Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Blah Blah, Buttman, Blah!

by Jes

The Canadian Press recently had an interview with Der Kommissar, Count Gary Bettman.

Let's read in between the lines, shall we?

On crappy ratings in the USA:
"Our TV at the local level is strong - both in Canada and in the United States," said Bettman. "And the U.S. (national TV) is something that will continue to require our attention and work but we like our partnerships and our relationships with NBC and Versus. ... But that's only one metric. If you look at attendance, if you look at the digital space and people who are connecting to us on NHL.com and the club websites, if you look at what we're doing through technology and streaming - all the vital signs are good.

"The metric where we happen to get the most criticism happens to be the metric that is declining over time in importance."

Declining in time?

While it may not matter to the owner of the Nashville Predators that some schmuck in Eugene, Oregon, isn't watching the games, but it certainly is important.

The sport, overall, makes more money if its popular outside of the actual markets. The NFL? The MLB? They have fans all across the country, and they rake in big bucks because of it. While attendance may or may not be strong, the low national ratings are a great indicator that the game means very little outside of the markets, and the NHL isn't cashing in on a large portion of the American audience.

Bettman's flippant dismissal of national TV ratings is disturbing.

On the NHL playing games in Europe:

"This is a good opportunity to dip our toe in the water," Bettman said. "A third of our players come from outside of North America and the hockey fans in those countries like to follow their players."

Translation: Expect more of these games.

On NHL expansion to Europe:

" It's nothing we're planning on, but by the same token I'll never say never," Bettman said. "There are many, many, many things that we have to do and have to happen before we can consider it. And there are logistical issues.

"There are arena issues, there are travel issues, and also there is the existing infrastructure of hockey particularly in Europe and we need to be respectful of all of those considerations."

Translation: There is no way in hell it'll happen in my lifetime. The NHL owners won't allow it, and it's too much of a hassle.

On salaries:

"The average payroll with a $50.3-million cap is $42.3 million," said Bettman. "So that at the end of the year, on average, our teams will have spent $42.3 million - not $50 million."

Bettman continues by pointing back to the 2001-02 season, when the average team payroll was also $42.3 million.

"At the time our revenues were $1.875 billion," he said. "This year the average team payroll - with the $50.3-million cap - will be $42.3 million on revenues of about $2.4 billion. ...

OK, so we're back to square one, except the owners make more money?

Couldn't the owners have increased revenues without missing a whole year of hockey? If GM's and owners were prudent, they could have kept their costs at the same level and worked on improving revenues WITHOUT MISSING A SEASON.

Sorry, Buttman, but we see salaries escalating back to where they were before, and will only continue to get worse.

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