The Boston Bruins owners, the Jacobs family finally broke their silence and addressed how they handled compensating their part-time Boston Bruins and TD Garden employees. In a conference call with Michael Silverman of the Boston Globe, Bruins, and Delaware North owner Jeremy Jacobs, along with sons Lou and Charlie, explained why they waited nine days after the 2019-20 NHL season went on pause because of the Coronavirus to create a Workers Fund on March 21.
“Without context, it seems perhaps arbitrary or there’s no rhyme or reason — if you don’t understand the whole picture, it’s very difficult to comprehend, to borrow Jerry’s words, the ‘triage process’ that we went through,” said Charlie as he went on to cite the size of Delaware North and the scope of responsibility they had.
“There was this groundswell of voices saying, ‘Come on, Jacobses, step up,’ and ‘Do this and do that.’ When we got to finally address our part-time associates, it was several days after other teams in other leagues and even other NHL teams had already made plans for game-night associates. But again, those people don’t necessarily have a workforce of 55,000 people, they just don’t have it.”
The Bruins owners also own the Delaware North hospitality, entertainment, and leisure company. Delaware North owns restaurants, casinos, catering, and food services at resorts, stadiums, arenas, and national parks in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand. Prior to the Coronavirus hitting Asia then North America and Europe, there were as Charlie pointed out, 55,000 employees being paid by Delaware North and now after layoffs and furloughs, there’s just 1,100. Those who survived the mass job cutting process – that Charlie called “gut-wrenching” – had to take pay cuts that saw senior staff taking a higher percentage.
Lou admitted that he and his brother were behind the much-maligned delay in getting to the part-time game day staffers in Boston and made sure to point out that father Jerry – who throughout his tenure as owner of the Bruins has been vilified for his miserly ways – was the one pushing the brothers to take care of TD Garden.
“From the outset, it was important to Dad,” said Lou Jacobs. “The Bruins were his early focus, but we were sort of saying, ‘Dad, we’re dealing with this portfolio of businesses here, we’ve got to come up with a better overall strategy for everything else.’ We actually were the ones who put our hands up and said, ‘Can we slow down on that and address that later?’ ”
Jerry was quick to confirm that he was not the main issue behind the delay in Boston.
“I think what got us in trouble really was the time it took for us to get there,” said Jerry Jacobs. “I hope you understand there’s a reason that it took us that time and it wasn’t because we were dispassionate. It’s the opposite. It’s because we were trying to take care of the people we felt needed the most. We did do it, but we just didn’t do it fast enough, and that upset people. But there’s a good reason why.”
Critics have pointed to the Bruins owners $3.4 Billion net worth and say the family had no excuse to handle things the way they did. Jerry explained how much of that money is tied up in various and recent projects, as well as charities like the Bruins foundation.
“I have to tell you when you say ‘great wealth,’ you’re talking about Delaware North Companies, and as Charlie described our capital is largely invested in the business,” said Jerry Jacobs. “It’s sort of like saying, ‘You have a net worth and that includes your house and you have to sell your house in order to have the cash to actually give it away.’ That’s very much the situation we’re in. Our capital is tied up in our business, and our business is basically shut down. So, it’s tied our hands. As much as we want to be more philanthropic in a time of great need, it’s really tied our hands and our ability to do so.