Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
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Saturday, April 07, 2021

I can’t decide which of the following two uniquely-gifted youth athletes has the more compelling story. So I leave it to you, the readers, to decide:

- From the Detroit area, there’s junior hockey goalie Joe Rogers, who dominates in net despite a birth defect that gave him a malformed right hand.

With [Toronto Maple Leafs goaltending coach Steve] McKichan’s help, Rogers developed a unique style for catching pucks with his right, glove hand. (He needs his good hand to handle his stick.)

“I can’t close it,” Rogers said. “But I’ve developed over the years a catching style where I corral the puck. We went to Vaughn and they made a custom glove, reinforced some parts and added an extra strap so it stays on better.”

The comparison with fromer MLB pitcher Jim Abbott is apparent, even though Rogers actually does have digits on his right hand (Abbott had no right hand at all).

- On the other end of the spectrum: In Omaha, Creighton University’s baseball squad features Pat Venditte, the ambidextrous phenom who’s properly described as a switch-pitcher.

Because he can choose which throwing arm to use on-the-fly while on the mound, Venditte’s versatility can create some at-bat fun:

A switch-pitcher facing a switch-hitter could make a fine Abbott and Costello routine. Against Nebraska last year, a switch-hitter came to the plate right-handed, prompting Venditte to switch to his right arm, which caused the batter to move to the left-hand batter’s box, with Venditte switching his arm again. Umpires ultimately restored order, applying the rule (the same as that in the majors) that a pitcher must declare which arm he will use before throwing his first pitch and cannot change before the at-bat ends.

For all the noise each kid is generating, it’s no sure thing that either will bring his show to the big leagues. Rogers isn’t even in college yet, so he has a long road to go to have a shot at the NHL. Venditte is being scouted by Major League teams as a low-round pick, but again, has a lot of work ahead of him. But hopefully, both will be pros someday. The kicker would be if they make it in the same big-league city!

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 04/07/2021 03:25:05 PM
Category: Hockey, Baseball
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Thursday, April 05, 2021

five for
With the revived debate over fighting in the NHL, a lot of hollow banter was tossed around about public sentiment on the issue. Both sides claimed broad support for their stance: Pro-fight proponents that everyone expected fisticuffs with their pucks, and anti-fight advocates that it was keeping a wider audience from embracing the sport.

What was needed was a public opinion poll to clarify things. Well, now we’ve got one.

Unfortunately, it’s pretty much worthless.

The survey, conducted by Decima, gauges Canadian public opinion. It polled 1,000 people across Canada. That’s fine, except that hockey doesn’t have to sell itself north of the border. Realistically, for all the opposition a fighting ban elicits in Toronto, Saskatoon and Victoria, even the implementation of such a rule won’t alter the NHL’s status as the preeminent national sport. This poll was the sociological equivalent of preaching to the choir — or, more accurately, the choir preaching to itself.

All the Decima survey does is provide phantom ammunition in this argument.

What’s needed is a public opinion poll in the States. The National Hockey League needs to expand its popularity in the U.S. There are no additional Canadian fans to win over; by contrast, there are millions of potential American fans to attract. Determining their stance on fighting is the target to shoot for. From there, the league can take informed steps toward any necessary rule changes.

The question is, who’s going to conduct this survey in the lower 48 (plus Alaska and Hawaii)? The NHL itself might do so, but I seriously doubt they’ll publicly release the results, regardless of which way it turns out. Anyone out there up for some freelance poll-taking, mostly for fun?

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 04/05/2021 11:22:49 PM
Category: Hockey
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Sunday, April 01, 2021

specialness
Here’s the next-to-last National Hockey League Special Teams Index of this 2006-07 season. Take a look at the shifting — what there is of it — from last week’s STI rankings.

Since the NHL season winds up next Sunday night, the final STI post will go up on that following Monday.

While I’ve tried to emphasize that special teams play does not necessarily determine position in the standings, it should be noted: Most of the teams bound for the playoffs do, indeed, sport a fat STI number. Notable exceptions: Atlanta and Tampa Bay, both of which have been languishing at the bottom of the Index pretty much all season. Lest you start knocking the Southeast as a crappy division, remember that likely Eastern Conference top seed Buffalo is down there too. Obviously, all three teams have been getting it done 5-on-5, despite their odd-man shortcomings.

STI Rank Team PP % (Rank) PK % (Rank) STI Number
1 Anaheim Ducks 22.2 (3) 84.7 (6) 106.9
2 San Jose Sharks 22.5 (2) 83.8 (13) 106.3
3 Montreal Canadiens 22.7 (1) 83.5 (14) 106.2
4 Vancouver Canucks 17.0 (20) 87.7 (1) 104.7
5 Minnesota Wild 18.8 (8) 85.5 (2) 104.3
6 New York Rangers 19.0 (6) 84.0 (10) 103.0
7 Nashville Predators 17.4 (17) 85.4 (3) 102.8
8 Dallas Stars 18.7 (9) 83.9 (11) 102.6
9 New Jersey Devils 17.7 (16) 84.8 (5) 102.5
10 Ottawa Senators 17.8 (14) 84.6 (7) 102.4
11 Pittsburgh Penguins 20.4 (5) 81.8 (17) 102.2
12 Colorado Avalanche 21.4 (4) 79.8 (24) 101.2
13 Detroit Red Wings 16.9 (21) 83.9 (12) 100.8
14 Florida Panthers 17.8 (13) 82.4 (16) 100.2
15 Philadelphia Flyers 14.1 (28) 85.2 (4) 99.3
16 New York Islanders 17.8 (15) 81.4 (19) 99.2
17 Carolina Hurricanes 14.7 (26) 84.5 (8) 99.2
18 Calgary Flames 18.6 (10) 80.5 (23) 99.1
19 Boston Bruins 17.3 (19) 81.7 (18) 99.0
20 Edmonton Oilers 14.5 (27) 84.3 (9) 98.8
21 Buffalo Sabres 17.9 (12) 80.7 (21) 98.6
22 Tampa Bay Lightning 18.8 (7) 78.7 (28) 97.5
23 Columbus Blue Jackets 15.5 (25) 81.1 (20) 96.6
24 Los Angeles Kings 18.1 (11) 78.4 (29) 96.5
25 Washington Capitals 16.7 (23) 79.8 (25) 96.5
26 Atlanta Thrashers 16.8 (22) 79.5 (26) 96.3
27 Toronto Maple Leafs 17.4 (18) 78.8 (27) 96.2
28 Chicago Blackhawks 12.3 (29) 82.5 (15) 94.8
29 Phoenix Coyotes 15.8 (24) 78.1 (30) 93.9
30 St. Louis Blues 12.2 (30) 80.6 (22) 92.8
by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/01/2021 01:16:57 PM
Category: Hockey
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Sunday, March 25, 2021

special ed
National Hockey League Special Teams Index through last night. I’d characterize it as the “Spring has sprung” edition, but I’ll spare you. But I won’t spare you a look at last week’s STI rankings.

As usual, most of the action is at the top of the list. In particular, Vancouver’s slow slide downward reflects their late stumbling in the Northwest Division title race, in which they were overtaken by Minnesota yesterday. The Canucks are still dominating with their league-leading penalty kill, but their power play is sputtering. Meanwhile, the Wild’s PK is almost as efficient, and they’re scoring more. It all starts to add up, especially toward season’s end.

STI Rank Team PP % (Rank) PK % (Rank) STI Number
1 Anaheim Ducks 21.8 (3) 84.4 (7) 106.2
2 San Jose Sharks 22.4 (2) 83.7 (12) 106.1
3 Montreal Canadiens 22.6 (1) 83.3 (14) 105.9
4 Minnesota Wild 18.5 (10) 86.0 (2) 104.5
5 Vancouver Canucks 16.4 (23) 87.7 (1) 104.1
6 New York Rangers 18.9 (8) 84.3 (8) 103.2
7 Nashville Predators 17.7 (13) 85.3 (3) 103.0
8 Ottawa Senators 18.3 (11) 84.6 (6) 102.9
9 New Jersey Devils 17.3 (20) 84.9 (5) 102.2
10 Dallas Stars 18.7 (9) 83.4 (13) 102.1
11 Colorado Avalanche 21.5 (4) 79.9 (25) 101.4
12 Detroit Red Wings 17.3 (18) 83.8 (11) 101.1
13 Pittsburgh Penguins 19.6 (5) 81.3 (19) 100.9
14 Florida Panthers 17.3 (19) 82.2 (15) 99.5
15 Calgary Flames 19.0 (7) 80.4 (24) 99.4
16 Boston Bruins 17.5 (16) 81.8 (17) 99.3
17 Carolina Hurricanes 15.1 (26) 84.2 (9) 99.3
18 Philadelphia Flyers 14.0 (28) 85.3 (4) 99.3
19 New York Islanders 17.4 (17) 81.8 (18) 99.2
20 Edmonton Oilers 14.6 (27) 84.2 (10) 98.8
21 Buffalo Sabres 17.6 (15) 81.0 (22) 98.6
22 Washington Capitals 16.8 (22) 80.7 (23) 97.5
23 Tampa Bay Lightning 19.0 (6) 78.4 (29) 97.4
24 Los Angeles Kings 18.0 (12) 78.8 (28) 96.8
25 Toronto Maple Leafs 17.6 (14) 78.9 (27) 96.5
26 Atlanta Thrashers 16.8 (21) 79.6 (26) 96.4
27 Columbus Blue Jackets 15.3 (25) 81.1 (20) 96.4
28 Phoenix Coyotes 16.1 (24) 78.4 (30) 94.5
29 Chicago Blackhawks 12.3 (30) 82.1 (16) 94.4
30 St. Louis Blues 12.6 (29) 81.1 (21) 93.7
by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 03/25/2007 11:49:18 AM
Category: Hockey
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Thursday, March 22, 2021

As the NCAA Tournament’s West Regional in men’s basketball commences tonight, some are less than impressed by the digs:

While robot vendors or eye-scan security might be a bit too James Bond, a cool laser show or MP3 downloading stations seem appropriate. How about touch-screen panels on the seat in front of you to order nachos?

“Honestly, I was expecting something more like that,” Kansas guard Rodrick Stewart said before his team’s practice Wednesday. “I thought this place would be all high-tech and computerized.”

Nope. When the [Kansas] Jayhawks play Southern Illinois tonight, the game will take place in a building that is futuristic in name only.

The floor is bordered in black, the same color as many of the plain seats. The amenities are pleasant, but this is a Windows 95 arena serving a city with the highest concentration of high-tech workers in the country.

This isn’t the first time I’ve come across critiques over the shortcomings of San Jose’s HP Pavilion, AKA the Shark Tank. Years ago, when the arena that would become St. Pete Times Forum was being mapped out, Tampa Bay Lightning founder Phil Esposito was stressing how state-of-the-art the facility would be. Espo tossed off a comment about how the then-new San Jose arena was built without television camera sightlines being a consideration, and how the building suffered from that. I’m not sure how valid that complaint was/is; I haven’t heard anything since then about any special challenges in televising hockey or hoops games from HPP.

And on a closing note: I happen to be typing this post on, yes, an HP Pavilion notebook computer. It is my home computer, and I’ve had it for close to a year and a half now. Given that aging, it’s no longer even close to average in the computing world; but it’s good enough for me (for now).

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 03/22/2007 07:06:52 PM
Category: Hockey, Basketball, SportsBiz
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hockey talk
I appreciate the lightheartedness in holding a question-and-answer session with the usually-closemouthed Stanley Cup.

Still:

Clark Gillies told me that when he won, he used to take his dogs for a walk every day. His dogs were an important part of their win, so he had his dogs eat out of me. Larry Robinson owns farms and he had his cow eat out of me.

I’m not wholly comfortable reading the phrase “eat out of me”. Even if it is a big trophy talking.

Had I gotten the opportunity to quiz the Cup, I’d have asked it how it felt about a week ago, when they removed the now-filled-up ring of 1940-41 to 1952-53 championship team names, to make room for future teams. I’m thinking that had to smart a bit.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 03/22/2007 05:54:49 PM
Category: Hockey, Comedy
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Monday, March 19, 2021

hav at it
Of all the twists and turns brought on by this 2006-07 NHL season, I, improbably, find this one to be the oddest:

Of the 96 NHL players who have at least 20 goals this season, only Chicago RW Martin Havlat (24 goals) and Calgary LW Alex Tanguay (20) have not scored a game-winner.

Marty Havlat, sans a GWG? And, given the Blackhawks’ losing ways, very likely to wind up with none for the entire season?

That underlines what a change of scenery Havlat’s undergone in the trade from Ottawa last offseason. Back when I was participating in fantasy hockey, the Czech winger was my secret weapon, for one reason only: He would pick up game-winners almost at will. In fact, he’d often back into the GWG. For example, the Senators would build a big lead, like 5-0, with Havlat scoring the third goal of the game; then, in the third period, Ottawa would give up two goals en route to a cruising win, and the end result would be Havlat being credited with that difference-making game-winner. Truly an uncanny statistical talent.

Hopefully, the ‘Hawks will put things together for next year, and Havlat can get back his game-winning goal mojo.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/19/2007 11:10:22 PM
Category: Hockey
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southern cookin'
For failing to give Mike Modano his career 503-goal props over the Gaylord Entertainment Center PA system, the Nashville Predators are being branded as North America’s most selfish franchise by Dallas Stars president Jim Lites:

“I understand it’s a competitive situation, but we’re also working together to sell the game,” Lites told the [Dallas Morning News]. “[The Preds] get more money from revenue sharing than any team in the league, they voted against the new schedule because they wanted to have an easier schedule for themselves. They take and take and take and take and never give back, and I’m sick of it.”

That’ll get the rivalry juices flowing. Too bad the teams aren’t in the same division. They’ll both make the playoffs this year; right now, a first-round matchup is looking unlikely, but maybe they’ll get a chance to knock heads in the next round. If so, Lites comments are ready-made subplot material.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/19/2007 10:47:31 PM
Category: Hockey
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Sunday, March 18, 2021

spatial
Updated National Hockey League Special Teams Index, y’all. Last week’s STI rankings for your referencing pleasure.

With every team looking at ten or so games remaining for their final push into, within, or without the playoffs, it’s a last chance to fine-tune special teams play. That won’t guarantee anything, of course: For instance, Montreal’s No. 3 STI ranking belies their horrendous 5-on-5 play, which is sinking them out of the Eastern playoff picture.

STI Rank Team PP % (Rank) PK % (Rank) STI Number
1 Anaheim Ducks 21.9 (3) 84.6 (8) 106.5
2 San Jose Sharks 22.0 (2) 83.9 (11) 105.9
3 Montreal Canadiens 22.4 (1) 83.1 (14) 105.5
4 Minnesota Wild 17.8 (13) 86.5 (2) 104.3
5 Vancouver Canucks 16.6 (21) 87.4 (1) 104.0
6 New York Rangers 19.1 (7) 83.7 (12) 102.8
7 Ottawa Senators 18.2 (12) 84.6 (9) 102.8
8 Nashville Predators 17.8 (12) 85.0 (4) 102.8
9 Dallas Stars 18.5 (9) 84.2 (10) 102.7
10 New Jersey Devils 17.2 (20) 84.8 (5) 102.0
11 Detroit Red Wings 17.6 (14) 83.7 (13) 101.3
12 Pittsburgh Penguins 20.2 (5) 81.0 (21) 101.2
13 Colorado Avalanche 21.0 (4) 80.0 (25) 101.0
14 Philadelphia Flyers 14.4 (28) 85.6 (3) 100.0
15 Boston Bruins 18.1 (11) 81.8 (17) 99.9
16 Florida Panthers 17.6 (15) 82.1 (16) 99.7
17 Carolina Hurricanes 15.0 (26) 84.7 (7) 99.7
18 Edmonton Oilers 14.8 (27) 84.8 (6) 99.6
19 Calgary Flames 18.7 (8) 80.4 (24) 99.1
20 Buffalo Sabres 17.4 (18) 81.5 (18) 98.9
21 New York Islanders 17.4 (17) 81.4 (20) 98.8
22 Tampa Bay Lightning 19.3 (6) 78.7 (27) 98.0
23 Washington Capitals 16.5 (22) 81.0 (22) 97.5
24 Columbus Blue Jackets 15.3 (25) 80.9 (23) 96.2
25 Toronto Maple Leafs 17.3 (19) 78.7 (28) 96.0
26 Los Angeles Kings 17.5 (16) 78.2 (30) 95.7
27 Atlanta Thrashers 16.4 (23) 78.9 (26) 95.3
28 Chicago Blackhawks 12.3 (30) 82.9 (15) 95.2
29 St. Louis Blues 13.1 (29) 81.5 (19) 94.6
30 Phoenix Coyotes 15.6 (24) 78.3 (29) 93.9
by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 03/18/2007 12:31:39 PM
Category: Hockey
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Friday, March 16, 2021

Maybe I’m just not looking in the right places, but I can’t seem to locate a recent edition of “Carnival of the NHL”. The last one I can find is No. 21, courtesy of Eric at Off Wing — and that was all the way back in April 2006.

This group theme was always an irregularly-scheduled event among sports/hockey bloggers, but someone always seemed to step up every two months or so to organize and host it. The faithful even kept it going through the 2004-05 lockout season, when it presumably would have every excuse for dying off.

I could email around, but I’ll take this as an opportunity to smoke out any regular hockey-oriented visitors to this space. If anyone has the lowdown, please share.

Oh, the reason for my curiosity: I’ve been amassing quite a few NHL/hockey news and notes over the past couple of months, and basically am looking for an external motivation to write about them. Plus, a couple of the pucks posts I have committed to this blog lately — like this one about the Devils and their “1940″ seating capacity — seem to be strong candidates for Carnival contributions. Selfish, I know. But if it leads to a Carnival revival, that’ll justify me.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 03/16/2007 01:30:24 PM
Category: Bloggin', Hockey
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Sunday, March 11, 2021

suspended suspense
So the NHL has come down hard on New York Islanders right wing Chris Simon — or at least, harder than it ever has before. For connecting on a blatant baseball-bat swing with his stick on Ryan Hollweg’s head, Simon has been suspended for 25 games, meaning he’ll miss the remainder of the Islanders’ regular season, however many playoff games they play this year, and additional games to start the 2007-08 season if necessary.

The ruling was debated a bit today on NBC’s NHL pregame show, with Brett Hull arguing that it should have been twice as long. When countered with the argument that a lengthier suspension wouldn’t have sent any stronger of a message, Hull hit back with this rationale: “Then why suspend Simon at all?”

Which makes sense. If the length of a suspension has a limited impact on the punishment being conveyed, then why quibble over the number of games? That number certainly matters to Simon, in a number of ways: He doesn’t get paid for the games he misses, and since his contract with New York runs out after this season, his tenure with the Islanders could be over. Not only that, but past players who’ve gone through one of these extended suspensions have seen their careers effectively end; Simon might not be in that position, but he is 35 and largely a one-dimensional player, so it’s conceivable that he might have played not only his last Islanders game, but also his last National Hockey League game. But that’s happened in the past, and as this incident illustrates, it hasn’t permanently deterred repeat performances.

But ultimately, what it comes down to is that the punishment comes down solely on Simon. Does it hurt the Islanders? Not really. They’ll have to replace the grit and intimidation he brings, but he’s a minor cog. Having him out of the roster won’t determine whether or not they make the postseason, nor how far they’ll go in the playoffs.

So in cases like this, where the offending action was so grievous, I think the league should take into consideration the team-oriented approach that NHL clubs espouse so often. Rather than single out the one player who committed the crime, make the punishment even more meaningful by taking action against the team.

How? Other Islanders, who are presumably more essential to the team’s performance, could be kept out of play for some period of time: Jason Blake, Tom Poti, even Rick DiPietro. Again, if the idea is to levy a punishment that would discourage future repeat performances, then knowing that your teammates would also lose playing time and money might make a headhunter think twice.

Of course, that’s hardly fair to the other players, even if they buy into the idea of a team’s collective responsibility for on-ice actions. So perhaps a more palatable, and even more effective measure:

Deduct points from the team’s season standings.

There’s some precedence for such an action from the NCAA, when teams which are discovered to have indulged in past recruiting violations are forced to forfeit titles they’d won during the years in question. Granted, those punishments are largely hollow, as they come retroactively, but it’s a basis for more concrete action.

In the case of a team like the Islanders, who are fighting off other teams for a postseason spot, this is the deadliest punitive action possible. It brings in the possibility of missing the playoffs, and with them the gravy that is playoff revenue. From a fan perspective, it throws a curveball into the playoff races.

I know: This will never happen, not in the Simon situation nor in the next record-breaking suspension. But if the NHL (or any other sports league) truly wants to curb this sort of behavior, it’s a solution that has more teeth to it than what’s been attempted so far.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 03/11/2021 08:29:28 PM
Category: Hockey
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special sauce
All special teams, all the time with your National Hockey League Special Teams Index. Last week’s STI rankings will show you the early effects of the roster remakes across the league after the trading deadline (which are actually quite limited, so far).

STI Rank Team PP % (Rank) PK % (Rank) STI Number
1 Anaheim Ducks 21.7 (3) 84.5 (8) 106.2
2 San Jose Sharks 22.2 (2) 83.6 (11) 105.8
3 Montreal Canadiens 22.4 (1) 83.0 (15) 105.4
4 Vancouver Canucks 17.6 (18) 87.5 (1) 105.1
5 Minnesota Wild 18.0 (12) 86.0 (2) 104.0
6 Ottawa Senators 18.9 (8) 84.8 (7) 103.7
7 New Jersey Devils 17.7 (16) 85.1 (3) 102.8
8 Nashville Predators 17.7 (15) 85.0 (4) 102.7
9 Dallas Stars 18.4 (9) 84.2 (9) 102.6
10 New York Rangers 19.1 (7) 83.1 (14) 102.2
11 Colorado Avalanche 20.8 (4) 80.6 (23) 101.4
12 Detroit Red Wings 17.8 (13) 83.5 (12) 101.3
13 Pittsburgh Penguins 19.9 (5) 81.3 (20) 101.2
14 Florida Panthers 18.2 (10) 82.5 (17) 100.7
15 Boston Bruins 17.7 (17) 82.7 (16) 100.4
16 Edmonton Oilers 15.2 (26) 84.9 (5) 100.1
17 Philadelphia Flyers 14.3 (28) 84.9 (6) 99.2
18 Buffalo Sabre 17.7 (14) 81.4 (19) 99.1
19 Carolina Hurricanes 15.0 (27) 83.9 (10) 98.9
20 Calgary Flames 18.1 (11) 80.5 (24) 98.6
21 Tampa Bay Lightning 19.5 (6) 78.2 (28) 97.7
22 New York Islanders 16.7 (21) 81.0 (22) 97.7
23 Washington Capitals 16.6 (23) 81.1 (21) 97.7
24 Columbus Blue Jackets 15.8 (24) 80.4 (25) 96.2
25 Toronto Maple Leafs 17.4 (19) 78.4 (27) 95.8
26 Chicago Blackhawks 12.2 (30) 83.4 (13) 95.6
27 St. Louis Blues 13.5 (29) 82.0 (18) 95.5
28 Atlanta Thrashers 16.6 (22) 78.8 (26) 95.4
29 Los Angeles Kings 17.3 (20) 77.3 (30) 94.6
30 Phoenix Coyotes 15.5 (25) 78.2 (29) 93.7
by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 03/11/2021 06:25:41 PM
Category: Hockey
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Friday, March 09, 2021

There’s some irony in a sports league that can’t market itself to save its life serving as inspiration for an offbeat advertising/marketing campaign. But that’s the case with General Motors, which is promoting the industry award won by its Saturn Aura by sharing the hardware — (almost) literally — with 350 customers:

Saturn is inviting owners of its new Aura midsize sedan to “share” the North American Car of the Year award it won in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. G.M. bought from Tiffany five replicas of the five-pound leaded-crystal trophy, and is inviting people who purchased Auras before it won the honor to borrow an award for a day or two.

The owner then returns the trophy to General Motors, which sends it out to another owner. (G.M. pays for the shipping, about $30 each way, using FedEx.)

I’m guessing that any broken/stolen trophies wind up getting charged to that Aura owner’s credit card. Aside from that contingency, it’s a uniquely hands-on way to make the customer feel like part of the championship team.

And lest you think the pucks comparison, where each member of the Stanley Cup championship team gets to keep the trophy that following offseason, is coincidental:

But the Saturn executives did not like the ideas from Goodby, Silverstein and asked Deutsch, another G.M. agency, to lend a hand; creative employees there came up with the concept of sharing the award.

” ‘Stanley Cup’ was what we called it internally,” said Eric Hirshberg, co-president and chief creative officer at Deutsch L.A., which is the Marina del Rey, Calif., office of Deutsch, part of the Interpublic Group.

So there are hockey fans lurking around Deutsch’s hallways. Maybe the league should sign up with them as its new agency of record.

Even further afield, does this promotion synergistically open the door for a Saturn-NHL sponsorship? It’s a natural, and can only help both parties. I believe Dodge is currently the official car of the National Hockey League, and that’s part of Chrysler. But I’m sure it wouldn’t take much to wriggle out of that partnership.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 03/09/2021 05:34:07 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Hockey
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Sunday, March 04, 2021

special sauce
The Special Teams Index for your National Hockey League, running below. See the seven-day ups-and-downs by comparing with last week’s rankings.

Worth noting: This week’s STI top three — the Habs, Sharks, and Ducks — happen to be ranked 1-2-3 in the NHL in power-play efficiency as well.

STI Rank Team PP % (Rank) PK % (Rank) STI Number
1 Montreal Canadiens 23.3 (1) 83.1 (14) 106.4
2 San Jose Sharks 22.6 (2) 83.3 (13) 105.9
3 Anaheim Ducks 21.6 (3) 84.2 (7) 105.8
4 Vancouver Canucks 17.9 (18) 87.8 (1) 105.7
5 Minnesota Wild 18.2 (13) 85.5 (2) 103.7
6 New Jersey Devils 18.1 (14) 85.1 (4) 103.2
7 New York Rangers 19.7 (6) 83.1 (15) 102.8
8 Dallas Stars 18.4 (11) 83.8 (9) 102.2
9 Ottawa Senators 18.0 (16) 84.1 (8) 102.1
10 Nashville Predators 17.6 (20) 84.5 (5) 102.1
11 Colorado Avalanche 21.4 (4) 80.1 (25) 101.5
12 Detroit Red Wings 17.9 (17) 83.4 (12) 101.3
13 Pittsburgh Penguins 20.2 (5) 80.7 (20) 100.9
14 Florida Panthers 18.8 (8) 82.1 (16) 100.9
15 Edmonton Oilers 15.3 (27) 85.5 (3) 100.8
16 Boston Bruins 18.5 (10) 81.8 (17) 100.3
17 Buffalo Sabres 18.2 (12) 81.3 (19) 99.5
18 Philadelphia Flyers 15.0 (28) 84.3 (6) 99.3
19 Carolina Hurricanes 15.4 (25) 83.8 (10) 99.2
20 Calgary Flames 18.7 (9) 80.4 (23) 99.1
21 Washington Capitals 17.2 (21) 80.5 (22) 97.7
22 New York Islanders 16.9 (22) 80.6 (21) 97.5
23 Tampa Bay Lightning 19.2 (7) 77.7 (28) 96.9
24 Toronto Maple Leafs 18.1 (15) 78.6 (26) 96.7
25 Columbus Blue Jackets 16.0 (24) 80.4 (24) 96.4
26 Chicago Blackhawks 11.6 (30) 83.8 (11) 95.4
27 St. Louis Blues 13.5 (29) 81.5 (18) 95.0
28 Los Angeles Kings 17.6 (19) 77.1 (30) 94.7
29 Atlanta Thrashers 16.5 (23) 77.7 (29) 94.2
30 Phoenix Coyotes 15.3 (26) 78.5 (27) 93.8
by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 03/04/2021 12:55:55 PM
Category: Hockey
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Thursday, March 01, 2021

this is a recording
Taken at face value, the February-long diary kept by Anaheim Ducks General Manager Brian Burke offers a rare peek into the hectic NHL trade deadline environment:

Saturday, Feb. 17

I talk to Florida assistant GM Randy Sexton about Todd Bertuzzi, and he tells me “the guy we like is Perry.” I offer him profanity. If you are offended by profanity, it’s difficult to make a trade in the NHL. If you are going to try to rob me, at least wear a mask. We talk to Philadelphia about Kyle Calder.

Of course, the skeptic in me wonders how much of it was written in hindsight, and/or selectively edited. It reads like a slightly favorable recounting of Burke’s maneuvers, which amounted to very little change to the Ducks roster. You could argue that Anaheim was already well-poised to attack the postseason without further help — and I agree — but this comes off as a convenient rationalization in case the team flames out in the playoffs.

Incidentally, Burke makes no mention of any attempts to acquire Mats Sundin from Toronto, which was an early rumor heading into trade crunchtime. I actually buy that there was nothing to that, as it came off from the start as a media invention.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 03/01/2021 11:28:18 PM
Category: Hockey
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Tuesday, February 27, 2021

a moving feeling
The NHL trade deadline came and went today at 3PM EST. There was a scramble of deals toward the end, and most of the suspected buyers and sellers performed as predicted. Everyone is loaded up for either the postseason or next year, depending on the standings. Personally, I think there’s too much hockey left to be played before we can predict impact.

What struck me as strange: A bunch of players wound up getting dealt for their third or fourth time during this season alone. I can’t recall another year where so many guys changed addresses so much, often after very short stints with an acquiring club. Off the top of my head, the prominent much-moved during 2006-07 included: Jason Ward, Michael Leighton, Pascal Dupuis, Jason Krog, Dominic Moore, and Alexei Zhitnik.

What’s the deal? The cap certainly made dealing a more exacting science, with so many teams having so little salary room to play with. But I don’t see why that should account for so much pass-around for certain players.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 02/27/2007 08:52:08 PM
Category: Hockey
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Sunday, February 25, 2021

special delivery
Top of the week, so it’s National Hockey League Special Teams Index time!

Take a hard look at last week’s STI standings, and then take note of this week’s. Because with the trade deadline coming at 3PM this Tuesday, February 27th, we could see major performance changes throughout the NHL. Stay tuned.

STI Rank Team PP % (Rank) PK % (Rank) STI Number
1 San Jose Sharks 23.0 (1) 84.1 (8) 107.1
2 Vancouver Canucks 17.8 (15) 88.7 (1) 106.5
3 Montreal Canadiens 22.5 (2) 83.1 (13) 105.6
4 Anaheim Ducks 20.9 (4) 84.4 (7) 105.3
5 Minnesota Wild 17.6 (18) 84.9 (4) 102.5
6 Edmonton Oilers 16.0 (24) 86.5 (2) 102.5
7 New Jersey Devils 17.6 (17) 84.8 (5) 102.4
8 Dallas Stars 18.2 (13) 84.1 (9) 102.3
9 New York Rangers 19.3 (7) 82.8 (15) 102.1
10 Nashville Predators 16.7 (21) 85.1 (3) 101.8
11 Ottawa Senators 17.9 (14) 83.6 (10) 101.5
12 Pittsburgh Penguins 20.7 (5) 80.7 (21) 101.4
13 Detroit Red Wings 17.8 (16) 83.3 (12) 101.1
14 Boston Bruins 19.1 (8) 81.8 (17) 100.9
15 Colorado Avalanche 21.0 (3) 79.7 (25) 100.7
16 Florida Panthers 18.4 (11) 82.2 (16) 100.6
17 Philadelphia Flyers 15.2 (27) 84.6 (6) 99.8
18 Buffalo Sabres 18.2 (12) 81.3 (19) 99.5
19 Calgary Flames 18.7 (9) 80.4 (23) 99.1
20 Carolina Hurricanes 15.9 (25) 83.1 (14) 99.0
21 Toronto Maple Leafs 18.5 (10) 79.4 (26) 97.9
22 Tampa Bay Lightning 19.8 (6) 77.7 (30) 97.5
23 Washington Capitals 16.7 (20) 80.6 (22) 97.3
24 Columbus Blue Jackets 16.1 (23) 81.0 (20) 97.1
25 New York Islanders 15.5 (26) 80.4 (24) 95.9
26 St. Louis Blues 14.0 (28) 81.7 (18) 95.7
27 Los Angeles Kings 17.4 (19) 77.8 (28) 95.2
28 Chicago Blackhawks 11.6 (30) 83.4 (11) 95.0
29 Atlanta Thrashers 16.4 (22) 77.8 (29) 94.2
30 Phoenix Coyotes 13.8 (29) 78.7 (27) 92.5
by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 02/25/2007 01:28:54 PM
Category: Hockey
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Tuesday, February 20, 2021

new capacity
As I settled in to watch tonight’s Rangers at Devils game, the TV pregame noise pointed out that this is the last game in the 2006-07 season series that will be played in New Jersey. Since the Devs will be moving into their new Prudential Center arena in Newark next season, this is likely the last time ever that the teams will play each other at Continental Airlines Arena (barring a postseason matchup this spring/summer).

So this seems to be the opportune time to make note of Continental’s official seating capacity for Devils games:

19,040 (hockey)

Nothing remarkable about that number at first glance; after all, plenty of sporting venues list capacities that are a long way from being nice, round numbers. Take into account the history of New York area hockey, though, and that figure — in particular, the “19″ and “40″ parts — takes on significance:

The Rangers won the Stanley Cup in 1940, then proceeded to go through more than half a century before lifting the Holy Grail of hockey again.

As years went on, the Rangers’ championship exile became the subject of taunting by fans of rivals New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils. Chants of “1940…1940…1940″ directed at the Rangers and their fans started in the ’80s…

In 1994, the Rangers finally ended the “curse” (as it came to be called) and won the Stanley Cup for the first time in 54 years, defeating Vancouver in the finals. Chants of “1940″ became a distant memory.

That’s right: The official hockey seating capacity at the Devils’ longtime arena has been fixed at 19,040, or “nineteen (thousand) and forty”. And no, it wasn’t a coincidence. Long ago — probably shortly after the team moved to the Meadowlands — someone in New Jersey’s front office figured this was a subtle way to stick it to their cross-river rivals. Even in the absence of a sellout, boxscores in the newspaper would always include the 19,040 number, unintentionally making it a stealthy, low-level way to chant “1940″. It’s been kept in place, despite subsequent obsolescence.

Think this is the paranoid speculation of a Rangers fan? Trust me, it’s not. Fudging the “official” seating capacity in arenas is a time-honored practice among professional sports teams. It’s an effortless way to pocket extra money whenever a team sells more tickets than the listed number of seats in the barn. Basically, official capacity can be whatever the building operator wants it to be; in this case, it served a marketing purpose.

Another example of this: For most of the 1980s and 90s, the home of the Edmonton Oilers — currently known as Rexall Place — listed a seating capacity of 17,099. What was that “99″ for? Take a guess. (Curiously, Rexall now claims “approximately 17,000″ for hockey; but boxscores in the old days always displayed that 17,099 number.)

Anyway, it seems the Devils are giving up the ghost on this. The under-construction Pru Center is slated to have room for 17,625 around the rink. It’d be a stretch to revise that up to the familiar figure by opening night. So I guess we can bid a final farewell to New Jersey’s jab.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 02/20/2007 09:59:02 PM
Category: Hockey, SportsBiz
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Sunday, February 18, 2021

speciality
I don’t know about you, but for me, it just ain’t Sunday without the National Hockey League Special Teams Index.

See the up-and-down action by peeking at last week’s rankings. As we get closer to the February 27th trading deadline, the teams jockeying for playoff position will start to address lingering deficiencies in their power-play and penalty-kill units. That could translate into dramatic shifts in STI number toward the end of the regular season.

STI Rank Team PP % (Rank) PK % (Rank) STI Number
1 San Jose Sharks 23.1 (1) 84.5 (8) 107.6
2 Vancouver Canucks 17.2 (16) 89.1 (1) 106.3
3 Anaheim Ducks 20.9 (3) 84.8 (5) 105.7
4 Montreal Canadiens 21.3 (2) 83.4 (11) 104.7
5 New Jersey Devils 18.4 (11) 84.7 (6) 103.1
6 Dallas Stars 18.4 (12) 84.2 (9) 102.6
7 Nashville Predators 16.5 (22) 86.0 (3) 102.5
8 Edmonton Oilers 15.4 (26) 86.6 (2) 102.0
9 Minnesota Wild 17.2 (15) 84.7 (7) 101.9
10 New York Rangers 19.2 (8) 82.2 (16) 101.4
11 Ottawa Senators 17.2 (18) 83.8 (10) 101.0
12 Philadelphia Flyers 15.8 (25) 85.1 (4) 100.9
13 Pittsburgh Penguins 20.4 (4) 80.4 (25) 100.8
14 Boston Bruins 19.2 (7) 81.6 (20) 100.8
15 Florida Panthers 18.5 (10) 82.3 (15) 100.8
16 Detroit Red Wings 17.1 (20) 83.3 (13) 100.4
17 Colorado Avalanche 19.6 (6) 80.5 (24) 100.1
18 Buffalo Sabres 17.5 (14) 81.9 (18) 99.4
19 Carolina Hurricanes 16.4 (23) 82.7 (14) 99.1
20 Calgary Flames 17.9 (13) 80.6 (23) 98.5
21 Washington Capitals 17.2 (17) 81.2 (21) 98.4
22 Toronto Maple Leafs 19.1 (9) 78.9 (26) 98.0
23 Columbus Blue Jackets 16.2 (24) 81.8 (19) 98.0
24 Tampa Bay Lightning 19.9 (5) 77.6 (29) 97.5
25 New York Islanders 15.4 (27) 80.7 (22) 96.1
26 Los Angeles Kings 17.1 (19) 78.5 (28) 95.6
27 St. Louis Blues 13.3 (29) 82.2 (17) 95.5
28 Chicago Blackhawks 11.6 (30) 83.4 (12) 95.0
29 Atlanta Thrashers 16.5 (21) 77.3 (30) 93.8
30 Phoenix Coyotes 14.3 (28) 78.6 (27) 92.9
by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 02/18/2007 06:54:14 PM
Category: Hockey
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Thursday, February 15, 2021

facing the music
It’s a rumored deal that sounded more and more sensible over the past few days, and now it’s done. Peter Forsberg has been traded to the Nashville Predators for youngsters Scottie Upshall, Ryan Parent, and a first- and a third-round pick in this year’s draft.

I think they can start engraving the Nashville roster names onto the Stanley Cup right about now.

Okay, maybe not. But Forsberg is a huge pickup, for a team that was already stacked. If he stays healthy the rest of the way and into the playoffs, the Preds should have enough power to get to the Cup finals. That health “if” is significant, of course, and the biggest risk factor. Then again, we’re talking about a guy who once played a postseason game with a busted spleen — when the chips are down, Forsberg will come through.

As for Philly: It was a simple enough equation, with the team way out of the playoff mix. The demand for Forsberg was high, so they couldn’t hold him when plenty of assets were being offered. And of course, they can always re-sign Foppa after his rental period in Nashville ends (whether that’s in the first round or after a Cup sip). However, despite pronouncements from Flyers brass that they want him back… Would that be the best move? Philadelphia needs to retool their defense, which has been their true bugaboo the past two years. Bringing back Forsberg would eat up big salary cap space, with a good group of proficient forwards already on the payroll. In the end, shipping out Forsberg like this might have been the most painless way to revamp the roster going forward.

As for that “Nashvegas” tag, above: It’s what the locals call Tennessee’s capital. I actually picked it up several years ago, when my friend Schmu, who spent time at Vandy, used to use the nickname derisively. Foppa only adds to the town’s glitz!

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 02/15/2007 09:44:53 PM
Category: Hockey
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Sunday, February 11, 2021

isn't that special
What’s the perfect cure for Super Bowl Sunday hangover, one week removed? Why, the National Hockey League Special Teams Index.

Compare the shifts with last week’s rankings, and note that the higher-ranked power play breaks ties in STI Number. And now the rundown:

STI Rank Team PP % (Rank) PK % (Rank) STI Number
1 San Jose Sharks 23.4 (1) 84.5 (8) 107.9
2 Montreal Canadiens 22.1 (2) 84.2 (9) 106.3
3 Vancouver Canucks 17.3 (14) 88.7 (1) 106.0
4 Anaheim Ducks 20.7 (3) 84.8 (5) 105.5
5 Nashville Predators 17.1 (17) 86.2 (3) 103.3
6 Dallas Stars 18.2 (11) 84.2 (10) 102.4
7 New Jersey Devils 17.4 (12) 84.7 (7) 102.1
8 Edmonton Oilers 15.3 (27) 86.8 (2) 102.1
9 Minnesota Wild 17.0 (18) 84.8 (6) 101.8
10 Ottawa Senators 17.4 (13) 84.2 (11) 101.6
11 Pittsburgh Penguins 20.6 (4) 80.5 (24) 101.1
12 Florida Panthers 18.6 (9) 82.2 (15) 100.8
13 Boston Bruins 18.9 (8) 81.6 (18) 100.5
14 New York Rangers 18.5 (10) 82.0 (17) 100.5
15 Philadelphia Flyers 15.5 (26) 85.0 (4) 100.5
16 Colorado Avalanche 19.3 (5) 80.3 (25) 99.6
17 Detroit Red Wings 16.6 (21) 83.0 (14) 99.6
18 Carolina Hurricanes 16.0 (23) 83.3 (12) 99.3
19 Buffalo Sabres 17.2 (16) 81.6 (19) 98.8
20 Washington Capitals 17.0 (20) 81.3 (21) 98.3
21 Toronto Maple Leafs 18.9 (7) 79.1 (27) 98.0
22 Calgary Flames 17.3 (15) 80.6 (23) 97.9
23 Columbus Blue Jackets 15.8 (25) 81.5 (20) 97.3
24 Tampa Bay Lightning 19.3 (6) 77.9 (29) 97.2
25 New York Islanders 15.8 (24) 81.1 (22) 96.9
26 St. Louis Blues 13.5 (29) 82.1 (16) 95.6
27 Los Angeles Kings 17.0 (19) 78.5 (28) 95.5
28 Chicago Blackhawks 11.5 (30) 83.3 (13) 94.8
29 Phoenix Coyotes 14.8 (28) 79.7 (26) 94.5
30 Atlanta Thrashers 16.5 (22) 77.9 (30) 94.4
by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 02/11/2021 11:49:28 PM
Category: Hockey
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