Kukla's Korner Hockey
Madison Square Garden sued the NHL on Friday, saying the league has monopolized promotion of its teams.
According to the lawsuit, the NHL has claimed it will fine MSG, which owns the New York Rangers, $100,000 per day if it does not give the NHL complete control over the team’s Web site and other promotions.
update 6:55pm, a little more on this from Bloomberg…
from NHL Digest,
Trying to swoon the majority of the United States market into adopting ice hockey as a major sport worthy of prime time television slots, major advertising dollars, and premium ticket prices has been a daunting task for the National Hockey League.
To the seasoned hockey fan, the sheer speed and grace of the professional game is enough to send goosebumps up our spines. As hard as it may be for us to understand, that is simply not the case for the average North American television viewer.
COMMISSIONER BETTMAN: Let me add my voice in welcoming you to the 02. It is an incredibly impressive facility, arena. All the other aspects of this facility, surrounding it, are really state-of-the-art, really cutting edge. It’s a delight for us to be here.
I’ve had a little bit of time to interact with fans. I’ve met a number of people from Los Angeles and from Orange County. I’ve seen fans from other places in Europe. Met some fans from Finland and Sweden.
For us, this was an opportunity to dip our toe in the water in Europe, take what we believe is the most international of the North American sports, and bring it to the other side of the Atlantic. And while, obviously, London and England may not be the strongest hockey markets in the world, it puts us in closer proximity to markets and people have traveled here.
from Evan Weiner at the NY Sun,
People who follow sports don’t necessarily look up currency rates. But a significant benchmark was reached last week when the Canadian “loonie” was valued at slightly more than $.99 compared to the American greenback (the loonie is currently valued at $. 99691). It is the first time since November 1976 that the American and Canadian dollars have been virtually on par.
Running franchises in Canada became progressively difficult as the Canadian dollar started a free fall, and bottomed out at around $.62 by 1998. But because the two currencies are now on par, the NHL and the NFL may start looking north of the American border to expand their business opportunities.
from Lindsay Berra of ESPN the Magazine,
If relatively anonymous. Drury, carting two gallons of milk out of a bodega on Manhattan’s Upper West Side recently, had to stare at a guy he thought was on HBO’s “Flight of the Conchords” (he wasn’t) before he got a “Hey, you’re the new Ranger!” in return. And Gomez spent an hour in a Starbucks near MSG on a late-summer workday afternoon, drinking his grapefruit soda in total peace. Think that’d happen to Eli Manning or Derek Jeter?
But Gomez and Drury just got into town; give them a season. Next June, the Rangers could be polishing the Stanley Cup, and NHL brass could be glowing about their improved ratings. Then the only unfinished business would be the ticker-tape parade.
from William Houston of the Globe and Mail,
A decline in goal scoring is perhaps the leading on-ice problem bedevilling the NHL. To discuss that issue and others, Steve Kouleas convened a roundtable panel that will air tonight on The Score at 11 p.m. EDT.
One idea that seemed to resonate with the group - NHL director of hockey operations Colin Campbell, director of officiating Stephen Walkom, Detroit Red Wing general manager Ken Holland, his Toronto Maple Leafs counterpart John Ferguson, Dallas Stars goaltender Marty Turco and Ottawa Senators centre Jason Spezza - is employing a 3-on-3 overtime session if 4-on-4 hockey does not produce a winner.
“I sensed that John and Ken really liked that,” Kouleas said. “And Collie [Campbell] was all ears when they were talking about it.”
From William Houston at the Globe & Mail,
The NHL’s move to start its regular season in London, England is renewing debate about the viability of the league expanding to Europe.
Jim Kelley, a semi-regular host at the Fan590 in Toronto, correctly noted that “finding some schlep” in Europe to buy out owners of the sad-sack franchises in the American south – Florida, Atlanta, Nashville, Phoenix, to name a few – would save the NHL the enormous cost of contraction.
Problem is, there’s no evidence the league has plans to give up on the U.S. television market by contracting.
from The Maven at MSG Network,
There will be another NHL expansion and you can put your money on Las Vegas as being the 31st team. The reasons why Sin City has the lead are many. Start with the fact that it would be very difficult for ownership to reject a HUGE entrance fee which would top anything the league has known. Plus a new rink is going up in LV and the very influential Phil Anschutz is behind the move.
more bits from Stan…
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
But let’s look at the bigger picture. This is the third post-lockout NHL season. Would it not be logical to expect the league itself to turn some kind of corner, to make some sort of statement about its future, its health?
Here are some story lines that might answer some of those questions.
The Outdoor Game
Fair or not, the dispute shows the NHL has a winner in terms of marketing. Buffalo was a terrific choice given its proximity to hockey markets in Southern Ontario, New York state and Pennsylvania.
From Pierre LeBrun, CP via Globe & Mail,
Bettman’s voice fills with emotion has he responds to criticism that the salary cap has risen too high at US$50.3 million and salaries are back to pre-lockout levels.
“I think the agreement has been misconstrued,” Bettman said. “People are saying there’s a $50-million cap and now we’re back to where we were and higher. That statement, when it’s made, indicates a fundamental lack of understanding of how the system works.”
To wit, Bettman points out that in the pre-lockout season of 2003-04, the top payroll was in the $80-million range with other teams in the 70s and 60s. More importantly, he adds, it’s the average payroll that really matters pertaining to dividing up the 55 per cent of the revenue pie to players.
more… (*wide-ranging interview on issues like television coverage, European markets, etc.)
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org