Wednesday, July 20, 2005

What is the NHL Hiding?

There are lots of people out there who love hockey and would love to get their hands on any and all minutia that is even peripherally related to it. however, the NHL is rarely openly making this information available to the public.

I think this was their successful lockout strategy. They started a campaign of misinformation about how much money they were losing in order to justify a lockout. At no point did they give any verifiable financial info despite the fans clammoring for it. As private businesses this was their right. They did release the Levitt Report which was billed as a "superaudit" of the NHL finances but was actually closer to an "independent" financial guy adding up whichever numbers the NHL teams offered him without attempting to verify any of them. Even assuming the Levitt Report was accurate, it was strongly lacking, it only claimed total league losses without attempting to break them down by team. Presumably, this was done because there were only a handful of teams that were losing large amounts of money and there would be some pressure to contract those teams instead of stage a lockout. Possibly, this was because some of these big "money losers" were teams like the New York Rangers that would make the entire results look questionable, since they spend money like a big money maker, implying that they only lose money on paper but not in practise.

The lockout is ending and the NHL has learned that most fans don't care about the details, so why present them? It makes it much easier to revise history in the future if this is needed for any purpose that may come up.

A new Central Bargaining Agreement has been agreed upon and will likely be ratified this week. The NHL does not present this CBA to the fans or media. Why not? Why is the only thing presented a few selected CBA highlights. It looks like they want to leave the fans in the dark. If teams make moves that don't work out to adjust to the new CBA, they can claim the CBA forced them to do it. If nobody knows the exact details of the CBA, then that point is hard to refute. The rules of the game are necessary information for any dedicated fan, but the NHL won't give it to them.

The draft lottery will not be broadcast on TV. The results of the lottery will be shown on TV not too long after the lottery has occurred. This has some people suggesting that the lottery may be fixed. What is gained by leaving the whispers of a fix in the public?

The NHL seems to be hiding as many of the details behind the game from the fans. This will only turn off dedicated fans. I can think of only one example of a sports related organization that hides its details from the fans more actively then the NHL - its the WWE.

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