this card is mostly red ink.
As if NHL fans haven't been bombarded with enough dollars and cents talk recently, Forbes magazine chose this week to release its annual summary of NHL finances. And while the figures got plenty of attention thanks to some headline-grabbing claims (like the Leafs now being worth $1 billion), they were also roundly criticized.
You might expect the notoriously secretive NHL and its teams to deny the accuracy of the Forbes numbers, especially during a lockout. But even unbiased observers were quick to point out apparent issues in the report. In fact the closer you dig into the numbers, the bigger the problems appear to be.
But why? How could such a well-respected magazine make such a mess of things? I wasn't sure, so I figured I'd go straight to the source. And it turns out that putting together an estimate of the NHL's business is tougher than it looks. According to my spies at Forbes, here's what they say went wrong:
- Although we appreciated the Phoenix Coyotes taking the time to share their in-depth business plan with us, we're still not sure whether or not "waltz into Glendale city council, give them all wedgies, and take their lunch money" counts as hockey-related revenue.
- We couldn't get a detailed answer about Winnipeg's revenue forecasts, because every time a Jets executive would start to answer a question Jeremy Jacobs would yell "Silence, peon!" and hit him over the head with a folding chair.
- While we did manage to get hold of an internal spreadsheet detailing all of the Toronto Maple Leafs future revenue projections, we couldn't figure out what all those sideways 8's mean.
- We tried to reach out to the Vancouver Canucks front office about their finances, but apparently it takes those guys six months just to make a simple decision about their net assets.
- We wanted to gather opinions from key stakeholders around the league, but as soon as you ask an NHL owner for his two cents about something he immediately starts crying about you giving 24% of it right back.
- We went back and found all these articles from past years with quotes from Gary Bettman about how his southern market strategy was really well thought-out and successful, but whenever we tried to call up the Atlanta Thashers for a comment we just got their voicemail.
- Everyone knows that taking part in government-sponsored gambling games is a poor financial long-term strategy, so we're not sure why the Oilers kept telling us their entire plan is just "win the lottery every single year".
- We were able to find one member of the Detroit Red Wings organization who thought it was a great idea for the team so sit by quietly while less-successful teams forced a third extended lockout in a generation, but it was hard to hear what he was saying from inside that purple Teletubbie costume.
- Every time we asked one of the Florida-based teams how much profit they made, they just stared at us like they'd never heard that word before.
- Suddenly realized that Gary Bettman has created league where 25 teams can finish over .500 every year, so he's obviously way better at advanced theoretical mathematics than we'll ever be.
- Our leaked copies of the Calgary Flames 2012013 budget included a line for "playoff revenue" and then we all just laughed and laughed.
- We'd heard Bill Daly say that the NHL is the only side making concessions during this lockout and immediately realized we were no longer living in a world where the concept of objective truth had any actual meaning, which made this whole thing feel pretty futile.
- In hindsight, maybe shouldn't have spent so much time tweeting Sarah Silverman.
- We tried to run some calculations using common-sense projections for the NHL's post-lockout popularity, but it turns out you actually can't divide by that particular number.
Pat Quinn Patented strategy: Would keep the mood light at practice by having underperforming players take part in a fun drill called "Why don't you skate towards me as fast as you can and we'll pretend you're Bobby Orr."
From The ten greatest coaches in NHL history, one of 24 chapters of brand new material available exclusively in The Best of Down Goes Brown.Buy today: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Kindle | Barnes & Noble | Nook | Chapters/Indigo | Kobo | iBooks