Buzzsaw Sports Guy: A satirical look at sports
By Chris Giblin
A small team of Russian billionaires collectively purchased the National Hockey League at an NHL owner’s meeting last week. The Russians came away with all 30 teams for the price of $5 billion. There are plans to move all or a vast majority of those teams to Russia during the off-season.
That figure, $5 billion, may seem a shade high for a relatively unpopular organization, but the tycoons came away with a bargain, especially when compared to the Forbes estimated $15 billion value of Major League Baseball or the National Football League’s $32 billion. Even so, hockey experts and market analysts alike were thrown by the move.
Under 5 percent of NHL players were Russian during the 2009-10 season; making it unlikely that the billionaires looked to bring the league to its rightful country. Under that line of thought, Canada would host the majority of NHL teams, as over half the league’s players hail from that country. The United States comprises the strongest minority of players. The Russians explained their move had nothing to do with player origins, and that they simply believed the league could enjoy more widespread popularity, appreciation and profitability “in land where winter is harsh like English nun all over country.”
“NHL is already U.S. league with majority Canada players,” oil tycoon Alexei Persov said. “What is difference if we move to Russia? I tell you: nothing, except it make more money.”
Billionaire businessman Kevin Kruschenchek added that player origin was not a relevant issue, since Russians “love the hockey” and would be “much more excite than ingrate Americans to host best teams in world in glorious Russian cities: Omsk, Ufa and many more.” He also stated the new name for the league would be the Russian SuperHockey League (RSHL).
The billionaires have supreme confidence in the potential Russian fan base in various cities throughout the country, and they guarantee they will make more money than the average $6.1 million NHL teams gained in 2009. The number does not represent a huge return on teams that cost owners hundreds of millions to purchase. All 24 NHL teams in American cities will be moved to Russian locations, and although a full list of team changes has not been announced yet, Kruschenchek said the New York Rangers will become the Samara LUKoil, while the Philadelphia Flyers will turn into the Perm Professional Ice Hockey Club.
The fate of the six remaining Canadian NHL teams is still up in the air, but the potentially astronomical travel times and expenses will likely be enough to persuade the new owners to relocate those teams as well.
The now former NHL team owners generally said they were glad to rid themselves of teams that were hemorrhaging money, or, at best, providing a meager profit margin relative to the amount of time, money and effort put in.
“It was a relief to get my money back,” the Phoenix Coyotes owner said. “Everyone knows this organization’s been dying for years. Now I can just find a company that’s growing by a few percentage points a year, invest my cash in that and make more money sitting on my ass than I ever could with a hockey team. As businessmen, all of us owners have realized, you just can’t make much money off this shit. And I don’t blame sports fans for not liking it, it’s a game where you can’t even see what happened during the goals until you see the replay in super slow-mo, then you see the puck bounce off some guy’s ass, off some other guy’s skate and go into the net. Pure chance and not fun to watch.”
The co-owners of the Florida Panthers agreed.
“I’m glad to be rid of my team too,” he said. “I just don’t know if [the Russians] realize how much these players are expecting to get paid. I know they play hockey, but they make more than you’d think. I honestly don’t know if they took that into consideration, paying the players.”