooges with Bettman, Jacobs, and Snyder.

      • From an article I just pulled up:

        Take one-percenter Jeremy Jacobs, Jr. and family. The Jacobs family owns Delaware North, owner and operator of TD Garden, including the new mixed-use Hub on Causeway development. Jacobs is also the owner of Boston’s famed hockey team, the Bruins. Although the family is worth a cool $3.5 billion, they just furloughed tens of thousands of employees.

        Corporate watchdog LittleSis included Jacobs and Delaware North in its recent profile of “The Billionaires Behind the Crisis,” noting:

        Delaware North has more than 55,000 full-time and part-time employees. In a press release on March 25th, Delaware North announced that it was placing two-thirds of the company’s 3,100 full-time employees on temporary leave with only one single week of pay. The press release emphasized that “great attention was given” to make sure employees had medical benefits for eight weeks despite only receiving pay for one week. Moreover, those who were lucky enough not to outright lose their jobs will now be expected to work for less pay.

        The tens of thousands of part-time Delaware North employees are getting nothing from the company or its billionaire owners.

        In addition to his concessions empire, Jacobs owns the NHL’s Boston Bruins and TD Garden, where they play. All part-time TD Garden employees were laid off as part of Delaware North’s culling while 45% of the full-time salaried staff were given the one week of pay and eight weeks of benefits outlined in the company’s general statement.

        Later, the Buffalo News, Delaware North’s hometown newspaper, reported that the corporation is putting even more of its full-time employees on leave. Delaware North did not say how many.

        Boston Globe columnist Christopher Gasper looked deeper into Jacob’s “pathetic” actions at TD Garden, writing,

        The Bruins have barely done the bare minimum during this crisis. While other teams in the NBA and NHL offered comprehensive plans and dutiful pledges to keep paying arena employees during these unprecedented times, the Bruins remained conspicuously silent until they released a terse and ambiguous statement last Saturday, promising to create a $1.5 million fund for part-time Bruins and Garden employees financially burdened by the coronavirus crisis. There was one considerable caveat. The money would only be released after the final six postponed regular-season home games were officially cancelled.

        • Tony

          I read the same article, and that solidified my animosity towards the clown. Any benefit paid to the Garden personnel was due because of the optics being what it was, so he was forced into doing something. The man is the lowest of the low, worse than the dead bast*rd Snyder, owner of Comcast, NBC, Flyers, and other companies. Bottom line, speaking as an account (LOL), both he and Jacobs are trash.

          • I get it, it’s business, and we are in tough economic times as it relates to business.

            But come on, this guy continuously shows his true colors as the typical rich person that people hate.

            I saw that he donates like $150,000 per year to charities. That’s a disgrace based on his wealth. That may not include special one time donations, but still. Awful. He’s a prick.

  • Latest on what the rangers will do with Alexis!!!!

    “After ongoing discussions with the New York Rangers, Hockey Canada has been informed that Alexis Lafrenière will not be released to represent Canada at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton,” Scott Salmond, senior vice-president of national teams for Hockey Canada said in a statement. “Although we are disappointed Alexis will not be able to join our team for World Juniors, we understand and respect the decision made by the Rangers.”

    Good move, the kid has nothing to prove, and why risk major injury………

  • Hockey is a business and like all other corporations cannot survive by losing money. That’s a recipe for bankruptcy. When the stands are empty it greatly affects revenue. TV revenue alone won’t pay the bills. The players need to understand this and defer (not forfeit) a bigger portion of their salary for the health of the league. If they don’t do this there won’t be any hockey in 2021.

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