Tag Archives: NHL business

If Scoring Goes Up, Interest Goes Up, Business Goes Up, Everyone Wins

8b10b428b410cc406dd958debd6b1ffcSo the other day I went off about the refs not just in the NHL, but the whole culture/mentality that goes with officiating in hockey.  It was GLORIOUS!  I should have wrote that one a long time ago.  The NHL specifically needs to get this cleaned up ASAP.  One of the benefits to this would be that it would help increase scoring.  But obviously other things are being discussed to increase scoring this week as well and I figured I may as well chime in on that as well because I know you can’t get enough of me.

 

So the goaltending equipment is obviously the big one.  I loved the segment Corey Hirsch did on it a few weeks back.  And I’m liking what I’m hearing from Kay Whitmore about this.  But….I’ll believe it when I see it.  First comment that I personally heard from a goaltender about this was Ryan Miller.  Talk about a guy who is worried.  He stuttered through the entire clip I seen and came up with really lame reasons as to why they shouldn’t rush to do this.  Some of it was logical, but it was pretty obvious he’s worried.

 

My worry is that you’ll get more goaltenders like Miller going to Don Fehr, and you know Fehr loves to fight with the league over anything he can.  The players outnumber the goalies, so I would HOPE that common sense takes over here and the PA realizes more goals and more action is what’s best for the sport.  Even if we get smaller equipment though, I’m fully expecting about a 5% decrease, not 20% like Hirsch suggested, which isn’t enough.

 

While they’re at it, could they PLEASE ban all white equipment?  I’ve hit on this a ton before, but I will again.  These guys are wearing all white to make themselves look bigger and if it didn’t have an affect, they wouldn’t do it.  We are seeing this season more goaltenders move away from it.  Corey Crawford, Scott Darling, Brian Elliott, Eddie Lack and most recently Jimmy Howard are wearing dark or gear and that’s how it should be.  I have suggested in the past that a 3 inch border before any white can be applied on the pads, glove and blocker, and 80% of the pads, glove and blocker have to be a dark or bright colour.  So for example, an Oilers goaltender could have primarily blue or orange gear, but not white.  A Flames goaltender could have black, red or even gold gear, but not white.  Will it have a BIG impact?  Probably not.  But it is another little edge that is easy to take away from the goaltenders.

 

I like what Mike Babcock said when asked about it.  When asked if it would help much Babcock said (paraphrasing because I can’t find the exact quote) “Nope.  The guys in net are still too big for the nets they’re guarding.”  And he’s right.

 

These nets were made for guys who are 5’8, 170.  Today, the smallest starter in the league is Jaroslav Halak who is 5’11, 180.  He and Jonas Enroth I BELIEVE are the only tendy’s in the league under 6’0.  Last year there were 4, but Dustin Tokarski and Anton Khudobin are both out of the NHL (both with Anaheim ironically).

 

Spare me your “messing with tradition” story.  Goaltenders have been “messing with tradition” for 15 seasons now by wearing the gear they wear.  Guys will be scoring on a bigger net than Gretzky did?  Right, and they’ll be scoring on goaltenders nearly twice as big and about five times quicker than Gretzky did.

 

I’m not advocating for nets to increase in size just yet.  Let’s shrink the equipment, let’s clean up the officiating to free up more skilled players, let’s try to come up with other changes that can be made first (maybe adjusting the PP rules).  But I’m definitely not against increasing the size of the nets.  Should it come to that, I would take the average size of a goaltender in 1985 or around that time, and increase the nets by the same percentage that the average size of a goaltender has increased to today.

 

As for those who say you then have to increase it at all levels and it’ll start to get expensive…why?  That has to be the dumbest argument against it I’ve heard.  You do it in the AHL, ECHL, and MAYBE you do it at the CHL and NCAA levels.  But you don’t HAVE to do it for the CHL or NCAA, and you don’t have to at all levels.  Different leagues have different sized ice, so they can also have different sized nets.  Should we increase the size of players, or speed, or shot power in lower levels of hockey so they are equivilant to the NHL too?  Things get tougher in pro hockey, so the nets can be that way too.  I don’t hear anyone bitching about there being different dimensions in baseball stadiums, so why are we so concerned with increasing the size of the nets?  Nobody is wanting them to be soccer size, just enough of an increase so that today’s goaltenders are as proportionate to them as they were 25-30 years ago.  And yes, I’m fully aware most of you disagree with this opinion.

 

So one more thing to hit on and that had been discussed at the GM meetings was the coach’s challenge.  A lot of people have a problem with it, yet the NHL isn’t changing it.  I have a solution.

 

The big problem those people have is with the chintzy ones that take forever.  The spirit of the rule was put in so that the obvious ones could get overturned.  Wednesday night in Edmonton there was an obvious one that took no time at all.

 

So what’s the solution to this?  Put a clock on it.  Refs have 1:00, or maybe 1:30 to look at it.  If they can’t establish that it’s offside or goaltender interference by then, times up.  It’s inconclusive, call on the ice stands.  Pretty simple.  And you only put the clock on coach’s challenges, that way normal replay can take the time to determine whether a puck was high sticked or kicked in.

 

It blows my mind that I can figure that out by giving it 5 minutes of thought, yet you watch, it’ll be 5 years of 10 minute reviews over whether or not a guys foot was on the ice or not on an offside call before the league finally comes to this realization.

 

I just don’t get why it isn’t important for this league to be constantly looking to improve their product.  Things have to get awful before they’ll do anything.  I’m sure I’ll be writing this piece for the remaining Bettman years, but I pray I don’t.

 

Clean it up fella’s!  Players putting wigs and capes on during the All-Star game won’t increase your fan base, a better on ice product will.

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

How to Get Rid of the Crickets

632pm1funkjFor all you guys who retweet anyone who fashions themselves to be an NHL insider, you can now stop being morons.  There are about 6 guys who are reputable.  Someone from the 4th period, or Eklund, or some stupid shit like that, learn your lesson.  These people are looking for attention, they aren’t reputable.  So when you buy into the shit out there and then cry that nothing happened at the deadline, that’s on you.  I’m not surprised at all that next to nothing happened, because I don’t listen to what anyone has to say except the beat writers for each team and the ACTUAL inside guys.

 

While I rant about that off the top, the fact is that a slow trade deadline does suck, even if you have low expectations for it.  So what can be done to improve what used to be one of the best days on the NHL calendar?

 

Make no mistake, this is a problem for the fans, not for the GM’s, and likely not for the league.  It’ll never be a problem for the GM’s.  The league will only feel like this is an issue until the ratings start to really fall.  I doubt they did today.  I would guess they fell off this morning, but at 1PM MST I guarantee with hardly anything having happened to that point the ratings went up a lot.

 

But at some point this show is going to get bad and people are going to stop watching.  I would think that it would be good for the league to keep this going.  I’m sure the ad dollars for Sportsnet and TSN must be good for trade deadline, otherwise why in the hell are they both starting at 8AM, 6AM MST?

 

The NBA has stumbled into something like NHL trade deadline used to be, their free agency.  NBA free agency has become a major event for NBA fans due to a 4 year cap on contracts as well as the limitations put on extending contracts of players.  And this gets the NBA a ton of discussion on sports talk shows, in newspapers and in blogs.  It’s good for the league.

 

So with that in mind, I have 3 suggestions for the NHL to really free things up for trade deadline day and get it back to being a marquee day in the NHL.

 

1) Move the deadline ahead to mid March.  This is where it was pre 2005 lockout, and we saw a lot more action then.  Why?  Other than there being no cap, more teams were officially out of it and more willing to sell off pieces.  GM’s bitched about this because they said it didn’t give players enough time to implement themselves in the team.  Well then do your deal a month before the deadline.  But later on in the year will not only give you more sellers, it gives teams a little more cap space to play with.

 

2) This is something that can’t happen until the next CBA, so we are a LONG way off here, but what about a 10% cap increase on the ceiling, decrease on the floor kicking in around the deadline?  In the offseason that is already the way it works, and it would really take the shackles off some teams.  There would still be a cap, you would still need to balance your assets, but it would definitely make it easier to do things.

 

3) The last one I have is more of a full season thing than just for the deadline, and again is a CBA issue, but I still don’t understand why teams can’t just retain salary and not have to retain the cap space as well.  What difference does this make to the owners?  Jim Dolan or MLSE would GLADLY pay for a bad contract to get rid of his cap hit.  And the small market teams could get better players without having to pay them.  So while retaining cap/salary on a player does help moves, the option to simply just retain the money on a player and be able to move the cap hit to a team would be massive.  It is still too restrictive right now.  Allow teams to eat up to 70% (up from 50%) of a players salary, and have the option to eat just his salary, without having to retain any cap.  And make it so that you can retain only for a certain amount of time on the deal.  Right now, if the Oilers for example wanted to retain a million on Jordan Eberle, they have to for every season on the rest of his deal (3 years).  If they had more flexibility on how long to retain salary, it would help.  Bryan Bickell wouldn’t be a Blackhawk.  Dustin Brown would no longer be an LA King.  Keep the number low for how many players you can do this on (right now it’s a max of 3, MAYBE you go to 4), but there just isn’t enough wiggle room for these teams to correct their mistakes right now.  That’s not good for the game.  It’s like the intentional fouling of awful free throw shooters in the NBA.  Yes I know, it’s pathetic.  Learn to hit your free throws.  But some players are going to be awful free throw shooters no matter how hard they work at it and that still won’t change that strategy.  NHL GM’s need to learn not to be painfully stupid, but no matter what you do they’ll still do stupid things, they’re human.  So help them correct the problem because nobody wins when they can’t.

 

Those are my idea’s.  It’s funny, because the players in 2005 were open to a luxury tax system and not a cap.  Just about all fans were dead set against this idea.  But in hindsight, a luxury tax might have been best for the league.  More trade action means more discussion about the league.  And more discussion about the league will lead to higher TV ratings and ticket sales.  Higher TV ratings and ticket sales obviously leads to more revenue.

 

Maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe I’m just a fan who is disappointed that what used to be such an intriguing day is now basically nothing.  But I think and hope the league wants it to be more intriguing.  At this point on what I suggested, other than the first one, their hands are tied until the next CBA.  But hopefully one day they look at some of what I have suggested and I’m sure others will suggest as well to help free up GM’s to make moves.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

10 Years Later

2004-05-nhl-lockoutBob and Gary.  Who didn’t LOVE that soap opera?!  Yes it’s now been 10 years since that fight took place.  At this time 10 years ago, most people already knew we weren’t going to see hockey in the spring of 2005.  The bigger question was, would we see it before the fall of 2006?

 

Isn’t that crazy it got that bad?  At the time I personally took it for granted because we had been told that was likely going to happen.  The NHLPA basically instructed all their players to tell the media they had been preparing for this lockout and they were ready to miss 2 full seasons of hockey.  Right.  I in no way was buying that, and of course they were one and done.

 

The players talked one big game at the time.  Bob Goodenow had his guys really believing that there was no way they would ever be accepting an evil salary cap.  And they had every right to believe the man.  Goodenow basically destroyed Bettman in the 94-95 lockout.  But thanks to that, the league was in total shambles by 2004 and was desperate for a complete overhaul.

 

Not all of this was Goodenow’s fault.  He didn’t put a gun to any of the owners heads and tell them to drive up the prices.  And as we all know now, organizations can be just as good operating on a budget.  But the problem was no GM or owner wanted to study the system and figure out how they could make it work.  Instead they just followed suit of the way everyone else was running it….except Lou Lamoriello, but he would get crushed for having the most boring team in hockey.

 

The league and the dinosaurs whom they let run it flat out refused to really look at how they could make their on ice product better.  All through the early 2000’s the play on the ice was disgusting.  It was soccer on ice and nobody wanted to upset the apple cart.  You can’t pin that on the NHLPA.  The game was dominated by size, clutching and grabbing, and goaltenders.

 

The league had no clue how to market.  They had a guy in Mike Modano who was an exciting, personable, good looking, American kid on a big market team.  Modano should have been the David Beckham of hockey, and yet nobody outside of NHL fans knew who he was.  Instead, they focused on marketing the Avs and Wings rivalry that really wasn’t much of a heated rivalry after 1999.

 

But back to the lockout.  It wasn’t just a matter of the league and the PA being worlds apart.  A deal likely could have been struck within a few months.  No, it was quite literally personable between Bettman and Goodenow.  They denied it, but everyone knew it.  In fact, in late January of 2005 it had gotten so bad, and negotiations weren’t anywhere close to happening between the two sides, that the league and PA had to send the late Harley Hotchkiss and Trevor Linden respectively to meet in Chicago to try to just get the two men back to the table!

 

Bettman was never going to make a deal, and that I believe is the opinion of most.  He knew the whole time that while he had to negotiate in good faith, he only had to wait the players out for the season.  Which wasn’t an issue because the majority of teams were bleeding money at the time just trying to stay competitive with organizations like Detroit, Toronto, Philly, the Rangers, Colorado and Dallas.  Don’t forget, Ottawa, Pittsburgh and Buffalo all went bankrupt in the early 2000’s.  Keeping the lights out for the season likely helped a few of the owners.

 

This resulted in destroying the PA.  If Bob Goodenow destroyed the NHL in 94-95, the league blew up the PA in 04-05.  Goodenow stepped down once the deal was finally reached, Ted Saskin took over but that didn’t last long as the players simply didn’t trust each other and Saskin was quickly kicked to the curb.  As was Glenn Healy, Eric Lindros, Trevor Linden, Paul Kelly, on and on and on.

 

Make no mistake though, the league and the sport was better for it.  They finally decided to take a serious look at overhauling the game to make it more wide open and skill friendly.  No longer was a 5’11 or 5’10 kid deemed far too small to play in the league.  6’5, 240 pound D-men weren’t common.  And teams didn’t have to trap all game just to have any shot against a team as the talent was actually now spread out thanks to the salary cap and linkage between revenues and salaries.

 

And while the game suffered short term with a TV deal in the States and getting terrible numbers, there is no comparison today.  The game still has many issues, but TV numbers at least in the playoffs are healthy, attendance is great in most spots around the league, and the quality of play on the ice is not even comparable despite scoring not being much higher.

 

I compare the 04-05 lockout to the very first Hertiage Classic in Edmonton.  I went to that game, and when I got home people asked me how it was?  “It was a great experience, never f***in again!”  It was -25 that day if you don’t recall.  Well, I guess I wouldn’t call that lockout a great experience, but it had to happen….and let’s pray it never gets that bad again.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

Expansion

Vegas

 

So I don’t know if this is going to be any good, but I just wanted to talk about it.  Kind of like talking about hooking up with a girl (not that I ever have, still a virgin, waiting for marriage).  Nobody likely cares about the story, but you want to tell it since you just got some for the first time in 6 months and will likely embellish what she looked like if said person you’re telling wasn’t there.

 

Who knows what’s going to happen here.  The league should expand.  I know many of you are going to say there are already far too many teams and I agree.  I think we all agree that 24 would be the perfect number.  But this isn’t about the product on the ice, it is about money as most things in life are.  More teams means more money, it’s as simple as that.

 

Bettman will swear that it hasn’t been discussed, but it has.  How could it not be?!  How could ways to bring your owners more money never be discussed?  Bettman’s biggest problem from a PR standpoint is that he treats the fans like they’re absolute morons.  In his defense, 50-75% of us likely are (I know I am).  But you simply shouldn’t talk down to the fans no matter how stupid we can be and are.

 

But that’s who he is an he isn’t going to change.  ANYWAY, I don’t doubt that the league is looking at expansion.  Now when the reports came out in the summer, they said that the league was looking at expanding by 4 teams.  THAT I believe to be total BS.  34 teams makes little sense at all, but 32 is the perfect number of teams.  16 in each conference, 8 in each division.  And while 34 would mean even more money, you can’t water down the product so much at once, which is what they did in 99-01 when they expanded by 4 teams and the product became horrific.

 

What I do believe or would believe is that they are looking at 4 markets to go to.  2 of those markets will get expansion teams, 2 will get relocated teams.  If the cities reported are correct (Seattle, Las Vegas, Toronto and Quebec City) then what makes far and away the most sense is to give expansion teams to Toronto and Quebec City, move franchises to Seattle and Vegas.

 

Fantasy should become reality in the next few years for the NHL starved fans of Quebec City.

I’m a frequent listener of the Dan Patrick show (far and away the best sports talk radio show) and Dan was actually told about Vegas happening early in the summer, before any reports came out.  Dan had spoken with someone who was working with the league on the deal and was told Vegas will happen.  Dan Patrick doesn’t report things he hears very often, but when he does let his listeners and viewers in on something like that, his source is rock solid and he’s got zero reason to make something like that up.

 

Patrick also mentioned that his source spoke of it not needing to be expansion and that the 2 teams to keep an eye on moving are Arizona (obviously) and Carolina.  I believe what was said about Carolina was that Peter Karmanos would want a lot for his team, but they could be had.  At least that’s what I recall, could be wrong.

 

The Canes as I will lay out in my team previews, are a total mess so there is a pretty good chance that team being out of the playoffs at least the next 2 years which would make 9 of the last 10 years….in the East which has been much less of a meat grinder than the West.  Despite winning a Cup and appearing in another final, they’ve only made the playoffs 5 times in the 16 seasons they’ve been in Raleigh.  In comparison, even the Oilers have made the playoffs more in that time.  And they play in the West!

 

So I won’t be anything shocked if they’re on the move, and the Yotes almost certainly will although we have thought that forever and it still hasn’t happened.  I would bet in the next 5 years though, the Canes and the Yotes will be in either Vegas or Seattle.

 

Then we have the expansion teams in Canada.  Expansion teams go to the Canadian cities because we will be sure bets to stick with bad teams for at least 5 years while they build.  But how fun with the cap would an expansion draft now be?!  Because you wouldn’t get the old school expansion drafts where the 12th and 13th guys on the roster were made available.  No this time around it would be the bad contracts that would be available.

 

8711_1974_75_larry_ma
Toronto Toros 2.0?  Who knows what the team would be called, but a 2nd NHL team in Toronto is coming.

Sure, they wouldn’t be the most glamorous players, but they would be legit NHL players and it could help these expansion teams get better much quicker than normal.  That would be a lot of fun to see that all shake down!

 

Also don’t forget, Rogers paid 5.2 billion for the national rights in this country.  It would be far from the only reason they did it, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the people in those meetings were told that more Canadian teams would be on the way to make that money well spent.  It just makes all the sense in the world for everyone involved.

 

So it’ll happen.  Teams will move (there are obviously more teams than the Coyotes and Hurricanes as possibilities) and expansion is coming.  Bettman has to claim nothing is happening, just like he had to claim nothing was happening as far as a team moving to Winnipeg 3 years ago.  It’s not a matter of “if”, it’s a matter of “when”.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

Face of the League

nhl_g_kane2_sy_300This is something that I’ve wanted to write for a while now.  More of a rant than anything good or clever, but it needs to be said.  It’s a perfect example of how dumb the people running and marketing the NHL are.  And trust me, outside of a few classes I am definitely no marketing guy, but it seems pretty clear to me that the league can’t see the forest through the trees on this one.

 

The NHL endlessly pushes Sidney Crosby as the face of the league.  Is he the best player in hockey?  Absolutely, although I really believe it is closer between him and Toews than anyone wants to admit, just recently Toews has been getting put in the conversation by fans.  If I had to rank it today, I would likely say Crosby, Toews, Getzlaf, Kopitar, and Doughty in that order.

 

None of those guys should be the FACE of the league.  By face of the league I assume you know what I mean but in case you don’t….I’m talking about it’s most recognizable player.  The player who your average fan knows best.  The player who goes on Jimmy Fallon, does national commercials, and who the media goes to on all the big issues.

 

That guy should be a highlight reel type of player who is one of, if not THE most skilled player in the game.  Preferably American since it is more vital to the league that they sell the game in the States (they don’t need to sell the game up here….there aren’t any seats left!)  He should have a lot of personality.  He should be playing in a big U.S. market.  He should be quotable.  And he should be playing on a winner.

 

Yet Patrick Kane, while very well known, isn’t the face of the league.  Someone please explain to me why?!  Sid is great and doesn’t do a thing wrong, but he doesn’t have the personality to carry the league.  How is it that Ovechkin was this guy 5 years ago, but they haven’t pushed Kane to be this guy now?!  Ovy was exciting, but is Kane not?

 

3acfd70acfab1152a33524b87c94358dAnd with Kane he’s not only going to do something memorable most nights, he’s one of the most clutch players in the game!  Stanley Cup winning goal, Conn Smythe trophy, how about that goal in game 6 vs LA this spring to force game 7 in the WCF.  I haven’t heard Bob Cole say “WOAH…BABY!” with that much enthusiasm in 20 years!  He hits everything on the list that you want.

 

You’ll never hear me advocate that Kane is the best player in the league.  Not close, he’s not even close to the best player on his own team!  But this guy should be at the forefront of everything NHL.  When I first started this site, I wrote about how they completely missed the boat on Mike Modano being this guy.  And I also talked about how Modano should have been to hockey what David Beckham was to Euro Football in that he wasn’t ever the best player in the sport, but he was seen as the biggest star in the sport.

 

Patrick Kane is the biggest star in hockey, it’s just that the league is too stupid to let him shine to his full potential.  Don Draper would go nuts over this guy!  Maybe someone reading this who knows marketing better than I do can help me out with it.  But until then, I’ll be left asking the question.  And in true NHL fashion….I’m guessing I’ll never get it answered.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

A “Got’s to Go” Siutation

 

0222-oly-fitz-hockey

Well now the debate will really begin.  The pressure will be on from a public point of view, it’ll be on from a Canadian point of view, and it’ll likely be on from a player point of view.  Do you or don’t you go to South Korea in 2018?  I understand the owners side of things.  Charles Wang had to watch his superstar go down for the rest of the season while wearing a team Canada uniform.  But of course this is only the owners 2nd greatest fear in terms of going to the Olympics.

 

The number 1 fear for them of course is money.  The Olympics don’t help the owners financially.  But they have to remember why they went to the Olympics in the first place.  It was intended to grow the game, and so they went to Japan in 1998.  At that time, the whole motto of Gary Bettman’s owners was to spend money to grow the game.  They were willing to go to the Olympics, spend millions to keep teams in markets like Phoenix, Miami, and Raleigh.  It wasn’t about the short term, it was about the long term.

 

We as Canadians hated it, but you are starting to see major signs that it has worked.  Slowly, but surely it has worked.  So what is wrong with trying to grow it in South Korea?  Will they?  It’s doubtful, we haven’t seen any signs that the game took in Japan (not to sterotype Asian countries, just that hockey isn’t anywhere close to the radar in either country).  But you never know.

 

world_cup_hockey.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterbox
Nobody even remembers the last World Cup of Hockey in 2004. It will be a long time before it can establish itself

But what I DO in fact know is that a World Cup of hockey should happen, but it shouldn’t replace the Olympics….at least not yet.  Now why am I saying that?  Because hockey gets major attention in the United States when it is best on best in the Olympics.  Look at what happened when they played Russia.  The entire country was watching and T.J. Oshie instantly became a household name….and that was just a round robin game!

 

A World Cup of hockey will get nowhere near that same attention that the Olympics will, and it maybe never will.  But at least keep going to the Olympics while you establish the World Cup of hockey.  And if you’re going to have a World Cup of hockey, then you have to do it at mid season, in between the Olympics.  So that would mean that you do the first one in 2016.  So why then?  Well, it is a dead time of year on the sports calender.  Sure the NHL and NBA are normally going.  But the NFL is done, MLB hasn’t started up yet, and the NCAA tournament is still about a month away.  It is a perfect time to strike.  If you do it when you have done the Canada Cup’s and World Cup’s previously (early September) you are competing with both the NFL and college football.  You will not receive attention in the States.

 

Another factor I’m sure that will play into this is where the 2022 Olympic games end up going.  I recall 2006, and at that time it was said the NHL was only going to Torino Italy because they would for sure be going to Vancouver in 2010.  What happens if the 2022 games are awarded to Calgary (who are rumored to be considering bidding for the 2022 games)?  You’re going then.  So then why only pull out for 2018, which was the same logic as to why they went to Torino.

 

It’ll be intriguing to follow, and the NHL claims they will make their decision in 6 months.  I think they’ll end up feeling the pressure to go yet again, and it’ll muddy things up and in no way will they make a call in 6 months.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the comments from a bunch of the owners and talking about making a quick decision to not go is just a ploy by the NHL to try to get the I.O.C. to fork over some of the revenue in return for the NHL going, but that is just my theory.

 

Now, before I end this, I thought wouldn’t it be fun to take my first stab at what the team Canada roster would look like.  First of all, I’m going to guess that with Steve Yzerman already saying he isn’t going to come back to be Canada’s Executive Director, that Bob Nicholson wastes little time asking Joe Sakic to do it.  Also, I believe with Wayne Gretzky not involved with a team that he might be a candidate to come back to the job.  One more thought, although it would be extremely difficult to pull off….what if you allow the cook to buy the groceries?  Would they maybe consider offering the duel role of Executive Director and head coach to Mike Babcock?  Lots of options.  Here is what the team could look like….I hope your floor is clean because your jaw might hit it.

 

McDavid
McDavid could be a superstar by 2018, as could MacKinnon, and adding them to a healthy Tavares and Stamkos could make for the best team Canada ever in 2018

Tavares – Crosby – Stamkos

McDavid – Toews – MacKinnon

Hall – Nugent-Hopkins – Bergeron

Benn – Getzlaf – Perry

Duchene  Seguin

 

 

Other possible options:

Giroux/Couture/Johansen/S.Reinhart/Carter/M.Richards/E.Staal/Eberle/Drouin/Huberdeau

Scheifele/Skinner/Monahan/Lazar/Marchand/Perron

 

Keith – Doughty

Rielly – Weber

Bouwmeester – Pietrangelo

M.Staal – Subban

 

Other possible options: Vlasic/Letang/Alzner/Ryan Murray/Nurse/Hamilton/G.Reinhart/Morrissey/Morin/Gormley

 

Price

Bernier

Crawford

Other possible options: Holtby/Fleury/Ward/Allen

 

People can make fun of the hockey summit that was held after the 1998 Olympics, but we have benefited from it.  Won 5 straight Golds at the WJC, and EASILY could have been 7.  Sure we haven’t won it now in 5 years, but only 1 of those years did we have all hands on deck.  If we had all our guys and were on NHL ice every year, we would hardly ever lose.  3 out of 4 Golds now in hockey.  The year we didn’t win is pretty widely regarded as the most messed up season in NHL history due to the 2005 lockout and all the rule changes that took place in the 05-06 season.

 

NHL owners…go.  It can only help grow the game.  You just signed a 5.25 billion dollar TV deal.  Revenue’s are going through the freaking roof.  You have 4 years to budget for 2 weeks of dark rinks….which really is a lie because those 3 or 4 gates you don’t get in that time get made up for.  It’s not as if the NHL knocks 8 games off the schedule to do this.  If you’re serious about wanting to continually grow the game, then you’ll go.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

White, out!

 

I’ve been wanting to write this piece for a couple of years now, but never had enough to write about.  Not that this one will be upwards of 2,000 words or anything, but I can make it long enough and make it look like an actual respectable piece of writing….for me anyway…

 

So the NHL has been looking at ways in recent years to make life more difficult for goaltenders.  And they’re talking about all these different things they could do.  How it is so difficult to downsize their gear I have no clue.  It is not a protection issue, they’re all plenty protected.  I believe the issue with goaltenders is some of them are worried that if some real restrictions come in on things like blocker, glove and pad size that their numbers will significantly decrease.

 

But the PA should be fighting for the best interest of the players, and the best interest of the players is to have the most entertaining brand you can put on the ice so revenues go way up and in that salaries would go way up.  If it is easier to score, it’ll limit how much teams can sit back and there for make a more entertaining game.  Why are 60 out of 700 plus players running the show on this?

 

Anyway, so goaltenders fight tooth and nail on ANYTHING the league tries to do to lessen the gear.  The one thing that the league could do which goaltenders likely wouldn’t have any argument for is restricting the mainly white equipment.  However, this is completely lost on the league.  How?  I have no clue, other than it’s the NHL and they’re terrified to make any changes to their game in the interest of entertainment.

 

But what could the goaltenders say?  That wouldn’t be a safety concern.  I don’t know that it would help a ton, but it would help.  You do notice a difference when goaltenders wear white gear and when they wear dark stuff.  It obviously doesn’t make them bigger, but they look bigger.  It also blends in with the mesh making it more difficult to see how much net a shooter has to work with.

 

At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, I really believe these guys are being told by their organizations that they have to wear white.  If there is one thing I’ve figured out about goaltenders over the years is that they’re a pretty stylish bunch.  Look at what most of them do for the outdoor games.  They get new gear, and none of it is plain old white.  It seems to me like the shackles are taken off for those one off’s.  Not everyone does it (goaltenders hate breaking in new gear), but a lot of them do.

 

The Florida Panthers are the only team as far as I can tell who might not have this rule.  Tim Thomas this season has pads that are mainly red.  Scott Clemmenson a few years ago had the same thing going on.  Jonas Hiller might not have restrictions in Anaheim, and he especially didn’t in the outdoor game when he wore his orange Koho’s.  But for the large majority, I really believe organizations are telling these guys that they have to wear white.  And maybe for most goaltenders, they don’t have to be told.  They probably want to wear white to get that edge.

 

Marc+Andre+Fleury+Toronto+Maple+Leafs+v+Pittsburgh+O682v1u3iU8x MAFIn doing research for this piece, I stumbled across an article from the Toronto Star last March that did a WAY better job than I ever could.  I wanted to find the article from the Pittsburgh Gazette which told the story of how Marc-Andre Fleury was specifically told to switch from his yellow pads, to white pads and how his numbers got dramatically better.  They give you that, and a whole lot more:

www.thestar.com/sports/hockey/2013/03/05/do_white_pads_give_goaltenders_an_unfair_advantage.html

Now, whether you just read that or not I don’t know, but if you didn’t they do in fact point out that Kay Whitmore from the NHL has taken notice of this issue, but that it’s not on the table.  HOW?!?!?!  Are you THAT dumb???  I would love to hear ONE good reason why the NHL, who claim they are always looking at ways to increase scoring and put a more entertaining product on the ice for it’s fans, would avoid doing anything about this….ONE.  

 

I can understand it for minor hockey or for that matter anyone who has to purchase their own gear.  Different teams means different colors and white will go with all the different uniforms.  You want to have gear that goes with the uniforms and kids can’t be changing their gear every year to keep up with whatever team they play on next.

 

Potvin1 patrick-roy-demandC17544A23552E3DD441FFFC8C34946

But for multi millionaire’s who likely don’t have to pay for their gear, this is insane.  It takes personality right out of the game.  At the risk of sounding like a dinosaur, I was raised on goaltenders like Felix Potvin, Ed Belfour, Patrick Roy, Bill Ranford, Curtis Joseph, Tevor Kidd, Damian Rhodes, Kelly Hrudy, and on and on and on who were goaltenders who at least on the ice had a ton of personality.  And they were goaltenders who made saves, not just blocked shots.  Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that the style of how you play the position has changed dramatically from those days, I get that.  But the personality can still be there.  You could tell Cujo apart from all the other goaltenders.

 

4_Braden_HoltbyNHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Chicago Blackhawksuntitled-10-2

Today, when they put on their stuff, if they all had on the same jersey you can’t tell one from another!  Optically it’s terrible.  And I just can’t for the life of me figure out why the NHL wouldn’t be looking to change this?  If goaltenders have more personailty, then they’re more marketable.  If white gear does help (and obviously it does when everyone is wearing it), then get rid of it if you actually want to try to find way’s to increase scoring.  Otherwise, quit telling everyone that you want to increase scoring.

 

Might not seem like a big deal, and might not do much of anything to increase scoring in the NHL.  But it can’t  hurt in anyway.  Manufacturers want this rule changed, I’m sure skaters would like this rule change, there is no safety reason to not do it, yet the league….as always…just can’t seem to get something that should be so simple and easy, correct.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

New World Order

 

I’m a guy who always loves to look at different angles when it comes to sports stories.  I don’t know if I’m good at it or not, but I try to take a different angle/approach to things.  I’m big on going the opposite way.  When everyone zigs, I zag.  Well this time I don’t know that I’m going against the grain with this opinion, but I sure as heck haven’t heard anyone else bring up this comparison.

 

bettman
Rogers and the NHL announced their new 12 year, 5.2 billion dollar partnership to the shock of just about everyone in Canada.

In the midst of an out and out media war in this country between Rogers and Bell right now, Rogers steps up to the plate with a 5.2 billion dollar bombshell this week and acquires full control over the NHL broadcasting rights in Canada.  It is ground breaking, it is a huge blow to TSN, it’s a blow to Hockey Night in Canada (despite what the people at Rogers are pimping right now), and it got a little disgusting how much the people at Sportsnet were patting themselves on the back this week, but you really can’t blame them.

 

 

 

Now, I doubt they make money off of it.  But the thing is, its not about the advertising dollars for Rogers.  If they make money, that’s a bonus.  I don’t believe the networks that have the NFL in the US make money off of it.  The reason they pay so much to get the broadcasting rights is to promote your other programing.  Rogers will benefit this way with the NHL, but this is about Rogers building towards having a monopoly in this country.  By no means are the people at Bell Media saints.  But you really do get the sense that Rogers goal is to eliminate Bell.

 

I keep thinking about that commercial for FX and how at the very end of it they say “not available on Bell”.  Its like they go out of their way to point that out.  Thanks Rogers, but the shows are available in many other ways (iTunes, CinemaNow, anyone who has American Netflix), so really you don’t NEED to get FX like they want you to believe.  I watch Sons of Anarchy and The League on iTunes, I’ll gladly stick with Bell TV thanks.

 

But I truely believe that THIS is the ultimate goal for Rogers, and I’ve never got the sense that Bell is looking to do that to Rogers.  The philosophy seems to be if you can hurt your opposition than that’s good.  They’ll be weakened and fade and eventually there will only be Rogers.  So with that said, if you have seen the WWE documentary “The Monday Night War”, then you know what I’m comparing this to.

 

In that they interview Vince McMahon obviously, and he says that he believed that was Turner’s approach to running WCW.  When WCW began being run by Eric Bishoff in the mid 90’s, he started acquiring as much talent as he possibly could.  He threw huge money at everyone.  Money was no object to Turner.  Then they brought in Monday Nitro to go head to head with the then WWF’s Monday Night Raw.  Everything WCW did was in an attempt to run the WWF out of business.

 

Rogers is WCW, they are Turner.  And the other part of this is that WCW never put on as good of a show as WWF did, not even close.  Well Sportsnet doesn’t do hockey anywhere near as good as TSN does.  I don’t know anyone who prefers Sportsnet to TSN.  Sportsnet doesn’t have the play by play men as of now to do national games, although I’m sure now that they own HNIC that they’ll at least try hard to have Hughson and Simpson do their national games.  Need more than 1 good team though.  TSN have 1 and a half great teams doing their games, and I’m sure most can stomach Mike Johnson when having either Gord Miller or Chris Cuthbert doing a game.

 

So needless to say, I’m pretty skeptical about this situation.  The NHL didn’t care about anything else here other than the cash, and frankly you can’t blame them.  And you can’t blame Rogers for backing the Brinks truck up to the NHL’s head offices in New York.  The fans in Canada will watch no matter what.  But what will likely start happening is that Rogers will look to screw anyone who isn’t a Rogers customer in an attempt to get them to switch to their products.  Phones, digital cable, anything Rogers will give fans the best programming available.

 

Meanwhile, I suspect strongly that what they’re doing with HNIC and only having their deal for 4 years is they will slowly shift things to Sportsnet and City TV so that when they do pull the plug on CBC in 4 years there won’t be the out cry from the public that there would be if they did it now.  Also, I’m betting pretty good money that over the next 12 years they look to take all their Sportsnet channels off of Bell TV.  The company line right now from all the Sportsnet guys is telling the public how great this is going to be for the fans.  Sounds like a sales job to me right now.  They realize fans in this country prefer there games on TSN and CBC.

 

I said to a few of my buddies when this deal was announced that this was a dark, dark day for NHL fans in this country.  If you want to see more games in this country you already can, it’s called the Center Ice package.  Scott Moore is already talking about how the fans will need to pay extra to get all the games they will broadcast, and they now own the Center Ice package and will be the distributers of it.  Not good for those of us (48% of the country, likely 80% of Western Canada) who don’t have Rogers.

 

Its the same feeling I had when I was a die hard wrestling fan as a kid.  WCW started taking things over and even at their peak it just never felt right, and it nearly killed the WWF.  They never did things anywhere near as good as the WWF.  I really hope that I’m wrong about all this and things actually turn out to be great, but I clearly have major doubts about that.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

 

Gary will never “get it”

 

This is stating the obvious I know, but I wanted to rant about it and the man just makes it oh so easy….

It really isn’t something that can be explained, but it is very much real.  You see it and hear about it in all sports all the time.  The proverbial “it” factor.  Some guys just simply have “it”.  Tom Brady, Derek Jeter, Jonathan Toews, Magic Johnson, some guys just have “it” and you can’t explain what “it” is, but you know it when you see it…no pun intended.  And while you have those guys, you also have “don’t get it” guys.  Gary Bettman is simply one of those guys.

Why is this man still handing out the Cup?  3 lockouts during his tenure have the players hating him, the fans hating him, and yet this man still feels like he should be the one parading out at the end of every season with 18-20,000 fans booing the hell out of him making every Stanley Cup presentation a circus and taking away from what should be one of the greatest moment in sports.

Look at how the NFL started doing it.  The man who presents the Lombardi trophy is a legend of the game, and it has turned that moment into the event it should be.  Who is going to boo a legend?  Would it really be that difficult to have Wayne Gretzky hand it out one year?  Or Bobby Orr?  Or Steve Yzerman?  Just get a different legend every year to hand it out.  You could even attempt to ensure that legend has some kind of connection with the team winning it.  Maybe it would cost a bit to have 2 different guys flown in to present the Cup if you don’t know what night it will happen or which team will win it like in a game 7 scenario, but is that really THAT difficult?

But why would the league get this right?  This league can’t even figure out how they want their officials to officiate their games.  If things open up, the dinosaurs cry about how there aren’t enough battles going on.  And when scoring goes down, they cry about that yet they don’t want to do anything to open things up.  Right now they want to take a whopping 10% off the height of goal pads.  That’s a start, but do they not see the size of gloves and blockers?  And why the hell do they think every single goaltender wears white equipment?!  It without a doubt is because visually white looks bigger.  This would be the easiest adjustment to make, simply put in a rule that says every goaltender needs to wear equipment that is dark colored.  Yet it isn’t even discussed when they talk about how to decrease the advantages goaltenders have.

You will see another example on Sunday.  Just about every team will walk up to the podium in Newark, and they’ll thank the state of New Jersey, and congratulate the Blackhawks on winning the Cup, and the Bruins for being in the final, and say hello to their teams shitty draft party at the local Chilli’s with 13 people in attendance (7 of whom are only there because they just got through playing 18 and it was the most nearby place to grab a beer), and it takes 5 minutes to simply select a player.  Tell them to shutup!  We get it!  Put a timer on them!  They don’t need a parade of scouts and upper management and coaches going up to make the selection.  3 people is more than enough to say “the Colorado Avalanche are proud to wrongly select….”

So if things like that they can’t get right, why would something like presenting the Stanley Cup be easy to figure out?  Bettman has always just come off as a guy who is extremely intelligent but has zero people skills.  I know people like this.  I have worked for a man who got by because of his knowledge for the business he ran being treamendous and when it came to dealing with people he simply kissed ass and to those he didn’t have to kiss ass to he would bully.  I never seen anything like it and was amazed a guy could be succesful in life being that way.  Well while I don’t know Gary Bettman personally, he definitely comes off as a guy like that and things that seem as simple as having a legend present the Cup are difficult.

You see the way Roger Goodell handles himself and while you can disagree with some of his decisions, you don’t question weather or not he has a handle on things.  He is a guy who “gets it”.  Gary is off in his own little world and just doesn’t seem to have a clue how to do the little things right.  He has got better as time has gone on, no longer is Whoppi Goldberg narrating their Stanley Cup video’s, nor is Dave Coulier their big celebrity pimping the league.  No no, they thankfully “cut. it. out.” (remember that?!  No wonder Uncle Joey couldn’t get girls).  But while things are better, they’ll never be anywhere near as right as they should be.  And I place the blame for that solely on Gary, much like I do for anything that goes wrong in my life.

 

Follow me on twitter where I probably will bitch about Gary Bettman a lot more @TJ_Soups

One deal that won’t get made: Ego for perspective

 

Another trade deadline has come and gone and NHL fans are growing increasingly frustrated by the lack of movement at the deadline now for 4 seasons.  I think we may as well get used to it.  So many things these days hinder trades.  The amount of players signed to ridiculously long term deals the last 5 seasons, the cap, NTC’s.  But most of all I believe its the GM’s these days and how most of them have too big of an ego to make a deal they SHOULD make.

Luongo on the bench
Luongo has handled a difficult situation with nothing but class

I’ll start with the obvious and that’s Mike Gillis in Vancouver.  MAYBE the biggest ego out of all the GM’s now that Brian Burke is without a job.  He sat on Luongo, and sat and sat and sat….and sat and sat and sat and sat….he stood up, stretched, scratched some private area’s, then sat and sat and sat and then the deadline came today.

It’s reported that he turned down Kadri, Reimer and a 2nd round pick from the Leafs prior to the season.  That price reportedly dropped and yet he still didn’t get a deal done.  Darren Dreger just said on twitter that today they wanted Ben Scrivens and “multiple picks” from the Leafs.  MULTIPLE picks?!  Mike, you’ll be lucky to get a pick this summer!

He had a guy with an albatross of a contract, not much of a market, and he will HAVE to move him this summer as with him the Canucks have over 63 million tied up in only 14 players for next season.  The cap is going to be 64.3 mil.  Who is going to give you ANYTHING for him in the summer Mike?  All the GM’s know they have to basically give him away or else Gillis will have to really swallow his pride and talk to ownership about buying him out.

Ryan Miller will likely be moved (just 1 year left on his deal), Jonathan Bernier could be moved, Michal Neuvirth could be dealt, maybe the Blues move Jaroslav Halak with Jake Allen emerging, Mike Smith is a UFA, Bryzgalov will probably be a UFA (if he’s bought out).  ALL these guys are likely as good of an option if not better than Luongo(when you factor in the contract).  Gillis just seems completely blind to the fact that the value of this asset is fading drastically.  I’m amazed he was even going to get anything for him in the first place.

As we all now know Jay Feaster and Flames management let their ego’s get in the way for the last 2 years and it’s killed them.  The rumor in December of 2010 was that the Flames (who were struggling badly at the time and had missed the playoffs the previous season) were offered Brayden Schenn, Jonathan Bernier and a 1st round pick from the LA Kings for Iginla.  They ended up with a 1st round pick because lets be honest the prospects they got are nothing (neither were in the Pens top 10 prospect list).  2 cornerstones and a 1st round pick (which who knows what that pick would have ended up as but the Oilers eventually got it and it became Klefbom).

They should have dealt Kipper this summer when his NTC was up.  Toronto needed a goaltender and likely would have gave something great back!  But again the Flames management (weather it was Feaster or ownership) didn’t want to listen to people telling them they needed to know better.  Everyone else was being ridiculous, the Flames knew better.  Well, no you didn’t!  Bob Stauffer said it best.  The Flames were that guy who is going bald and were trying to do everything they could to mask the inevitable.  Just get it over with and shave it all off!  As I said last week, all this was too little, too late for the Flames.

san-jose
Thornton and Marleau could be next seasons Iginla and Kiprusoff

Doug Wilson despite having a great trade deadline in San Jose (where he essentially got the same guys back that he dealt for cheaper) is likely going to do the same thing in San Jose.  The talk started after last season that the Sharks needed to blow it up, yet they just continued to add bit pieces in hopes of turning back the clock.

Had they started to rebuild last summer, not only would they have got a lot for their guys (Thornton in particular) and still have guys to build around like Logan Couture.  Although it is possible that Wilson only watches TSN where we know they don’t give poor Logan as much love as he deserves….

Joe Nieuwendyk finally wised up after 2 blown deadlines the previous 2 seasons and cleaned house.  2 years ago he had to hang onto Brad Richards for their big playoff run…that didn’t happen.  Nieuwendyk was fully aware that Richards was going to leave for nothing yet no trade offer was good enough for him.

A lot of GM’s in hockey have tried to take what they could from the way Billy Beane operates the Oakland A’s.  Yet the one thing that seemingly none of them take from him is the fact that he stays as far away from his team as he possibly can.  He doesn’t let emotion over take him when trying to improve his team.  I don’t know of any NHL GM that does this.

Most of them are set in their ways and they simply won’t change.  If you make a mistake you need to own it and move on.  Steve Yzerman could have had Ben Bishop last season for only a 2nd round pick, today he paid more than that.  He didn’t let his ego stand in the way of making his hockey team better.  But most can’t do this, they just delay the inevitable which will likely make their team worse and they still look bad.

 

Follow me on twitter and see why I’m smarter than all GM’s @TJ_Soups