Forbes magazine did a financial breakdown that has largely gone unnoticed in discussions about the NHL lockout. The Forbes article claims that only three teams are making real money; the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens are making a combined $171 million in profits. If you add the next two teams to the mix, the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks, that total increases to 212 million. The other 25 teams are losing $86 Million dollars and that includes 22 U.S. teams. The article makes interesting comparisons to the other three major leagues.
No matter what your feeling is on this lockout, this has to be the central issue for the NHL owners. Whether the answer is cutting player salaries, raising profit sharing or both, NHL owners are businessmen who want to make money.
The owners’ philosophy is to cut costs and maximize profits. They have raised ticket prices almost 40 percent since the last lockout and hot dogs are also not cheap in an NHL arena. The NHL is bringing in a over a billion more dollars than the pre-lockout with big paydays down the road possible between television, advertising and the Winter Classic.
I believe that owning a professional sports team is the ultimate sign of a fantasy life, and for most owners, that means winning at all costs. I have no sympathy for billionaires losing money in a system they created. If sports were a regular business, the owner’s position that they didn’t want to lose money would be defendable. However, since this is just an expensive hobby for most owners who refuse to lower their costs by not signing marginal players to ridiculous contracts, they should not deny the game to the fans who directly and indirectly provide their sport’s revenue.