One of the great ironies in the NHL's ongoing (but going nowhere) CBA negotiations is the fact that, while the NHL and NHLPA are fighting mostly over how to split the hockey-related revenue, the revenue for the upcoming season is dropping by the day.
The lockout itself is only 25 days old, but it has already led to the cancellation of the entire preseason schedule as well as the first two weeks of the season, totaling 82 games. (Depending on when they reach an agreement, those games could be made up.)
Put into economical terms, we're talking about almost a quarter of a billion dollars by the wayside already. That estimate was put forth by NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly to the Orange County Register.
"What I can say is obviously we lost about $90 million with losing the preseason," Daly said in an interview with the Register. "I would say with the cancellation of the first two weeks of the regular season, we're probably in jeopardy of losing about another $140 million.
"So you're talking about 230, 240 to this point that's in jeopardy. That's 240 that we both lose. It's not just the league that's losing that money. The players are sharing on some basis in that. Some substantial basis. Whether that's 57 percent, or whether that's 50 percent or whether that's 47 percent. It's some basis and it's a significant basis.
"The current situation hasn't benefitted either side, that's for sure."
Last season, the NHL saw a record-revenue level of $3.3 billion. So you can see how big of a chunk is already missing from this year's pot.
It would be a bit myopic to say that, for once, money doesn't talk. Sure, they are going to miss a lot this year the longer the lockout drags on. But this lockout is as much or more about the future years as it is this one. Still, it has to burn some owners and players to see all that revenue that isn't streaming into the HRR pile. As Daly alluded to, getting even 43 percent of a $240 million pie is sure as heck better than zero percent.
This is exactly why people continue to think the sides can't be dumb enough to have a lengthy lockout. The revenues have been going up every season to the point that there is some awfully good money coming into the league now. But as long as they aren't playing, they aren't seeing. To take that even further, some think the longer the lockout lasts the more they negatively impact future revenues, too.
That's where the irony really makes you shake your head. They are fighting about who will get more from the revenue share. But in the end, it might still be less than if they kept the status quo.
It probably goes without saying that the teams most likely to cry at this are the ones making the most money, like the Maple Leafs, Rangers and Canadiens. Teams on the other side of the equation probably aren't breaking the bank yet as their operating costs are way down while their revenue intake would be much more marginalized than the big-money franchises.
The takeaway is you can add this kind of money disappearing as just another thing that the lockout is costing the NHL and the players.