Senators News: September 3rd

Adam Proteau doesn’t like the idea of parity in the NHL and asks this question:

Why shouldn’t teams that have the most fans and interest and are the primary fillers of the league’s coffers also have at least a modicum of ability to benefit on the playing field for their success?

There are a number of answers to this but first let’s consider the logic of it: the implication is that money earned should form the basis for determining the outcomes.  If that’s the case, why not have the playoffs determined by the top-sixteen money earners?  Proteau doesn’t seem to understand that fan interest is not based on the profits of a team, but on a variety of factors that all boil down to historical success on the ice which ebbs and flows (just as Chicago or Pittsburgh).  To answer his question more directly: 1) by enabling big market teams to have a competitive advantage they will have more success on the ice, this will make smaller markets less attractive to free agents, less competitive, hurt their fanbase, hurt the competitive quality of the league, and ultimately damage the product (consider the tedious reality of the pre-lockout NHL); 2) if degrading the calibre of play isn’t enough of a problem, we can add that the most successful league in North America is the NFL, whose parity helps create one of the most fervent fanbase’s imaginable.  Proteau has heard the NFL argument before and offers this limp rejoinder:

Now, some of you will attempt to counter this argument by pointing to the NFL, which is the closest thing professional North American sports has to complete parity. I will counter that counter by pointing to (a) the NFL’s gargantuan TV deal that goes a long ways toward making all owners happy; and (b) its non-guaranteed contracts

It never seems to occur to Proteau that the gargantuan TV deals he’s talking about are that big because of the appeal parity engenders.  Fans like the uncertainty of outcomes.  Proteau thinks that the NFL always been this way, but there was a time where professional football was not the king of sports in America (not surprisingly, that was before giant TV revenue and before parity)–the competitive balance is what creates popularity.  Non-guaranteed contracts are an unrelated straw man.   Another way to understand how flawed this idea is to think about MLB (formerly the #1 sport in the US) and consider how far it has fallen.  Baseball has an increasingly older fanbase with a narrowing appeal (restricted to big markets), while the NFL simply gets bigger and bigger and bigger.  Why Proteau (and others) want to emulate a failing model is beyond me.

-Here’s my look at ECHL success stories post lockout, which continues my look at where diamonds in the rough are found in the NHL (having already looked at college and Europe).

-For a detailed preview of the upcoming SM-Liiga season check out Tony Piscotta‘s very detailed article.  His comments on Sakari Salminen suggest that his NHL potential is limited (“he is a bit light and his game may be more suited for European hockey“), which runs against my hunch that a team might make him an offer.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)