A Pledge From The Invisible Hockey Fan Collective

Despite the thousands of words uttered on this record by all parties about the glory of the sport of hockey and the grandeur of its superstars, the basic factors here are not the sheer exhilaration from observing the speeding puck, but rather the desire to maximize the available buck. — District Judge A. Leon Higginbotham Jr, 351 F.Supp. 462 (1972).

One of the centerpieces of the collective bargaining negotiations is known as hockey related revenue, or HRR. The current CBA is exhaustive in defining HRR, but in Article 50 it is reduced to mean:

“… the operating revenues … from all sources … derived or earned from, relating to, arising directly or indirectly out of the playing of NHL hockey games …”

It includes:

  • Game gate receipts
  • NHL digital broadcasts
  • The NHL Networks
  • Local cable TV broadcasts
  • Local over-the-air TV broadcasts
  • Local pay-per-view, satellite  and other broadcasts
  • Revenue from club websites (the sale of banner ads)
  • Club publications
  • In-Arena and non-arena novelty sales
  • Luxury boxes
  • Club/premium seats
  • Fixed and temporary signage and club sponsorships
  • Concessions
  • Game-worn jerseys and equipment

Any of that look familiar? It should. Today, in “What’s Really at Stake for NHLPA in Collective Bargaining With NHL“, Puck Daddy’s anonymous ‘Player’ [*see end note] writes,

We appreciate what we have, but we believe we deserve a significant share of what the future will bring. Salaries continue to rise at a healthy rate every season. We also understand, though, that they have only done so because revenues have done the same.

And we all should appreciate very quickly that the players and the owners can claim to fight over HRR all they want. In reality, they’re fighting over FPP.

That’s Fan Paycheck Percentage.

Or, the percentage of our non-hockey-related paychecks that we fans spend on hockey.

If I could draw better than a six year old, I would insert here a New Yorker-type cartoon of Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr having a tug-of-war over the bi-monthly paycheck of some helpless, ordinary Joe.


If the players and the owners want to fight over the FPP, I’ll go ahead and lighten their burden slightly with the following pledge: If the season is delayed by even a single day, I pledge not to renew NHL Gamecenter Live. That cuts into their billion dollar FPP pot by one hundred and sixty sad little US dollars.

I know, I know, they won’t miss it. But I do wonder what kind of figure could be reached, how much muscle the invisible hockey fan collective could flex, if thousands of fans made a similar non-binding pledge.

Bettman represents the owners, Fehr represents the players, but the fans, each of us individually, are no better than abundant, ethereal elements in this greedy atmosphere; and all of us collectively, a mute and unorganized molecular mass doomed to the path of least resistance yet whose financial or pecuniary input literally represents the ocean that keeps their yacht afloat.

For the moment, my $160 is on the table. And while I can accept that a season delayed is better than no season at all, given the circumstances I consider both unacceptable under every conceivable scenario.

[*The anonymous ‘Player’ is a good communicator and very bright, as many of the comments note. But he’s even smarter than he appears: three times he uses the owner-related term ‘lockout’, and not once does he use the player-related term ‘strike.’ The current CBA prohibits a strike for the duration of the agreement, meaning that after September 15, the players are no longer bound by it and if they reject the owners’ offer when the season rolls around, may strike if they so choose.]