Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Sean Gordon and Paul Waldie of the Globe and Mail,
Montreal Canadiens owner and Colorado-based debt-financing king George Gillett is engaged in another financial high-wire act that could have an impact on Canada’s most storied hockey franchise.
According to a lien filed in Delaware, Gillett has taken out a high-interest, $75-million (all currency U.S.) personal loan from a U.S.-based private investment fund, putting up his heavily-leveraged share of British soccer giant Liverpool Football Club as collateral….
But it’s clear Gillett is among the many NHL owners facing stormy financial seas because of the economic downturn.
Hockey industry sources say at least three other teams - the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and the Phoenix Coyotes - have recently taken out high-interest loans with distress lenders or private equity funds because of tightening credit in the United States.
From James Duthie in the Ottawa Citizen:
For it seems that to be a true superstar in today’s NHL, you cannot be out of your frat-boy years. Just take at the top look at the scoring race:
1.Evgeni Malkin—39 points (22 years old)
2.Sidney Crosby—34 points (21)
3.Ryan Getzlaf—31 points (23)
6.Aexander Ovechkin—30 points (23)
8.Patrick Kane—28 points (19)
9.Devin Setoguchi—27 points (21)
10. Alexander Semin—27 points (24)
That’s right. Seven of the top ten players still cannot legally drink in New Delhi, India (minimum 25 years old).
Read on. Duthie goes on to compare the current group to the leading scorers of a decade ago, and the age contrast is notable.
from Michael Luchies at Associated Content,
Where has the NHL gone? As I flip through channel after channel on a lazy Sunday I am unable to find one hockey game or highlight unless I go to the NHL channel which I had to purchase on an extra sports package. I have grown up a Detroit Red Wings fan and am still a fan of the game and the Wings, but where has the NHL gone?
Remember the good old days when, on a Sunday, you could see the glowing puck on Fox Sports, then turn to NBC to watch the Red Wings play the Avalanche in a blood bath? There seem to be no more rivalries, unsupported teams, and a lack of North American talent (minus Sidney Crosby). The NHL needs to address issues and attempt to regain popularity in the United States.
New York (December 2, 2008) – Responding to the daunting challenge issued by the devoted fans of the Montreal Canadiens, the citizens of Pittsburgh and Penguins fans around the world are proving just how passionate they are about their heroes.
Pens forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the top two scorers in the NHL, have closed the gap considerably on the front-running Montreal threesome of Alexei Kovalev, Saku Koivu and Alex Tanguay in fan balloting to select the starting lineups for the 2009 NHL All-Star Game in Montreal Jan. 25.
As of 7 a.m. ET today, Crosby had received 320,373 votes in XM NHL® All-Star Fan Balloting presented by 2K Sports. With polls still open for another month, that moved Crosby within 65,000 votes of claiming one of the three starting spots up front for the Eastern Conference.
from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star,
The NHL will likely find itself on financial thin ice if the recession deepens, according to many leading economists and financiers in the sports community.
With no substantial American television contract, teams in questionable, non-traditional markets and a falling Canadian dollar, the National Hockey League will suffer more than North America’s other major sports leagues in a prolonged economic downturn, according to those experts.
The upside for Canadian fans is that those economic woes could mean another team north of the border as owners look to the game’s hotbeds as an economic salve.
“Hockey is the most vulnerable and that’s primarily because of the lack of a TV contract in the United States,” said Richard Powers, associate dean of Rotman School of Business at the University of Toronto. “I really do think we’re going to see some contraction and/or relocation. And it’s very likely we’re going to see another franchise in Canada.
Darren Eliot of Sports Illustrated, on the new book Hockey Stories & Stuff by Don Cherry and Al Strachan:
The pair did make a conscious effort to clean up any profanity so the read would be kid-appropriate, but that doesn’t mean this book is for everyone. English professors might want to avoid it. Same thing for anyone who is offended by violence in sports, or those of you out there who have a dim view of drinking and carousing as a way of life. But for the rest of us, this book is pure joy—a little piece of guilty hockey pleasure.
In that sense, it represents Don Cherry extremely well. He’s not for everyone, but he is hard to ignore.
from the CP via the Winnipeg Sun,
Quebec provincial police say Hubert (Pit) Martin, a four-time NHL all-star in the 1960s and ’70s, is feared dead after his snowmobile plunged into an icy lake.
Spokeswoman Marie-Josee Ouellet says Martin, 64, was driving the vehicle on Lake Kanasuta in northwestern Quebec on Sunday when the ice cracked and he plunged into the freezing water.
Ouellet says a team of divers will attempt to retrieve Martin’s body today.
She says their efforts are being hampered by inclement weather.
Martin would have turned 65 next week.
from Anthony J. SanFilippo of the Delco Times,
The owners did this to themselves. They enjoyed a revenue spike from $2.14 billion to $2.6 billion in the three years after the lockout. That may seem plentiful, but it increased the salary cap and the salary floor. The floor is $40 million. That’s higher than the cap was in 2005-06. Some teams couldn’t operate financially with the floor at $25 million. Now it’s worse.
Rather than operate at more manageable numbers, 18 of the 30 NHL squads have payrolls within $2 million of the $56.4 million cap.
The NHL needs to find a financial solution, fast. Television would be the quickest way, but they need to convince major networks that their product is profitable — a daunting task. Otherwise future labor strife or a league restructuring with contraction may be in order.
Mike Steinberger of the Financial Times (UK) takes a look at the issues facing some of the major sports leagues.
He spoke with Andrew Zimbalist, an economist at Smith College in Massachusetts who specializes in sports and Zimbalist thinks the National Hockey League, in particular, is apt to see a few teams change hands and several clubs may end up relocating to other cities.
from Jeff Z. Klein & Stu Hackel of the New York Times,
A hockey cliché maintains that a two-goal lead is the worst lead a team can have. Still, the truth was that in the N.H.L., a team with a two-goal lead almost never lost. But not this season. Now it seems almost no lead is safe.
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Teams have regularly stormed back against big and small leads alike. Seesaw games are a regular feature and holding any lead is a risky matter. On the same night earlier this month, Pittsburgh and Calgary sprinted to 5-0 advantages, only to escape with one-goal wins that came down to the final buzzer.
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.
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