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Poll: Which side do you support in the NHL’s labor dispute?

Aug 16, 2012, 10:59 AM EDT

NHL and NHLPA logo

Not that either side really, really cares what you think – both the players and owners know the fans will be back as soon as a CBA is signed – but if you absolutely had to pick a side to support right now, which one would it be?

(We’d offer a “neither, just tell me when a deal gets done, I’ll be over here watching preseason NFL” option, but that would be too easy.)

OK, so in the players’ defense, they did give up a ton to end the 2004-05 lockout. Specifically, they accepted a hard salary cap with a 24 percent salary rollback. Now, after a season that saw the league brag about record revenues and through-the-roof TV ratings, they’re being asked to make massive concessions again? That doesn’t seem very fair. Besides, all this could easily be solved with revenue sharing.

Of course, in the owners’ defense, the players gave up a ton to end the 2004-05 lockout because salaries were getting completely out of control. In fact, most of the fans supported the league’s side back then. And things aren’t much better for a lot of teams today. Take the Nashville Predators, a small-market franchise with a local ownership group that was forced to give Shea Weber a 14-year, $110 million contract lest its captain and best player leave town not long after its other star defenseman, Ryan Suter, walked away. It’s easy to say revenue sharing would solve everything, but why should owners of teams like the Leafs, Rangers and Flyers – owners that have far more invested than owners of small-market teams – subsidize money-losing franchises, some of which are losing money in part because they’re not doing a very good job running their businesses? Isn’t that, like, communism or something?

Alright, so now it’s time to vote.

We’ll understand if you abstain.

  1. bruin63 - Aug 16, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    players. it is clear they want a season more

    • polegojim - Aug 16, 2012 at 4:01 PM

      NOT!

  2. adlent - Aug 16, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    ” but why should owners of teams like the Leafs, Rangers and Flyers – owners that have far more invested than owners of small-market teams – subsidize money-losing franchises”

    Good question. The easy answer for me: because it is in the best interest of the league. If teams need to move, so be it, let me them move, but I don’t think the league can succeed by taking away more and more from the players in order to get smaller market teams on a better playing field. If I was a player, I would be upset to hear record revenues, but take less pay, and see teams like Leafs, Rangers and Flyers pocket even MORE money because they won’t help bring the small markets up.

    Every sport has small markets. It is impossible to avoid. I think this is where NFL revenue sharing does it, right.

    • tmoore4075 - Aug 16, 2012 at 11:17 AM

      What the said. ^^ I’m with the players here. They are the ones being watched and covered by the media that is creating record revenue. The league wants all the teams to stay where they are then the bigger ones need to help the little ones. The players shouldn’t have to lose out on money they generate because there a few teams that are in markets they shouldn’t be.

      Now in saying that I’m with the players both sides should make some concessions. That’s how negotiating works. This appears to be more of a dispute between owners. Big teams don’t want to give money to small teams or financially struggling teams so they want just to cut the players share to help the little brothers of the league.

    • challer9 - Aug 16, 2012 at 2:27 PM

      ” but why should owners of teams like the Leafs, Rangers and Flyers – owners that have far more invested than owners of small-market teams – subsidize money-losing franchises”

      Well that’s an easy question. 1) It works for the NFL. Look at the Green Bay Packers. Green Bay has a population of 100,000 yet they thrive in that market. Why? Because they are (and for the most part always have been) competitive. To be competitive you need money to put a good product out. That is where revenue sharing comes in. 2) Because those big market teams have to play someone.

      • chrisvegas - Aug 17, 2012 at 12:44 PM

        Green Bay fans pay ALOT of money to go see the team play. Even when the team wasn’t that good in the 80s and early 90′s they still went and supported the team. Many of the fans have ownership stock in the team, so they have more invested then say Nashville fans. Green Bay proves that a small market can support a pro team, but the fans have to be willing to pay good money to go see them play like they do in Green Bay. This ultimately comes down to how the team markets itself, and many of the NHL small market teams do NOT do a good job in bringing in fans. There is a BIG difference here. I have no issue with revenue sharing with TV contracts, but when it comes to ticket income I don’t think it is right. Markets need to be able to support themselves or they shouldn’t have teams.

    • chrisvegas - Aug 17, 2012 at 12:30 PM

      I disagree. I don’t think the larger market teams should have to support the smaller market teams. The fans of the larger market teams spend MUCH more money to go see their teams play and are rewarded when their teams spend as much money as possible to put a good product out each season. Teams like Nashville barely charge their fans anything to see the team play and they don’t market their teams well enough to make a profit. I think instead of revenue sharing we should consider moving teams out of smaller markets that can’t afford them or where the fans don’t care enough to pay and go see them play.

      Why should a large market team that successfully markets their team in their area have to pay teams in small markets that don’t know how to sell their product?

      You said, “because it is in the best interest of the league.”

      I don’t think it is in the best interest in the league. If we keep allowing markets that can’t afford to pay for a NHL team to have them then we aren’t helping the league, we are in fact hurting the NHL. We shouldn’t punish successful markets like Detroit, NY, Toronto, Montreal, Philly because other teams don’t know how to put out a good product. We should limit teams to markets that can afford to have a team. It is easy for anyone to demand money that isn’t theirs and they haven’t earned, but if you owned the team and were successful with it you might not feel the same way. There are already too many teams in the NHL, we should just get rid of the markets that can’t get their fan base to support them.

  3. elemeno89 - Aug 16, 2012 at 11:48 AM

    The owners got what they wanted last time, and it didn’t work. Why screw the players more out of what is owed to them.

    • nolockoutpricks - Aug 16, 2012 at 8:37 PM

      the players get whats owed to them its call a SALARY. dumb ass

  4. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Aug 16, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    I’m surprised there’s almost 10% supporting the owners here.

  5. millertime30 - Aug 16, 2012 at 11:53 AM

    I vote for..

    Not Gary Bettman.

    ..He’s gross

    • millertime30 - Aug 16, 2012 at 11:53 AM

      PS..

      BooooOOOooOOOOoo!!!!!!

  6. biffnasty - Aug 16, 2012 at 12:21 PM

    Players
    seems like they actually want a hockey season whereas the owners are just trying to line their already fat pockets. greedy d1cks

    • polegojim - Aug 16, 2012 at 4:16 PM

      Typical response from someone who doesn’t understand the whole issue…

      Who do you think stands to lose MORE if there is another locked out season?

      Players who only have a salary and personal expenses to worry about? OR OR OR

      Owners who will lose:
      -Local Broadcast Revenue $5 mil
      -League distribution $ 8 mil
      -Gate Revenue $46 mil
      -Suite Revenue $8 mil
      -Sponsorship $8 mil
      -Concessions $3.5 mil
      -Parking/Publications/merch $1.5 mil
      -Other Hockey related Revenue $2 mil

      PLUS owner still have operating/maintenance/% expenses even when ZERO hockey is played.

      It doesn’t take a genius to figure this one out.

      • scottybcboy - Aug 16, 2012 at 5:21 PM

        polegojim, if the owners want a season we will have one, the players have stated that they will play while negotiating. We aren’t talking about a possible strike, it is called a lock out for a reason, but hey I’m no genius.

      • therealehboy - Aug 16, 2012 at 7:43 PM

        Wow, those are lots of dollars! Let’s talk about net dollars and percentage of income.

        Team owners will lose a portion of their personal income (they have other ventures besides their teams) and most of the revenue from their businesses (they will still make money on other events, merch sales, video game rights, etc). However, owners also eliminate their majority expense item (player cost) plus various ancillary costs (parking staff, cleanup, security, etc). For teams which are at or near the “cash flow neutral” line, this may end up being an advantage. It is certainly not devastating.

        Players lose 100% of their income. Every last cent. They also lose one of the years from their career. On average, careers are 3-6 years. So they are losing, effectively 20%-25% of their career earnings. Even counting their post-NHL lives, this is probably a sixth of what they will ever earn in their entire lives. For someone working from 21 to 60 yearsw of age, that’s like losing ten years of your salary.

        You tell me who feels more pain.

        Signed,
        Someone who DOES understand the whole issue.

      • adamfrantz - Aug 17, 2012 at 8:42 AM

        to therealhboy…you DO NOT understand what’s going on. Built in to the last CBA there was a safety net for players that they still get paid a percentage of their income (about 70%) until when the all star break would come around. This was money put aside by the owners to an escrow account in good faith that the players wouldnt be trying to take over the league like the MLB and NBA players have done. How do you think Nashville and Min. feel about having to pay Weber, Suter and Parise over 20 millions dollars for not playing, no matter what?

        So yes, you really don’t know what’s going on, moron. the owners have much more to lose. If you input a revenue system with a luxury tax then everyone gets their money and the league turns in to the NBA and MLB where you only have six competitive teams and half full arenas around the rest of the league. YOU PEOPLE need to understand that this is a business, no matter how much you love your team they would stab you in the back in a heartbeat if it meant making a few hundred million dollars more.

        Think about that one and compare it to a local hardware or convenience store. When an employee wants a raise it’s not as simple as just giving them the money and everyone is happy. A few bucks an hour is enough to cripple a store if something changes or the employee moves on…same for the NHL. They want shorter and more realistic contracts so owners don’t have to shell out and overpay the Parise’s and Wideman’s of the world just for an attempt to stay competitive.

        Fehr and the players need to take a step back and watch the Godfather; becasue they’re going to make this personal very quickly and piss everyone off if they keep the same path that he did with the MLB. Bettman is a little wiener but he’s one of the best things that ever happened to the business of hockey.

      • polegojim - Aug 17, 2012 at 9:38 AM

        @scotty – that’s noble, but at what rate?

        @thereal – so you understand the issue eh??? Nice try, but you ignore that #1 income maker call ‘GATE Revenue’, oh… and ‘suite revenue’… and the other one called ‘Local Broadcast’ revenue… and ‘Parking’… and ‘Concessions’ during games. We also don’t know if there is ANY league distribution with no season.

        Those are part of ‘HOCKEY’ related revenue.

        SERIOUSLY??? You say you ‘understand the whole issue’, but think the owners will ‘break even’ or be ‘better off’ without oh… let’s see… about 80-90% OF ANNUAL REVENUE…. just by NOT playing players? They still have all other financial expenses of owning property and maintaining it, insurances, utilities.

        C’MON MAN!
        .

      • therealehboy - Aug 17, 2012 at 3:43 PM

        I won’t bother to go into rebutting all the arguments here, save for one major fallacy that I want to address: Yes, obviously owners will lose revenue, but if they have commensurate drops in expenses it’s not that painful. The cut in player costs alone makes up for the loss of about 57% of revenue. Beyond players, the will also save on maintenance, utilities, operating costs, all kinds of stuff.

        That said, it is true that teams with privately financed arenas may have debt payments to make, but keep in mind that most NHL arenas are public funded (and in some cases, operated), so that’s often not a concern to owners.

        Oh, and to those calling me an uninformed idiot: I spent multiple years of my career as lead financial person for a Big-4 sports franchise, so believe it or not, I know exactly what I am talking about.

        Trust me on this one: If the players wanted to not work, they’d strike. The fact that it’s a lockout tells you that ownership is comfortable with the prospect of missing games. And the numbers back it up.

      • polegojim - Aug 17, 2012 at 9:02 PM

        Ok RealBoy… so let’s talk about your fallacy.

        90% minus 57% = 33% LOSS on 82-100 MILLION dollars.

        Cry me a river over individual player losses compared to that.

  7. barkar942 - Aug 16, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    Last time, I was in 100% support of the owners. Players salaries were getting to be unsustainable and the league was on the precipice of financial collapse.
    This time, I am in 90% support of the players, and 10% in support of the owners. The owners demanded and got what they needed last time to get the league back on track. However, smart agents and dumb owners now have new problems that were created with the last CBA, such as the stupid length contracts with up front bonuses and no pay at the end. Worse part is the dumb owners didn’t scuttle that the first time it appeared.
    This time, there does seem to be infighting among the have and have not owners. The players union was wise to acknowledge problems and offer some concessions, but not to take a total beating to solve the owners financial problems. They realize that small market teams are struggling, and they said “We’ll help some, but now here’s what you owners can do to help each other”. Smart move by Fehr.
    Some things need to change to make the league fully sustainable, including moving some beleaguered franchises to potentially more economically profitable locations and more assistance to the smaller market owners.
    I personally think that they will settle meeting close to halfway that the owners proposed, but just a little more to the players side of the line. Neither side wants a work stoppage.

  8. miketoasty - Aug 16, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    Jason Brough, you should be happy, seems that there are enough owners who read your articles to actually make a dent in the voting. Congratulations!

  9. braddavery - Aug 16, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    Which “side” do I support? MY side. The FANS’ side. That’s what “side” I support. Enough of this garbage. I love NHL hockey, but enough is enough. I’m tired of this nonsense.

    • hystoracle - Aug 16, 2012 at 3:24 PM

      I am surprised that wasn’t a choice in their non-scientific poll. Because that is what I would have picked. I just clicked a bubble to see the results.

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Aug 16, 2012 at 4:56 PM

        And I would have voted for the thousands of people who work in arenas and nearby businesses who face reduced income (from already modest 5-figure salaries) if there is a lockout.

      • hystoracle - Aug 17, 2012 at 10:40 AM

        Nothanks.. That is another good choice.

  10. bcisleman - Aug 16, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    I think it was Lupul who tweeted that the owners had gotten what they wanted last time and were now deciding it wasn’t enough. He added that Bettman was going for the hat trick. That about says it all for me.

  11. sergeikremlin - Aug 16, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    The owners are blinded by money, using their tunnel vision to look at the bottom line and ignoring the fact that another lockout, coming just after record revenues, attendance, TV ratings, Stanley Cups in big US markets like LA, Chicago, & Boston, will hurt the long-term value and growth, and therefore, bottom line that they love so much in this business.

    I for one will accept a lockout if it means the players stand-up and refuse to get pushed around by these dollar-blinded suits. The suits will lose money too. Another lockout will cripple the league more and more the longer it goes. They need to remember it is the customer who pays their bills and fills their bank account, and US is a huge market which will quickly leave hockey behind when NFL season kicks off and Bettman and his millionaire buddies play boardroom battlefield. Many who have been turned into fans over the last 3-5 years may not come back.

    I think the deal should be pretty simple: 50% to the owners, 50% to the players.

  12. Stiller43 - Aug 16, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    Jason, I dont see the poll on this app, but click “players” for me.

  13. ravenscaps48 - Aug 16, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    Players. Hands Down. No Questions Asked!

    • polegojim - Aug 16, 2012 at 4:18 PM

      That’s the problem R… fans don’t ask enough questions.

  14. bruinpred - Aug 16, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    This article implies that the Rangers and Leafs have done a good job running their franchises.

  15. islanders1 - Aug 16, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    Leafs, Rangers and Flyers – owners that have far more invested than owners of small-market teams – subsidize money-losing franchises, some of which are losing money in part because they’re not doing a very good job running their businesses? Isn’t that, like, communism or something?

    They call it Corporate Communism and all these owners love it as they go to the tax payers and ask for new arenas, tax concessions, subsidized lease agreements. The owners know how to play the game get cash from tax payers, players, report losses, write off expenses that would leave you shaking your head. It is all part of the game of having the most cash, toys, and fun! The players should start there own co op league get there own lease agreements from the city’s that paid for the facilities or buy them for .10 on the dollar from owners that lost them to there friendly banker. Negotiate a good TV deal and lower ticket prices.

    OK dreaming but are these owners really going to blow the season! They will lose the new fans that are coming over to the game because it is awesome. TV contract they will be lucky to get ESPN99 to televise a game. You can’t bite the hand that feeds you and the tax payers, players, fans, and TV contracts feed the owners if they lock everyone out the I say lock them out of the game. Take away their subsidies that pay for their airplanes, arena suites, etc etc etc….

  16. pensfan1 - Aug 16, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    I agree with the players. Owners always have divergent agendas and something hidden that players and fans never see or hear. Especially historically it is the owners that get to call the shot (the employers). I am not as concerned as to who actually “wins” as long as there is hockey. In any case least there will still be junior hockey to watch.

    What irks me isn’t players vs owners but that there is no inclusion of “the fan”. It’s one thing to sit back and armchair quarterback how each should divide up a billion dollars. It’s another to consider where that billion is coming from. When does it reach a point when there is too much, no matter where the bucks ultimately land? With no checks and balances on incoming revenue it will keep going up with every CBA and who foots the bill? What if the TV and advertising revenue stagnated? Would the league?

  17. hystoracle - Aug 16, 2012 at 3:30 PM

    In the end as fans, we allow ourselves to be held hostage by a process we have no control over. The reality is we’ll never know how the labor talks are actually doing until either an agreement is reached or the league ceases to operate. My bet is the an agreement happens first. Hopefully with as few games lost as possible (like none)!

  18. crackerjackjoe - Aug 16, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    I would rather talk about my concerns in this process.

    First, at what point do you squeeze the players so much that it becomes more attractive for them to play in other leagues (e.g. KHL)? I love hockey, but I also love seeing the best players in the world on our own stage and when the owners fail to deliver on that, then fans start to fall away.

    Second, why can’t ownership put contraction on the table? Many of the teams who need subsidizing are never going to make the money of the northern teams. Face it, kids generally don’t grow up playing hockey in Phoenix or Miami and you will never develop the love for the sport that you have farther north. If revenue sharing is to enter into the picture, cut away the dead buds and let the rest of the league grow.

    Third, the owners need a new negotiator. I actually wrote to the owner of our team and suggested this after the last debacle. Bettman has zero PR skills and I’m guessing that carries over into the negotiations. We get it. It is a business and the businesses must be profitable to survive. But it is also a sport and you at least must PRETEND to give a damn about the fans. I’m not feeling that from Bettman. I am a fan who spends money at the arena. I am your customer. At least acknowledge my standing in this entire process. Bettman acts as though he could not care less whether there is hockey this winter or not. Very bad form.

    Fourth, there seems to be an absolute unwillingness on the part of owners to negotiate. I read the highlights of the players’ proposal and found that they had given in quite substantially. Bettman’s response on behalf of ownership is simply that there is still a wide gulf between the two groups. I’m not saying that you should play out the negotiations in public, but from the PR standpoint, the players are hands down winning public support. Show us that you are negotiating in good faith on this and give us hope that there will be hockey this year.

    Finally, there has been some written about the overall need to restructure many elements of the league operations. Where is this discussion in all of this? Not just contraction and revenue sharing, but other elements that will continue to help the NHL grow.

    I love this sport and have supported the NHL for a long time, but honestly, another lock out and I will be looking to European leagues for my fix and may not come back to the NHL for a long time. I did it with the NBA back in ’98 and never regained interest in the league. I’m pretty sure there are lots of others who are about as fed up with the NHL silliness as I am right now.

  19. rebekah319 - Aug 16, 2012 at 4:54 PM

    I do not take sides they are both dumb and do not know the meaning of the word compromise! So until otherwised noted if the worse thing happens come the 15th I will not feel bad for either side due to them doing it to themselves!

  20. iaviking - Aug 16, 2012 at 6:12 PM

    Is weber worth 110 mil? Is anybody on the planet worth 110 mil? Of course not. Are the owners idiots for paying that much? Of course they are. No point here, just tired of millionaires complaining.

  21. therealehboy - Aug 16, 2012 at 7:48 PM

    –Take the Nashville Predators, a small-market franchise with a local ownership group that was forced to give Shea Weber a 14-year, $110 million contract lest its captain and best player leave town–

    First, their compensation would have been 4 first rounders for losing Weber, so they had that option.

    Second, this problem would be solved by owner-level revenue sharing. Green Bay is 1/10th the size of Nashville (if that) and yet can afford to pay Aaron Rodgers millions per year because the NFL has a sustainable league-wide revenue model.

  22. awickler - Aug 16, 2012 at 8:45 PM

    the way i see it is it’s the fans that own the players, teams, and league. So why should we have to put up with this bull. i agree with the players the most, who doesnt?? So they all should walk away and play in a different league. Us “real” fans are going to go where the best hockey is played. there is the USHL!

  23. acieu - Aug 16, 2012 at 9:34 PM

    USHL, USHL, USHL!

  24. ironmike778 - Aug 16, 2012 at 9:52 PM

    Players!

  25. firemarshal1 - Aug 16, 2012 at 10:32 PM

    Both sides need to compromise, meet halfway on all items.

  26. swadehoo - Aug 16, 2012 at 11:21 PM

    Mine.

  27. capsrockva - Aug 17, 2012 at 12:31 AM

    definitely the players in this. I also just want the god dam hockey season to start on 10/11

  28. joewilliesshnoz - Aug 17, 2012 at 5:35 AM

    Players, We are one, stay strong union brothers !

  29. bleed4philly - Aug 17, 2012 at 5:54 PM

    Players

  30. mattmc20 - Aug 18, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    Don’t support either, it’s a world of no raises and cutbacks and these idiots fight over who gets the most millions. My cutback for 2012-2013 is the NHL. Sucks because the winter classic is in my backyard.

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