NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 14: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman (L) and Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals chat during the cocktail reception hosted by Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter at The Monkey Bar on September 14 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Andy Marlin/Getty Images for the NHL)
Conventional wisdom: Whether you're an owner or a player, a work stoppage in the NHL is never a good thing. Fans get pissed off, business partners get pissed off and most importantly, everybody loses money.
Reality: The owners don't care about the fans because they know we'll be back anyway, their business partners will be back as long as the fans are back, and no, they probably won't lose money.
How's that possible?
- Some smaller-market teams might even make money, as they typically lose money simply by playing hockey, especially when with early-season games that would be eliminated in a lockout.
- NBC is giving the owners a bunch of money even if no season is played. To be exact, the network will pay the owners $200 million in rights fees this season whether games are played or not. If the entire season is missed, NBC gets a free year at the end of their current deal in 2021-22, assuming we don't have nine more lockouts between now and then.
- All the while, owners won't have to pay the players. That's their biggest expense.
But the players. They won't get paid by their teams and not everybody will go overseas (where paychecks are smaller anyway). They'll obviously lose money. But as part of the current CBA, players are due an escrow payment in mid-October. It's not the same as their current salaries -- in fact, the payments will be somewhere between 6.5 and 8.5 percent of the 2011-12 salaries -- but it's still money.
For a lot of (if not most) players, the payment next month will be six figures, a nice little war chest for players to fall back on the event of a lockout. A guy like Danny Briere, for example, will probably get a check for over $500,000, while a player making the league minimum will see a payment of at least $35,000.
A lockout will certainly impact those fringe players a whole lot more than established league veterans, but even without hockey, every player and owner will see money added to their bank accounts. It might not be as much money as they'd otherwise receive, but if you're wondering why either side doesn't seem to necessarily be in a rush here, this is a pretty strong reason why. They're getting paid anyway.
The only ones who will truly suffer in the event of the lockout are team employees, arena employees and, of course, the fans.