Becoming An NHL Owner For A Second

by Sean Kaye on August 16, 2012

NHL Revenue SharingI’m going to pretend for a second that I’ve become a rich mining magnate like Clive Palmer or Gina Rinehart and I’m sitting on billions.

Of course the first thing I do is a make a stupid, over the odds offer for my beloved Leafs.  Now because Bell and Rogers have shareholders they have to accept my ludicrous offer for their investment, but hey, I can always just go dig up some more money whenever I want.

So now it’s time to sit down with my mates Jeremy Jacobs, Ed Snider and that Molson ass-clown from Montreal.  We start talking CBA and think back to the days before the little fella in New York (Gary Bettman) ran the NHL and we had that simple little guy in Toronto (John Ziegler) doing it.  We all agree to forget the lawyer in the middle (Gil Stein).

Then Jeremy says to me, “Hey, you have the biggest club in the league, the beer family guy has the second, I’m the Chairman of the Board and Ed has a giant set of cohones, why don’t we run the league?”

Among ourselves we decide to fix these disgruntled players and their union boss henchman.

Instead of the $200m – $250m/yr welfare system we now have in place with the smaller, money losing operations in crazy places, we’re going to take that same amount of money and over the next three years buy out six owners and shutdown those teams, eliminating losses and making the league overall more profitable.

In the process we eliminate 20% of the union jobs and all of them from the subsidized markets.  In three years time the league will have six less franchises who need to be kept afloat by the wealthier teams and if we can’t spend our profits on winning, then we’ll just keep out profits rather than give them to someone else to give to the players.

All kidding aside, there is a gulf opening on the owners side between the rich and the poor.  The rich teams seven years ago all feel that they got played by Bettman and his cartel of penniless criminal owners.  So over that span, the wealthy teams consolidated their positions and economics played into their hands so that they now have the numbers.

The truth is, the union’s call for $450m – $800m in saving being transferred from the rich to the poor just isn’t going to work.  Guys like Ed Snider aren’t stupid, he’s going to very quickly work out that the league already owns Phoenix, they could shut it down tomorrow and save money.  If you then took the $200m in revenue sharing scheduled for 2012-2013 and offered to buy a couple owners out – you’d certainly get some takers, especially if you told them that revenue sharing is “dead”.  Their options are, lose money hand over fist or take $100m and run for the hills.

This is the hammer the owners have always had in this argument – the players want the poor teams underwritten by the rich, but the rich are just better off without them.  The quagmire is Bettman – he’s the one who drove the expansion and his ridiculous ego simply won’t allow this to happen.  But that’s maybe where this negotiation has to go.

A 24 team NHL, split across two conferences with four divisions, each division having four teams make the playoffs.  Suddenly the odds of making the playoffs increase, that means more lucrative home dates but most importantly, 6 teams that aren’t reliant on the profits of the wealthy to overpay their players.

I wonder how many pages of documents the players would need to have to understand a proposal like this?

Could A Labour Disruption Help The Leafs?

by Sean Kaye on August 1, 2012

NHL CBA NegotiationWith each passing day, I’m more and more inclined to believe the NHL is probably going to have some form of delay in the start of the new season because of the expiring CBA with the NHLPA.

Don Fehr says there’s no reason to not go ahead with the season even without a CBA, just operate under the current rules.

This of course is the same Don Fehr who oversaw the MLBPA when they went on strike with less than a month to go in the season, having collected 80% of their salaries for the year and cost the Expos their best shot ever at a World Series and ultimately killed the franchise.  Yep, same Don Fehr.

Same Don Fehr who referred to a salary cap in baseball as a way for the players to pay to clean up the owners’ financial messes.

Gary Bettman’s momma didn’t raise no dummies, no CBA, no start to the season.

This isn’t Gary’s first rodeo by any means.  He knows the players don’t like not being paid or paying their own insurance to go play for MoDo in meaningless games.

So, if these two can’t get something done by September 15th, there will be no training camp on September 16th unless they are waiting for the ink to dry.

What A Labour Disruption Means To The Leafs

I think this might actually be a good thing for the Leafs if we saw a couple months lost, maybe a half a season.

Depending on where things are at in the negotiations, I doubt we’ll see an exodus of veteran players to Europe again.  They’ll just hang out in groups, rent some ice and play pick up hockey to stay in shape.

On the other hand, a young group like the Leafs will see players like Kadri, Gardiner, Colbourne, Frattin (when he recovers), Komarov (not so young, but still on an entry level deal, so he can play with the Marlies), Scrivens and others playing very competitive hockey with the Marlies.

When the season starts, there will be a compressed schedule and a short training camp, just like in 1994-1995.  I’d imagine the owners will try VERY HARD to rescue the season with a December 1 kick-off date so as not to damage the run up to HBO’s 24/7 and the Winter Classic, but if they miss that date, I would suggest we’ll lose this season for sure.

However, if they do start on December 1st, we’d be looking at a 60 game season.

The Leafs would have a core group of young players in top game shape.  You’d see players like Jesse Blacker or Jerry D’Amigo be in mid-season form while some of the more veteran players will be in pre-season shape.

This could present a real opportunity for the Leafs, you could take a chance on these younger guys right out of shortened camp and put them straight in the line up for the Leafs.  Immediately, you’d have the advantage of six to maybe as much as ten players with a serious edge in fitness and form over all of your opponents.

Plus, when you add in the compression of the schedule that will mean less practice time – having a core group of guys who’ve been playing together for two months is a big advantage.

Obviously the issue is with numbers.  It is safe to say that at this point barring any significant deals, Kadri, Komarov, Scrivens and Holzer will play with the Leafs along with Frattin and Gardiner who were there last year.  But if you wanted to bring up a couple young guys in good shape like D’Amigo, Blacker or hell, even a pup like Broll (he’s on a Slide, so you can get 9 games from him and not lose a year), you’re going to have issues with head count.

This comes back to  the question of where are the Leafs at in terms of their rebuild.

Right now, assuming the NHL/NHLPA agree on the roster size of 24, the Leafs would have spots for Kadri, Komarov, Holzer and Scrivens with Frattin and Gardiner already taking spots.  This also assumes that Rosehill doesn’t resign and Franson does.

If guys like Colborne, Ashton and D’Amigo are playing well and in good shape for the Marlies, why would you have spots for Connolly and Lombardi?  The Leafs are certainly not going to re-sign them after this year anyway and their trade value is probably very limited to teams looking to get up to the cap floor.

Another guy in a similar situation is Clarke MacArthur although he’s certainly more tradable.  If a guy like Greg McKegg was with the Marlies giving goalies sunburn, maybe it is worth taking a shot that he can score 15 goals in a 60 game season at the NHL level and figuring out what to do with MacArthur who is obviously not part of the puzzle long term.

The Leafs have built up this tidy collection of good quality prospects.  You want to make sure when they make the jump to the NHL they do it in a way that ensures they have some success and retain confidence.

Could this be the perfect opportunity?

A short season, compressed with a shortened training camp and fewer practices because of the time issues.  These young guys would have a series of advantages: they’d be in game shape, they’d have 20 games of form under their belts, their young bodies would respond better over the course of the season to less rest and with a whole group of them making the jump together, they could even develop a camaraderie about them that helps lift the team.

Worse case scenario, some of these young guys struggle and the team stumbles.  There’s nothing to say the team won’t stumble out of the gate anyway?  It’ll give Burke probably his best chance to see where these kids are at and what he’s really got.

It would certainly add some excitement for us Leaf fans who’ve been waiting for this youth revolution to deliver us to the promise land.

Record of Success?

July 28, 2012

I got an interesting Facebook chat message from Matteo Codispoti from the very excellent We Want A Cup blog. Matteo pointed out something to me that nearly knocked me over and made me go re-check the stats to verify it. Brian Burke has been a General Manager for about 13 seasons in the NHL.  His [...]

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Is Bettman Losing His Control?

July 20, 2012

As Sherlock Holmes (and Tarzan from Survivor: One World) used to say, “The Game Is Afoot!” We’re at the beginning of a CBA negotiation and the owners have released their first “offer” to the players.  The offer itself was an acknowledgement that even though the owners crushed the union last time around, their own general incompetence [...]

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Some NHL CBA Changes I’d Like To See

July 10, 2012

I think the last Collective Bargaining Agreement between the players and owners of the NHL was a very imperfect deal.  I don’t think it really had any other choice, when you implement such a wide scale series of changes to the economic structure of the game it won’t be perfect the first time around. For [...]

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Let’s See Some Results!

July 4, 2012

We’re now past the mid-way point of the fourth year of the Brian Burke regime here in Toronto.  In my mind, it has been a colossal failure.  When you consider the promises that Burke made when he joined, how much control he was given and frankly, how much he’s paid, what he’s actually achieved is [...]

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State Of The Union – Leafs Nation

June 29, 2012

This blog isn’t going to be about saying how awesome it is to be a Leafs fan.  You’re not going to have to sit there and read me write how amazing everything will be at some undetermined point in the future.  I’ve been a Leafs fan through and through for as long as I remember, [...]

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