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How will the NHL deal with the economic downturn?

More than any major professional sports league, the NHL’s fortunes are directly tied to those of players. And, mostly, it’s been a great deal for both sides. But with the recent economic crash both in the United States and Canada, onlookers are asking whether the boom times will continue.
The 2005 Collective Bargaining Agreement between NHL owners and players has been a pretty good deal for both sides: revenues are at an all-time high — as are payrolls — and franchises keep appreciating in value at a pretty good clip.

But will the good times be interrupted by the recent economic crash in the United States and Canada? The  NHL is the only sports league to operate heavily in both the United States and Canada, and economic woes face both countries: the credit crunch and the housing crisis have put a dent in the American way of life, while declining oil prices and a devalued loonie — now down to 86 cents against the U.S. dollar — have slowed things down north of the border.

How to deal with the present economic reality will be a challenge for team owners — and for players, who now indirectly have a stake in how the league does.

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