Over the last few days I’ve noticed a huge spike in traffic from the Calgary area, focused on my NHL Super Schedule. This comes in light of recent discussions about all the extra travel that Western Conference teams face compared to the East. As a result, I’ve been invited to join Mark Stephen on Calgary’s CHQR Sportstalk (770 AM) this evening to discuss various aspects of the NHL schedule.
Look for my segment somewhere around 9:15 Mountain Time tonight!
Thanks to a pointer from Ms. Conduct, we have news that the daily newspapers in the Dallas area are cutting and consolidating their sports coverage. The Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram will divide up the sports duties between their staffs and share content with each other. DallasBasketball.com jumped on this story a few months ago, but yesterday the Dallas Morning News came forward with the details:
Beginning Feb. 1, The News will provide its beat coverage of the Dallas Mavericks and the Dallas Stars to the Star-Telegram.
In exchange, the Star-Telegram will share its Texas Rangers coverage with The News. The two will continue to cover the Dallas Cowboys separately.
The deal will allow the two largest North Texas newspapers to cut costs at a time of unprecedented business challenges. The troubled newspaper industry faces falling revenue, rising costs and the mass migration of readers and advertisers to online information sources…
The papers do not plan to share each others’ sports columnists, and columnists at both papers are expected to continue commenting on all local sports teams.
Mike Heika does a great job covering the Stars for the Morning News, so presumably his job is safe, but nothing specific regarding personnel has been made available yet. So far the ongoing crisis in the newspaper business has largely spared NHL coverage, but eventually, deep cuts affect all areas.
Some corners of the hockey world are all a-twitter over the news that Phoenix reportedly missed out on 25% of their NHL revenue sharing last season, and the cries for relocation (or even, laughably, contraction) are making the rounds. Most of these screeds start off with the presumption that the NHL’s Sun Belt movement was directed by Commissioner Gary Bettman in a bid to establish a stronger national TV presence in the US, but the story is much more complicated than that, and local considerations played a key role in each individual case.
For some historical background on the conditions under which the NHL expanded or relocated teams to the southern US, check out today’s piece by Stu Hackel of the New York Times’ Slap Shot blog, which should be required reading for anyone about to sound off on the Coyotes’ situation. He traces a sea change in the NHL’s business climate to the transition from Alan Eagleson to Bob Goodenow as head of the NHLPA:
When the Eagle was replaced by Bob Goodenow, the union’s accommodations to ownership were gone too. One brief strike later (in 1992), and salaries began to skyrocket. That was followed by one half-season lockout (in 1994), and the rocket’s booster kicked in. The N.H.L.’s trajectory completely changed.
To cover those escalating salaries, owners needed new revenue. Since hockey was an arena-based gate-receipts business — as it always has been and continues to be — the owners found that they needed more seats, more amenities, more luxury boxes and, yes, even better parking revenue. Many owners got those things. Not all did.
It’s a fine recap of the factors involved in the Jets/Coyotes move, as well as the various missteps locally which have led the Coyotes to their current state.
No, it’s not who you think (more on that later, though). After many months on the shelf, I finally made my return to the rink with the Piranahs of the Centennial Sportsplex’s Upper C league in Nashville. Considering that my best days on the ice were 10 years and 30 pounds ago, I think it’s a roaring success that I’m up and moving this morning. I would like to find a good cane, however.
I knew it would be an interesting evening when I got to the locker room, introduced myself to a few of the guys, and sat down to go through my bag… which I then realized hadn’t been opened since my last game in March. The familiar stench of festering hockey gear hit my nose like Jordin Tootoo, and most of the equipment was still damp. Bad sign, there.
While hockey fans are taking the world of Twitter by storm of late, one famous figure who most certainly is NOT tweeting these days is Wayne Gretzky, despite a profile that appears to mark the Great One’s entry into the 21st century. Here’s the story from Information Week:
Posts on the page, which bears the user name Wayne_Gretzky and a photo of No. 99, began appearing Thursday and mostly address the sort of routine, moment-to-moment issues that are typical of what’s found on Twitter, which limits messages to 140 characters.
“A little cool in Scottsdale today but nothing like those poor folks back in Edmonton,” reads one post. “Giving Tweeter on my blackbarry [sic] a try out,” says another.
So what else has this nefarious evildoer been up to?
Besides getting the chance to ride along in the big rig with the cooling equipment for the Winter Classic, and keeping hockey fans engaged in an ongoing discussion on Twitter (he’s @umassdilo), Michael DiLorenzo is also the NHL’s Director of Corporate Communications. Recently he sat down for a podcast interview with Russell Scibetti of The Business of Sports, and it’s a good listen for anyone interested in how the NHL plans to push forward on the business front in the digital age, in light of the fact that hockey fans tend to be a more upscale, technically-savvy group than other sports fans.
Don Parsons, who as I wrote earlier this week is primed to become minor league hockey’s all-time leading goal scorer, potted his 675th career goal at home for the IHL‘s Bloomington (Illinois) PrairieThunder in a 5-2 loss to the Port Huron IceHawks. Tomorrow night he’ll get another chance to catch Kevin Kerr’s mark of 677 at home again, this time against the Kalamazoo K-Wings.
Sean Roarke also provides some background on Parsons’ pursuit of the record over at NHL.com:
“I tell everyone that when I met my wife 12 or 13 years ago, that I told her it was my last year playing hockey,” he says, starting to chuckle. “I told her you just have to follow me on the road for one year and then we’ll settle down. I might have fudged the details a little bit.”
As a followup to last week’s post about Twitter, and how hockey fans are taking the internet messaging medium by storm, there have been many requests for something similar to @PredFans, the group application that allows fans to discuss the Predators without having to link up with (and get ALL the updates from) other Predators fans. Paul Nicholson has graciously added a couple new groups, which are openly available to the hockey public: GoLeafs and OilFans, where Toronto and Edmonton fans can share their hockey wisdom (guffaw) in 140-byte samples (there’s also TitanFans for the Nashville football crowd).
To use them from your Twitter account, all you have to do is:
1. Follow the appropriate account (PredFans, GoLeafs or OilFans)
2. To send a message through the application, send a direct message, as in “d GoLeafs What am I supposed to do without the Leafs on HNIC this Saturday?”
3. That message will then get forwarded to everyone else following GoLeafs.
So feel free to sign up, and enjoy!
Adam Proteau of the Hockey News considers the question of whether single- or multiple-owner organizations are better suited for NHL success:
In Edmonton, it’s difficult to be cheery, what with the Oilers having won just three home games this season.
But there’s one thing — make that one person — Oil fans should be especially thankful for: their owner, Daryl Katz.
Katz hasn’t turned the NHL upside down since he bought the franchise last July.
However, the fact Edmonton has a single soul directing the team has to be considered a distinct competitive advantage.
There’s some interesting evidence in there that a lone voice at the top is perhaps the best path to the Stanley Cup.
So which was the worst team in NHL history? The 1980-81 Winnipeg Jets, who went 9-57-14, or the 1974-75 Washington Capitals, who went 8-67-5 and only won one out of 40 road games? Or better yet, how do these legendary losers compare with the most hapless franchises in all of sport? CNN/Sports Illustrated presents a Gallery of Horrors...