NHL Threatens To Kick MSG Out Of The League?

The NHL reminds more and more of an abandoned fantasy team; any points they score are just out of blind luck. Take for instance the legal action enacted by Gary Bettman & Co. late yesterday.

The league has gone to the courts to request the right to discipline the owners of the New York Rangers, the Dolan-run MSG group, after MSG sued the league for trying to limit the team’s attempts to run a website and engage in marketing and promotional endeavors independent of the NHL.

Madison Square Garden New York Rangers

In the NHL’s newest legal manuever, the league is threatening to terminate MSG’s ownership of the team, which could mean that the world’s most famous arena would no longer host Rangers games.

Confused yet?

From SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY (subscription req’d.):

The NHL has proposed disciplinary proceedings against MSG that could result in the suspension or termination of their ownership of the NHL Rangers, according to a draft letter written by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman that was filed in New York district court late yesterday. The letter, part of the league’s ongoing legal fight against MSG, alleges that MSG — by suing the NHL — has violated the league constitution.

The NHL wants to assume all control of team marketing and promotion — as part of a sort of centralized outfit, like the NFL does — but the Rangers, knowing the distinct difference between the NHL and the NFL, balked, and sued the league to get out of the agreement. “Bring me my lawyers!”

The NHL [Board Of Governors] would hear the case against MSG and an affirmative vote of three-fourths of the members present would be required to sustain a charge. The board also would vote on appropriate sanctions, which could include: suspension or termination of MSG’s membership in the NHL; a fine; or any other action the board deems appropriate.

If the NHL does begin disciplinary proceedings against the NHL, MSG would be able to present a defense to the BOG, but it would not be allowed to challenge a termination of its Rangers ownership in court.

Wow, and I thought understanding icing was confusing. The NHL has no real mandate (or ability) to take away the marketing and promotion of its best team. The Rangers, being in such a saturated market with so many options for disposable income, shouldn’t be expected to leave such a vital component of their operation in the league’s hands.

What benefit the league gets from ticking off its most valuable U.S. team is beyond me. Hopefully the idiocy of the courts will trump the idiocy of the league, and we can go back to ignoring hockey properly.