Bettman Anti-Canadian?


There does seem to be a strong belief that Bettman is anti-Canadian.

I honestly do not believe that.

I just think he’s unable to accept he was wrong.

He has largely excluded Canada from expansion, in fact, he even used our clubs to further his agenda by moving them south (albeit, they had serious financial issues), because he (falsely) believes Canada is already at full capacity, as far as “new” revenue streams are concerned.

The (false) belief, is that the US represents a huge untapped market.  This is the theory that led to the expansion into the southern US.  Bettman sold a business model that would see hockey grow exponentially due to the untapped US market.  This would lead to brand new revenue for all teams through media deals with US broadcasters.
It is a very sound theory, well worth having tried.

Unfortunately, it failed.

We could argue until the cows come home as to why it failed, but nobody can reasonably argue that it didn’t fail.

So the question is, has Bettman made a defacto coalition of the losers, who have now usurped the power from the real successful teams, and through this Cabal, continues down his path of failure?

The loser teams don’t want to open this issue, because they know, if the successful teams give up on them, they’re toast.  They would rather continue the ponzi scheme, and hope to get out before the whole thing collapses.

Balsillie knows this is the reality, and this is why he has been so aggressive.  He’s trying to force the issue to a head, draw the line in the sand.  He sold those “seasons tickets” knowing full well he would not get that franchise, because Bettman would not allow it.  But he certainly did raise the profile of the issue.  Why, he asked, would a business support a failing division, instead of investing that money into a new successful division?  That is the question Balsillie is forcing us all to ponder, from fans, to media, to owners.

Will he ever get a franchise…maybe not, but if he doesn’t he should be recognized as a hockey Martyr for having fought for what is best for our game.

I have nothing against the great fans that exist in these weak markets.  In fact, I empathize with them, they’re as much victims of Bettmans ill conceived plan as are the under served fans in Canada.

Bettman has been able to cobble together enough support by working in the gray areas.  Support from those greedy owners still hoping his plan will work, support from those owners hoping to tread water long enough to get out before the whole scheme collapses, and in the case of Southern Ontario, support from the teams most disrupted by the addition of a new franchise in that region.  And he’s done it by cloaking it all in the Us or Them argument.  He may be a bad businessman, but he’s a damn fine con-man.

But eventually, the reality of failure will either coalesce the BOG against him, or they will all go down…either together they will stand, or divided they will fall.

What most bothers me is this banal theory that Canada represents a market operating at full capacity.

It’s just wrong.

Now, there’s no doubt at all that the US represents a VASTLY greater untapped market, but to consider Canada at full capacity is stupid, and in having ignored it, Bettman may have actually weakened his position vis a vis expansion into the US.  The more successful clubs there are, the more money there is to support fledgling franchises.  Bettman would have been far further ahead solidifying his base in Canada, then more slowly expanding into southern US markets.  Instead he threw all of his financial weight into the “non typical” markets, and in so doing has bled the league to death by a thousand cuts, leading to the lock-out, and now, to this business model stand off.

He had a good theory, but his execution was terrible.

When Bettman came into this league there was no TSN deal, no Sportsnet deal, no Leafs TV money, no NHL Centre Ice package.  These new media opportunities do present opportunity for growth in Canada, and adding another team only improves those fortunes.  It may not be US sized money, but, why kill the bird in your hand, to chase the 2 you think *might* be in the bush?

To think that a new franchise in Ontario would not create new fans is seriously ill conceived.  Yes, its initial fan base would be made up of those already fully invested in the game, but a team in close proximity would create “new” fans.  Look no further than Ottawa for proof of this.  The Sens market is not derived solely of fans with former NHL allegiances, our fanbase includes great swaths of patrons who, without the Senators, would likely never had given a hoot about the NHL.  Their spouse might have, or their child, or parent, but, until that local access created the buzz, they would have never made the leap into fandom.  The same would be true of a new franchise in Southern Ontario, and I honestly think these new fans would match any number of new fans created in the Southern US.

Bettman = the Napoleon of the professional sports world, and we are witnessing the beginning of the NHL’s death march from the Southern US.

GN

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