Welcome to Hockeytown, USA. That’s, uh, Detroit, Michigan for those who don’t know, or who maybe live in another hockey town. The Red Wings used to be the team to beat. They used to go out and buy talent at any price, to make sure that they were the team to beat. Enter the new NHL. Salary caps mean we can’t just go out and buy the best. We have a limit on what we can spend. This leaves the Wings as merely “competitive”. Still, competitive is good, right? We’re contenders. Contenders with a history of disappointing people in the playoffs after coming in at #1 during the regular season. Contenders who used to be “the team to beat”, and despite being #1 in the conference, the fans know a downgrade when they see it.
Now let’s look at the economy. Detroit used to have a pretty good economy. Not the best, by any stretch, but the Big 3 kept us going. Kept good, well-paying jobs in the area. Employed lots of people. Except the economy went down the tubes about 5-6 years ago, and despite what Wall Street says, it hasn’t come back. Wall Street, you see, only cares about the economy at the top level. How the people with cash to spare are doing. Wall Street never looks at housing foreclosures and middle-class bankruptcies as an indicator of economic health. If a company on the NYSE starts doing too badly, the NYSE…. de-lists them. They are no longer a part of the NYSE, and therefore no longer on the economic radar screen. How’s that work as an indicator of our national economy again?
So that leaves us with what? A fan base that has x% (sorry, I don’t know the figure, and I suspect it’s near-impossible to find out) less disposable cash, and a hockey team that has a 43% lower roster salary. And the ticket prices, which skyrocket for the playoffs, cost… 10% less. And people wonder why the arena doesn’t sell out anymore like it always used to? Do the math.
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