Last week there was a statement from Bill Daly, deputy commissioner of the NHL, that got me thinking about where the Blues sit in this clusterfuck that is the NHL lockout.
Daly said that the owners were unanimous in supporting a lockout. That would mean all 29 owners think it's better to not actually operate and than to open for business. Of course there would be 30 owners, but the league actually owns the Coyotes. By the way, what the hell is up with Phoenix signing Shane Doan to a contract hours before the lockout for four years? That smells rotten to me. But that's another story. This is about that "unanimous" vote.
The Blues are now owned by local beer guy Tom Stillman and a group of local investors. The sale went through after the Blues were eliminated from the playoffs. They had to put down some cash to buy the team. And while they got money from us suckers who have season tickets (full, half and 10-game packs) and the bigger suckers who bought single game tickets when they went on sale a few weeks ago, that can't be enough cash to sustain the business long. There are costs with operating the building and having staff. Well, staff that hasn't been laid off (yet). And if they have any loans to cover the team, there will be payments on the horizon.
But maybe Stillman thinks this is a good thing, fixing the CBA in favor of the owners. When the salary cap began after the last lockout in the fall of 2005, it was set just under $40 million. This year was supposed to be about $70 million -- a huge issue that led to the Dave Checketts ownership group's failure. There are not big media dollars to be had in this market. There are not as many Fortune 500 companies with roots here as there used to be. The Rams might be on the rebound. The Cardinals are defending World Series champs. And there's that whole down economy thing still going on. There's a lot of competition for entertainment dollars in this town. The Blues will never have as much resources as the large markets. To legitimately compete, this franchise needs a different league framework.
But the issue isn't necessarily about the growth of salaries and the cap. It's about revenue sharing. The bulk of the revenue generated by the league is with a small number of franchises. I'm partial to believing the players when they say the fight is actually between the small market owners and the big boys. The players, and the fans, are in the crossfire.
I can't believe Stillman could buy the team, show up for events and make preparations for his first season in the owner's box and then vote to shut the whole thing down. But he's also a business man. He knows a system balancing the scales between the 30 teams has to happen for the Blues to stay competitive.
You think the Blues want the lockout? And if you do think the Blues are part of this unanimous vote (that was probably not unanimous, but Gary Bettman has to keep the look of solidarity, right?), does that change how you feel about the team moving forward?
Talk about it in the comments.