Saturday, November 17, 2012

O Canada

Can we talk about hockey again? I wrote about the dysfunctional family that is the NHL several weeks back, stunned that another season would be truncated or even lost by millionaire players squabbling with billionaire owners.

You remember hockey, America’s fourth major sport. But since the election when pot and gay marriage both won in the polls, aren’t we now, as Bill Maher says, “Canada with Nukes”? If so, hockey should be our passion and somehow we grownups should be able to stop these spoiled brats from destroying themselves.

That’s particularly true for those of us in Philadelphia, where the Phillies finished a disappointing season, and the Eagles and Sixers are pathetic. We need the Flyboys back on the ice contending for Lord Stanley’s vaunted cup.

The hope is that Flyers owner Ed Snider, who also is one of the principals in mega media giant Comcast, will abandon his support of NHL Commissioner Bettman and force an end to the lockout.  The Flyers, valued by Forbes at just under $300 million, are one of the most well run and most valuable franchises in all of sports. They have a passionate fan base and, in turn, seem the most civic minded and media savvy of Philly’s four sports teams.

It doesn’t take an economics genius to know what’s wrong with the NHL; it has too many failing teams and it’s easy to figure out who they are and what must happen to them.  The ten most valuable teams, other than Philadelphia, are Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Montreal, New York and Toronto: the original six NHL franchises. Pittsburgh and Los Angeles, who along with the Flyers were in the first wave of expansion in the NHL, are also valuable and successful franchises.

Who are among the least valuable?  The Tampa Bay Lightning, Carolina Hurricanes, Nashville Predators, Florida Panthers, Columbus Blue Jackets and Phoenix Coyotes. Really, how many of you actually knew these were all professional sports teams?

Failing businesses should be allowed to fail without dragging down the successful teams and high jacking the sport.  The NHL is the best argument against the position of the NFL in Clarett and American Needlethat sports leagues are single enterprises. Each team is a creature of its own making and, unfortunately, its own demise.