NHL Attains Pinnacle of Success; Talks About Staying There

With the first week of the NHL season lost, fans are being made to feel like neglected children. Gary Bettman has had three work stoppages during his term as commissioner; the last one eradicating an entire season. Despite the stoppages, the NHL has risen to ever greater performance levels, with over $3 billion in annual revenues and some of the best players in the history of the sport.  The young stars are the league’s premier attraction and with the teams that draft, cultivate and hold talent realizing ultimate success the NHL is realizing what that every league wants: parity. There has not been a repeat champion to hoist the cup in over a decade, and with teams from well south of the border contending for a title, hotbeds of hockey have popped up all over.  The Los Angeles Kings won last year’s cup while other non-legacy, non-winter cities raising hockey championship banners have included Charlotte, Tampa Bay and Anaheim.

Legacy teams have not been left out. Boston, Detroit and Chicago have also won the title in recent years.  The diversity of winners between classic NHL markets and relative newcomers has been good for the value of TV contracts which have risen sharply.  The risk of financial loss with a lost season is great.  Everyone would lose.  So the two sides are coming together today in Toronto in order to try and salvage a full season. The latest report suggests that Bettman wants to split everything 50-50, which is a far slide from the nearly 18% rollback he had initially proposed when the lockout was first announced. The players union surely sees this repositioning as a substantial give considering the costs of operating a team and achieving a satisfactory return on investment.  If they can’t come to some sort of agreement in order to get the players back on the ice then perhaps Bettman will get far more public backing than he has in recent weeks.  The fans of the NHL deserve better than lockouts, and for one fan in particular the thought watching Chara vs. Ovechkin in Moscow just doesn’t go down at all well.

Top overall pick a year ago who should be flourishing this year