In 2004, Gary Bettman tried to sell fans on the idea that a new economic system – a hard salary cap – would result in lower ticket prices.
Economics 101 be damned.
At least this time around, the NHL isn’t pretending that the impending 2012 NHL lockout will benefit the fans. There are no false promises of cuts in ticket prices 21 million fans have willingly paid in each of the last 7 seasons since the lockout. Hell, despite a third lockout in 18 years, they’re not even worried about losing fans.
No, this one is all about the money.
Bettman already admitted this when he said, “We’re paying too much in salaries.”
This is about as simple a negotiating position as the league can take.
It’s why Bettman thinks that revenue sharing is a distraction. The league has little interest in helping lower-revenue teams much more than they do now.
It’s why Bettman only references the NFL and NBA in terms of their players’ salaries as a percentage share of revenues, not in how both leagues provide real support to help stabilize their weaker market teams.
It’s why the owners want to redefine hockey-related revenue (HRR) so they keep more of the money they make.
It’s why the other issues like the player’s participation in the Olympics and player safety don’t matter as much.
It’s not about the fans or about ensuring 30 healthy franchises.
Even though they handed out some of most ridiculously-expensive contracts in this off-season, all that matters to Bettman and the NHL in a new CBA is that they pay players less.
Nothing else matters.