Archive for March, 2007

Quality, Not Quantity

In his article yesterday, the Hockey Rodent made some great points about the problems of league expansion and how it harms the NHL.

Gary Bettman has always seemed to be one that believes in quantity over quality. He’s a money man, so that’s not hard to understand. What these money men need to understand, however, is that there is a delicate balance that needs to be struck between quantity and quality. Quality tends to get lost when one solely focuses on quantity, and quality often is more important if you want returning customers… which means more money in the long run.

Under Bettman, the NHL has added four expansion teams. According to the Hockey Rodent’s calculations and estimations, this has diluted the NHL talent pool, which has created teams and a game of lesser quality. Sure, there may be more teams in more markets, but the product that the fans in each of these markets is being offered is not what it used to be. People aren’t going to want to watch or get into a game that is getting worse and isn’t as entertaining, especially when they’re having to pay more money for that product year after year. I mean come on, what businessman expects to sell a product for more money each year, when the quality of it goes down each year? Even the auto companies know that doesn’t work. Hockey fans may not be the smartest folk, but we sure ain’t dumb!!!

The expansion of the league brings about two other major problems, which the NHL has recently tried to fix with band-aids. First, the dilution in the talent pool and overall player skill level has changed the flow of the game. New (expansion) players can’t keep up with and can’t play at the level of the existing players, which results in a lot more holding, hooking, and grabbing. Secondly, the addition of these sub-par players has driven up the salaries throughout the league, creating more of a financial burden on the team owners and the league. See the cause and effects going on here? And just recently, the NHL and Gary Bettman have tried to fix these problems (which they created) with temporary band-aids… hello salary cap and new rules. It reminds me of the pharmaceutical industry… creating and selling drugs to treat “illnesses” and “diseases”, which only creates more “diseases” and “illnesses” later on, for which they will sell you another pill. This seems to be the American attitude towards everything… treat the symptoms for a temporary and immediate fix, and not get to the root and cause of the problems. Do whatever it takes to make money now.

What makes this such a hot and worthwhile topic right now is that the NHL and Gary Bettman are seriously considering adding two more expansion teams to the league… one in Kansas City and one in Las Vegas. I have my own issues with adding teams there based on geography and the hockey subculture, but I won’t get into that here. However, the issues that the Hockey Rodent brings up and I have discussed here should be a clear warning to Bettman and the league about the consequences of league expansion. Based on what we have seen, the most logical thing would be to reduce the number of teams, which would improve the skill level of the players, and thus, the quality of product that we the fans pay for. I do know that the Atlanta Thrashers are having tough times surviving… so who knows, maybe they will be moved to Kansas City or Las Vegas.

So please Mr. Bettman, start thinking about the future of the game, and know that fans would prefer a league of quality, rather than one of quantity. And remember like we all should, the decisions that you make and actions that you take today can have severe consequences which cannot be solved with a temporary fix or magic pill in the future.


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·  Idiot of the Day…
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·  An Open Letter to the NHL and Gary Bettman

Elevated Coverage or Elevated Ego?

Bettman today announced the signing of a TV contract with NBC for next season that would bring one game on Sunday, for a minimum of three Sundays, to your TV. They will telecast three games each of the Sundays but only one will be shown nationally. Bettman says “In under two seasons, NBC has significantly elevated NHL broadcast coverage in the U.S.,”. Gag, choke, puke. Da commish is quite shortsighted if he thinks the few games NBC will air are going to “elevate” the number of viewers. He must be using the number of viewers watching hockey during the lockout to gauge his forecasting of NBC’s performance. His quote also left out mention of our neighbor to the north although they get Hockey Night in Canada EVERY Saturday. (However, Bettman was not astute enough to save Hockey Day in Canada.) The VS. contract is up this year but THEY have the option for one more year. Bettman must have received his Juris Doctorate from a cracker jack’s box because his contracting skills suck. Boy ‘O boy, I can’t wait to see another nite of hockey on VS. (Last game I saw on VS. the announcers seemed to be more in love with hearing themselves than calling the play-by-play.) C’mon NHL Owners, hire a real lawyer and dump VS. The league is making enough money now to do some revenue sharing with ESPN. And…, we will all benefit! (Well, except Bettman.)


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·  Tracking the NHL…
·  A Bittersweet Beginning…

Time to clean house!

How many more stretchers do we need to see on the ice before the owners realize that they have lost control of officiating and discipline? Guys are being removed from the ice on stretchers with no penalties called and yet in the next minute of play we see a guy literally touch an opposing player with a stick and he gets called for two minutes! Bettman has screwed up the rules and discipline so bad that the players no longer have any respect for one another nor do they have any idea of what’s going to be called and what isn’t. Is it going to take a, heaven forbid, death or career-ending injury to see a change? It’s hard to believe that the owners value Bettman more than their investment in players who are dropping like flies. Time for a change to someone in the commish chair who will not tolerate cheap shots! Time for a change to someone in the commish chair who will not have officials calling minor touches and taps!. It’s just plain time for a change!

FIRE BETTMAN before we lose the spirit of our sport entirely!

What do you think?


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·  Gary Bettman’s email address

Tootoo Booboo?

In a game between the Dallas Stars and the Predators in Nashville, Jordin Tootoo threw a punch to the face of Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas that knocked Robidas out cold and sent him to the hospital with a concussion. Cheap shot? Does he deserve a suspension? Check out the CBC’s comments on this:

“The game was marred by an ugly incident in the third period that saw Stars defenceman Stephane Robidas carried off of the ice on a stretcher after being punched by Tootoo. Robidas was assessed a minor for charging on the play, and Tootoo received a double-minor for roughing.

CBC’s Scott Morrison has learned that NHL senior vice president Colin Campbell will conduct a hearing with Tootoo to determine if supplemental discipline is warranted.

As of late Saturday night, Campbell would not say whether the hearing would take place in person or over the phone. The former, a meeting at the league offices, usually guarantees a suspension of four or more games.

The incident is the latest in a series of head attacks in the NHL, beginning with the Ottawa Senators Chris Neil hit on Buffalo’s Chris Drury, a shoulder to the head hit, which was deemed legal. A while later, New Jersey’s Cam Janssen levelled Toronto’s Tomas Kaberle with a late shoulder to the head, which earned him a three-game suspension. And last week, the Islanders Chris Simon was suspended for a minimum 25 games for a violent chop of the stick to the jaw of Rangers Ryan Hollweg.”

Should Tootoo be suspended?


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Killer NHL Marketing

If you are able to get the obscure cable channel Bettman thinks will be the saviour of the “New” NHL, then you probably saw his idea of how the league should be advertised. Promoting the coming playoffs Bettman’s marketing idiots have spliced together clips from the movie “300″ with clips of hard-hitting hockey. To associate our beloved sport with a movie that depicts beheadings and spurting blood throughout is, IMHO, a very bad idea. Hockey’s only other national advertisement for the past week or so has been the over-and-over replay of the Simon stick-swinging incident which is then coupled to the Tuz’s bone-headed play on Moore, and then McSorely…you get the idea. Now Bloody Bettman follows that up with an ad that promotes more violence. Hey, don’t get me wrong, I love it when they drop the gloves or there’s a good CLEAN hard check, but associating hockey with the ultra-extreme violence of this movie just ain’t smart. We have plenty of NHL highlight plays and foot-stompin’ tunes that would promote the NHL in a much better fan-growing light than what our idiot commissioner and his immature marketing boys are doing. I thought the idea was to tone down the ultra-violence? What are the younger fans and players to think about how the game should be played when they see this commercial and the movie? Stupid, Gary, plain stupid.

Deposit two cents here.


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Goin’ back to Saskin-toons

Ted Saskin, Executive Director of the NHLPA, is embroiled in a controversy surrounding his alleged reading of players’ personal emails. Apparently a player saw an open email of Dwayne Roloson’s on Saskin’s computer and alerted the Oiler’s goalie of this. Now, the player reps are due to have a conference call tonight with the interim NHLPA executive committee, to discuss Saskin’s future. Saskin meanwhile has decided to blame his old boss, dethroned NHLPA Executive Bob Goodenow for the intrusion into players’ personal lives.

Saskin’s troubles began when he was immediately named permanently to replace Goodenow on the day Bobby “no cap” Goodenow departed. Trent Klatt, then Executive Board member, immediately voiced concern and thought Saskin should have been appointed on an interim basis while a proper search was conducted for a new director. Chris Chelios felt the same way and together they pursued the issue since the management change occurred. Saskin worked VERY closely with Bettman’s right-hand man, Bill Daly, to create the new CBA and end the lockout. Some are now voicing concern that Saskin may have been too buddy-buddy with the NHL’s top management and, in fact, may have been installed as director in collusion with none other than Gary Bettman. Both Bettman and Saskin are lawyers and share a desire to be in the spotlight. Hopefully, if the allegations prove to be true, both will be like a deer in the headlights.


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Simple Simon?

Chris Simon was officialy suspended for a minimum of 25 games and the remainder of the 2006-2007 season (including the playoffs) today by the NHL, for his chop to the chops of Ryan Hollweg in a game between the Rangers and Islanders this past Thursday, March 8th.

A lot of people out there, including Kara Yorio of the SportingNews, believe that the suspension is not enough, and that this will not help to prevent such violent acts from occurring in future NHL games.

Chris Simon has apologized in a statement for what he did, and also said that he suffered a concussion as a result of the check that Hollweg put on him just prior to Simon’s retaliation. In fact, Colin Campbell had to travel to New York for the hearing, because Simon’s doctors would not allow him to travel because of his concussion.

Hollweg ended up with stitches on his chin and played the next game. However, would the punishment for Simon been harsher had Hollweg been more seriously injured? If Simon would have struck Hollweg another inch or two higher, I’m sure there would have been a lot more damage to Hollweg’s face and head. And had the check been another inch or two lower, Simon’s stick would have struck Hollweg’s throat, perhaps causing even potentially life-threatening damage to his larynx.

We want to know what you think…
Has the NHL punished Chris Simon enough? Do you think Simon really suffered a concussion, or is he using it as a semi-excuse so he doesn’t seem like such a villain? How would have you handled this situation if you were Colin Campbell?


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Baseball on ice…

Chris Simon of the Islanders delivered a baseball swing of his stick across the neck/face of the Rangers’ Ryan Hollweg in last night’s game. It turned out that the power play the Rangers received as a result of this, led to the game-winning goal. Check it out:



Apparently, Simon has been suspended indefinitely. Glad it didn’t take Bettman and the NHL long to act on this one!!

What are your thoughts? What should be done to Simon? Should he be allowed to play, ever again?


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Nashville next to move?

The NHL doesn’t know where the Penguins will be playing next year and yet another playoff team may be seeking a new home next year according to an article by Howard Bloom of sportsbusinessnews.com, posted shortly after the All-Star Game that few saw.

The Nashville Predator’s owner Craig Leipold “has an out-clause in his contract with the city of Nashville that permits him to move the Predators if their paid attendance does not reach at least 13,200 by the end of the current NHL season.” When Nashville (2nd best record) played at home against Anaheim (at the time, best NHL record), Pred’s attendance couldn’t even muster 12,000.

Bettman’s best blurb: “The attendance is up compared to last year, which is a good thing. I’d like to see attendance stronger in Nashville. I know Craig Leipold would like to see attendance stronger.” Duh, ya think Gary?

Imagine a Penguins-Predators 2007 Stanley Cup Finals and then in 2008 they morph into Kansas City and Las Vegas teams. How’s that for league stability?

Bloom also notes that the Florida Panther’s team is in big trouble: “…in Miami they can’t giveaway Florida Panthers tickets.” He goes on further to note that Gary Bettman has added eight franchises in his 14 years with only two of them notably successful; Minnesota and Dallas. The article is a very complete critical review of Bettman’s management of the league including the TV contract, ratings, and schedule.

Check it out and let us know what you think!


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NHL signs TV deal with Food Network

Hah, leave it to The Onion for an article like this.

Heck, the NHL might be better off on the Food Network. It might pick up some new fans, since I’m sure way more people know of the Food Network and actually watch it, compared to Versus.

I like this part:

Though Bettman maintained that the Food Network was always the league’s first choice, sources close to the commissioner confirmed that the NHL also considered broadcasting games on E!, the Golf Channel, and Cartoon Network before eventually deciding to go with the network offering the best combination of financial incentives and airtime.

Which network do you think the NHL should have their contract with???


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