Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Tale of Two Businessmen

The playing field?....the National Hockey League

The principals?...Tom Golisano, owner of the Buffalo Sabres, and Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Capitals.

Resolved, "Is the National Hockey League Healthy, or Is It Not?'"

First, Mr. Leonsis . . .

"The NHL grew its revenues again -- two years in a row -- post the lockout . . . Due to the increase in revenues in the league this year, the salary cap will most likely go up so the players will be happier as they share in the growth of additional revenues. Franchise values are up if Nashville (the lowest grossing team in the league) sells for $220 million. That sets a floor on franchise values, doesn't it? We paid $85 million for the Washington Capitals as a point of perspective. New, smart people want to come into the league and banks are interested in financing new owners so the league must be healthy."

Mr. Golisano (as reported by Tim Graham of the Buffalo News), your rebuttal?

“Would it be considered a success when you have a team that sells out every game and sells out all the suites but would lose money unless they were in the playoffs? That’s a thing an organization like the Buffalo Sabres must be aware of. If they move the salary cap up and we go with it, there’s a good possibility we would lose money unless we reached the second round of the playoffs. That’s an unhealthy situation.”

Are there two National Hockey Leagues out there? The Peerless knows there are not, and there might be extenuating factors in at least one of these arguments (in the case of Mr. Golisano's, a negotiating "shot-across-the-bow" to poor mouth his team's finances in advance of negotations on new contracts with Daniel Briere and Chris Drury, both unrestricted free agents). But it is interesting to ponder the seeming contracdictions in these arguments, especially since one must presume that the Buffalo owner -- who sold out his arena for the season, by the way -- is one of those new, smart people who wanted to come into the league.

Congratulations, Dave

Dave Fay, who has covered the Washington Capitals for more than 20 years, was recognized yesterday by the Hockey Hall of Fame as this year's recipient of the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award for his outstanding work as a beat writer covering the Washington Capitals.

The Peerless thinks this award is well-deserved. Too often, it is tempting to dwell on the particulars of this story or that at the expense of an entire body of work. That Fay has devoted decades to chronicling the exploits of the Caps, while imprinting his own uniquely acerbic style to the product, commands respect.

The Ferguson award citation reads:

"In recognition of distinguished members of the newspaper profession whose words have brought honour to journalism and to hockey."

For Fay, whose dedication to the sport over the years has been amply demonstrated, whose devotion to his profession and determination in the face of health problems is without question, this honor is richly deserved.

Congratulations, Dave.