Letter to the Editor: NHL's warm-weather expansion not a failure

As a reader with multi-faceted interests in your April 23, 2009 article "Out of Bounds," I felt compelled to write a counterpoint to your views.

Let me preface this retort by stating that I am a Dansville, N.Y. native who grew up playing hockey at the SUNY Geneseo rink. I have many friends and colleagues who are GSU graduates, and have the utmost respect for the college, staff, students and community of Geneseo. I state this simply to dissuade the thought process that some clown from Phoenix is writing in to comment on a place and an opinion for which he has no knowledge.

I will start off by saying that while the economy is indeed hitting all professional sports leagues hard, the National Hockey League remains a $2 billion per year industry. It is a 30-team company, and like any company, there are strong and weak links to the business. To put it in perspective, at the end of each season, there is only one team that has achieved its goal of winning the Stanley Cup. The other 29 of us are forced to reflect on our failures and figure a better way of doing business.

However, we all know that the tentacles of our business extend beyond wins and losses, and profit and loss. There is the entertainment aspect, the community service element and charitable endeavors aspect. Are there teams losing money? Yes. Is that the only measuring stick of success? No.

The fact of the matter is that societal tendencies run toward a "winner" and "loser" mentality. As previously stated, the league continues to generate revenues in excess of $2 billion per year. And while a losing team, whether in a "traditional" or "non-traditional" market, goes against that revenue growth, as a league you would have to put the NHL in the "winners" bracket. With these hard numbers, it isn't fair to judge expansion into warm-weather markets a failure.

Being a SUNY Geneseo graduate is an achievement unto itself. If you don't get the job you want in the first year, does that make you a failure? I don't think so.

It all comes down to wins and losses. Everyone forgets that less than 10 years ago the NHL had to rescue "traditional" hockey markets like Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Edmonton and Ottawa from bankruptcy. Then they started winning and - voila - business is good and the people running the teams are geniuses. You win, and people come - it really is as simple as that.

Jeff Holbrook, a 1988 graduate of St. John Fisher, is the chief comminications officer and executive vice president of the Phoenix Coyotes.