How to Lose 1 Billion Dollars

I’ve never lost a billion dollars.

It’s not easy to lose a billion dollars. It’s even harder for an individual to lose $1,000,000,000.00

Sure, there have been moves made by individuals that have cost more than a billion in stockmarket value, but how many canactually stand up and shout to the world that they let aBILLION DOLLARS in cash disappear into thin air?

I couldn’tname one off the top of my head that has lost cash money of 1 billion dollars or more, until today.

Congratulations Bob Goodenow, President of the NHL Players Association. You turned down 30 teams paying what would probably average out to 35mm dollars in salary per team for this year. That’s more than $ 1,000,000,000.00 in cash that would have been paid to NHL players this year.

That’s 1 Billion dollars that NHL players will never, ever, ever collect. Because of you. That puts you in rarified air. All you had to do was come off your high and mighty no salary cap horse in July rather than February

What’s ironic is that aBillion dollars is more than NHL teams will earn collectively over the next 25 years, under any deal.

The good news is that the NHL stuck toits guns. A strong financial foundation will make the league more viable in the short and long term. That will benefit NHL players far more than anything the NHLPA has done. Why was it so tough for Goodenow to realize that businesses that are at least breaking even can pay more money to more employees than businesses that are losing money?

In spite of Goodenow, the NHLs strength of conviction means that kids around the worldwho are putting their heartsand souls into hockey with dreams of playing in the NHL can rest easy. The NHL didn’t cave. They will survive.

People think the milestone to come out of this lockout was the first cancellation of a season. It wasn’t. That was a breakthrough.

The milestone was that Bob Goodenow joined a very exclusive club of people who have lost a billion dollars. Cash. That would have belonged to guys he probably calls his friends. Or at least used to.

Here’s hoping that the NHL players realize just how badly he abusedthem and make a quick change to save some of that money he lost for them.

I’m re-upping my Dallas Stars season tickets and if it comes to it, I will enjoy watching replacement players as much at the American Airlines Center as I did watching the Cowboys with replacement players in Texas Stadium.

Let’s hope it doesn’t come tothat andthe players realize that they should be the ones working and getting paid, not Bob Goodenow

73 thoughts on “How to Lose 1 Billion Dollars

  1. The players need to get over themselves. The lockout was getting almost no publicity in the national media until the season was cancelled. They have a revenue-sharing TV contract. Those players can learn to get by with Mazdas instead of Mercedes, and they should, because I and many like me are fed up, and will never shell out another dollar to an NHL team or arena ever again.

    Everything I loved about the game is gone. Players were tough, they played hurt, they settled their differences like manly men. There are too many cheap shots and hangnail injuries today (and too many freaking teams, and yes I know Columbus would not have a team if that were otherwise). I blame the league and the owners for that. I will blame the players for the lockout until they give me reason to think otherwise. They have not made an effort to explain why there should be no cap.

    Comment by Josh, Columbus, OH -

  2. Mark – You are dreaming.

    Any organization that mismanages their expenses to the point where a 27% salary cut is needed cannot blame their employee union.

    Atleast you didnt overpay Nash 🙂

    Comment by Brad G -

  3. Isn’t the NBA’s contract up at the end of this season??? We shall see if the crafty little Mr. Stern and the mega rich NBA owners don’t try to pad their pockets with some more cash…Hmmm.

    Comment by T.P. -

  4. well you may not have lost a billion mark, but you lost a few when you took on calvin booth’s contract. i like cal he always has seemed to be a good guy, but he makes a ton of money to sit on the end of the bench and only average 8 minutes a game. i guess he is worth the salary because he got it…if he wasnt worth it he wouldnt get it. but bad business deicisions happen everyday even by heroes like you

    Comment by cosmo -

  5. Well said. I wondered what your take was going to be on this. How much is too much for doing something that you love and dreamed about doing all of your life, and on top of that, getting paid for it?

    I think that there should be a maximum salary that any one single player could make. Everything above and beyond this salary should be based on performance and team incentives. Playing for a pro sports team is a JOB and should be treated as such. If players do not like it, tough sh–. Maybe they should go get a job doing something else making more money. Get what I am saying here? Many of the people who play professional sports would have little to nothing compared to what they have now if there were no sports. Let’s not forget where you came from guys…

    It is not the players who are suffering, it is the fans. It is the fans who make the players successful. It is the fans who will remember next season everything that happened this season. It is the fans that have to pay a small fortune to take their families to the games, assuming that they can even afford to at all. It is the fans who pay six bucks for a beer at these games so the players can have more.

    On the other side of the coin, it is the fans who are ultimately to blame for this situation. The fans are the ones who keep paying more and more. The more they pay, the more the players want. The fans are the ones who ultimately have control whether they realize it or not.

    It would be great if the fans could rise up and organize a “fans union” based on PSL license and season ticket holders. Maybe if the fans went on strike, there would be more cooperation. Somewhat unrealistic, but an interesting thought.

    I am glad that this happened to hockey. Maybe other professional sports that I actually do care about can analyze and learn from from this situation. I think that hockey will take a big hit for the next few years. People tend to lose interest when things like this happen.

    Bring in the “SCAB” teams next year if it does not get worked out. I think that Pro Football would have had a lot more problems if they had not done it years ago. I would rather watch players that are playing because it is their dream and passion, not because they are getting payed a lot of money to do so. Hell, with scab teams in place, I just might start watching hockey again!

    Congratulations, Mr Goodenow, for joining the select few in the “I lost a bilion club”. There is some good in this one, and I am with Mark on this. You have created a long awaited breakthrough in professional sports.


    Comment by Shoe -

  6. Mark, let me preface my comments by saying I agree 100% with your thoughts on the NHL situation. In fact, I believe Bettman NEVER wanted the players to agree, because it is an exellent opportunity to break a union.With the NBAs cba beginning to be negotiated today ,might we interpret your sentiments as a proverbial “warning shot”?

    Comment by Pete Silver -

  7. Well I thought I had seen it all. Bob Goodenow takes the top spot of the ID10T of the Day.

    Losing a Billion dollars has got to leave a nasty taste in your mouth. He should quit his day job and go back to playing The SIMS NHL

    Comment by Howard Hoy -

  8. Gee, I am so shocked that a sports franchise owner would blame players for the NHL mess! I’m almost speechless! But not quite so I’ll tell you Mark, that you ought to consider your natural bias before making posts like this one. Why not come over to SportsFilter ( and respond to our discussion?

    Comment by BillSaysThis -

  9. Surprisingly, Mark is an owner who sides with the owners!:)

    Aside from Goodenow leaving that money on the table, he should be fired for not being prepared. Bettman had all his ducks in a row from day one. Goodenow looked like a confused child at times without anwers. He never responded solidly to Bettman’s claims about the NHLPA not wanting to see the NHL books and not knowing the economic relaities of the sport. That is just one example. I work in PR and have to say that Bettman out PR-ed Goodenow handily. That makes a huge difference in how this situation is being perceived and presented by the media.

    The main problem I have with Bettman is that he never owns up to the fact that the league is in the financial trouble it is because of him, the owners, their greed and expansion. The league needed a fix and the wounds were self-inflicted. Don’t want to go too long on a blog response, but that fact is critical to the situation. Bettman blames the escalating salaries – find a mirror. In the end, if they fix the financial balance of the league and get it done right, then I guess this is for the best. Tell that to the concession workers and guy who owns a bar across the street from an NHL arena…

    Comment by Tom -

  10. I disagree. While the players are responsible for their share of this impasse, the owners desrve the much larger share. Their greed expanded the league beyond the available base of support, and now they want to regain economic sanity by capping salaries. The owners could simply stop offering so much for players, but they don’t trust themselves to be reasonable.

    If the players lost a billion, how much revenue did the owners surrender by cancelling the season? I have a hard time buying thei cries about losing money when their books are closed to inspection.

    Comment by Eugene Wallingford -

  11. What salary did Goodenow pull in this year? I’m willing to bet that the fees the players pay to the NHLPA didn’t go away.

    Comment by PSC -

  12. I couldn’t agree more that Goodenow should take an economics or accounting class. Being from a hockey town (Buffalo), I can see the depressing effect of not having a season. Luckily for us, there is basketball. Perhaps the mavs and NBA should show market to the disgruntled hockey fans. They wont have anything to watch and may give basketball a shot.
    A Wake Forest Alum like me has no problem watching basketball over hockey (esp with J. Howard putting up 30pts!), but there alot of people who’ve never really given basketball that much attention in hockey towns that could now be won over by the NBA.

    By the way Mark, I know you don’t have a TV show airing at present, but I liked listening to your weekly bit with Shredd & Ragan on 103.3 here in Buffalo this past fall. Hope to hear you there again soon.

    Comment by Stephen -

  13. I have mixed feelings about this. I’m a long time hockey fan and lament the loss of the season and worry about the long term damage to the already small fan base.

    At the same time salaries have spiraled ever higher without revenue increases to pay for them. Who should we blame? The players for wanting the most they can get or the owners for paying it? Both Bettman and Goodenow need to go for the good of the sport.

    All sports pay too much with basketball leading the way. If you cannot live on 2mil a year something is wrong.

    Comment by Kevin Stone -

  14. The fact is, I love hockey. Not as much as I love NBA basketball, but I’m saddened by the fact that there will not be another Stanley Cup coming to Detroit this year. It’s good to see the NHL try to cap some of the ridiculous salaries that pro athletes make, but oddly, the NHL players abuse their bodies more that in any other sport I see, and they get paid less.

    On a side note, Mark, I watched a recent game between the Mavs and the Heat, where you went into Miami and rallied late in the game (OT) to come back for the W. I enjoyed your reaction, standing on the floor acting like you just hit the biggest Powerball jackpot in history. It’s refreshing to see an owner down on the floor, in common clothes, cheering the team on. I also noticed that you shook hands with the Heat owners, we rarely see that on TV.

    I’ll bet you’re wishing you still had Nash right about now…

    Comment by Troy Overton -

  15. Nice and so true and i’m not even a hockey fan, but why would the players leave that money on the table. What is the average NHL salary? Is there more “regular” guys then there are superstars? These regular guys be the first to cross the picket line to get a regular paycheck, even if it means playing for $500,000 a year; thats better then the 50,000 payroll then they will get anywhere else, assuming they can even get a job starting at 50k.

    Comment by Luis -

  16. Even though I was born in Canada, I just don’t care one fractured stick splinter about hockey. Give me an NBA game any day, thanks. So, maybe that 1 Billion in ephemeral dollars can find a home somewhere else. Or not. I just don’t care.

    Comment by Seth Anderson -

  17. Amen, Mark.

    Just look at Mike Modano. He would have earned about $4.5 million this year after taxes. Invested over 20 years at a conservative rate of 6%, his nest egg would be about $14.4 million dollars larger.

    Now, he will never get that money back.

    I’m glad Bob Goodenow isn’t the fiduciary of my retirement account.

    Comment by Scott -

  18. i wish i have 1 billion $$$

    Comment by Windows registry tips -

  19. Switching all contracts to single year has big issues because teams spend a lot of money promoting players and building up a team image. There would have to be an ability to have a few longer term contracts for “franchise players”.

    Comment by runescape money -

  20. Your league has problems when the salary ranges are from $11mm to $67mm. There needs to be more competitive balance, which means the owner’s need to share money more evenly (which it appears they don’t want to do).

    Comment by wow powerleveling -

  21. I can’t belive this situations has been happened !

    Comment by raul -

  22. Well I certainly respect your opinion on the NHL situation I’d have to disagree with who is at fault with this whole situation. While the current system needs to be fixed so that the NHL has a better system in place in order for all the teams to be competitive, the NHL owners continued to pay out retarded contracts to players who were not worth the money. Bobby Holik? 40 million over 5 years. Garbage. Bill Guerin had the same contract. Disgusting. Usually agree with your posts but you are way off base on this one Mark. BTW keep paying those ridiculous Luxury tax payments for being over the cap and ull have wasted (no titles) a billion dollars before you know it.

    Comment by Jeff Burns -

  23. I will have to say my winter has been most unenjoyable due to the lack of NHL hockey on TV, except for the NHL hockey games my brother and roommate play on the PS2. Thank those southern boys for NASCAR!

    Comment by Jason Stephan (Peoria Rugby) -

  24. Personally, I can’t believe the season was lost and the cap difference was only 2.5 million in the end. I am a huge Hockey fan (even more so than the NBA!) and this has been devastating. When the season was first cancelled, and the difference was 6 million, I still couldn’t believe it. From a fan who can’t imagine even having 1 mil, the fact that my favorite sport was cancelled because of 2.5 million dollars is stunning and insulting. I realize you are probably going to side with owners, even though they created the situation by paying 3rd and 4th line players millions of dollars, but don’t you think when they got within 2.5 million dollars that the fans should have been considered somewhere?

    Comment by Kim Ranocchia -

  25. Good stuff guys! I am still out of town, still hearing about this, all the way down south in Cabo, Mex, where my sister lives. Hope it all works out as I am a sports fan and have to watch international sports on satellite instead of Modano and the Stars on regular USA television. Bye!

    Comment by Russ "JFK" Vandeveerdonk -

  26. I just don’t understand this whole NHL issue. Shouldn’t they reach some type of agreement. The only people they are really hurting is those people that work for the NHL team(ex: accountants etc…) These people have families and depend on the income provided from these jobs. They do not have millions to fall back on….


    Comment by Child Safety Information -

  27. It’s funny to me that Goodenow is taking the blast. Mark, be very, very, very glad that you don’t have a numbnuts like Bettmann running your league. Under his leadership, interest in Hockey has waned to the point, that total regular season US TV viewership is roughly equivalent to the population of Plano, Texas, and this retarded ownership lockout isn’t going to help anything.

    There is a financial problem in Hockey, but let’s be clear about the source of the problem. Management and ownership signs off on every contract issued and nothing prevents them from setting a budget at 40%, 50% or 60% of revenues. It may be that teams can’t get any player they want if they are on a budget, but that is just tough. Other non-monopolistic businesses understand controlling costs, I don’t see why the idiot Hockey owners can’t figure out things like budgets.

    Even a salary cap does not fix hockey. The only thing that will fix hockey is having some guy in charge of the league who loves the league and can sell the league. That man is clearly not Bettman.

    Comment by Dan Cahill -

  28. As a Chicago Blackhawks fan, I am used to the skinflint ways of NHL ownership. “Dollar” Bill, the owner of the Hawks, even refuses to have them shown on TV when they are playing a home game. He thinks that if you want to see them, you will go to the United Center and pay.
    According to my estimates, Chicago has more people than the UC can house, but cheapness prevails for “Dollar” Bill. So continue to haggle over money NHL, and I will continue to look at the NBA, AFL, AHL, NASCAR, and even the PBA while you continue to do nothing.

    Comment by Henry -

  29. Actually its a lot more than a Billion when you count network and add revenues
    I wonder what the ratio of $$ lost/saved for the team owners

    Comment by Bobby Orbach -

  30. Mark – You are dreaming.

    Any organization that mismanages their expenses to the point where a 27% salary cut is needed cannot blame their employee union.

    Atleast you didnt overpay Nash 🙂

    Comment by Brad G -

  31. The single best commentary I have read yet on the NHL situation.

    As a hockey fan, I would endorse Mark Cuban for NHL commissioner… except, as a basketball fan, I think you might make NBA commissioner first! Either way, the sport you govern would be in great shape.

    Comment by Trevor -

  32. It’s a shame, I didn’t realize how much I missed hockey until now. Oh well at least my college still has some free games I can go watch.


    Comment by Derrick Pizur -

  33. Fist off to Balasz, even though it’s a lockout, it doesn’t mean that the owners “aren’t honoring a contract.” That’s stupid. The contract has expired and neither side can agree upon a new one.

    Second, the league needs a viable economic system. Period. A system with no limits, player holdouts, always favorable arbitration, and no adjustment for poor performance isn’t a very good one. That’s why the owners didn’t want a new CBA that looks just like the old one. Owners need self-control? Puh-leeze! Owners *COMPETE* with each other by trying to acquire players with every spare dime they have. Revenue sharing doesn’t create parity because the wealthy teams don’t need it and the poor teams won’t get as much of it as the need.

    I hope a lot of NHL careers end during this lockout without the glory and joy of players playing their final game at home and knowing it when it happens. I hope the bad negotiation decisions that the NHLPA has made will fester and turn foul in the collective stomachs of the players who have held out for more money in the past, sometimes at the expense of the whole team, and the whole season (can you hear me Nabokov and Stuart? Wonder whose fault it is that your team tanked, two best players left, and coach and GM were fired?)

    I hope we get replacement players and none of the NHL’ers ever come back. The sport will thrive and we’ll be back to great hockey in a few short years as the draft brings us the superstars (hopefully without the super-egos) of tomorrow.

    Millionaires need a union like a hole in the head. Who would protect these guys interests if it wasn’t for the NHLPA? There’s no such thing as a $500,000 a year scab. If you have the opportunity to make that kind of money, take it or you’re a fool.

    Comment by Rich Colbert -

  34. Mike- It is not up to Goodenow to put anything to a vote, that is on the PA executive committee headed by Trevor Linden. If you are going to blame someone for it, at least blame the right person.

    Secondly, couldn’t you say the same for the owners? By cancelling this season they have passed on over $2 billion in revenues this season. On top of that, the NHL is the owners enterprise not the players’. There will always be hockey and the best players in the world will always have a place to play. On the other hand, these owners have made a hug investment by buying into the NHL and by cancelling a season they are doing great harm to that investment. The owners are losing just as much in this as the players are.

    Comment by Chris -

  35. It sure is sad when one side is more interested in the fight than they are in coming to a reasonable settlement for all sides involved.

    Isn’t that the same theory the Taliban use? Do as much damage to the other side as possible even if it means blowing up the same planet we’re all living on in the process.

    Goodenow was willing to take the entire planet known as pro hockey as long as he won. Smart thinking. You want fries with that?

    Goodenow must be really good at mixing Kool-Aid.

    Comment by Ian Dudgeon -

  36. Those of you who thinks he’s blaming the union for the problem – read what he wrote again. The fact of the matter is that this isn’t about who’s to blame. The damage is done, and as in all businesses the workers will pay when management screw up. In this case, Goodenow has not helped soften the blow for his union members one bit. The only thing he has done is to flush a billion dollars down the drain and significantly lowering their possibility of making any of those dollars back the next 5 years. This is what he is blaming Goodenow for, not the lock-out or why the NHL is in finincial trouble.

    Comment by Kallio Ankka -

  37. Gotta say it seems preposterous that these guys couldn’t figure out how to share $2.2 billion in total revenues (using 03-04 data). Players ought to be getting rich while owners ought to be making pleasant annual profits.

    My daughter’s 4th grade class could probably figure out an equitable distribution over lunch one day. I’d say my 2nd grader’s class could do it, but I’m not sure they have the math skills yet.

    Comment by Kevin Broom -

  38. I read the headline and thought this was going to be an article about Donald Trump…silly me…

    Comment by AH -

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    Comment by adm -

  40. I’m so glad that we have an ECHL team in my town. The franchise (the Las Vegas Wranglers) treat their fans like class.

    Maybe NHL teams have higher expenses than NBA teams, but I can’t help but notice the cheapest ticket to a Mavs game is $15…the same seat for a Stars game is $26. Eh….

    Comment by Matt from Vegas -

  41. Every NHL player should read this and cry.

    Comment by Randy Charles Morin -

  42. Mike –

    Goodenow has not put a single proposal to the Players for a vote. Not. A. Single. Proposal. And not a single vote. In fact, no NHLPA rep period has put a SINGLE offer or proposal to vote… and (and this is according to the players themselves) in about 90% of the cases Goodenow or one of his cronies have been rejecting offers without ever even informing the players what the offer was or that there was an offer. They’ve also lied to the players on the NHLPA’s private website according to some grumblings within the NHLPA.

    In the meantime, the Owners have put at least a handful of offers to a vote, and have been the ones making 90% of the proposals. They’ve been the ones doing all the legwork.

    Before you guys go spouting off on something, maybe you should look up some facts first, do some research, and read some new articles. That’s why the NHLPA is getting hammered in this. They never made a counter-proposal of any sort until right before the deadline, and even when they did then they only made a token one, and they have yet throughout this ENTIRE lockout to actually put something to the players to vote. It’s funny how the NHLPA isn’t terribly interested in actually involving the players in any of this…

    — Primis.

    Comment by Primis -

  43. How does Goodenow come off looking worse? The league has a crap revenue sharing plan, so the disparity issue won’t be solved. The owners won’t help each other become profitable. Why should the players do more than agree to a cap and a 24% pay cut if the owners don’t want to help themselves? What would be the point? The new cap has no lower limit, and poor revenue sharing, so the rich will get richer (there won’t be lower ticket prices) and the poor won’t see any improvement at all. How will this “save” hockey?

    Comment by Mike -

  44. In the wake of Saturday’s events, Goodenow et al come off looking even worse! I’m writing this from Calgary and I don’t know anybody that supports the players. Nobody.

    Some advice: sign anything the NHL puts in front of you as soon as you possibly can. Every new offer is going to be worse than the previous one…

    Comment by Casey Woods -

  45. Blame the lost season on Gary Bettman. He doesn’t negotiate or have any sense of his leverage. Whose the genius that brought in an NBA lawyer, whose never laced up a pair of skates in his life, let alone shot a puck in anger to run the world’s premier hockey league.

    Saying Bob lost a billion dollars is misses the point of the whole exercise which is to cut the right deal for the players. In reality all thats happened is that each player forfeited their annual salary which was replaced by $10k per month in NHLPA lockout pay plus whatever more than half of them earned in Euro professional leagues. None of them are starving and they could hold out another year and ultimately form their own North American Super League if Bettman won’t negotiate. Bettman has tried to dictate terms from Day 1. This is not negotiating. Even as zero hour approached last week, he was still issuing ultimatums via public fax after the linkage and cap impasses had been broken. His fear that 30 teams would max out the cap is absurd. He can’t even articulate the correct counter to a perceived high cap, which is that he might fearthe NHL’s handful of wealthy teams would max the cap, creating competitive imbalance,making worse the problems of the lower revenue teams. Instead he whines about the cost of 30 teams maxing a cap that 21 teams were already well under.

    Bettman can’t negotiate. He’s imcompetent. He should be fired. David Stern will get a deal done because he knows what he’s doing.

    Bettman should just quit. He overexpanded the league into about 10 bogus markets. The league has about 10 too many teams and 1 too many basketball lawyer commissioners.

    Comment by John Roberts -

  46. HP –
    3) A 24% paycut doesn’t do much good when the next season a 3rd liner goes and holds out demanding a 8 mill/year contract. It’s not that none of the owners can afford those — it’s that some of them can’t.

    Or has everyone forgotten that contracts expire and that player agents are a**holes?? Once you realize that, the PA’s “generous” offer gets exposed as the sham it is.

    I’d take a small conciliatory pay cut now too if it meant I could make even MORE Money in another year or two.

    — Primis.

    Comment by Primis -

  47. 1) It was 24 percent, not 27
    2) Bob Goodenow is not getting paid during the lockout, unlike Gary Bettman
    3) Had the NHL taken the players 24 percent paycut (also translates into 350 million dollars) in December, they wouldn’t lose the season. You would think that if your employees agree to take a 24 percent paycut, your business would flourish. If not, maybe you’re in the wrong business.
    4) And of course the players are in Europe. You’re right, it ISN’T about the money. It’s about being a pro athlete. The players want a marketplace. THAT’S what it is about. The NHL is a very restricted league as it is, with players becoming free agents at 30, and so on.
    5) No #5. That’s it. The owners are out to break the union which would take the sport back to the 80s. 1880s.

    Comment by HP -

  48. Owners compete with each other for the top players. If one doesn’t increase salaries, there are 29 other teams that might.

    I forget if it was Ron McLean or Don Cherry who pointed this out — NHL players are over in Europe right now, willing to play for as little as 10% of what they make in the NHL. So, it’s not about money. They’re also taking away jobs from the players who’d normally play in those leagues. That will make it harder for them to complain about replacement players taking away their jobs in the NHL.

    But really, the general public can’t have much pity for athletes who make 40 times what they do, on average.

    Comment by Mark P -

  49. To a large extent I agree with the last poster (Omar). The main problem with NHL and NBA contracts is that they last too long. It seems like about half of the contracts in the NBA today are vastly over paying the player because once the player gets the huge payoff contract they quit trying.

    What is needed is shorter contracts, performance based contracts, or at will contracts (allow teams to cut players if they don’t perform). Players can pay for their own damn insurance just like the rest of us do in case they are hurt and can’t work (AFLAC – quack quack).

    Switching all contracts to single year has big issues because teams spend a lot of money promoting players and building up a team image. There would have to be an ability to have a few longer term contracts for “franchise players”.

    As a fan I would hate to see a system where player movement is excessive. How could I ever feel a team was “my team” if the players were different every year? I watch NFL much less today than I used to for precisely that reason.

    For the life of me I can’t see why these players unions have such a big issue with tying player salaries to league revenue. Revenue is an easily trackable thing, just add up gate receipts, concession sales, tv contracts, and merchandise sales and set it so that players get a % of that. Considering the players are taking no risks to get that money it seems like a great deal to me.

    When things go bad for the league as a whole, the players just don’t get their pay anymore, whereas the owners lose billions of dollars in capital they have invested in the business.

    Comment by Shawn Fox -

  50. Ten years ago the hockey world was riding high, with the NY Rangers winning the Stanley Cup, fan interest growing at a rapid pace, and even mainstream sports publications commenting on the excellent future prospects of the NHL.

    Fast forward ten years of Gary Bettman’s tenure and the Stanley Cup is cancelled for the first time since the influenza epidemic of 1919, players are locked out and playing in Europe, multiple franchises are on the brink of bankruptcy, and the future of the NHL looks bleak at best.

    Clearly, Bob Goodenow is at fault.

    Never mind that the only player that signs his own check in the NHL is Mario Lemieux. Every other player has his check signed by an owner. Who decided how much that check would be? The owner again.

    And don’t forget, these are the same owners who voted for new franchises (and new franchise fees) in such hockey hotbeds as Tampa and Phoenix.

    Honestly, how much clearer could the case against Bob Goodenow be?

    Comment by elberto -

  51. I never could figure out why individual owners needed the help of a salary cap. If you can’t afford it, don’t pay it. Simple. If the economics change (eg you just signed a tv contract that sucked), accept the proposal of a 27% across the board reduction and base future contracts on the new reality.

    Now if the problem is that the small market teams can’t sign the big names and that is causing a competitive imbalance, well then you set up some sort of revenue sharing for the good of the league. If the large market teams don’t want to subsidize a free spender, just make sure that the teams have to be profitable before they can fully participate in revenue sharing.

    I would like to see a system where all contracts are limited to one year. All players are free agents every year (with maybe one month of protected negotiations to provide stability in the league). The team would have to set a budget prior to negotiations based on income history. They would not be allowed to spend higher than that budget. Punishment would be to have their top contract made null and void, and the player would then have to find a new team to play for. (I would also eliminate trading players; I find it offensive for businesses to be trading assets in such a way. Make your choices prior to the season and stick with them).

    The onus has to be on the owners to maintain their own profits by controlling their own spending. The only roll collective bargaining should play is to provide a system where there is reasonable stability of teams through the years. Salary caps have no place in competitive sports. Yes, the owners provide the environment, but the players are who the fans watch. They should make as much of that money as the highest bidding owner is willing to pay.

    Comment by Omar -

  52. Very disappointed that the hockey season is dead. Out here in San Jose, we are diehard hockey fans and it really stinks watching greed kill a season. More so when last year was the best year in franchise history for the Sharks.

    To the owners, players, agents, and everyone else involved, you deserve to be unemployed. With all your free time, how about taking a walk down the street in the poor section of town and tell those kids who look up to you, why fame as a sports athlete and owner means you are bigger than life.

    Comment by Kerry Kobashi -

  53. Oh, and we’re supposed to think it’s no fix that there’s no hockey AND no deepthroat!?

    Comment by okiedieselydoke -

  54. Forget huckey,
    Did anybody see young Harris and Howard in the All Star Frosh/Sophs game tonight? Dang these kids can hoop! Back to the point, theres no money for owners in hockey because it doesn’t translate to tv well (think aboot hockey games you’ve been to vs. games you’ve seen). I like hockey more than baseball, but I go to Rangers games because the tickets are $5, you can move down and sit wherever you want, and it’s better live than on tv. Hockey might follow that model, at least until they can pack an arena, just a thought. Oh, and one more thing, since the Mighty Cubes gets it and other owners don’t, let’s as fans be clear: the team name, owners, and staff don’t own our loyalty, it is the players who we pay to see. If the owners are truly losing money, they can sell the team to a real man like Cuban who writes off $20M losses as front row seats, halftime and timeout meeting passes. When did these owners get the heart of a mid-level underperforming manager? Do they hate the game? Perfect World: more rich fans whould own teams and save the rest of us hardcore but broke fans the heartache. Mavs over Spurs in the West Finals!

    Comment by okiedieselydoke -

  55. How to Lose 2 Billion Dollars
    By Jim McGrath / In reply to Mark Cuban
    Mark Cuban has never lost a billion dollars. And he’s right; it’s not easy to lose a billion dollars.
    But it’s even harder to lose $2 BILLION in revenue.
    Congratulations Gary Bettman, Commissioner of the National Hockey League. You and the NHL owners just lost $2 BILLION in revenue by canceling the 2005 season.
    How will it feel to cut those checks refunding your best customers, the season ticket holders? Your team’s marketing departments worked damn hard to get that money, and now you’re sending it back. The season ticket refund check will remind your key customers of the insanity – the sheer stupidity – of being unable to work out an agreement with the players. Those season ticket holders will be slow to return. Damn slow if you put out a team of scabs next year.
    And Gary, how will it feel to tell your sponsors that you won’t be taking their money? Here in Plano, Texas, the local Credit Union has promoted their checking account as the “official checking account of the Dallas Stars.” Now they want their sponsorship money back. Multiply that thousands of times across the NHL’s thirty teams. Will the sponsors return when you decide to start up hockey again? And do you think they will sponsor scabs?
    You say 20 of 30 teams lose money so actually they are making money with the lockout. Spoken like the lawyer you are. It is a ridiculous statement. You need to build the business, bring out new stars, generate excitement, draw new customers – increase the value of franchises. Fan interest is already dying; a news account reported that at a Sports Authority store in suburban Philadelphia, hockey merchandise sales have dropped to near zero. “I bet we haven’t sold a hockey shirt in two months,” store manager Joe Tarantino said.
    Your primary television network states that alternate programming IS OUTDRAWING the NHL. So you’re saving money by not playing? Your product is becoming less and less relevant.

    Let’s face facts. The players offered a 24% salary rollback and a salary cap of $49 million with a floor of $25. You offered $42.5 million with no floor. That’s close enough to work out. Gary, you could have met them half way. You could have persuaded the owners to take that deal. And you know the players would have taken the deal.
    But you want more. You want to break the union.
    Why? To protect your owners from themselves. These brilliant businessmen – these industry leaders – need salary caps to prevent them from overpaying their players.
    What’s next? Declare an impasse to employ scabs? Gary, be sure to check baseball and football history; using scabs is a losing proposition. And as you know, two Canadian provinces may not allow scabs.
    What if the players, many now playing in Europe, don’t return? Scab hockey doesn’t work. And the value of your owner franchises crashes? What then? We’re in unchartered waters here, anything can happen. What if the players join with the sponsors that you jilted and play in US hockey exhibitions? What if the exhibitions are successful and the exhibitions expand to a new league. Then the value of your owner’s franchises is $0.
    Gary, you’ve already lost $2,000,000,000. Pick up the phone. Cut a deal. And hope that your owner’s marketing and sales teams can bring back your paying customers, sponsors and television network. Or you may never get them back.

    Comment by Jim McGrath -

  56. Mark,

    You just shouldn’t make remarks on subjects that you are obviously so partisan about. Are you seriously saying that you’d enjoy replacement players equally ? Go watch the AHL… This is a lockout, which means that it’s the owners who are not willing to honor the contracts. Placing all the blame on players shows you’re just blind.

    Comment by Balazs -

  57. Thank you Mark for sharing your views about our national game. As a Canadian and a beer league hockey player, I cannot believe that the players are this stupid. The average player will never get back the money lost this season, even if the owners give in to all demands. Common sense in this issue is gone. It is the owner that takes the financial risk and very likely loses while operating a team in any league. I cannot image it was a sound business decision that brought you to purchase the Mavs but rather your love of basketball. And I will agree that the owners have created this problem with the continued desire to win on the ice and in the “pissing” contest with the rest of the owners. But in the end, an owner will not continue to lose money with no end in site. My suggestion in all pro sports is a base salary for every player, regardless of talent. If you sign the contract you get XXXX. This payroll gets paid by each team. The team also puts up a portion of revenue into a “league pool” that provides bonuses to ice time leaders, leading scorers etc. This pool is then allocated by the players union themselves. In this system, teams and players who do better, get more money. I am sick of seeing players in any sport coast through the first three years of a four year deal and turn it up in year four. Or for that matter sitting out because they want more money when they are still under contract.

    In the end, give me what you pay the guy to drive the Zamboni and I will play 182 games.

    Comment by Mike O'Krongli -

  58. Give Mark a break in this case, guys.

    Yes Mark is an owner in another sport. But if you paid attention to the numbers and polls they show the public in general is *heavily* in favor of the owners on this one, and that the public thinks the NHLPA is a joke.

    I’m a huge hockey fan. I was pleasantly-surprised to say Mark state he’d go watch replacement players. I would (and will) too Mark. Keep up that faith in the sport. It’s a good sport at all levels, with or without the NHL.

    To the people that want to blame Gary Bettman consider this: Bob Goodenow has been behind the last 3 stoppages in the NHL. In the first one, Bettman wasn’t even commisioner yet (Ziegler was IIRC). In the second one, Bettman and the owners made the large concessions to the players. Goodenow has brainwashed the NHLPA and now finally he’s having to deal with the consequences (and the players themselves are too). This time around, the NHLPA has to pay and make the concessions…

    To those of you who have no concept of what you’re seeing, you’re seeing nothing less than the complete breaking of a players’ union that’s needed it for some time now. The players (rightfully) feel they can’t even trust their reps anymore (not team player reps, but the suits)… and aside from a few grumpy souls like Bill Guerin (who knows he’s not worth $9m/year) and Chris Chelios, the rest of the players know they’re being screwed because a change in the CBA would not really hurt them and right now and they’re losing the prime of their careers int he meantime. It’s the guys with one or two years left at the most, trying to squeeze all the money they can out of those one or two years, they’re the ones mucking it all up, and they’re really the ones who shouldn’t have a say in staking the future of the sport.

    And there are plenty hockey fans around. I’m sitting here watching an NCAA hockey game as I type. It would be nearly impossible to sour us on the sport forever.

    We really would like our NHL back though, as soon as we can get a new salary and revenue system. And I state that as a Red Wings fan whose team is going to be hurt the most by a cap of some sort. Just get it done…

    — Primis.

    Comment by Primis -

  59. Mark

    Not suprising coming from a fellow owner (Don’t you own part of the AAC??), but I do agree with you. Even though I have to say it’s not 100% Goodenow’s fault.. Bettman crashed the bus first by over expanding. (Why didn’t the players speak up against this?) The problem in hockey is the market disparity. Your league has problems when the salary ranges are from $11mm to $67mm. There needs to be more competitive balance, which means the owner’s need to share money more evenly (which it appears they don’t want to do). The Edmonton Oilers have sold out every home game for the past 2 years but can’t afford more than $11mm/year for players. This is due to Canadian taxes on teams, the weak Canadian dollar, no luxury boxes, and no TV contract.

    I’m pretty shocked about a number of comments I read here. If every team spent $49.5mm, which was the player’s proposal, the league would be at 73% of $2billion (supposed revenue). If every team spent $42.5mm the league would be at 63% of revenue. Any business owner reading this would probably cringe at spending 63% of revenue on employees. So kudos to the owner’s for sticking to it! My problem with this is that Bettman claimed putting a cap in place causes salaries to levitate toward that number; however, the owners put nothing in place to help teams like Edmonton get to even $20mm/year.

    Bah Humbug.. Go Mavs!


    Comment by Sonny B -

  60. For those who actually care about hockey, they’re meeting again on the weekend apparently.
    There was what some called a players revolt, a large group of players got together behind their own managements back and got talking and now a meeting has been scheduled between the two sides again.
    Turns out “un-cancel” might be in the NHL’s dictionary.

    Comment by forbes -

  61. Goodenow very definitely did a terrible job and should be fired, but let’s not give him all of the blame. Bettman certainly appears to have wanted this from day one, and by not giving way on anything untill the final 2 days, he got what he wanted. It seems that a lot of numbers being thrown around are being skewed in the owners’ favor – like the 200 million figure about the cap difference, or this 1 billion in lost salaries. By not backing down to 42.5 (which I believe the PA should have done, or at least 44), they lost only the salaries for the remaining 28 games – not a full season. And you can’t lay the blame on Goodenow for losing the rest of the season… it was, after all, the owners who locked them out.

    What seems to get lost here is the fact that the owners wanted the players to essentially work on commission – earning only a set percentage of the revenues. If they were the ones selling the product, that’d be one thing. But they’re not. The owners and teams are in charge of marketing, and they’ve done a shitty job of it over the past ten years. They got themselves into this mess, and they wanted the players to get them out of it. The players gave up an awful lot, more than any of the other sports unions would have, and the NHL didn’t budge an inch untill the deadline.

    How would the NHL’s plan have even worked? Would all contracts be voided? Would players be given equity in teams instead of contracts like I used to get from Idealab and other internet startups I joined? “Mr. Jagr, you’re going to get 20% equity in the Capitals for this season. We don’t know what that will equal, and only we can control that, but we’ll cut you a check at the end of the year.” It just doesn’t make sense. And it’s ridiculous to expect the players to accept that. But people overlook this and focus on the fact that the players wouldn’t come down on their cap number.

    The fact of the matter is, the NHL is messed up, and it’s mostly the fault of the owners. I’m not in any way opposed to a cap, or contraction, (or rule changes, or salary rollbacks) and I do think Goodenow is a fool. But I get angry when intelligent people side with the owners without looking at all the facts.

    Comment by Dave -

  62. they canceled the NHL season??? What!@#$$$$$ When? WHO CARES?

    Comment by Parkite -

  63. How is it that Goodenow gets all the blame? The NHL is in shambles and Bettman is the one who led them there – yet he still has a job. He should have been fired years ago. I didn’t notice you discussing his failed expansion plans. You also didn’t mention the owners’ unwillingness to develop a meaningful revenue sharing plan. What about that joke of a TV contract? What has the league done to market the game?

    The players and their reps simply took the system that was in place and used it to their advantage. At a meeting at AAC, Bill Daly explained that the CBA was so bad but that it was extended twice because “times were good.” The owners had what they perceived to be a problem and chose not to address that problem because “times were good.”

    Gary Bettman and the owners get equal blame for this mess.

    Unless you are willing to become more informed and look at the NHL’s issues more objectively, why don’t you just stick to whining about poor NBA officiating? Quite frankly, Mark, I’ve been to one Mavs game and the best thing about it was the bottle of Bud Light I had.

    Comment by Becky Russ -

  64. I always thought that the “salary cap is to protect owners from themselves’ was a little specious. The last time a group of owners decided not to bid up the price for free agents was from 1986-1988. The result was that they were sued for collusion and had to pay out $270M. So the idea that the owners could just decide to not pay the higher salaries doesn’t hold water. They need to negotiate a limit in the CBA to protect themselves from this type of lawsuit.

    Also, to answer an earlier comment about how much the owners gave up by cancelling, it really depends on whose accounting you believe. If you believe the owners, they actually saved about $200M collectively. If you believe the NHLPA, the answer is that they don’t know, but they’re sure it was a lot.

    Comment by Bruce Johnson -

  65. I enjoy your musings, but you are way off on this one regarding the player’s moving off the no-cap stance, and obviously you are coming from an owner’s perspective. the cap was only ok’d once the linkage was dropped. this week. give and take. that’s how negotiation works. the bottom line continues to be the League refused to partner with the players until it was too late.

    Comment by Ninja -

  66. Bullshit. I enjoy your musings, but you are way off on this one regarding the player’s moving off the no-cap stance, and obviously you are coming from an owner’s perspective. the cap was only ok’d once the linkage was dropped. this week. give and take. that’s how negotiation works. the bottom line continues to be the League refused to partner with the players until it was too late.

    Comment by Ninja -

  67. Yup, so long NHL for 2005! An interesting note is that the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement is up in June 2005. Who says there will not be a NBA lockout next year?

    Comment by Basketball -

  68. cosmo – you seem to forget that nba contracts are guaranteed, so its not like the mavs could have cut booth to get him off the payroll. they were paying forston the same amount to do the same thing last year. the only way to get a contract off your payroll is to wait for that contract to expire or make a trade with a team that is under the salary cap and can afford to take back more salary than they give out. the fact is, the mavs dont really have a choice when it comes to paying someone to sit on the end of the bench until that contract expires. by the way, there’s no way they win that game last night if booth doesnt play the way he did.

    Comment by Will -

  69. While I won’t defend Goodenow, the owners are the bigger idiots in this case. They got fat and lazy off expansion fees in the 90s, paid crazy salaries (which AFAIK no one forced them to), and now they’re crying “help”.

    Forbes had an analysis earlier this year about how most owners play games with their cash flow to appear to be losing money (sorry, can’t find it online).

    The owner’s argument for a hard cap is essentially them saying “help protect us from ourselves”. Sorry NHL owners, try learning how to run a business like the rest of the world.

    Comment by Frank Giraffe -

  70. Paul,

    I think that you read into my comments a little too much. When I said that “many” (not all) would have little or nothing COMPARED to what they are making in the world of professional sports. I am referring to the amount of money that they would be making if sports were not around. I was not at all implying that these guys are stupid. That would be an ignorant statement. Even if they were successful and excelled in the business world and made a few hundred thousand a year outside of the sports world, that is a fraction of a few million per year. Do the math. I would wager everything that more than 96% would be taking a pay cut if they could not play pro sports.

    When I said “let’s not forget where you came from, guys…”, I was referring to the fact that they used to be fans themselves.

    As far as Mark goes he is a team owner, but let’s not forget that he is also a business owner, too. There is a responsibility as a business owner to look out for your employees. If the employees are being unreasonable, then you have to do what you have to do. I have to say, off the top of my head, I cannot think of an owner that is more involved or as close to any team as Mr. Cuban.

    Comment by Shoe -

  71. I’m amazed at the people who support the owners in this lockout. The players have made all the concessions, including the biggest one of all, the cap…and it’s still not good enough for Gary Bettman. Those same owners who are wholly responsible for the state of NHL salaries, by the way. In what other industry does a CBA exist to prevent the owners from overpaying their labour?

    And for those who insist that the players should play for the love of the game and not the money…should they also become media darlings, celebrity figures, travel nonstop across the continent to play a ridiculous 82-game schedule, get injured, stay for hours after every game answering pointless questions from hack journalists, and still have time to raise a family…all for the love of the game? They don’t just “play a game”. They are the most important element of a $2B business and deserve a reasonably high share. Nobody’s arguing that they aren’t presently overpaid, but I see almost nothing wrong with the current CBA. Nobody forced owners to overpay.

    The only prerequisite for being an owner is being rich. And look at how many owners have been busted for accounting fraud, tax evasion, etc. Remember Bruce McNall? How about the Rigas family? Sanjay Kumar ring a bell? And this is a more trustworthy gang than a bunch of guys from rural Manitoba? I can’t believe what I’m hearing.

    Comment by Nick -

  72. While both sides may be at fault here, I put the blame 100% on Gary Bettman and the owners for the shape the NHL is in at this time. First, for over-expanding into the U.S., where hockey was never going to be a major sport, while letting franchises leave Canada, and second, for overpaying marginal players. Many will say the players care only about the money, but they probably care more than the owners, who no doubt have their own egotistical reasons for being in the sport.
    And they certainly care more than Mr. Bettman, who obviously doesn’t care at all. There was never a doubt that his only goal was to break the union.

    Comment by Kevin Reimche -

  73. Shoe,

    This comment: Many of the people who play professional sports would have little to nothing compared to what they have now if there were no sports. Let’s not forget where you came from guys…

    This is ignorant. Just because an athlete decides to focus on their physical abilities for their entire lives doesn’t mean they couldn’t cut it in some other environment. Remember, these guys are physically gifted, but they also worked very very hard to gain the skills to become one of the best in the world! Who’s to say they wouldn’t come into your office (or where ever you work) and apply the same competitiveness and commitment to excellence. To say they would have little to nothing is just ignorant. I’m guessing you don’t know a single one of these guys and probably don’t know where they came from either.

    As for Mark, of course he’s giving a bias view on this topic. He’s an owner. He has a point of view and he has a blog. Players have a point of view too. They just don’t have a blog. Do they? Does anybody know of a professional athlete with a blog?

    Comment by Paul Pate -

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