NHL Lockout: Ranking Power and Influence of the Owners in CBA Talks
There are a number of owners who have a lot of power and influence among their peers during NHL Board of Governors meetings and CBA talks with the NHLPA.
These men can help create progress by looking for ways to solve the problems facing the league and its players, or they can attempt to halt progress and force the other side to cave by having a hard-line stance on the important CBA issues.
Let's look at the most powerful owners who have taken part in CBA talks thus far.
(Rankings based on number of years as an owner, a seat on the NHL's negotiating committee, prestige of franchise owned, previous experience in labor talks, among other things).
8. Mark Chipman, Winnipeg Jets
Mark Chipman can be described as one of the "new kids on the block" since he has owned the Winnipeg Jets for just one season (the team's first in Winnipeg following its move from Atlanta), and despite his team's remarkable success financially, he doesn't have a major amount of power in CBA talks.
However, Chipman is one of the best owners in the league and is someone all fans would love to have as the owner of their favorite team.
He was considered as a moderate going into last week's CBA talks with the NHLPA.
7. Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik has owned the team since 2010, and after his franchise lost $13.1 million last season (via Forbes), he can be expected to fight for a CBA that benefits teams in non-traditional markets.
He was one of the four new owners brought into CBA talks last week.
Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun explains Vinik's position in negotiations.
Don't believe for a second Jeff Vinik is a dove. He isn't. His presence is the same as Jeremy Jacobs and Murray Edwards in there. #NHL— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) December 3, 2012
As a hard-liner, Vinik will support the NHL's position on the important issues, but since his team is in a non-traditional hockey market that saw an attendance percentage increase of nine percent last season, reaching a deal in the near future would benefit Tampa Bay.
6. Larry Tanenbaum, Toronto Maple Leafs
Larry Tanenbaum is making a lot of money as a minority owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs, which Forbes just named the most valuable and profitable franchise in the NHL.
Unfortunately for Tanenbaum, his desire to play probably isn't shared by the 13 owners (via Forbes) whose teams lost money during the 2011-12 season.
Tanenbaum does represent one of the league's most iconic franchises, but if the team wants to host an All-Star Game and/or an NHL draft in the near future (maybe during the team's 100th anniversary season in 2017), the Leafs would be smart to side with Bettman in labor talks.
5. Craig Leipold, Minnesota Wild
Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold is part of the league's negotiating committee, but he was absent from the CBA talks that took place last week.
He is one of the hard-line owners just like everyone else on the negotiating committee and is definitely a Bettman supporter.
After signing the two most coveted players on the free-agent market this summer to "lifetime" contracts, which the league is hoping to prevent teams from being able to do in the next CBA, Leipold has taken plenty of criticism during this lockout.
4. Ted Leonsis, Washington Capitals
As a man whose views on CBA issues are similar to fellow hard-line owners, Ted Leonsis of the Washington Capitals does have a good amount of power in negotiations. He is a member of the NHL's negotiating committee alongside commissioner Gary Bettman.
He played a key role in the CBA talks during the first few months of the lockout, although he did not participate in last week's meetings in New York City.
Leonsis' Capitals have achieved a lot of success since drafting Alexander Ovechkin in 2004, but despite the team's popularity in the Washington D.C. area, the franchise still lost money last year (via Forbes).
3. Ron Burkle, Pittsburgh Penguins
We saw how much of a difference Ron Burkle could make in labor talks last week when the two sides made considerable progress toward a new CBA, and there's no question that the Pittsburgh Penguins owner does have the ability to bring the league and its players closer on many of the issues being negotiated.
His reputation as someone who can settle labor disputes makes him an important part of this lockout.
Both sides should want Burkle to be at the negotiating table during all future CBA talks in which owners are invited.
2. Murray Edwards, Calgary Flames
Calgary Flames owner Murray Edwards is one of the hard-line owners in this lockout. The Flames did well financially in the last CBA, and during the 2011-12 season, Calgary made $11 million, according to Forbes.
Since he's part of the league's negotiating committee and has been with the Flames during all three of the league's lockouts since 1990, Edwards has a good amount of power.
As a multi-billionaire, Edwards isn't hurting financially because of the lockout. He is fully committed to reaching a CBA that heavily favors the owners and will continue to play an important role in this work stoppage.
1. Jeremy Jacobs, Boston Bruins
Jeremy Jacobs is the most powerful and influential owner in the NHL.
The Boston Bruins owner doesn't need hockey to make money since he also owns the TD Garden in Boston, which, in addition to Bruins games, hosts many other events each year such as concerts and the circus. The NBA's Boston Celtics also call the building home.
Food service company Delaware North, Jacobs' family business, is also a major part of his wealth.
As chairman of the NHL's Board of Governors, Jacobs has been part of every formal negotiating meeting between the league and its players during this lockout and is the most notable hard-line owner. Jacobs has owned the Bruins for 37 years, which is currently the second-longest ownership tenure in the NHL.
A deal won't be completed without Jacobs and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, and unless these men can negotiate without getting too angry at the other side, don't expect the 2012-13 season to happen.
A new CBA probably won't be signed unless Jacobs is satisfied, and it will likely take more concessions from the players' union for the Bruins owner to approve of the new agreement.