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Where Should The NHL Look For Financial Salvation?

Last week two NHL teams filed for bankruptcy, the Ottawa Senators and the Buffalo Sabres. While both scenarios involved questionable business decisions, the financial stability of the league is no doubt in question.

During the last NHL strike, I was quick to jump on the players' bandwagon. The league would not release a detailed financial picture proving how much money was being lost. It was hard to take the owners word on an issue which might cancel the season.

With the impending strike/lockout looming in 2004, the numbers are starting to add up in the owners' favor.

Consider this:
according to Ross McKeon [SF Chronicle], average salaries in the NHL are 540k more than in the NFL [the NHL is the smallest of the 4 major sports]
73 percent of NHL revenues are going to pay player salaries [numbers provided to ESPNmag by the league]
a weak Canadian dollar [1.55/US] further threatens hockey north of the border [revenues taken in Canadian, salaries paid in US $$].

- According to the Buffalo News , player salaries went from a 1990-91 average of $271,000 to a 2002-03 average of $1.64 million.
Toronto coach Patt Quinn railed against large multi-year contracts last year, telling reporters "There are ways to run a business and that's why there's going to be a lockout. Because we're not running the business well."

In order for the league to survive with 30 teams, a salary cap, revenue sharing, and transparent financial statements are desperately needed. Unfortunately for NHL fans, player representative Bob Goodenow can not accept that the league is in trouble. It is.