It is Gary Bettman’s impossible dream: To create a National Hockey League economy in which Dallas, Florida, Phoenix, Columbus and Anaheim can all be profitable.
Without, of course, shipping containers full of money heading south on a regular basis from the Canadian teams, the Rangers, Philadelphia, Detroit and Boston.
Even if the NHL Players’ Association gave in on all collective bargaining agreement fronts this weekend, would Phoenix not still be a smoking crater of a hockey market? Would the Stars' ticket prices still not be the lowest in the NHL? (Dallas was the only club with an average ticket price of less than $30 last season.)
With apologies to Sports Illustrated, this is hockey’s dirty little secret: Even if the financial pendulum stops right at six o’clock, with the revenues split evenly down the middle between the owners and players, it won’t even come close to guaranteeing profitability in Tampa, Carolina, Nashville, or a number of ill-advised Sunbelt markets.
And that, folks, is why NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr has found a different foe in Bettman than he ever did in Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig.