From the Hockey News today comes a quick report that at least one Canadian franchise is closely monitoring the ever-changing exchange rate between the the US and Canadian dollars. Habs president Pierre Boivin is apparently very worried about the falling value of the Loonie to the US dollar in these past 3 months. As I've discussed earlier, the NHL's revenues are, at the margin, greatly affected by this exchange rate especially when viewed in relation to the salaries teams are committed to paying out. Every day that the exchange rate stays below $0.90 CAD to $1 USD (which was the average exchange rate during last season) is another day closer to the current salary cap looking like an unsustainable level.
While attendance numbers are supposedly at record levels, some are beginning to sift through the numbers to question just how exaggerated they are when still the New York Islanders are being advertised at having 13000+ people at their games, which anyone who actually watches an Isles game can tell you is only possible if the guy doing the head count works for AIG's Mortgage Securities Division. Of course the NHL's numbers count tickets sold, not butts in seats. And in this blogger's mind I have to wonder waht's more pathetic in these hard times, paying for an Islanders ticket and not going, or actually having to sit through a game at the Mausoleum.
What I don't think is realistic for Mr. Boivin to be speculating on is the long-term health of the Canadian franchises. Conditions between the two countries are completely different today than in 2001-03 when teams like Edmonton and Calgary were struggling to keep up with the Joneses south of the 498th parallel. Their arenas are packed and the fans happy and spending money. It will, in my opinion, now be the American franchises that cannot attract a big enough audience *Cough* Florida *Cough* New Jersey* *Cough* to sustain a viable business. With entertainment dollars shrinking more people will choose, rationally, substitute one live hockey game for a full season's subscription to Center Ice. All those 2nd mortgages and house-flipping profits aren't there to fuel season ticket sales in marginal NHL towns like Miami and Phoenix.