How The NHL Owners’ Money Grab Is Hurting Canada’s Economy

The National Hockey League has been dormant so far this season due to a continued lockout of its players by the league’s owners. The first two months of the season have been canceled, and it looks like more cancellations are imminent.

According to one economist, the continued lockout is dealing a minor blow to the Canadian economy:

In Canada, where hockey is part of the national culture, the void is unsettling—and potentially costly.

Doug Porter, deputy chief economist at Canada’s BMO Capital Markets, said earlier in the lockout that a canceled season would shave 0.1% off Canada’s annual gross domestic product. Even if both sides settle, he said, a truncated 2012-13 NHL schedule could pare 0.05% from GDP.

In the grand scheme of things, one-tenth of a percentage point is not a huge economic hit. But it’s occurring because of a craven money grab by the league’s owners at the expense of players.

In addition to demanding that the players give up a percentage of their stake in league revenues, the owners — led by commissioner Gary Bettman — want the right to retroactively alter existing player contracts. As Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson wrote, “The concept that the owners are trying to dismantle existing contracts that they in good faith offered, signed, and committed to is appalling, unprofessional, and disgraceful.” The NHL was profitable before the lockout, but Bettman and the owners want to boost their bottom line at the expense of their employees.

In fact, Bettman expects the players to literally concede to the league’s demands across the board. As New York Post sports columnist Larry Brooks put it, “What the league is proposing — no, what the league is demanding — is that the players accept the most restrictive system in pro sports. Concede on rights. Concede on money.” And in the meantime, the Canadian economy gets the short end of the (hockey) stick.