Thursday, May 7, 2009

Buttman vs. Silly Balls

Okay...I confess, I just don't get it. The Phoenix Coyotes have lost between 200-300 million dollars, depending on who you believe. The owner has decided he can't go on losing that much money and declared bankruptcy. A buyer has come forward. He's willing to pony up enough cash to satisfy all the franchise's creditors, the only caveat to his taking on this cash drain being that he'll move it to a place where it will actually start making money instead of losing it.

So far, the story makes sense, right? Now though, Gary Bettman is arguing Jerry Moyes didn't have the right to file for chapter eleven bankruptcy protection because the NHL has actually been running the team since Februrary. Bettman wants to shove Moyes out of the way and sell to a buyer the Commish had been negotiating with before all this broke...a buyer who'd pay about fifty to seventy million bucks less for the team. I guess that means the NHL would be on the hook for the rest of the money owed to creditors, which Jim Balsillie would pay if he were to buy the team. And in this case "the NHL" is really the other teams in the league.

This is where I don't get it. Who loses if Balsillie buys the Coyotes and moves them to Canada? Bettman says the fans in Phoenix will. But they're not plentiful or dedicated enough to keep the team afloat so I'm not buying that argument.

The other owners are more likely to lose if the Coyotes stay in Phoenix. As long as the team is there, the strong teams like the Habs must continue to support it financially. There's an argument that if the team moves to Canada, it will generate more revenue and contribute to the overall league revenue pool that determines the salary cap. That means the cap will go up and cause undue hardship for weaker owners. I think that's BS because we're looking at a pending drop in the cap in this poor economic climate anyway. A new Canadian team will only offset some of the losses, not make up for the general downturn the league is experiencing.

The players will benefit if the Yotes move north. Another strong team makes a strong league and will support a healthy salary cap. Players say they prefer to play in good hockey cities, and a new Canadian franchise would certainly qualify.

I just don't get why happy owners, happy players and a happy Canadian public is a bad thing. Bettman's insistence on pushing to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix is stubborn, shortsighted and bad for business. He's ruining hockey and he disgusts me.


punkster said...

And he's vertically challenged, which may explain all his arrogance.

Aside from that I think it's a simple power struggle. Mini Gary is the omnipotent representative of the all powerful owners of a huge business called the NHL. They make the rules and to gain access to their inner sanctum any buyer must play by their rules no matter how dumbass those rules may be.

Really though, I don't get it either. How stupid are these guys?

Woodvid said...

I think I do understand this. The Coyotes have a good group of young players who could start winning in a few years, and start bringing in the crowds. I think bettman is banking on this, though it remains to be seen if it'll come to pass. Secondly, and probably more importantly, there's a lot more money to be made by the NHL in auctioning off an expansion franchise up in Southern Ontario. They'll probably bring in three hundred million for that, or more. That's way more than the 212 million or so that they'd make by selling Phoenix, and would work out especially well of everyone if Phoenix can turn things around like they hope.

I'd love to see Phoenix move north; at the same time, as an Expos fan, I have to (grudgingly admit that) I'm kind of impressed that the commish is standing by his market, unlike Bud Selig who totally stuck it to Montreal baseball fans.

AndyF said...

Actually, Buffalo would lose if Hamilton got a team. That doesn't mean Balsili shouldn't buy the Coyotes, though. Just sayin'...

Unknown said...

The Leafs, Sabres and Wings would all lose with a 2nd team in Ontario.

That's why it's not the slam dunk it should be.

Gary doesn't give a rat's ass about Phoenix fans, or any fans for that matter... it's just business.
That's just his PR spin.

J.T. said...

I'm not sure I buy the argument that the leafs and Sabres would suffer with a new team in Ontario. Those teams have been around long enough to build up their own fanbases, and I just can't see loyal Sabres or leafs fans abandoning them for some new team. I see a lot of the fans of a new team in Ontario being hockey fans in general, who would go to a game if it's convenient, but who wouldn't necessarily drive to Buffalo or TO to do so. People who would take their kids to games if the arena is close to home. Also, you'd think the waiting list for season tickets in TO would be an indication that there are lots of people who would like to go to games if there was an opportunity for that.