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Why is Gartner in the Hall?

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

By the tone of recent reports, it feels like we’re getting closer to having NHL hockey back on the rails. But again, I wouldn’t get your hopes up too much until we have tangible evidence (a.k.a. a public acknowledgement from either players or owners they’re on the verge of finalizing a new collective bargaining agreement.) Until then, you can always occupy your down time by sending me questions for this mailbag.

Now, here are this week’s inquiries:

Adam, can you explain how revenue sharing works in the NHL?

James Stewart, Westland, Mich.


I can explain to you the manner in which revenue-sharing has been employed by the NHL up until now. As you’re probably aware, any sort of structural mechanism must be negotiated in a CBA and revenue-sharing is a huge issue in the current lockout. The way it works could be drastically different whenever the league returns.

When it comes to explaining the revenue-sharing system that just expired, I likely could take all day going over the different intricacies and legalese, but you might be just as perplexed by the end of it. The dumbed-down version is this: there are a slew of different factors – for example, the size of a team’s market, or whether or not they’re in the bottom half of league revenue generators – and mathematical formulas that go into calculating which teams are eligible and the amount they qualify to receive.

In past years, NHL teams that do qualify have received anywhere from $5-18 million apiece, depending on their particular situation. But that pales in comparison to other leagues (such as the NFL or Major League Baseball) that have much more comprehensive revenue-sharing programs. That’s why the NHLPA is pushing so heavily for increased revenue-sharing in the new CBA: they see it as a systemic fix that will go a long ways toward making all teams viable and toward avoiding another lockout.

The league’s owners aren’t nearly as willing to expand their revenue-sharing program, which is why this is a point of contention between the two sides. Regardless, revenue-sharing in some form – some byzantine, tough-to-explain form – is here to stay.

Hey Adam. Why does the Hockey Hall of Fame induct players like Mike Gartner, Joe Nieuwendyk and Dino Ciccarelli? It seems these players are nothing more than stat-compilers who had long careers playing in the high scoring NHL era of 1980-1994. They rarely finished in the top 10 in points and none of them made the 1st or 2nd All-Star Teams. Does the Hall just look at career totals without putting them into context?

Travis Wells, Buffalo

Hey Travis,

It’s impossible to discuss all three as a group because there are so many different elements of a playing career that can make a player HHOF-worthy. Nieuwendyk, for example, won three Stanley Cups with three different teams; Gartner scored at least 30 goals in each of his first 15 NHL seasons and is one of only six players in league history to hit the 700-goal plateau; and Ciccarelli scored more goals (608) than any undrafted NHLer ever. Some of those facts may not impress you for various reasons, but they’re among the reasons those guys are in.

But here’s the real issue: we have no idea exactly what the HHOF’s standards are because nominations and debates among the 18-person induction committee remain secret. As long as there is no transparency in the process, there will continue to be people baffled by some of their choices. But given their unwillingness to open up the process, this will continue.

Greetings Adam, two questions. I know you're a big “Breaking Bad” fan, so have you seen “Malcolm In The Middle”? Watching the man who plays Walter White portray a clutzy suburban dad is a little odd for me. Second, any thoughts on how to best grow hockey at the college level? We're pretty excited here in State College with the new Penn State Division 1 program, but I don't see any other schools making the jump to that level soon.

Justin Walden, State College, Pa.

Greetings Justin,

Believe it or not, I’ve never seen a single episode of Malcolm In The Middle, so watching the incredible Bryan Cranston as White was not sullied by my previous experiences with that actor.

Your NCAA growth question is better answered by THN’s junior/college guru Ryan Kennedy, but for me, bolstering the quality of on-ice talent is the major component of growing the college game. You’re not going to get the interest raised unless the product improves.

In that regard, the College Hockey Inc. organization formed in 2009 to promote the NCAA game is a fantastic start. That group has a stiff challenge in recruiting talent away from the Canadian junior hockey system, but with better marketing and education programs to sell to elite-level young talent, they should be able to make some inroads.

Hey Adam. I know there are a lot of people that for some reason consider the NHL "watered down" because of the 30 team league. I read a study of 22,000 10-years-old from Ontario done in 1985 where only 110 of them made it to the OHL and only seven of them ever played in the NHL. Are those pretty standard type numbers still?? And wouldn't that suggest that we are truly watching the best players in the world in the NHL?

Dave Russell, Holmes Beach, Fla.

Hey Dave,

I’m not sure exactly how a statistical link between those numbers proves your point, but let’s address the watered-down issue another way: if this NHL lockout ends and more clamps are placed on players’ earning potential, you’ll likely see mid-tier players leave for more lucrative paydays in places like the Kontinental League. So, right away, you’re not getting the best of the best.

But beyond that, if you have more jobs available, you by design lower the competitive bar to land one of those jobs. That’s why people loathe the prospect of expansion. It has nothing to do with how many kids come out of one particular region and everything to do with how many are in the overall pool of talent.

Ask Adam appears Fridays on For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.


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