By Akash Vig, Staff Writer
A lot of people seem to be after Gary Bettman these days; but did anyone expect that execs at Molson Coors would be among them? Looks like the players aren’t the only ones whose pockets are apparently feeling lighter. You heard it right, folks: one of the NHL’s most significant corporate sponsors is also seeking compensation for the puck not dropping on time. Despite the Montreal- and Denver-based brewery seeing higher-than-expected sales, it claims that nothing can replace the loss of an NHL season. Molson Coors CEO Peter Swinburn shared his thoughts with The Canadian Press: “Whether it’s people not actually physically going to the venues and consuming there, consuming in venues around the outlet before that, or indeed having NHL sort of parties at home, all of those occasions have disappeared off the map, and you just can’t replicate them.”
Swinburn is partially correct; you can’t replicate those events without an NHL season – but does the situation truly constitute a financial loss? Deprived of hockey, fans have turned their attention to better-known sports in the NBA, NFL, and UFC. Many would conclude that this is primarily the situation south of the border; surprisingly, however, we’ve seen people exploring their tastes in other entertainment types in Canada, too. As a result, people continue to organize sports parties and even visit bars to watch games with friends and family. Admittedly, attendance is likely nowhere near the numbers observed on a hockey night, but the appetite for other games does seem to be steadily increasing.
Contrary to Swinburn’s implication, Molson Coors actually exceeded sales expectations, reporting a 1.5% increase in net profit. This brings the company’s total profit to $197.7 million US in the third quarter based on a 25% increase in revenues. Overall, revenues increased an astounding $1.2 billion US, up from $954 million US a year ago – when the NHL had its most successful season to date. Based on these numbers, the absence of hockey doesn’t seem to have stopped fans from sipping on their favourite beer; Molson Coors shouldn’t have much to complain about. The NHL earned more than $3.8 billion US last year, and other high-profile companies are approaching them to be involved in growing the sport. Suing the NHL may not be the best move for a company that claims its sales will suffer in the long run if hockey does not resume soon. The NHL may put Molson Coors on ice in favour of taking on other projects and perhaps promoting a beer company that actually supports them in times of need.