Articles in NHL Talk

The NHL Is Now An Industry

02/06/2023 at 8:59am EST

from Damien Cox at the Toronto Star,

The biggest change (other than style of play) since the day Bettman ascended the throne is that the NHL has ceased to be a hockey league as we once understood the term. It’s now an industry, with 32 outlets across North America that sell the sport 41 times a year in their home arenas, not counting exhibition and playoff games. They breathlessly churn out merchandise — with as many third and retro and reverse-retro styles as possible — to the point where sometimes it feels like that’s their main business.

More than any other time in NHL history, these outlets and their 50/50 partners, the players, are engaged in exactly the same enterprise and selling the exact same product. What was once a cloistered six-team league, then a disorganized 12-team league, then a 21-team league of widely disparate interests, is now a massive blob with 32 teams and a singular focus.

It has become nearly impossible to accurately perceive whether this sprawling industry is as successful, less or more compared to other times. If you could buy publicly traded NHL stock, you might be able to crunch the numbers as folks are doing with Elon Musk’s Twitter. But the NHL just is.

That’s why last week’s report that NHL television numbers are down 22 per cent in United States is difficult to put into context without additional information on streaming, cord-cutting and the impact of regional blackouts. Other than noting the return of ESPN has been more hype than substance, it’s hard to reach any conclusions.

Meanwhile, the NHL held its ridiculous all-star weekend one more time and undoubtedly sold more merch. It used to be that controversies and intriguing stories would come out of the event. Now it’s mostly plaudits and profiles, fake comedy skits and fake effort. And sell, sell, sell.


Fixing The All-Star Weekend

02/05/2023 at 9:30pm EST

from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star,

At one point over the weekend, Anaheim Ducks forward Trevor Zegras — master of the Michigan, but not invited this time — tweeted the yawning emoji.

Hockey’s main skills — skating, shooting, scoring and saves — should be more on display.

“I’d just like to see more (events) and a higher pace,” said Calgary Flames forward Nazem Kadri. “I know in terms of broadcasting and TV it’s tough to fit in the schedule, but I think a couple more events can be added that make it a little faster paced.”

Commissioner Gary Bettman summed up what he thought the event should be: “All-star is an opportunity in the middle of the season to take a break, bring the NHL family together and have fun. That’s what it’s all about. Have a great time. It’s our opportunity to do business. The players have a great time getting together. It’s all about having a good time and connecting with our fans in yet another way.”...

“There’s so many different things that they can do,” McDavid said. “They keep being creative and they’re trying to ultimately make it as entertaining for the fans as possible. And obviously this is for the fans. We’re here to put on a show and I hope we did that. I hope fans enjoyed it.”

Florida used the beach, sun and surf to play off its environs. Easy to do when the rest of North America is shivering. What could Toronto do a year from now?

“Maybe a polar plunge into Lake Ontario,” said Leafs star Mitch Marner.


Hockey Notes From The ASG

02/05/2023 at 8:51am EST

from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,

- Toronto is a fabulous hockey market. The all-star game has little to do with hockey and much to do with weak attempts at levity and marketing. If this excites you, maybe you should wonder what about it excites you.

The skills competition on Friday night was very close to dreadful. Either players didn’t care or didn’t try or both, but there’s nothing compelling about paying real money to watch superb professional athletes go through the motions.

In fairness to the NHL, they have worked and re-worked this format and have attempted over the years to improve it. They need to keep up their attempts. The format of this weekend didn’t work.

The temperature, though, was more than fine. People will leave here happy from the parties, the bars, the time spent walking the boardwalks. The hockey part was entirely forgettable.

- Bettman claims the NHL wants to return to the Olympics in 2026. That’s what he says. But he’s clear that the NHL, the International Olympic Committee, the International Ice Hockey Federation, and the local committee in Milan and Cortina have to get together to make it happen. Among the numerous issues facing the NHL right now, is what to do with Russia while the war in Ukraine carries on. Ukraine has called for an overall Olympic boycott if Russian athletes are allowed to participate. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and now Poland are apparently onside with Ukraine. The politics put the NHL and a possible future World Cup in doubt for now and international hockey, which is really the all-star kind of hockey we should care about, remains on hold.

- More than one hockey person I’ve run into this weekend believes Jim Rutherford wants out as president of the Vancouver Canucks. That’s the kind of mess this situation is in. There was a lot of sympathy for Bruce Boudreau when he was unceremoniously dumped as coach. But a prominent league scout told me this: “The Canucks have some players. What they don’t have is a team.” That was on the coach


NHL Short Notes

02/05/2023 at 2:46am EST

* Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk put on a show in front of his home fans by posting seven points to help the Atlantic Division claim its first 3-on-3 title and earn All-Star MVP honors.

* Mitchell Marner and JustinBieber each shared their excitement for the announcement that Toronto will host the 2024 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend.

* The NHL Morning Skate won’t miss a beat, returning Monday to preview the six-game slate that will include 12 teams returning from both the All-Star break and their bye week. Notes for those games are already available in the Feb. 6 edition of #NHLStats: Live Updates.

Open Post- 2023 NHL All-Star Game

02/04/2023 at 2:40pm EST

Gary Bettman Says Respect The Values Of Individuals

02/04/2023 at 2:21pm EST

2024 All-Star Game Will Be Hosted By The Toronto Maple Leafs

02/04/2023 at 2:05pm EST

SUNRISE, Fla. (Feb. 4, 2023) – The Toronto Maple Leafs will host the 2024 Honda NHL® All-Star Weekend at Scotiabank Arena, the National Hockey League® announced today. The League’s midseason showcase will include the NHL All-Star Skills™ presented by DraftKings Sportsbook on Friday, Feb. 2, 2024 and the Honda NHL® All-Star Game on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024.

Diversity In The NHL

02/04/2023 at 11:00am EST

from Allan Smith of NBC News,

Former NHL forward Brandon Bochenski, now the Republican mayor of Grand Forks, North Dakota, thought it was inevitable that the same forces for social change that have pushed for progress in other sports would soon shape hockey.

“The NHL was the next target, I suppose,” he said. “It’s tough, because diversity is more than skin color and sexuality. I think a lot of people believe that.”

One reason the NHL has traditionally attracted a majority white audience and talent pool is that the game is most popular in countries with lengthy and sustained winters — such as Canada, Russia and Scandinavian countries — that are less racially diverse.

And in the United States, the sport’s high costs for skates, pads, sticks and other equipment and fees have also often made it a more exclusive sport, limited to affluent communities — an issue Bochenski said the league should be at the forefront of solving.

But Bochenski said the backgrounds of people in the sport are more varied than they first appear.

“I don’t think that hockey on the cover maybe looks as diverse as it really is,” he said. “If you get in there and you talk to guys, whether they come from different faiths, different families, different upbringings, how they treat people, there’s a lot more to it. So I think it frustrates people when it’s really just focused on only skin color and sexuality because you do have a pretty diverse group of people that are making up the NHL.”


NHL Short Notes

02/04/2023 at 1:14am EST

* EliasPettersson, BrockNelson and Andrei Svechnikov left 2023 NHL All-Star Skills presented by DraftKings Sportsbook as winners of the three signature events.

* ConnorHellebuyck, JuuseSaros, NickSuzuki, CaleMakar and MikkoRantanen also won events staged on the ice, at the golf course and in the dunk tank.

* After teaming up for a memorable moment with Sergei “Ovi Jr.” Ovechkin to win the Great Clips NHL Breakaway Challenge, longtime rivals AlexOvechkin and SidneyCrosby will join forces again when they play in the 2023 Honda NHL All-Star Game at 3 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+, CBC, Sportsnet, TVAS).

A Longer Overtime?

02/03/2023 at 1:32pm EST

from the CP at TSN,

The shootout was intended to jazz up regular-season games but by 2015 the NHL had what it considered a problem: 13% of its regular-season games, 160 in all, went to a shootout after five minutes of 4-on-4 play did not produce a deciding goal.

After some experimentation in the American Hockey League, the league approved 3-on-3 OT and that number plummeted to 8% last season.

It's down to 6.5% so far this season — 51 of 803 games at the break, with the 3-on-3 All-Star tournament Saturday night another chance to show how effective it is — but that's still too many for a lot of folks around the sport.

“Any time you have an opportunity to decide the outcome of the game in a team atmosphere, I think it’s more indicative of the fabric of the game,” Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “The shootout, I know it’s exciting and there’s an entertainment value there, but for me it’s deciding the outcome of a baseball game with a home run derby.”

The NHL is far from alone in tinkering with how to end games in the regular season. Major League Baseball began starting each half of extra innings with a runner on second in 2020, while the NFL has cut overtime from 15 minutes to 10 and altered how games end by giving each team a chance to score a touchdown.

“I think you’ll see goals scored in the last 5 minutes if you play that extra 5,” Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Seth Jones said. “(The shootout is) exciting for the fans. I understand why we do it. You work for 65 minutes and play a good game and you don’t get rewarded sometimes based on the shootout.”


Your All-Star Game Performers

02/02/2023 at 5:42pm EST

NEW YORK (Feb. 2, 2023) – The National Hockey League (NHL) today announced the entertainment lineup for the 2023 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend, Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The two-day showcase of top NHL talent begins with the 2023 NHL All-Star Skills™ presented by DraftKings Sportsbook on Friday, Feb. 3 (ESPN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports) and concludes with the 2023 Honda NHL® All-Star Game on Saturday, Feb. 4 (ABC, ESPN+, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports) at FLA Live Arena, home to the Florida Panthers.

Participants For The All-Star Skills Competition

02/02/2023 at 5:25pm EST

NEW YORK (Feb. 2, 2023) – The National Hockey League (NHL®) today announced the player assignments for the 2023 NHL All-Star Skills™ presented by DraftKings Sportsbook, featuring seven events that will showcase hockey’s top talent on Friday, Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN+, Sportsnet, TVA Sports) at the home of the Florida Panthers, FLA Live Arena, in Sunrise, Fla.

Afternoon Line -Carlo Colaiacovo

02/01/2023 at 1:54pm EST

Evening Line -Joe Daley On Bobby Hull

01/30/2023 at 8:19pm EST

“I’m in net and he’s coming down the ice in Chicago,” the 79-year-old Daley began. “And he’ll flick one at your head, because I had no mask on, and give you a wink. And then the next time he’s coming down the ice, he’d drive one about two inches off the ice and you’re already stretching for the heavens, and he gives you the smile.”

-Joe Daley, former WHA and NHL goaltender on Bobby Hull. Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun has more, like this..

The stories of domestic violence would come later. As would an interview in which he was quoted as making pro-Nazi and racist comments, views he quickly denounced, saying the quotes were inaccurate.

Daley understood why those questions were coming, too.

But on this day, he wanted no part of them.

“I’m not going to talk about something that I’ve heard,” Daley said. “And the man is dead now. I’d rather talk about what he meant to me and hockey in general. I think that’s the proper thing.”

Rest In Peace Bobby Hull

01/30/2023 at 9:49am EST

from John Dietz of the Chicago Daily-Herald,

Bobby Hull, the Blackhawks' all-time leading goal scorer, died Monday morning, two people close to Hull told the Daily Herald.

No other immediate details were available. Hull just celebrated his 84th birthday on Jan. 3.

The controversial Hull, who possessed a howitzer of a shot that allowed him to score 610 NHL goals, broke into the league in the 1957-58 season. He scored 30 or more goals for 13 consecutive seasons then left for the World Hockey Association in 1972 when the league agreed to pay him $1 million.

Hull, Stan Mikita and others led the Hawks to a Stanley Cup title in 1961.


Below watch a Legends of Hockey feature on Hull.

Fix The Playoff Format

01/28/2023 at 11:41pm EST

from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,

We know that it has been said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly while expecting a different result. I’m not sure whether that definition applies to the NHL and its playoff format or to me for writing about just about annually for the last decade.

Both, I suspect.

I get that the NHL does nothing to provide rewards for success and everything in its power to level the playing field. The punitive hard cap, of course, is the essence of the league’s commitment to imposing restrictions that most significantly hamstring successful teams more quickly than others.

So too is this unbelievably unfair format under which two of the current best five teams in the league — fourth-overall Toronto and fifth-overall Tampa Bay — would meet in the first round. Meanwhile, either the NHL’s 10th-best or 11th-best team — Seattle and Vegas, respectively — would be guaranteed to advance to Round 2 if that matchup holds.

Those are inequities built into the 2-3 divisional first-round matchup. It happens just about every season. Last season, the Maple Leafs-Lightning first round matched the fourth-best and eighth-best teams. The format was different during the 2020-21 and 2019-20 COVID-impacted seasons. In 2017-18, the teams with the best records in the NHL, Nashville and Winnipeg, respectively, played in the second round, while Boston and Toronto hooked up in a 4-7 matchup in Round 1.

continued plus more topics...

Streaming Or Watching On Cable

01/26/2023 at 12:08pm EST

from Daniel Kaplan and Bill Shea of The Athletic, find themselves: stuck between two competing poles, the high-priced traditional cable TV universe and the fresher world of increasingly costly streaming. These options are pulling from the same sports, and in some cases, the same event and even the same match, leaving fans either missing out or forking over more money than ever. To get the best sports coverage, it’s not clear whether to rush forward to streaming, stay back with old-fashioned cable and broadcast television, or some combination of the two.

Companies like ESPN (ESPN+), NBC (Peacock), and CBS (Paramount+) are balancing the need to satisfy consumers paying hefty cable bills with the move to streaming, an area in which these conglomerates have spent — and lost — billions of dollars. While the belief abounds that one day everyone will stream, that day is not today, and sports fans are stuck between old- and new-world paradigms.

“There is as much art as science to it,” said sports media consultant Lee Berke, on how sports broadcasters decide what goes behind a streaming paywall and what resides on traditional linear TV. “You don’t want to get too far ahead of the curve, and you don’t want to be too far behind.”

It may be an art deciding how to carve up sports and tournaments between online and TV, but the results are often arguably unsightly.

much more ($)

Concern About Gambling Ads On Kids

01/25/2023 at 10:05am EST

from Arwa Mahdawi of The Guardian,

Before the US legalized single-event sports betting in 2018, the NHL opposed the idea. However, the “the landscape in North America has changed,” the NHL’s chief business officer, Keith Wachtel, told Canadian parliamentarians in 2021 – specifically, “technological innovation, increased partner sophistication and … a true understanding of how a regulated legal sports market can better promote responsibility and integrity versus a non-regulated market.” As it happens, the NHL probably also figured out it can make a lot of money – as much as $216m in annual revenue, according to research from the American Gaming Association.

When it comes to guys like Matthews and McDavid, one obvious concern is that adult viewers and fans will act on these endorsements and, despite tools to set limits, become addicts. But a lot of kids watch hockey, too. Nobody, it seems – including those who pushed for the changes to Canada’s criminal code that have allowed for single-event betting, like MP Brian Masse – really thought about that. He told the CBC he was now worried about the potential impacts of the ads on kids.

What can be done?

In Canada, anyway, there might be a pathway to more stringent regulation. The CRTC, Canada’s federal telecommunications regulator, already has established rules around alcohol advertising that state it cannot contain an endorsement from “any person … who is or is likely to be a role model for minors,” including for a full 10 years after they’ve retired from that activity. This rule kicked-in in 2003, when former NHL commentator Don Cherry endorsed Molson beer. The ads were eventually pulled after complaints. I asked the CRTC whether it was considering extending its rules for alcohol endorsement to single-event sports betting. “It is the responsibility of the advertiser to ensure the legality of airing all its commercials,” a CRTC spokesperson replied. “I don’t have any further information on this issue, and am not in a position to speculate.”

more plus other hockey topics...

thanks to a KK member for passing this on

Gary Bettman On Tanking, The Salary Cap And More

01/24/2023 at 9:11pm EST

from Stu Cowan of the Montreal Gazette,

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was at the Bell Centre to watch Tuesday night’s game between the Canadiens and Boston Bruins, sitting with team owner/president Geoff Molson and France Margaret Bélanger, the president of sports and entertainment for Groupe CH.

Here are some of the topics Bettman was asked about.

On the possibility of teams tanking to get the No. 1 pick at this year’s NHL draft and the chance to select generational player Connor Bedard:

“Nobody tanks because we have a weighted lottery. You’re not going to lose games to increase your odds by a couple of percentage points. That’s silly. And, frankly, suggesting tanking I believe is inconsistent with the professionalism that our players and our coaches have. Nobody tanks. Our players and our coaches do their best to win. And, again, just because you may finish with the worst record in the league you’ve got something like a 75 per cent chance that you’re not going to get the first pick.”

On the possibility of Quebec City one day getting an NHL team again after losing the Nordiques:

“I know there’s been constant speculation about that. We’re not in an expansion mode. If we decide to participate or have the possibility of expansion we’ll let the people of Quebec City know — those who might want to own a team. This is a conversation Geoff and I have had over the years. I know there’s rumour and speculation as to what the Canadiens’ position would be and I would tell you for a certainty Geoff has constantly over the years said to me if, in fact, we as a league wanted to expand he’d welcome a team in Quebec City.”

On the salary cap expected to go up by $1 million next season to $83.5 million:

“General managers, teams make their owns decisions as to how to manage the cap. Some have different philosophies about how much room and flexibility they need and others go right up to the cap and take their chances. I don’t second-guess any of them.

“What we have been saying as recently as the board meeting in December is that based on our current projections, most but not all the escrow (from players) should be paid this season....

more on the last question plus more Q & A...

Dealing With Mental Health Issues In The NHL

01/24/2023 at 7:23pm EST

from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,

Ethan Bear missed a National Hockey League game on Saturday night because his dog died. The next day his wife delivered their first baby, an emotional weekend that was expected to see him miss a second game Tuesday night.

If he were a fan, and he simply chose to stay home and mourn the passing of his pup, most everyone would understand. If that fan took a day off of work, would anyone bat an eye?

That Bear is a defenceman on the Vancouver Canucks however, caused some — not all, but some — to question his commitment.

It’s to be expected, frankly. In a sport where players were once made to attend a team practice ahead of the birth of a child, taking a game off after the death of a pet is quite a change indeed.

Or is there another word for it?


“Some people would be completely fine. Sad and upset, but it wouldn’t affect their day-to-day life,” said Oilers winger Zach Hyman, whose family dog is a Husky named Lady. “And for some people, it would absolutely crush them. They wouldn't be able to get out of bed.

“You can't judge somebody on how they feel. It's an individual question.”


All About The All-Star Skills Competition

01/24/2023 at 4:40pm EST

NEW YORK (Jan. 24, 2023) – The National Hockey League (NHL®) today announced the details of the 2023 NHL All-Star Skills™ presented by DraftKings Sportsbook and the format of the seven events that will showcase hockey’s top talent on Friday, Feb. 3 at 7:00 p.m. ET (ESPN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports) at the home of the Florida Panthers, FLA Live Arena, in Sunrise, Fla.

Highlighting the 2023 NHL All-Star Skills™ presented by DraftKings Sportsbook are three new events, two of which will feature NHL All-Stars displaying their skills in outdoor environments that typify the distinctive appeal and character of the State of Florida. The Enterprise NHL Splash Shot will situate All-Stars on the picturesque beach of Fort Lauderdale, and the Chipotle NHL Pitch ‘n Puck™ challenges All-Stars to combine their hockey and links skills on an iconic Sunshine State golf hole. Also new this year is an innovative netminding skills test, the Discover NHL Tendy Tandem™.

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