General NHL posts
ith a big Game 5 looming around the corner, it seems like Hawks fans are ready to throw Brian Campbell and his mega contract to the wolves. Some pretty nasty stuff is being said; some are calling it the downfall of Dale Tallon while others simply just throw out expletives. You’d think that Campbell is the worst thing to wear red and black since The Master in Manos: The Hands of Fate.
Let’s take a step back here. So Campbell’s not the second coming of Nick Lidstrom or Scott Niedermayer…is that actually surprising? Yes, Campbell’s one of the highest paid defensemen in the league, but Dale Tallon even admits that he overpaid for Campbell to make a splash in the suddenly hot Chicago marketplace.
When you see a headline like “Sports bosses say economy forces more price cuts,” one has to be skeptical. But some part of hell has frozen over as the New York Yankees are actually cutting ticket prices.
The average price of a home-game ticket for a Yankees fan this season, for example, will run about $72.97, up more than 75 percent from last year, according to research firm Team Marketing Report.
Across sports, even more cuts could be coming as teams reverse the increases they put in place to help pay for expensive new arenas and stadiums.
“There are going to be adjustments based on the economy. We’ve seen that in our teams,” David Stern, commissioner of the National Basketball Association, said at a panel discussion hosted by The Wall Street Journal. “They’ll do fine, but they’ll do less. As we come through the economy, I think there will be some re-pricing mechanism built in.”
Now, all of the head honchos are saying the right thing about adjusting for the economy, but really, what are they going to do? I’m no expert on the business machinations of the NFL, NBA, and MLB, but for the NHL, teams dictate their own prices based on supply and demand. And because of that, a handful of markets are actually raising prices. James Mirtle’s got a nice table that shows what’s going on; you can see that the bulk of teams are freezing prices, a few are lowering them, and some are undecided.
Ok, so now comes a report that Brenden Shanahan and members of the competition committee were pretty darn close to recommending 4-on-4 playoff overtime following one OT period. Keep in mind that competition committee recommendations don’t automatically get installed in the game as they’ve got to pass Board of Governors approval first.
Still, the fact that the people on the committee—a collection of players and hockey personnel—gave changing overtime such a long look is really disturbing. I try to be open-minded and progressive when it comes to the game but changing playoff overtime falls squarely in the idiotic category.
Here’s something that might be easier. In fact, it’d probably prevent a lot of games going to overtime in the first place, and it’d level the playing field for every team.
Call the damn penalties.
Both the San Jose Sharks and Calgary Flames went into the playoffs with hopes of playing deep into the post-season. For the Sharks, they thought a President’s Trophy and a dynamic regular season was a sign that they were on the right track. For the Flames, they thought the addition of Olli Jokinen gave them a talented final piece.
Whoops. A day after both teams found themselves on the outside looking in, members of both teams started spouting out pretty much the same cliche. See if you can figure out which team each quote came from. Answers after the jump.
1: “This was the best team, no question. The organization gave us the opportunity to go deep and to win and we didn’t get it done.”
2: “It’s tough—I really enjoyed playing here, and I really thought we had a lot of hockey left. I thought we were going to do something special.”
3: “It’s really disappointing with the expectations we had this year and we didn’t come through again.”
4: “You don’t expect this to happen when you have such a good team. We expected more out of ourselves and we didn’t live up to that.”
5: “This is something I didn’t expect. I figured to be playing a lot longer than this. We really thought we had a special team. And to end the season the way we did, it’s not fun.”
6: “I was pretty disappointed in what happened and in my play, too. I really don’t have answers to anything, right now. I’m disappointed that we couldn’t do more individually.”
Some of you may already regularly visit PJ Swenson’s SharksPage. For those of you that don’t check it out regularly, you’re missing one of the most unique things in the hockey blogosphere. You see, PJ’s quite the photographer and captures pretty amazing images from just about every home game at HP Pavilion, along with other events that come through the Bay Area.
I’ve put an image from his collection of last night’s game five after the jump. You don’t have to be a Sharks or Ducks fan to enjoy it; it’s just great hockey photography and I highly recommend checking it out. PJ takes great photos of both teams, and they’re often better than the standard fare you get from the AP wire.
You may have heard that the Columbus Blue Jackets’ season ended with Johan Franzen scoring a power play goal. What you may not have heard is that it was a Too Many Men call. What you also probably didn’t hear, unless you were watching the game live on the Columbus feed, was poor color man Danny Gare grasping at straws to point out the big evil refs out to screw the Columbus faithful.
Look, I understand that emotions were running high in Nationwide Arena. I think anyone in Columbus who’s new to hockey will be forever hooked by that game, and I think Rick Nash and co. finally understand the compete level necessary to win in the playoffs (the second and third period were pretty ferocious). It came a few games too late, but it’s a valuable lesson. All of those emotions somehow got into Danny Gare’s head, and right after the Too Many Men call, he sounded like a textbook case of denial.
James Mirtle captured a few of the responses (and Greg Wyshynski had a good follow up), both from American and Canadian media, regarding the booing of the Star Spangled Banner last night at the Bell Center. I obviously wasn’t there in person, so I don’t know if TV made it better or worse than it actually was. It’s hard to judge those things because most people are usually respectfully silent during an anthem, so the broadcast might make it seem worse than it actually is.
I think we’ve all seen reports from other playoff series over the years where the loud antics of a disrespectful few wind up misrepresenting the whole group. And firsthand, I was at a Toronto Rock game years ago where the people behind me loudly booed the Star Spangled Banner, and I’ve also seen alcohol-fueled idiots at HP Pavilion boo Oh Canada. It’s the same stupidity, just painted with a different flag, and I’m betting the masses stayed respectfully quiet, just like most of the Toronto fans did at that Rock game and most of the fans do at HP Pavilion (though a lot of Sharks fans tend to sing along with Oh Canada—hey, it’s a good song).
I get the feeling that Montreal fans don’t hate American Mike Komisarek just like those Sharks fans I saw years ago don’t hate the bevy of Canadian-born players in San Jose. And those same booing Montreal fans probably enjoy a vacation in New York City or Las Vegas as much the other guy. The lesson here? Alcohol mixed with testosterone can often lead to stupidity, and how that stupidity is expressed takes all sorts of creative shapes: booing anthems or starting incomprehensible screaming matches after a home loss.
It’s disrespectful, dumb, and just plain not cool. Is it unexpected? Unfortunately, no. I think as long as there are anthems sung at sporting events, you’re going to have at least a few bad apples ruining a city’s reputation for everyone else. Isn’t that always how it is?
One of the good things Versus does during the playoffs is stick with a consistent nightly double-header schedule for the first round. Part of that package is the Versus in-studio segments with Brian Engblom and his one-of-a-kind hair. How much power does Engblom’s mullet have? It is so mighty that not just one, but too people I lived with stopped dead in their tracks in disbelief at the hair on the TV—one roommate years ago and my then-girlfriend-turned-wife. Coincidentally, both referred to him as “that hair guy” whenever hockey broadcasts came up.
Since Engblom joins us (or at least US viewers sticking with Versus) for about six hours a night, I thought it’d be fun to take a little trip down memory lane with Engblom and that all-powerful mullet.
(Apologies for the Public Service Announcement tone of this but I had to get it off my chest.)
Have you seen those commercials for USA Hockey/Hockey Canada reminding psycho parents to “relax, it’s just a game”?
Sometimes, I feel like certain fans need to watch that friendly reminder during the fervor of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Look, I love the game. I invest a significant portion of my time, energy, and money, both personally and professionally into it. I break down replays, talk about trade rumors, cheer goals and groan losses, just like all of you. It’s my game, it’s our game, it’s the best damn game on the planet.
But really, it’s just a game.
I make no secret about my San Jose Sharks fandom despite writing about all things NHL. So like any good Sharks fan, I was in my season seat for the disappointing Game 1 loss against Anaheim. Two things off the ice made me shake my head and roll my eyes in disappointment/amusement.
The first took place in the third period. After the first Anaheim goal, a woman in my section—a regular who’s very vocal about her support—pushed her way out of the row, telling people that she just couldn’t take it anymore, that the Sharks were going to go scoreless in four straight, and that she just couldn’t stand being in there. She disappeared into the night, leaving her bewhildered companion to sit there next to an empty seat (I hope they weren’t driving home together).
Did you know there was a point before the Patrick Kane/Jonathan Toews era when Chicago still cared about hockey at the United Center? Yes, for the first part of its existence, the United Center version of the Blackhawks were still the run-you-over-and-score team led by Jeremy Roenick and Chris Chelios. A lot of people tend to forget it, mostly because it was more than ten years ago and so many bad memories came between then.
The phrase “Remember the Roar” was used to celebrate the old Chicago Stadium when that old barn finally met its time. The Roar, a bone-shaking collective cheer that started at the national anthem and remained raucous throughout the game, was transplanted to some degree over at the United Center before the franchise committed PR suicide by letting go all of its popular players and bringing in poor replacements. (Anyone remember Michal Grosek?) Any roars that came during that period were probably due to a Zamboni malfunction more than anything else.
There was, however, one bright moment in the decade or so between the JR/Cheli teams and the current Kane/Toews squad. However, it goes to show you that it’s just playoff games the city really cares about, it’s the players and the organization. Otherwise, why would have the successful 2002 season been so dismal for the Hawks?