There are plenty of questions being asked when it comes to what will happen with the NHL this season and next. From logistical questions about games and playoffs to the status of trade conditions and player contracts and free agency, so much is unknown. But, those questions may only be scraping the surface of concerns for some NHL clubs.
Damien Cox of the Toronto Star recently asked what happens to NHL organizations that aren’t exactly floating with extra cash? What about teams that don’t make as much as some others or with owners who don’t have the deeper pockets some other owners do? Cox wonders if the NHL will see an economic boost when all this is over and if it will take a few teams shutting down for that to happen?
This is a tricky time for sports. The NHL is being hit hard but with a salary cap and other financial regulations in place, maybe not being hit as hard as other leagues. Still, with 31 teams, many of whom have ownership that barely gets by as it is, could teams like Ottawa, Arizona and Florida survive if the NHL were to shut down for a prolonged period of time?
Cox notes that the NHL is a gate driven league and can’t rely on their TV deal as much as some other leagues can, he writes:
The majority of NHL teams these days are owned by extremely rich individuals or large corporations. Financial pressures from other businesses may nonetheless put more focus on their NHL holdings if there is no hockey revenue.
He mentions the teams named above, but also includes the New Jersey Devils, Buffalo Sabres, and the Nashville Predators on his list of teams who could be in financial trouble if this pause continues.
Ideally, a best-case scenario emerges in which the league gets to finish the 2019-20 season and begins next year only slightly behind schedule, and all the teams survive.
But this is hardly an ideal situation. For some NHL teams, it could become a question of staying alive.
What if this season is stopped? What if next season is delayed? What if it doesn’t happen altogether? The NHL is hoping that’s not the case, as are most other sports leagues but no one knows for sure. All anyone does know is that the longer this lasts, the more money some teams will lose; money they don’t have.
Maybe it’s too early to think this way. Maybe some teams already are. Even teams with owners who have deep pockets will be looking at their investment portfolios right now and going, ‘What losses can we afford to take?’ and ‘Where can be afford to cut bait?’
It will be interesting to see if that includes any NHL teams. At the very least, which teams will need to reach out to the NHL for financial assistance when all of this is said and done?
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