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A Few Hockey Notes On A Non-Hockey Saturday Night

from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,

- Eminem on the NHL lockout: “Nowadays everybody wanna talk like they got something to say, but nothin’ comes out when they move they lips. Just a buncha gibberish.”

- Never thought I’d write this in mine or anyone else’s lifetime, but here it goes: Bud Selig is the No. 1 commissioner in professional sports. And with the decline of the retiring David Stern and the embarrassment Roger Goodell is becoming, it’s not even close. And we know who’s No. 4 on the list, and it ain’t Bobby Orr.

a few more hockey notes mixed in with other sports topics...

Filed in: NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Comments

Evilpens's avatar

Eminem on the NHL lockout: “Nowadays everybody wanna talk like they got something to say, but nothin’ comes out when they move they lips. Just a buncha gibberish.”
like his CD’s

Posted by Evilpens on 12/15/12 at 10:47 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

[Never thought I’d write this in mine or anyone else’s lifetime, but here it goes: Bud Selig is the No. 1 commissioner in professional sports. And with the decline of the retiring David Stern and the embarrassment Roger Goodell is becoming, it’s not even close. And we know who’s No. 4 on the list, and it ain’t Bobby Orr.strong]

yep Selig is Great because he lets the Ultra mega Markets do what they have done since Marvin Miller & Don Fehr destroyed baseball red face  is there anyone in Canada who is a Good Columnist ?

Posted by Evilpens on 12/15/12 at 10:49 PM ET

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Bud Selig?

Steroid Bud.

Tied All Star Game Bud.

Marlin Fire Sale Bud (3 times)

Kansas City? Bud

Do Canadian columnists write in crayon?

Amen Evilpens.

Posted by 13 user names on 12/15/12 at 11:57 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

Eminem on the NHL lockout: “Nowadays everybody wanna talk like they got something to say, but nothin’ comes out when they move they lips. Just a buncha gibberish.”

Pot. Kettle. Black.

But to expect more from a “rapper” would be like expecting common sense to come out of the mouth of the Garden Gnome – or the purveyor of nonsensical grammar.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 12/16/12 at 12:22 AM ET

Baroque's avatar

Also “21 years of labor peace” Bud Selig and “Los Angeles Dodgers selling for $2 billion” Bud Selig and “no screaming debates over every suspension” Bud Selig though. Also the new baseball CBA included HGH testing as well as steroids. He’s been way behind the curve on drug testing, but at least now baseball is trying to get in front of the issue.

I don’t like the man one bit, and think he’s done some stupid things, but give him credit. If Gary Bettman’s greatest positive is “he’s grown the NHL game so much” then give Selig the same credit for doing it with baseball and assess all four commissioners on their performance at this moment as well as the past. What’s fair is fair.

Posted by Baroque from Michigan on 12/16/12 at 09:16 AM ET

NHLJeff's avatar

OTC, that’s just a line from the song “Forgot About Dre.”  He didn’t actually say anything about the lockout. The writer thinks he’s clever.

Posted by NHLJeff from Pens fan in Chicago, IL on 12/16/12 at 09:41 AM ET

Evilpens's avatar

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Baroque The Succos big off season move signing Russell Martin a .211 hitting Catcher, The GM said they could have a 70 Million $ payroll, Now if the Succos tripled that they would Be in the Skankees Neighborhood

Posted by Evilpens on 12/16/12 at 09:50 AM ET

Baroque's avatar

I don’t like teams with tiny payrolls so they can keep their profits up, either, but unfortunately there is no way to force teams to not make stupid trades or drafts.

Some sports teams just suck, some don’t spend anything, some do both. I’m sorry the Pirates are so horrible. It looks like they have a lovely ballpark and I’m hoping to see a game there this summer or next, if I can swing a Pittsburgh roadtrip. At least baseball does have a luxury tax, and they altered the draft rules in the last CBA to try to prevent teams from going outside of slot without substantial penalties to help the worse teams improve their prospects and depth.

Too bad teams can’t be forced to not be stupid. :/

Posted by Baroque from Michigan on 12/16/12 at 10:16 AM ET

Evilpens's avatar

That is the problem Baroque ! the Luxury tax is Hush money from the Big Markets owners to keep the Small markets quiet! give them enough money to make a profit every season.

if you were the Pirates owner would you have a possible 70 Million$ payroll & be assured of making a Profit or double that to 140 with a chance to win the division & lose money?

actually the Draft rules hurt the Pirates & Royals who were willing to pay more for players & the Red Sux got Pissed because the Pirates drafted Josh Bell with the 1st Pick in the 2nd Rd. when Josh Bell & his parents sent a letter to all MLB teams advising them to not draft him as he was going to college. Red Sux wanted to draft him but didn’t have the guts too & the Pirates Gambled & signed Him & the Red Sux complained to Steroid Bud & they got that rule put in to hamstring the small market teams again

Posted by Evilpens on 12/16/12 at 10:26 AM ET

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Also “21 years of labor peace” Bud Selig and “Los Angeles Dodgers selling for $2 billion” Bud Selig and “no screaming debates over every suspension” Bud Selig though. Also the new baseball CBA included HGH testing as well as steroids. He’s been way behind the curve on drug testing, but at least now baseball is trying to get in front of the issue.

Now, sure.  Then, Selig’s impotence and unwillingness to push real steroid testing along with the Union’s (led by you-know-who) intransigence to consider it left about a decade long skid mark across the fabric of the whole sport which will end up most likely costing the greatest modern hitter and the greatest modern pitcher spots in the Hall of Fame.

Which looks bad.

So yeah, 5+ years on the other side of his feckless incompetence things don’t look so bad for Selig.  Just like 5+ years into a new CBA things won’t look so bad regarding Bettman, either.

I don’t like teams with tiny payrolls so they can keep their profits up, either, but unfortunately there is no way to force teams to not make stupid trades or drafts.

If all teams were equally competent each season would just be random chance.  There wouldn’t be upsets, underdogs, favorites, or dynasties.

Sports would be like watching a roulette wheel spin.  Maybe your number comes up, maybe not.  Oh well.  See you next year.

A modern major sport has to find a balance in their financial structure between parity and profit.  If you go to far towards legislated parity (like where the NHL is perilously close to heading), then you end up with the roulette wheel league I described and either 10+ teams losing big bucks every year or 10+ teams raking in astronomical profits because you have to keep the salary band so narrow.  If you go too far the other way (like baseball is perilously close to heading), then you can write off 15+ teams as not having any chance at all to win anything, ever.  But hey, at least they’ll all break even or make a few mil.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 12/16/12 at 11:56 AM ET

Joe Z.'s avatar

HockeyinHD you are funny in some way.

the facts are the mlb IS 21 YEARS lockout or strike-free. they make way more money than the NHL. It’s considered a stalbe business model. D. Fehr was huge part in the process.

Now the NHL argues that they want to reach the same. So why in heaven, hell or earth should you want to get rid of Fehr? He earned his credit to be able to be productive in establishing a stable Business. The NHL simply has not, as you can see in the 3rd Lockout (not even strike) in the same period.  What on earth makes you think this guy doesn’t know what he is doing. In fact he is chosen by some smart guys (harvard degrees for example)to be their proxy-negotiatior.  Why negitiate the way the NHL does? Why so destructive? Simply because of winning (when you already won compared to the last CBA?)

Posted by Joe Z. from Austria on 12/16/12 at 01:34 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). you’re a clown at least half the Teams in MLB know right NOW!!! they have NO chance to win the World Series !!

Posted by Evilpens on 12/16/12 at 02:41 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

also before the strike was Bettman in this TWITS vapid mind anywhere but 4th ???????

 

 

 

 

NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So there has been no change ! just another Liberal in the media taking swings at Bettman because he has the Audacity to not give in

Posted by Evilpens on 12/16/12 at 02:43 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

if you were the Pirates owner would you have a possible 70 Million$ payroll & be assured of making a Profit or double that to 140 with a chance to win the division & lose money?

That owner also happens to be the Blue Jackets owner EP.  Mr. McConnell.  I find it funny that both teams he had a significant stake in, in two sports (1 with huge disperity between good and bad teams because of the ability of big markets to spend and 1 in a league with a hard cap and literally EVERY team has a shot EVERY year to make the playoffs) both seem to be unsuccessful.  In two very different circumstance.  Same result.  Interesting data points to consider.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 12/16/12 at 04:10 PM ET

Baroque's avatar

From a business standpoint, if entirely random chance determines winners but every team at least breaks even, I think everyone would be fine with that - from a business standpoint. I’m not looking at it as a fan, but as what would be a good outcome of a large industry, and every store or branch profitable every year is not a bad outcome. If championships are largely random chance, then with a 30 team league at least every team could be expected to win 3 times a century, so a fan would be reasonably likely to see his or her team win once in a lifetime. Better than many teams have managed under the existing system.

And I think in a few more years people won’t care that much about the steroid era, anyway. (Honestly, I think a lot of the hyperventilating is from the media more than fans.) The idea of chemical and/or physical enhancement of natural abilities is a very interesting one, and will be the subject of much discussion in the coming years among doctors and researchers - that conversation will leak over into sports and society in general, even more than it already is.

Posted by Baroque from Michigan on 12/16/12 at 04:14 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Bob Nuttig runs the Pirates, McConnell might have a small share but Nuttig runs things

Posted by Evilpens on 12/16/12 at 04:36 PM ET

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the facts are the mlb IS 21 YEARS lockout or strike-free. they make way more money than the NHL.

They always made more money than the NHL.  Which is why they have been strike and lockout free for so long.

Which is why the NFL has been lockout and strike free for so long (as far as actually impacting a game goes).

Which is why the NBA has not been as strike and lockout free.  They haven’t made as much money as the other two sports.

So why in heaven, hell or earth should you want to get rid of Fehr?

a) When did I say I wanted to get rid of Fehr?  Is this a different account of JJ’s or something?

b) Why do you think Fehr was the reason baseball succeeded financially, and not that it’s… baseball?  While hockey is… hockey.  And football is… football.

There are basic and inherent differences in the sports that determine the degree of domestic support.  You’re giving Fehr way to much credit.

The NHL is in the financial pickle it is now because Bettman tried to make the NHL as successful as the NBA or MLB.  And failed.  Because hockey isn’t baseball or basketball to most Americans.  So the same strategy that works for a sport people actually like isn’t going to work for a sport pretty much no-one cares about.

I’m not looking at it as a fan, but as what would be a good outcome of a large industry, and every store or branch profitable every year is not a bad outcome.

IMO having a league that’s essentially buying a lotto ticket each year would eventually dampen fan support.  There has to be some kind of foreseeable striation between franchises or else success becomes meaningless as a judge of accomplishment.

We already see how 2 or 3 straight seasons of mediocrity pushes attendance down.  A league that’s too flat means everyone’s mediocre.  Forever.  There’s no bandwagon support because there aren’t any bandwagons.

And I think in a few more years people won’t care that much about the steroid era, anyway.

I agree.  As fans, time heals all wounds.  That’s why I don’t think fans will stay away after lockouts, or strikes, or protests about how their team is run or about who the commissioner is.

So sure, as we get 10, 15, 20 years out from the steroid era people won’t be as exercised about which players chose to cheat in which ways by injecting whatever drugs into their system.  I don’t think that changes the impact of the steroid era as it was occurring, though… which was my point.  Then, Selig was viewed as a feckless incompetent unwilling or unable to grasp the seriousness of the issues as stake and too weak to fix them.  Fehr was as a guy who was perfectly willing to have the game of baseball look like it was filled with cheaters rather than give up a negotiating chip.

I mean, Congress got involved with that, for crying out loud.  Yes, it made the US government look like a bunch of morons ran it (which happens to be true, as it turns out), but still.

Now... Selig’s just a genial goof.

Time heals all.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 12/16/12 at 07:01 PM ET

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Now the NHL argues that they want to reach the same. So why in heaven, hell or earth should you want to get rid of Fehr? He earned his credit to be able to be productive in establishing a stable Business.

???

Baseball’s successful pretty much just because of the television deal, the national footprint of its largest market, the capacity of the stadiums and the number of home games (give the NHL and NBA the same number of home dates and they’re roughly the same size as baseball, despite having much worse TV deals).

Stadiums are nowhere near full, despite tickets being dirt cheap in comparison to an NBA, NFL or NHL game. Ratings aren’t good outside of about 3 markets. The sport is non-existent in target demographics of the type that correlate to future growth.

Unless Don Fehr had some involvement with ripping off Turner and Fox over TV rights, marketing the Yankees, building the stadia or inventing the 162 game season, I don’t know what the Hell you’re talking about here.

Posted by larry on 12/16/12 at 08:41 PM ET

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Baseball’s successful pretty much just because of the television deal,

IMO it’s the local rather than the national deals which are the issue here.  The national deal is split among all teams and it is shared with the PA to the degree that relationship exists.  Local deals are totally off-book for teams.

Having a ginormous national deal helps, sure, but when there are individual MLB teams who have equivalent TV deals to what the NHL got as a league... there’s just no real way to compare the economics of the two sports intelligently.  The chasm is vast.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 12/17/12 at 10:27 AM ET

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The local tv deals are why a handful of teams can have exorbitant payrolls (quadruple that of some other teams) and still turn a big profit. But there are some teams that get next to nothing on the local tv deal. Probably more of those than of the other type.

The national deal (which splits evenly) is why EVERY team is in the black.

Posted by larry on 12/17/12 at 02:25 PM ET

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The national deal (which splits evenly) is why EVERY team is in the black.

If there wasn’t a national deal the poor teams would just spend less and still be profitable, though.  That’s the ‘benefit’ of not having a cap floor.

The national deal allows those teams to spend 70 mil on salaries instead of 40, but since the national money goes to everyone, I don’t think it really has much of an impact on competitiveness.  It just shifts the league payroll range from 20/30 mil- 170 mil to 50/60 mil - 200 mil.  The little guys are still being outspent by 140 mil.

If MLB had a cap structure like the NHL does, there’d be 5-10 teams losing money every year.  KC, Pittsburgh, Oakland, Houston, Tampa, Arizona, Cleveland… teams like that would be losing a bunch of money in a league where 90+ mil payrolls would be mandated.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 12/17/12 at 03:23 PM ET

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If there wasn’t a national deal the poor teams would just spend less and still be profitable, though.  That’s the ‘benefit’ of not having a cap floor.

The national deal allows those teams to spend 70 mil on salaries instead of 40, but since the national money goes to everyone, I don’t think it really has much of an impact on competitiveness.  It just shifts the league payroll range from 20/30 mil- 170 mil to 50/60 mil - 200 mil.  The little guys are still being outspent by 140 mil.

If MLB had a cap structure like the NHL does, there’d be 5-10 teams losing money every year.  KC, Pittsburgh, Oakland, Houston, Tampa, Arizona, Cleveland… teams like that would be losing a bunch of money in a league where 90+ mil payrolls would be mandated.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 12/17/12 at 02:23 PM ET

You’re greatly underestimating how much that TV contract is worth per team. To maintain current profit margins without that contract, that $70 million club would have to slash it’s payroll to $20 million. And that’s assuming they don’t sell one less ticket for one less dollar or get one less advertising deal due to having done that, which is, likely, a false assumption.

Furthermore, I’m not even certain you can have the required number of players under contract for $20 million.

Posted by larry on 12/17/12 at 04:59 PM ET

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What I have learned about the NHL lockout after 90+ days is that Pittsburgh is a terrible baseball market.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 12/17/12 at 05:13 PM ET

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You’re greatly underestimating how much that TV contract is worth per team.

Probably, since I guestimated it, but all that does is change the numbers and not the impact of the numbers. 

Whether we’re talking about a 20 mil cushion or a 50 mil cushion, all the cushion does is move up the floor of what a team can spend and still be profitable.  It doesn’t make them want to spend more than they can and still be profitable.

That’s why the 4 or so really cheap teams are spending 55-60 mil a year now and the 4 or so really rich teams are spending 150+ mil, and five or six years ago the really cheap teams were spending than 30-45 mil (other than Miami’s embarrassing 15 mil) while the really rich teams were spending over 100 mil.

Heck, since there’s profiteering running rampant among the cheap clubs the gap between they and the big spending clubs is actually widening.  That, and since the big clubs also have big (and private) local deals… badabing!

Everybody is making money, but only maybe 10-12 teams are actually relevant as anything but talent producers for the big clubs.

Furthermore, I’m not even certain you can have the required number of players under contract for $20 million.

Well, back before the NHL had a cap floor teams would routinely float 15ish mil team salaries while the big spenders popped off at 60+.  It looks like there’s generally a 3 or 4 to 1 spread between big and cheap spenders in an uncapped structure.

 

Posted by HockeyinHD on 12/17/12 at 08:38 PM ET

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Well, back before the NHL had a cap floor teams would routinely float 15ish mil team salaries while the big spenders popped off at 60+.  It looks like there’s generally a 3 or 4 to 1 spread between big and cheap spenders in an uncapped structure.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 12/17/12 at 07:38 PM ET

The NHL did. But again, the NHL isn’t baseball. I -think- despite the 25 (?) man roster, teams carry around 50 contracts at all times. Does these extra 25 guys go into overall salary?

Theoretically, the “league minimum” is somewhere around 500k but I’m unaware of anyone actually being paid that dollar amount past a rookie deal that’s about to expire. I mean, we’re talking about a sport where pinch hitters and backup catchers are millionaires. It would be incredibly difficult to find credible ball players to fill out a $20 million roster.

Now, of course, a team could just scour the mexican leagues for anybody at all who would accept 700k or below. But I think in doing that, you would damage your other, non-revenue-sharing-from-national-tv revenue streams badly enough that you would wipe out any gains. And you’d have to overhaul the entire roster just about every year.

In any event, this is a long way of reiterating that the national tv deal is both necessary and sufficient to turn baseball’s weak sisters into profitable entities, regardless of what local deals go for. And hockey doesn’t have a deal that’s anything like it.

Posted by larry on 12/17/12 at 11:59 PM ET

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The NHL did. But again, the NHL isn’t baseball.

That’s the point we agree on here, though.  At least I think it is.

My position is that the only reason MLB and the NFL aren’t having lockouts is that there is so much more money in the seasons the owners don’t have a financial incentive to chase after too many (or any, really) points of revenue.

Specific to an NHL-MLB comparison, my position is that if the NHL was capless their salary spread would look a lot like MLB’s, just much smaller.  10-15+ teams would never have a real shot at winning, and the top 5-8 teams would outspend the cheapest 5-8 teams by 2 or 3+ dollars to 1.

And, as a corrolary, that if MLB had a hard cap like the NHL there would be a whole lot more labor unrest because a similar kind of narrow-band financial structure would put tons of financial pressure on the bottom 10-15 revenue teams to be able to pay out salaries up to that floor without losing 7-8 figures every season.

Because MLB revenue is vast compared to the NHL’s that salary band would be comparatively much higher, but the same general principles would apply.

That’s why the NHL has all these lockouts.  Their cap structure almost forces it and their revenue streams are insufficient to anesthetize against it.

And the NHL has to have this cap structure because they are chasing a big domestic US TV deal, so they need to be in non-traditional hockey markets with huge viewer bases.

And in order to give those non-traditional teams as much chance as possible to not be blown off the ice every night the NHL has to have a narrow cap-floor, which means there are lockouts all the time to fight over percentage points of HRR so non-traditional teams aren’t losing 10 million bucks a year.

And all the lockouts negatively impacts the cache of the NHL, which makes the possibility of a big TV less likely..

It’s a vicious circle of conflicting consequences.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 12/18/12 at 08:48 AM ET

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Forgot to address this point:

In any event, this is a long way of reiterating that the national tv deal is both necessary and sufficient to turn baseball’s weak sisters into profitable entities, regardless of what local deals go for.

Well, what I’m saying is that the entities would be approximately as profitable without as large of a national TV deal because they’d just cut costs to match reduced revenues.

Cheap teams spending 30-40 mil compared to rich teams spending 100 mil aren’t appreciably more league-competitive than cheap teams spending 50-60 mil while rich teams spend 150+ mil are.  There are still vast gaps between big and small markets and those tend to play out in a fairly linear fashion on the field of play.

All a bigger TV deal does for MLB is act as an inflationary device on player salaries.  It doesn’t change the basic competitive or financial realities of the teams in the league, it just adds zeroes to the numbers being discussed.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 12/18/12 at 08:57 AM ET

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All a bigger TV deal does for MLB is act as an inflationary device on player salaries. [.quote]

Of course it inflates salaries. That’s not the point. It’s known, guaranteed money.

It doesn’t change the basic competitive or financial realities of the teams in the league, it just adds zeroes to the numbers being discussed.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 12/18/12 at 07:57 AM ET

Yes it does.

Look, the whole reason for a salary cap to begin with is a concept called “cost certainty.” Lot of hockey fans think that was a 2005 buzzword, but it actually means something.

Businesses use projections to set budgets before a fiscal year. A projection is an estimate. They allocate spending based on those budgets. These are, to an extent, also estimates. At the end of the year, they haven’t earned an estimated amount of money. They’ve earned an actual amount of money, which may or may not line up with these estimates. If the actuals are less than the estimates, the estimated spending figure gets reduced via anything from no bonuses to layoffs to plant closings.

Sports teams can’t do this. What the NHL and NBA do is tie the estimated income to the estimated expenses through a mechanism called escrow. In this way, estimates and actuals automatically stay in synch. That’s cost certainty. You have a good idea of what spending a dollar is going to cost you before you spend it.

MLB doesn’t have a cap.

So the way MLB teams achieve cost certainty is they set their payroll to the actuals they know ($50 mil + local TV deal + advertising deals made in the offseason + season ticket holders + worst case scenario for walkups - operating costs = payroll) before the season and pocket the unknowns. If you eliminate $50 million in known, consistent, plannable money from every team’s income, an MLB team doesn’t know the value of a dollar spent and the consequences of not spending one. They can’t remain in the black.

Big national TV deals are the entire reason baseball’s system works for its present group of owners. Salary inflation is never going to outstrip the ability for a team to field a roster using this equation ($50 mil + local TV deal + advertising deals made in the offseason + season ticket holders + worst case scenario for walkups - operating costs = payroll) and come out in the black unless the minimum wage quadruples, which isn’t happening.

Posted by larry on 12/18/12 at 11:20 PM ET

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Posted by larry on 12/18/12 at 11:21 PM ET

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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.

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