Imagine watching NHL games in Europe on a permanent basis. If the NHL and the NHLPA do not come to terms on how to split the reported 3.3 billion dollars (and less every day) that the league is generating as of the 2011-2012 season, the long term consequences can be devastating.
As you know your careers are limited to an average of 5-6 seasons. Keep in mind that about 50% of all NHL players play less that 100 games during their career and for approximately five percent of players, their first NHL game is also their last! Losing one season is like losing 20% of your livelihood. It’s huge. As a lockout drags on, many more will choose to migrate (or return) and play in Europe. Once a full year of this scenario plays out, many more will “join the club”. Imagine year two and three. Is this really where you want to live your life?
Hockey players train to play. Hockey is their life. They see no other means to make a career although many will eventually contribute in society and make a modest living doing speeches, charity work and eventually integrate in what the rest of us do to make ends meet. I’ve had multimillion dollar athletes in my office who, break down claiming they have lost what is considered the single most important mental aspect in sports such as confidence (show me a course in confidence), can have super inflated egos that will go to great lengths just to prove their point. These players are highly intelligent and competitive and are approaching a point in which they may just want to win their cause at all costs. Remember a time when you were fighting with your partner and forgot what the argument was about? My advice to to players is to concede. You’ll need to put things in perspective. At some point, you will need to rationalize I made 1.5 million last year and for 1.2 million this year, I’ll have to go through the same grind and get paid less. Do it for the fans who will respect you for your humbleness.
As buildings remain underutilized, they are starting to feel the pinch. Rental, fixed expenses and a lavish lifestyle eventually catches up to everyone. Imagine the long term ramifications. Many of your currently employees are off to Europe and although the fans over there cannot afford the ticket prices and salary of current NHL standards with each passing year, the gap will be closer. As the public begins to appreciate and understand the value of hockey, ticket prices will slowly increase which will result in more lucrative contracts to the players. On the flip side, at least as fans in Europe they’ll be able to buy a game 7 NHL “Staley Cup” playoff ticket for 20 euros.
As more players come to terms that the second season will not take place settle and build a family in Europe. The entertainment value the game exudes continues to surpass expectations. The rinks are getting full and the realization that building bigger arenas is trickling up to government who also see an opportunity for fame and fortune. Owners in Europe will seize the opportunity and deliver more and more perks that North American players have enjoyed. Sponsors see the return on their investment and they join forces to heighten the value of the game we once called Canada’s game. The same high standards that North American rinks have enjoyed are slowly being replicated in Europe. The new new NHL is now in Europe! Kids grow up watching games and Hockey Night in Canada is replaced with Hockey Night in Russia, Copenhagen and Sweden. The TV network has now cashed in on the ratings. The hockey business grows and more fans settle in and purchase the same material and consume the goods and services that they did in North America. Meanwhile, while one economy flourishes the Canadian and American economy deepens into recession. A significant increase in the amount of Europeans learning, watching and coaching hockey is developing. My advice to owners is to concede. Do it for the fans and they’ll appreciate it by coming back in even larger numbers than before.
Do it now. Otherwise, for both the players and owners, it will be too late.
Lior Doron is a sports psychology coach and has over 15 years of expeince working with amateur (show me a package) and professional (show me a package) athletes on peak performance in sports. He also earned a graduate diploma in sports administration from Concordia’s John Molson School of Business. He can be contacted toll free at 1877-778-FLOW (3569), locally at 514-963-FLOW or via email at email@example.com. Ask for a free sports psychology 15 minute consultation or get a free e-learning course (show me them all) valid until December 15th 2012 for free. Just fill out the free information request on the website menitioning this ad.