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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Serenity Now!

As I pointed out here yesterday, the Board of Governors were going to sit around and be rich old farts and talk about ways to further disturb the NHL.

Turns out they may actually be getting wise as Tim Wharnsby of the Globe and Mail in Canada tells us.

There is an arena ready to go in Kansas City and one planned for the near
future for Las Vegas. Last week, deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league
hopes to have teams based in Europe in the next 10 years.

But despite the apparent fascination, expansion was not a topic on the
agenda at the NHL board of governors meeting in Toronto yesterday.

I'm faint, my head is spinning with this news - I demand further quotation as proof.

"We like our 30 teams now and we don't feel this an appropriate time to do it,"
commissioner Gary Bettman said. "What the future may hold, I'm not prepared to
predict, but it's not on the agenda."
Well how about that. Do I believe any of this for a minute? Not really - these owners and Bettman are famous for talking out both sides of their mouth. I'm sure there were some enlightening conversations behind the scenes about these cities.

One quote that I was foolish enough to look past but has been brought up in discussion on Kukla's Korner was this from Herr Bettman courtesy of Pierre LeBrun at ESPN:

"At the present time, we're not ready to engage in any sort of expansion
process," Bettman said yesterday. "If that changes -- and it doesn't mean it
will, but it could at some point -- then we'll open it up and see what the
interest is."

Without any prompting, Bettman himself brought up Vegas.

"There were some articles indicating that there's no building deal yet in
Vegas," Bettman said. "We've had expressions of interest from lots of places,
both north and south of the 49 parallel, and at some point we may deal with
them. But not right now."

The NHL will be Vegas one day. You can bet on it.

Is Gary tipping his hand here or what? Then again, I kicked the tires on this happening a while back. While I did speculate that the Kings might be just that team to go to Sin City, Wharnsby's story brought up something that's a bit more worrisome.

What else comes to light, and has come up elsewhere recently, is that the fervor which the NHL gained steam behind the Canadian dollar is slowing up in a very noticable way, especially to the owners who have capitalized greatly on hockey's success in Canada and the "extra money" that has come flowing in thanks to the relative strength of the Loonie compared to the U.S. Dollar.

Mind you, it's not as if the U.S. Dollar is the world beater it was years ago, that's not the case at all - but while the Loonie caught up to our Benjamins, with it went NHL revenues and the salary cap. It begs our attention to keep an eye on what the Loonie will do because that will tell us if the Salary Cap continues to shoot up or leads to chaos in the front offices.

A weakened Canadian dollar against the U.S. Dollar means less money for everyone since Canada is obviously the NHL's cash cow. Shocking, I know. Less money means that teams in trouble like Nashville, Atlanta, and Florida could be looking for greener pastures. Hell, even Calgary could throw its hat in the ring once again if things got bad enough for the Loonie - Calgary was supposedly close to peril before the Canadian dollar leveled out with the U.S. dollar.

While expansion may not have been on the table, I'd bet more than anything Kansas City and Las Vegas were being discussed in great detail about the sweet deals and opportunities that await in these cities (Kansas City especially) and while no one is looking to move right now... things change. And when things change in this situation, these cities might just get to pick and choose from who they'd rather come to fill up their AEG owned arena.

Did you ever get the feeling that while the NHL owners were doing right by the CBA and their own revenues and what the books were saying that they'll still find a way to get caught with their pants down?

Yeah - so do I.

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