Kathy Willens/AP
From left: New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather, NHL
Commissioner Gary Bettman, former New York Rangers captain Mark Messier, and
Cablevision President James Dolan.

NHL Wants to Hit Rangers Harder

June 23, 2008 05:51 PM
by Josh Katz
Last week the NHL asked a U.S. District Court judge to allow the league to punish the New York Rangers, including a possible suspension or termination of the franchise.

30-Second Summary

The row between the Rangers and the National Hockey League involves the use of advertising in new media that began when the NHL owners voted 25-3 to hand over the digital rights of every team to the NHL. The Rangers objected, and during the 2007 playoffs the league fined the team $100,000 per day for two days for violating the policy.

On Sept. 28, the Rangers initiated legal action when they claimed that the NHL was an “illegal cartel” that had violated antitrust laws, and that its plan to take control of all digital rights was a “blatant expropriation of team assets.”

In November, the court rejected the Rangers’ call for a preliminary injunction to halt the fines. An appeals court affirmed that decision in March, saying that Madison Square Garden, which owns the team, “did not show that the NHL’s Web site ban has had an actual adverse effect on competition in the relevant market.”

The recent action stems from an NHL counterclaim against Madison Square Garden, and asks for permission to proceed with stripping ownership from the Dolan family, who owns MSG and its properties, and possibly terminating the team.
Many observers, including Eric McErlain of AOL Fanhouse, do not believe it will come to that because the Rangers are too valuable to the NHL.

But Rick Westhead of the Toronto Star argues that the demise of the Rangers may not be so bad for the NHL, as a lucrative expansion team could always enter the New York market.

Headline Link: ‘N.H.L. Takes Aggressive Stand Against Rangers’

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