Blog: Hunting for revenues

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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

The hiring of forensic accounting giant Bob Lindquist by the NHL Players' Association was not met with any sort of alarm by those who wear the designer suits at the NHL's New York City head office, nor should it be.

The current collective bargaining agreement contains 96 mind-numbing pages covering off the accounting procedures for Hockey Related Revenues, so it's probably safe to say both sides have left no stones unturned when it comes to revenues. And if they did, you have to wonder exactly what they were doing during that whole year when they weren't playing hockey games.

There is a theory this might be a shot across the bow of the NHL by new NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly, who was quick to voice his opposition to not being fully consulted on the NHL's venture into Europe next season.

There are those who believe Kelly came off as being just a little too conciliatory with the NHL in the early days of his administration and that he must do something to appease the PA hardliners, who were basically responsible for him being in the executive director's position and who clearly have considerably more clout than they ever have.

Only those who intimately know the inner workings of both sides could tell what the NHLPA's motivation is for sure, but if the NHLPA has a chance to make the league sweat a little over the way it calculates its revenues, why wouldn't it take the opportunity to do it?

After all, remember, we're dealing with NHL owners here.

Weren't these the same people who were screaming poverty as loudly and vociferously as they could prior to 2004? Wasn't this the same group that claimed the players’ cut of revenues was completely disproportionate and the industry was on the road to hell in a hand basket?

And, of course, they had the Levitt report to back them up. Former American Stock Exchange chairman Arthur Levitt told us then only 11 teams were making money, the league had combined losses of $273 million and the NHL was on a, "treadmill to obscurity."

What a lot of people didn't realize is that Levitt was paid by the league to do the report.

This is akin to the drug companies funding their own research then telling everyone their products are perfectly safe. Also, what the NHL failed to mention was the Levitt Report was just that, a report, not an audit, and there's a huge difference between the two.

Basically it meant Levitt went around to all the teams and asked them if they were losing money and they told him they were.

But what should have everyone wondering about this whole thing is that, lo and behold, the league that was supposedly drowning in red ink took a year off and removed itself from the sporting fan's consciousness, then came back stronger than ever.

Doesn't that make you wonder? A league that was in danger of financial collapse, once forced to report its financial picture honestly, is suddenly flush with revenues and able to support ridiculous contracts for players coming out of their entry-level deals?

Does anyone find it peculiar the Washington Capitals were one of those supposed needy teams, yet were able to sign Alex Ovechkin to a 13-year, $124 million contract recently?

Isn't it strange many of the teams that were crying poor before the lockout are now forced to actually spend more on player salaries than they did prior to the lockout and there is nary a peep of protest?

Certainly Mr. Lindquist will be able to get to the bottom of all of this.

Then, perhaps, someone somewhere will be able to explain fully why we had to go a full season without hockey more than three years ago.

Ken Campbell is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to His blog appears Tuesdays and Fridays and his column, Campbell's Cuts, appears Mondays.

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