The NHL Is Just Another Business

Jared Wickerham

With pretty much nothing new on the CBA front over the past week, and even less going on with the Sabres, lets take a step back and look at the big picture of this mess they call a lockout.

We, as fans, see the NHL as entertainment but on whole different level than the usual classifications of entertainment like movies and music. There is passion with sports that you don't normally see in those more traditional forms. Perhaps it's the attachment we feel to a team, the competition that draws us to become borderline obsessed with the game, or something else all together. It's something different that's hard to categorize, but when it comes right down to it, the NHL is simply a product and we're their customers.

That's right, it's no different in the eyes of the owners than a product you'd buy off the store shelf. NHL owners are businessmen, good businessmen at that as how else would they have earned enough to be able to afford a sports team? We like to think, and I do honestly believe, that the majority of owners are in it more for the passion of the game than the money (after all, don't they have enough elsewhere?). We're lucky to have an owner like Pegula who generally seems to care about this team in a passionate way.

Owners like the Pegulas of the league more than likely want nothing more than to see pucks drop in their arenas. Not only because they are passionate about the game but also they're lucky enough to make money off of it. When the players are locked out that positive cash-flow becomes negative.

That's all well and good except not all teams make money even when the puck is on the ice. Some lose enough money to the point where the owners of those teams would rather not see the season played in order to get an agreement with the players that may change their balance sheet from red to black. Those are the owners rumored to be holding up this process. Is that right? Not in my eyes as a fan, but in the eyes of the business men, it probably is. I hate that that's true.

Lets look at the players now. These are guys who have dreamed all their lives of getting to this level and worked hard to achieve that dream. Most of us would give our left nut to be given the opportunity they have earned. However, if we look at this in the business world again, these players we idolize are simply employees of a multi-billion dollar company.

I'm sure the last time you received a job offer you negotiated your salary to get the most you could. That's essentially what the players are doing here. They want to make sure they are compensated for the job they're doing, one they've worked hard at, sacrificed for, and are in the elite 99.9% of the population when it comes to getting pucks in or keeping pucks out of a net.

So yeah, this might be a bit of a cynical look at the league as a whole, and probably simplified a bit too much, but when you boil it down and look at it from above, the NHL is simply a business, the players are the employees, and we are their customers. Unfortunately, this business seems to worry more about itself then its customers. Perhaps that's because it knows that whenever their product is available again, we'll be all over it. After all, it's a rare business that has such obsessive customers. Until that time comes when hockey returns, we'll spend our days hoping something happens and that there is a season. Maybe the Christmas spirit will bring one side to their senses, and they'll realize that their obsessive customers deserve a product.

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