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Thursday, January 20, 2021

doing the waive
St. Louis Blues president John Davidson sounds off on just why the NHL’s waiver process for in-season free-agent signings is ludicrous:

“It’s hard to understand how you can take a player who is finished somewhere else, becomes available, and you do all the work,” Davidson told NHL Home Ice. “You do a formula to finding a contract, you make late-night phone calls, you get lawyers involved. Then you try to get him here, when nobody else had thought of it and the other team says ‘Oh, I’m going to take that player.’”

That’s the heart of it: One team does all the legwork, then basically offers up a finished-up scouting/contract packaged player to the rest of the league for the taking. And the player ends up in a different city/team/situation than what he had agreed to. Incidentally, this is essentially the same dynamic behind the restricted free agent negotiating process, which explains why so few teams tender offers to those players in the offseason.

I don’t even know what purpose is served by exposing such a player to the other 29 teams. It’s not as though a team like the Blues, who have had two prospective signings claimed away from them in the past month, are stashing talent in Europe for future use. Why not just let teams sign whoever they want mid-season, with the existing salary cap restriction dictating what’s possible or not?

As it is, it seems the only way to sneak an emergency signing through is to overpay, or to agree to a multi-year contract — basically poison-pills to discourage other teams from making a waiver claim mostly as a strategic-defensive maneuver. Again, there doesn’t seem to be much sense to the rule.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 01/20/2011 09:09pm
Category: Hockey
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Sunday, January 02, 2021

priming the time
It could have been a disaster, but it turned out to be something of a ratings boon: The rain-threat rescheduling of the 2011 NHL Winter Classic from its original 1pm start time to 8pm later that same New Year’s Day resulted in a success, to the point where the league and the network are considering a permanent shift to primetime.

While that’s great for the National Hockey League, I have to ask: What does this last-minute shuffling say about the state of network television?

What was lost when the time change was announced is how little disruption it caused to NBC’s schedule. Essentially, the network admitted that its entire Saturday was wide open, with nothing else on its air that couldn’t be pushed out of the way in favor of this hockey showcase. That’s on a broadcast channel that’s available in pretty much every U.S. household — the most massive of mass media.

Such a situation would have been unimaginable even ten years ago. Primetime on network TV used to be rarefied territory, every day of the week. Some sort of original programming used to occupy those Saturday slots between 8pm and 11pm, and ad rates would reflect that. With that kind of investment in place, there’d be no way that any sporting event would easily be re-slotted that same day.

But the Winter Classic’s easy transition from afternoon to nighttime illustrates just how much things have changed. What did the hockey game supplant? Back-to-back-to-back reruns of “Law and Order”. In other words, no original programming at all. And NBC is far from alone in this Saturday dead zone: ABC and CBS also air junk fillers. Acknowledging that audiences don’t tune in on weekends — or, at best, just catch up on the week’s DVRed queue — the networks have abandoned any attempts at “must-see TV” on Fridays and Saturdays.

Like I said, this is great for hockey, which continues to gain ground in televised exposure. But it also calls into question the actual value of that televised coverage. If the airtime is so empty on a regular basis, is it really worth occupying? Maybe live events like sports or other entertainment options are ideal for network schedules during these times, but overall, it’s not a healthy indicator for the boob-tube business.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/02/2021 03:22pm
Category: Hockey, TV
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Wednesday, December 22, 2021

leggo my logo
Just to be clear: It’s okay to toss hats, and even 23,000 teddy bears, onto the ice in hockey arenas. But waffles are a no-no, at least in Toronto:

A 31-year-old man charged with mischief after throwing waffles on the ice at a Toronto Maple Leafs game says he did it out of frustration at the underperforming team.

“I’m just a normal Leafs fan and love them to death,” Joseph Robb of Oakville, Ont., said Wednesday in an interview…

His love affair will be from a distance, however, after being barred from the Air Canada Centre, as well as other Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment events at BMO Field and Ricoh Coliseum. Further punishment could follow from a January court appearance.

I’m wondering if the raw, frozen waffles are really an optimal rink-projectile. After all, studies have shown that Detroit’s famed NHL octopus-tossing works better when the cephalopod is first boiled, for a better bounce. Follow that learned Red Wings expertise and toast those Eggos before you fling them, Leafs Nation!

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 12/22/2010 10:50pm
Category: Food, Hockey, True Crime
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Saturday, December 11, 2021

This week’s purchase of the New Orleans Hornets by the National Basketball Association is the third such franchise-buyback in recent memory:

- The Phoenix Coyotes were bought out of bankruptcy by the National Hockey League last year; they’re still owned by the league, although a sale to Matthew Hulsizer seems imminent.

- Back in 2002, Major League Baseball bought the Montreal Expos, a prelude to eventually selling the team to investors who re-launched the franchise as the Washington Nationals.

Are we seeing a trend? Each of these buybacks were defensive, last-resort moves. Contraction was mentioned in each instance, and is being bandied about by the NBA even now (although more as sabre-rattling versus its upcoming collective bargaining fight with its players union). While brand value and product integrity are important enough for the NHL, NBA, and MLB to persuade member owners to contribute money to pool together such troubled-team buybacks, you have to wonder when owners will get tired of footing such bills.

Oh, and the missing major-pro league here? The National Football League, of course. The NFL has yet to experience a situation where a franchise couldn’t attract eager buyers. That doesn’t translate into stability — teams have switched cities a lot, the Los Angeles vacancy is an ongoing issue, and the looming player lockout could dent a few franchises. But to this point, it’s telling that the NFL hasn’t had to engage in such bailouts.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 12/11/2021 05:45pm
Category: Baseball, Basketball, Football, Hockey, SportsBiz
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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

hit onehit two
I’m not one to defend fighting in the National Hockey League, or at any level of hockey for that matter. That said, I take umbrage with this flippant assessment of the sport’s culture of fisticuffs:

“He got my helmet off and I got his. To me, that is the end of the play,” [Tennessee Titans CB Cortland] Finnegan told 104.5-FM in Nashville on Monday. “This is the NFL, not the NHL, and it is a higher standard. That’s the NHL, they fight and they get penalties for that. In the NFL that is unheard of. You do that and you are suspended, hands down.

Finnegan is referring to this week’s unusual on-field punching match between him and Houston Texan WR Andre Johnson. Neither player wound up getting suspended, although the National Football League took a chunk of their paychecks in fines. (I’m guessing the presence of the Predators in Nashville is the main reason why the comparison with the NHL even came up.)

“Higher standard”, of course, is a veiled insult. The implication is that the NHL operates under lower standards than the NFL, by virtue of the integration of fighting within gameplay rules. Nonsense, of course. None of the professional sports leagues can claim to occupy a superior moral ground in this sense, and especially not the oft-capricious NFL. That neither Finnegan nor Johnson were suspended, as is standard practice in these cases, points to that; obviously both teams’ activist owners interceded to prevent that punishment.

Not that it’s anything new to dog on hockey for its peculiar institution. Like I said, I’m not the biggest fan of five-for-fighting, and it wouldn’t upset me if they banned on-ice pugilism tomorrow. But there’s no merit in criticizing the league over a misperception that it operates with any less integrity than any other sport.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 11/30/2010 11:52pm
Category: Football, Hockey
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Thursday, November 18, 2021

Today’s New York Times takes a predictably dim view of Dominican Republic youth baseball academies, known as buscones:

At academies run by investors from the United States, the players are typically 13 to 19 years old and forgo formal schooling to train. Several of the players said they would return to school if they were not signed to a professional contract…

These practices are worrisome for critics like David P. Fidler, a professor of international law at Indiana University. “Buscones in the Dominican Republic are in the business of selling children,” he said. “And it’s very disturbing that American investors would come in to profit from a system that exploits and discriminates against young children.”

It struck me that the part about forgoing formal schooling in favor of athletic development is reminiscent of another sports-development system, in another country: The Canadian Hockey League.

The CHL is the chief talent feed for the National Hockey League, and the three junior leagues that comprise it operate pretty much the same way as buscones do. The main difference is the age of entry — the Ontario, Quebec, and Western leagues typically wait until their kids are in their late teens. But indeed, not only do those players leave home, they also give up regular school in favor of full-time hockey.

So why criticize what goes on in the Caribbean, and not what goes on north of the border? The basic concept is the same. The difference is in the socioeconomic setting.

Canada is a developed country, and the kids who are drafted into the junior ranks tend to come from middle-class and higher households — therefore, there’s no characterization of those kids “being sold”. Whereas the Dominican Republic is a third world country, the kids there are impoverished, and so these actions are viewed as exploitative. It’s a double standard.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 11/18/2010 11:04pm
Category: Baseball, Business, Hockey, Society
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Monday, November 15, 2021

twittering classicing
Call it a case of social media collateral damage. Thanks to some controversial comments he made about escrows on his million-dollar income, goalie Dan Ellis earned some online backlash, including a “Fake Dan Ellis” Twitter account. From which came forth an especially biting zinger:

@FakeDanEllis: Does anybody have change for a diamond? #DanEllisProblems

So now, I can’t come across any reference to the Tampa Bay Lightning backup and not think of that mocking tweet. Not that I think Ellis deserved all the flack he got — would someone earning $40,000 a year and complaining about a proportionate tax bite get the same negative reaction? But the joke definitely sticks. The hashtag punctuates the poor-rich-boy tenor.

The real Ellis has since quit Twitter, citing the now-poisoned context. Luckily for him, NHL players typically don’t gain nicknames from online chatter. Although he could do worse than “Diamond” Dan…

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/15/2010 11:19pm
Category: Comedy, Hockey, Social Media Online
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Following a franchise-record 10-game losing streak, the New York Islanders today fired head coach Scott Gordon.

An unintentional underlining to this painful move came via the team’s telecommunications system:

Perhaps it was appropriate that Lady GaGa’s “Bad Romance” played before the conference call announcing his firing began.

I’m sorry that Gordon had to lose his job (although he will remain employed by the Isles as an advisor). But I’m glad that a certain hockey blogger is on the NHL‘s media list, and so was in a position to pick up on this pop-cultural coincidence.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/15/2010 10:20pm
Category: Hockey, Pop Culture
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Thursday, November 11, 2021

Finally, instead of rigid geographical/conference constraints, the National Hockey League is injecting an element of fun into this year’s All-Star Game roster selections:

Under the new format, two captains per team will select the remaining All-Stars in any order they choose. Those teams will compete in the All-Star Game and SuperSkills competition…

Every NHL team will still be represented by at least one player during the weekend’s festivities. The players will then elect two captains, who will choose sides in a fantasy draft on Jan. 28. Each team must have three goalies, six defensemen and 13 forwards, but the captains can fill their teams in any order they choose.

So a schoolyard-style determining of squads. What’s not to like? I think they should televise it. Have all the All-Stars assembled on the ice, with the two captains standing out front, and have them call out each pick, until all the players are paired off. The facial reactions will make for great viewing — especially when it gets down to the last player picked. Plus, any behind-the-scenes maneuvering will make for entertaining scuttlebutt.

What’s that? The sanctity of the All-Star Game is at risk? Please. It’s a showcase exhibition, purely for fun. I never could relate to anyone who takes this contest seriously (in hockey or any other sport). It’s ultimately a fan feel-good event, so they might as well make it more playful.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 11/11/2021 10:36pm
Category: Hockey
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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Not accounting for injuries, healthy scratches, or minor-league demotions, on any given gamenight the Atlanta Thrashers could have as many as five black players suited up. In a traditionally white-man’s sport, that’s raised some eyebrows:

The trend is made more unusual because of geography: The City of Atlanta is more than 50 percent black and [has an African-American population total that is] the second largest in the U.S. behind New York; and it’s a population that, traditionally, isn’t watching the Stanley Cup Finals every season.

So the speculation began that this roster was being put together by design, in order for a team struggling to fill seats to reach an untapped audience for hockey. Pass It To Bulis (Mainstream Media: “The blogosphere”) published a well-received post about the trend, noting that by having six players hovering near the NHL level, the Thrashers had roughly 20 percent of the active black players in the NHL.

The Thrashers plead talent-first colorblindness, even though they are maximizing the situation by targeting Atlanta’s black media market.

I’ll point out another National Hockey League city that’s predominately black: Detroit. To date, the Red Wings haven’t gone out of their way to either insert a African-American (or, more probably, African-Canadian) player into their roster, or court the inner-city sports fan. Of course, it’s a different situation: Detroit’s hockey club is a nearly a century old, and — the key thing — has been a consistent winner for a long while now. Still, if any NHL team were to aggressively market itself in this direction, the Wings would be in the prime position to do so.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 10/28/2010 11:13pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Hockey, Society
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Saturday, October 23, 2021

step to
It’s been two weeks since New York Rangers rookie center Derek Stepan debuted his NHL career with a hat trick in the Rangers’ season opener at Buffalo.

He’s been light on the goal-scoring since then. Still, potting three goals in your very first National Hockey League game merits something. I figure a nickname is due to the youngster.

The problem is, I can’t think of one. The only thing that comes to mind is a play on the name “Stepan”. And the only thing that comes to mind from that? For me, it’s 20th Century black film star (and divisive racial figure) Stepin Fetchit.

I’m thinking that’s not gonna work. So, the hockey nickname tinkering continues…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 10/23/2010 01:05pm
Category: History, Hockey, Movies
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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

in the bag
Whether imposed for conditioning purposes or (more usually) for punishment, hockey players dread the “bag skate”:

noun a team practice made of repetitive, strenuous skating drills and sprints, usually without pucks. Also as a verb.

Of course, there’s repetitive, and then there’s the diabolically repetitive:

There’s a million different ways to shape a bag skate — there’s the classic “suicides,” which nearly everyone has done in some form for every sport. In hockey, it’s skating to the blue line and back, then the center line and back, and so on. Good ‘ol [juniors coach Mike] Vandekamp used to put the “Peter Zezel” twist on that with regularity — once you get to the “far glass and back” portion of doing lines, you start going around the net to the blue line before coming back around to the starting point again. It becomes a horror movie: The Skate That Wouldn’t Die.

The “bag” portion of the description undoubtedly comes from “bagging” the practice pucks, or taking them all off the ice, so that the entire drill becomes nothing but skate, skate, skate. By the end of the strenuous drills, your legs are about ready to be bagged up and stored away for a long while too.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 10/20/2010 10:33pm
Category: Hockey, Wordsmithing
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Saturday, October 09, 2021

This TV commercial for Electronic Arts Sports title “NHL 11″ has been out for at least a month now, so I’m surprised no one else has mentioned the questionable imagery at the 0:17 second mark:

That moment features a pixelated headshot-hit against the boards on Chicago Blackhawks player Number 88, who would be Patrick Kane. This, despite the ongoing hand-wringing over concussion injuries in hockey.

I would think that the National Hockey League would raise some red flags over this little detail, in the marketing of a premier piece of merchandise connected with the game. Granted, it’s not like the EA commercial lingers on the hit; but still, it’s a prominent highlight in the ad. Why would they include it, given the sensitivity on the issue? A solid body-check in its place would be just as effective in selling the videogame.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 10/09/2021 07:30pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Hockey, Videogames
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Thursday, October 07, 2021

I was pretty pumped up for today’s commencement of the 2010-11 National Hockey League season. I still am, despite not being able to tear away to watch the noontime season opener from Helsinki, between Carolina and Minnesota.

But that fervor is being tempered tonight, as I try to watch the evening’s back-to-back games on Versus. “Try”, because my local Time Warner Cable provider is seriously flaking out on the transmission. The signal has been pixelating, breaking up, and de-audible-izing all night, through two NHL contests. Only now, toward midnight, am I seeing it stabilize to a watchable state. And no, this near-outage is not limited to just my domicile.

What are the odds that the one night I make appointment television for myself, the cable sputters out? Here’s hoping I don’t have to put up with this sub-standard TV service throughout the NHL season…

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 10/07/2021 11:31pm
Category: Hockey, TV
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Monday, October 04, 2021

we're in the playoffs!
Pucking Hilarious appears to be on hiatus. I’m hoping that they’ll revive themselves this week, with the start of the 2010-11 National Hockey League season, so that I can buy this t-shirt, with the oldschool videogame hockey representation pictured above.

For those who weren’t rockin’ their Sega Genesis twenty years ago, that “Make Somebody’s Head Bleed” motto comes straight out of Swingers:

Trent: I wish they still had fights in this game so I could bitch-slap Wayne.
Mike: What? They don’t have fighting anymore?
Trent: Doesn’t that suck?
Mike: Why’d they get rid of the fighting? It was the best part of the old version.
Sue: I think kids were hittin’ each other or somethin’, man.
Trent: Yeah but you know what, Mike? You can make their heads bleed in this one.
Mike: Make somebody’s head bleed.
Sue: No man, we’re in the playoffs.

And furthermore:

Trent: I’m gonna make Gretzky’s head bleed for super fan 99 over here.

Indeed, the head-bleeder pictured above, from NHL ’93 (in fact, not NHL ’94), is Wayne Gretzky, as you can tell from those grey-and-black Los Angeles Kings 16-bit colors. And his assailant would be Jeremy Roenick, then of the Chicago Blackhawks. Ah, the memories.

And yes, I logged plenty of time on EA‘s early ’90s hockey simulations. As did my college dormmates. We had far too much fun competing against each other for hours on end with that old cartridge-borne sports game, laughably primitive by today’s standards but engrossing nonetheless. I recall that Murray “The Crave” Craven (that nickname was wholly invented in our gameroom, having no relevance in real life) was a particular favorite player in our self-contained little league…

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 10/04/2021 10:39pm
Category: College Years, Hockey, Movies, Videogames
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Thursday, September 16, 2021

french fried
Just how French are the Montreal Canadiens? Not French enough, according to the Parti Quebecois:

Quebec’s official Opposition leader, Pauline Marois, said this week the Habs have become a promotional tool for Canadian federalism.

She said she wished the team had more francophone stars she could cheer for. One of her PQ caucus members went even further: Pierre Curzi said recently the Habs are actively plotting against Quebec separatism — and that the exclusion of French-speaking players was part of that plot.

I guess parliamentary procedure calls for a local National Hockey League roster that’s Gallic at all costs, even if it undercuts a potential Stanley Cup run.

Is there some irony in this denunciation of the modern-day Canadiens, considering the club’s historic role in fostering the province’s independence sentiment? I’m speaking, of course, of the (Rocket) Richard Riot:

The Montreal Forum is evacuated, and violence spills out onto the streets of Montreal. Rioters smash windows, loot stores, and clash with police. The riot of St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1955, is seen by many as a seminal moment in the evolution of Quebec’s modern nationalist movement.

So, from galvanizing sociopolitical rallying point to crypto-Anglo sleeper cell, in the space of a half-century? At this rate, the Habs are better off relocating to Kansas City…

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/16/2010 10:37pm
Category: History, Hockey, Politics
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Monday, September 06, 2021

labor daze
In observance of Labor Day today, I figured I’d take a brief look at a couple of notable developments during this National Hockey League offseason, as they relate to the free-agent market:

- Most immediately, the Ilya Kovalchuk contract controversy, which precipitated the addition of a major amendment in the collective bargaining to address similar long-term pacts in the future:

First: For long-term contracts extending beyond the age of 40, the contract’s average annual value for the years up to and including 40, are calculated by dividing total value in those years by the number of years up to and including 40. Then for the years covering ages 41 and beyond, the cap charge in each year is equal to the value of the contract in that year…

Secondly, for long-term contracts that include years in which the player is 36, 37, 38, 39 and 40; the amount used for purposes of calculating his average annual value is a minimum of $1 million in each of those years (even if his actual compensation is less during those seasons).

Somewhat convoluted, but essentially, the league is aiming to discourage using the downside of a player’s career as “voidable years” in a front-loaded contract. The presumption has been that, after the player has gotten the bulk of his money in the first few years, he’ll be more inclined to retire or consent to a buyout when the latter portion of the deal kicks in. That would work out for the team as well, as it can work with a lower averaged-out cap number during that player’s most productive seasons, and save a little money further down the line (while not worrying about the future accelerated salary cap hit if the contract is eventually terminated). But now, these new age-specific rules prevent too much stretching-out of the total compensation — basically, contract length can’t really be used as a bidding tactic anymore.

So, barring the discovery of a new loophole, this will mean shorter-length contracts in general in the NHL, for the remainder of this CBA. Annual salaries/cap hits may not correspondingly decrease, although with the smaller window of averaged-out seasons in play, teams will have less room to bid against each other for sought-after players.

The advent of these super-sized contracts was an interesting response to the unique constraints imposed by the NHL’s CBA: A hard salary cap combined with guaranteed contracts. Using contract length as an outlet to level out the per-season cap hit has been used in the NFL since the inauguration of true free agency in that league. The key there, though, was that those player contracts are not guaranteed. Football teams have operated freely by luring prized free agents with long-term big-money deals that easily fit under the NFL hard cap, because the long-term impact could be instantly negated by cutting the player after one or two seasons (again, ignoring the acceleration penalties, which are mostly manageable). In turn, football players learned to negotiate massively front-loaded deals, usually with half or more of the total contract value payable upon signing and/or in the first season; the rest of the contract years are presumed to be optional.

That’s just what the NHL’s “voidable years” emulated. Realistically, you know that most players hit their downside by their mid-30s, so extending a contract into those iffy years was a low-risk proposition. It was obviously cap-circumventing too, so it’s not surprising that the league finally eliminated it (or, at least, made it less workable).

- From Kovalchuk’s 15-year deal, we go to the other end of the spectrum: An apparent increased frequency in extremely short-term deals. A rundown of CapGeek’s free-agent tracker reveals a total of 385 players signing one- or two-year contracts for the coming 2010-11 NHL season (as of this writing). With only 420 players having agreed to free-agent or contract-extension deals this offseason, this points to an extremely soft free-agent market.

But why? Granted, in any given year, there are only a handful of major in-demand free agents to be had, and they generally get scooped up early with big paydays. After that, second-tier players take what’s left, competing for a limited number of roster holes.

Still, I can’t remember the last time so many proven NHL players had to settle for so little. The preponderance of one-year contracts, in particular, brings to my mind the grand strategy of Oakland A’s owner Charlie Finley, at the dawn of Major League Baseball free agency:

Said Finley: “Let Them All Become Free Agents.” What Finley proposed was that after each season every player would become a free agent, free to sign with whatever team wanted his services.

The idea was that, with such a huge pool of talent available each offseason, teams would have far more options, thus driving down the value for each individual player — and this would be the case every year. Certainly, specific needs would lead to some bidding wars: If Team A and Team B really needed a good shortstop, they’d probably target the same couple of players and drive up the signing price. But with no contracts lasting longer than a season, the damage would be short-lived.

In effect, that seems to be what’s being set up for next offseason in the NHL, with most of those players coming loose again (except for a handful that might earn contract extensions). Any time such a large-scale work-status shift materializes in major-pro sports, whispers of collusion surface. They haven’t this time — yet. I’m not sure the owners are conspiring in this case. But it definitely is curious that a flood of the same players will be on the market in 2011, guaranteeing that they won’t be able to command better money/terms than they had last time around.

Overall, it’s been an interesting round of labor pains for the NHL this summer. We’ll see how all this manifests itself when the regular season starts in a month.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 09/06/2021 11:00pm
Category: Baseball, Football, History, Hockey, SportsBiz
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Saturday, August 28, 2021

devilish by division
I’ve been avoiding making any comment on the whole Ilya Kovalchuk contract controversy, mainly because I’d like to see the situation finally resolved before I weigh in.

The resolution is now is sight, as the New Jersey Devils submitted a reworked, and presumably salary-cap-compliant, deal to the NHL yesterday. Hopefully the league will approve this pact, if for no other reason than the franchise-appropriate way that the numbers average out:

Terms of the potential contract have yet to be released but it is believed to be a 15-year deal worth approximately $100 million, which in an amusing twist would make the cap hit $6.66 million a season.

Apparently, neither the Devils nor Kovalchuk suffer from hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia. And this hurts the team’s persistent insistence that its name isn’t inspired by Satan, but rather the legendary Jersey Devil. (Although, if they were truly up on their Christian theology, they’d have gone for a cap hit of $6.16-mil, which would represent the more accurate mark of the Beast.)

This numerological chicanery is nothing new for the Devils, of course. This is the same franchise that used to fudge their arena capacity just to keep the old anti-Rangers “19-40″ chant alive. It’s hockey marketing via calculator…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 08/28/2010 12:05pm
Category: History, Hockey, SportsBiz
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Thursday, June 24, 2021

Given the record 11-hour match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut in this year’s Wimbledon tournament, and the status of host England as the home of the days-long game of cricket, I think this joke fits:

“I went to a tennis match, and a cricket game broke out.”

A play on the old Rodney Dangerfield one-liner about going to the fights, and a hockey game breaking out. Always on the lookout for cross-germination in the sporting world.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 06/24/2010 11:47pm
Category: Comedy, Hockey, Other Sports
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Wednesday, June 09, 2021

After 49 years, Chicago gets a return visit by the Stanley Cup.

So ends the city’s drought, so ends Marian Hossa’s personal Finals drought, and so ends one of the most entertaining National Hockey League championship rounds in recent years. The Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers couldn’t be more evenly matched, and it showed brilliantly on the ice. Right up until what had to be the most awkward game-winning goal I’ve ever seen:

Patrick Kane sneaked the puck past Michael Leighton 4:10 into overtime and stunned Philadelphia to lift the Blackhawks to a 4-3 overtime win in Game 6 on Wednesday night for their first championship since 1961.

No one but the Blackhawks appeared to know what was going on for a few frozen moments. Kane and his linemates seemed the only players on the ice who knew the puck found the side of the net. The goal light never went on, but that didn’t stop most of the Blackhawks from storming the ice and mobbing each other in celebration.

This series had to end, and it’s just as well it did so on such a corker.

Now that 1961 has been exorcised (notably, that last Chicago Cup was the only time during the Original Six era that a team other than Montreal, Toronto, or Detroit had won the league title), we can move onto Toronto. Namely, to antagonize the Maple Leafs with an extra edge since they’re lugging the NHL’s now-longest championship drought. I can hear the “Nineteen-sixty-sev-en!” chants now…

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 06/09/2021 11:58pm
Category: Hockey
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Both the National Hockey League and National Basketball Association are enjoying double-digit percentage-point increases in ratings this month, and there’s an interesting contributing factor:

Ratings for major sports events have been strong this year, including the record set for the most-watched Super Bowl. TV executives think it’s no coincidence the increases coincide with Americans’ rapid adoption of high definition television, which is very popular with sports fans.

An estimated 52 percent of American homes had HDTVs and were actively using them, according to a Nielsen study done in April. That compares with 33 percent a year earlier and 17 percent in 2008, Nielsen said.

A sharper picture yields a more engaged sports-fan audience, I guess. My own experience bears this out: I’d be watching sports anyway, but the HD coverage encourages me to watch more. And in instances where, for instance, there are multiple NHL games being broadcast in my area, I’ll opt for the HD broadcasts over the ones that are in standard-definition.

HD video is available online, so that alone doesn’t insulate television providers from Web competition. But it does reinforce sports programming as a key hook for customer retention.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 06/09/2021 11:37pm
Category: Basketball, Hockey, TV
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