So let’s say the SM Liiga in Finland, along with its players’ association, wanted to start a World Cup of Hockey of its own. And let’s say that in exchange for getting NHL and NHL Players’ Association approval and sanction, it was offering each of them $500,000 plus the ticket revenue from one pre-tournament game.
Suffice to say that after the negotiators from the NHL and NHLPA got back onto their chairs and recovered from their laughing fit, they’d probably walk out the door, never to be seen again.
But that’s exactly what’s happening, in reverse, in the 2016 World Cash Grab of Hockey™. The event is expected to generate about $130 million in revenues and $65 million in profits, which will be split 50/50 between the NHL and the players. The federations that have developed the players and will be allowing the World Cash Grab™ to use their logos and players, meanwhile, will be receiving a pittance.
Each country that has a team in the tournament will receive just $500,000, plus the ticket profits from one pre-tournament game. That’s it. The organizers will also pay tournament expenses for each federation for a delegation of 38 people, which includes the 23 players. Hockey Canada and USA Hockey will split the earnings for Team North America because they are jointly assembling the team, and the federations of countries involved with Team Europe will split their proceeds. For some of those teams, the return on those games will be better than others. It’s hard to imagine the Finland vs. Sweden game at the 12,000-seat Scandinavium in Gothenburg will make as much for the Swedish federation as USA Hockey will pull in for the Canada–USA game Sept. 9 at the 18,000-seat Nationwide Arena in Columbus. There will be 12 pre-tournament games, meaning eight of them will be used to pay the participating teams, with the other four going, well, you know where those will go.
It’s mind-boggling, really. The organizers of the World Cash Grab™ would not be able to hold a tournament without the federations being on board. Kind of makes you wonder why the International Ice Hockey Federation signed off on it, given the fact that the NHL seems so reticent to participate in the Olympics. So why would IIHF president Rene Fasel not have more leveraged Olympic participation, making it contingent on the IIHF signing off on the World Cash Grab™?
Once again, you’re required to follow the money. The World Championship is the IIHF’s single-biggest revenue producer of each year. If the IIHF were to withhold its federations from taking part in the World Cup to pressure the NHL into taking part in the Olympics, the NHL would simply tell its players to stay home from the World Championship. It’s a vicious cycle where the NHL ultimately holds most of the power.
So really, the bodies who have the most to gain from growing the game on a global level, the NHL and the IIHF, are all for growing the game, if that’s one of the by-products of them making all sorts of money.
The money each federation receives does not include paying those who are members of the support staff. That’s not really a problem in Canada because almost all of them volunteer their time for the event and have only their expenses paid and some of the rest are contracted out. But with the European federations, the support staff is on a full-time wage, which means the minimum four weeks spent on the tournament – training camps open Sept. 4 and the tournament ends Sept. 29 at the earliest – federations will be paying their employees, plus an extra stipend for each day they’re involved in international competition.
Doesn’t sound like much of a deal for the federations. But hey, they’re helping to grow the game. At least that’s what those involved in the World Cash Grab of Hockey™ are saying. Despite the fact it will all take place in one city in Canada and there will be two teams competing that don’t even belong to one country, this is going to be a vehicle for growing the game on a global level. Not so sure about that, but one thing that will be growing, thanks in part to a sweetheart deal with the federations, is the NHL and NHLPA’s coffers.
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