17 Dec

No End To NHL Lockout In Sight

Posted in News on 17.12.12 by John Meloche

Christmas is just eight days away! And for many Canadians, the return of NHL hockey is way up on their wish lists. With no end to the current lockout in sight, however, it would appear as if the season is doomed. Naturally, this angers many a hockey fan throughout Canada. But is the same feeling prevalent throughout the United States?

In yesterday’s edition of The Toronto Star, business reporter Morgan Campbell suggested that moving more teams into Canada may help the league. He writes that the NHL’s 12 money-losing teams are based in the United States. When Winnipeg welcomed back NHL hockey last year, they boosted the former Atlanta Thrashers from $135 million to $200 million in value.

Campbell does note, however, that although it has been proven that Canada supports their hockey teams, there are not enough NHL-sized markets in the nation to support the number of teams that are losing money. The lockout, he points out “revolves around propping up money-bleeding franchises in U.S. markets.”

So what to do? According to Campbell, experts don’t believe that the NHL’s bottom line will improve simply by moving more teams into Canada. Says economist Glenn Hodgson of the Conference Board of Canada: “You could take the three weakest teams in the league and drop them in Canada, but you still have a third of the league that’s not breaking even.”

Nevertheless, the weak U.S. markets for NHL teams are among the league’s most pressing issues. “It’s so annoying,” lamented one of our Synergy staff members, “We’re dying for hockey up here and so many people south of the border couldn’t seem to care less. Meanwhile, it seems like it’s those markets that are holding up the season from even happening.”

Drew Dorweiler of Dartmouth Partners would agree. “Some of these teams are just not viable in Sun Belt markets,” he said, “There are other areas waiting that are demographically much more appealing to hockey. The franchise could be significantly more valuable and more profitable in these other markets.” But what other markets in Canada could support NHL hockey?

Campbell writes that Quebec City has long been trying to secure the return of an NHL team. The proof lies in the construction of a new $400 million arena that is being built. There has even been talk of Toronto becoming home to a second team, although it would be very unlikely in the Maple Leafs-crazed city. So what is next for the NHL?

“Hopefully an end to this lockout,” exclaimed our rep, “No matter how you look at it, everyone loses when no hockey is played. The league isn’t making any money and the lack of games sure isn’t going to boost any interest in those U.S. markets that are already struggling. This is something they have to figure out really soon. It’s not fair to the fans.”

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