Archive for the ‘Gary Bettman’ Category

Here are some thoughts on some of the potential rule changes being looked at in the NHL Research And Development Camp:

NHL Research And Development Camp (Photo:THN)

 Hybrid Icing: Safety is the main issue that gets addressed here (Remember Kurtis Foster’s injury?), without taking away from the game. Easily something I think that should be implemented in the game.  Although some would argue about the officiating on certain calls, which is the only real argument against it.

No Icing While Shorthanded: If the NHL can find a way to boost scoring, they’ll test it out (Remember the idea of round nets?) Now, I understand the want to score more often, but I don’t really like this idea. You should be able to ice the puck while shorthanded, make the other team actually have to work on the powerplay. The other guy has two or five minutes in the box, that should eb enough of a penalty on his team.

Overtime Changes ( 4 minutes 4 on 4, then 3 minutes of 3 on 3): If this gets rid of the shootout (unless the shootout goes to 5 shooters), im all for it. However, I really do not like the idea of 3 on 3 hockey, it should be 4 on 4 minimum.  Would be interesting to do on a test run basis in the NHL.

No Line Change For Team That Is Offsides: Honestly, I like this idea, if a line can’t come into the zone onsides, they shouldn’t be able to change. Honestly, unless the players on the line have been on the ice a while, but, going offsides is their own fault, is it not? But,like the next rule, it could have an impact on the game negatively.

Faceoff In Own Zone After Offsides Is Called: Now this, I do not like, at all. This would encourage dump and chase hockey, which, just isn’t that good  to watch from a fan standpoint. I don’t see this rule making it very far at all, it will not see the light of day in the NHL.

Eliminate The Trapezoid: Yes, yes, and yes. Getting rid of the trapezoid behind the net has my approval. Goalies should be aloud to play the puck, there is no good reason this rule was ever implemented. Goalies doing a bit more work, I don’t see any defensemen who would have to chase the puck otherwise, that would argue against that. Let the goalies be free from the evil trapezoid!

Goal Line Camera: A brilliant idea I can’t believe they didn’t think of sooner! So many close calls, some right , some wrong . Now, if we can work on defining “kicking motions”, that would be another huge step forward. I would really like to see this implemented in the NHL. But I feel it might not be 100% fool proof depending on the camera’s position if say, the goalie was on top of the puck.

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We all know who the best players have been the best in the NHL in the 2010-11 season, but who have been some of the worst?  Years ago, I created some “awards” in my old sim league (DCHL), as a semi roast to certain players, GMs and teams.  I took some of these awards,  and created some brand new ones.

First, we start with the Trigger Happy Award, which goes to the GM who has pulled off the most trades in the last year (for the purpose of a starting point, I used 2010’s regular season end to this regular season’s end).  With 18 counted trades, including acquiring (and trading) Dennis Wideman, Dale Tallon of the Florida Panthers is our 2011 winner.  The other GM award, the aptly named You Suck Award goes to Ottawa’s Bryan Murray.  Last summer, Murray signed Sergei Gonchar for 3 years and $16 million, and the 37 year old played like he was 57.  The team plummeted to last place and Murray started the firesale, trying to get what he could for many players.  Some of his deals were to rectify mistakes he had made in the summer, and in previous seasons.  All this, while Daniel Alfredsson remained on the team and his value continued to drop.

Moving on to some statistical awards, the winner of the Broad Street Bully Award goes to Islander Zenon Kenopka, who blew away the field in the penalty minute department, finishing with 307.  Kenopka is the first player to break the 300 PIM barrier since Dan Carcillo in 2007-08.   The Greg Millen Trophy for allowing the most goals in the regular season goes to the Colorado Avalanche.  The team allowed a whopping 287 goals, the most since the 06-07 Flyers.  On the topic of goalies, our Red Light Award for worst goalie of the year (minimum of 20 games) is Rick DiPietro.  DiPietro “lead” the league with a 3.44 GAA, had the second worst save percentage at 88.6% and finished with a record of 8-14-4.

The Bettman Trophy for Villain of the Year was no surprise.  Suspended for 21 games this season within two separate incidents, including missing the entire first round of the playoffs, Matt Cooke easily wins the award.

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Now that the Winnipeg NHL team has reached their goal of 13,000 season tickets sold, True North Sports and Entertainment is expected to announce the team name between now and the draft.

What will the name be? Here are some possible choices:

Jets– The name of the original WHA/NHL franchise in Winnipeg until they left for Phoenix in 1996.  The Jets seem like the most popular choice among fans.  Gary Bettman also told TNSE that the league would allow them to use the name and logo if the group decides to.

Thrashers– When Calgary left Atlanta in 1980, they took the name (Flames) with them.  Winnipeg could too, but I don’t know if there are any Thrashers in Winnipeg. Highly unlikely the name travels with the team.

Moose– The Manitoba Moose, formerly of the AHL, have been in Winnipeg since the Jets left. The Moose have been popular, and it’s quite possible the NHL team could just take the name and continue the Moose tradition.

Falcons– The Winnipeg Falcons were an senior amateur team, who won the Allan Cup in 1920 and went on to represent Canada in the 1920 Olympics in Belgium, winning Gold.  Could be a nice homage to the past, like Ottawa did for the original Senators in 1992.

Chufugaboos– Thanks to a 3rd grader in Winnipeg named Joey, this name has circulated around the internet.  The Chufugaboos, with a logo of a monkey, might be a million-to-one shot, but it is still an awesome name regardless.

Phoenix– Rising from the ashes of the Jets to live again, and gives a connection to the former Winnipeg team.  Not sure about this one, as it might cause confusion (the Phoenix @ Phoenix).

Flashes (or Flash)– The city’s first team was named after Hall of Famer Bobby Hull (the Golden Jet), why can’t the new team be named after one of the best players in the past twenty years (and former Jet), Teemu Selanne.  Who knows, maybe Teemu decides one last year where his career began?

Slurpees– Winnipeg is the Slurpee Capital of the World.  No kidding.  Plus, it’d give easy corporate sponsorship with 7-11.

Which name do I like? I liked the Jets name growing up, but feel the new team should establish it’s own identity.  But I wouldn’t be mad if the Jets returned.

A Crying Shame

Posted: May 31, 2011 by JoeyD in Atlanta Thrashers, Gary Bettman
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“It’s such a tired game
Will it ever stop
How will this all play out
Out of sight, out of mind”

 –Jack Johnson “Crying Shame”

All of us have been following the latest NHL news du jour of the ever increasing guarantee of the Atlanta Thrashers moving to Winnipeg that has now become a reality as of today.  As disappointingly long as the Phoenix Coyotes situation has been, the Thrashers own has been disappointingly short.

Personally, I am very let down with this news that has come out today. As you know I am a Penguins fan, and ever since the Penguins’ near decade long arena issue and the subsequent relocation rumors that accompanied it, I have always been supportive of all franchises with any issues that bring about a relocation or contraction question. Have a team with arena, lease, financial issues and are worried you may someday lose your franchise? Well, you have a friend in me. Simply put, it’s because hockey should never be taken away from anyone.

I have attended two Penguins games in Atlanta in recent years. The first one happened to be the infamous “Crosby nut punch” game. And let me tell you honestly, Penguin or Thrasher fan, no one had a clue that happened. Welcome to our new world of things going viral via the internet.  That game had an official attendance of 15,184 but I very much doubt that only 20 percent of the seats were empty.  I was in the, I believe, second row of Section 307 and a few rows behind me I could see full rows of empty seats and there were more than a few of them. However one thing that I do recall that I cannot get out of my head today is a family of 6 with all four kids, two boys and two girls, fully decked out in their Thrasher gear having a fun family Friday evening even if the Penguins won the game 6-3. Two and a half years later I can only imagine what those kids are feeling today. And quite frankly it makes me upset. I am glad I don’t have to shatter some kids’ hearts today.

The second time was the following November in 2009 which was another Penguin win but this one was a near sellout and the number of people did match the number of seats sold. While there was a strong as always Penguins contingent there. The crowd was quite electric for both teams both for when the Pens scored three goals in the first two periods as well as in the final ten minutes where Atlanta scored twice and Ilya Kovalchuk flipped his lid on number 24 in your programs but number 1 on your Kill On Sight list, Matt Cooke.  After that game while waiting for our MARTA train, we had a conversation with someone talking mostly about how jumping it was when Atlanta hosted the All-Star Game while giving us a little insight to the sports landscape and that it was, in fact, a bit more popular than it may seemed at times.

I found both of my trips to Atlanta fun experiences. It is interesting to enter a sports stadium through the food court of CNN Center. I have had a pleasant time as well both times. One thing I recall is with the types of promotions, team videos, interactions from the mascot to the forever amazing Bad Commercials By Hockey Players PSA (first thing I think of when I hear Ron Hainsey) I have always found the Thrashers a good organization that worked hard to promote the game. In fact, the one of the best things about the Thrashers is the job they did in preserving the memory of Dan Snyder. While it is easy to expect a franchise to do that period, when your a much maligned non traditional franchise it shows that they may have more of a clue than being given credit for or at least showing how unfair such distinctions can be. Such things made me feel that the growing attendance issues, and thus revenue/profitability issues, were more of a sign of discontent with the management of the team from Don Waddell much more than the image of professional sports in Atlanta.

All they needed was time to return to winning ways. Even if winning ways would be described as one playoff appearance, two playoff home games, and three seasons where they were above .500 in percentage of points gained. Time of which, in addition to the fans, Rick Dudley and Craig Ramsey are not being given, at least in Atlanta, Georgia.  This is a failure of ownership much more so than any management that relates to the on-ice product and even moreso than the fan reluctance to walk thru the turnstyles.

This city has now lost two NHL franchises. The Flames were born inAtlanta due to some unforseen expansion in junction with beating the WHA to Long Island and the need for a team to balance the schedule. The team ended up moving to Calgary because of what was described as a Godfather deal, a then record $16 million purchase price to relocate to Calgary. Even though the attendance and profitability slipped in Atlanta the first go and new ownership was sought doesnt necessarily make it a ‘hockey does not belong in the South’ failure.

Im sure there are people celebrating today for today’s news. However, I am not one of them. I hope for nothing more than to see it work in Winnipeg, I would hate to see this have to take root 6-10-15 years from now again. Pittsburgh, Nashville, temporarily Phoenix, and seemingly in Long Island and Edmonton have been saved and I guess you cant bat 1.000 all the time. While many are happy for what ever reason they choose, today I am down and defeated and feeling a little bit stung. What the Thrasher fan is feeling today could only be exponentially worse. And that, is a crying shame.

Today, Dick Ebersole of NBC and Gary Bettman of the NHL have a press conference scheduled for 1:00, to announce the rumored agreement of the NHL’s new TV deal. The deal is reported as $200 million per year over the next ten years. ESPN and Turner Sports had been in the running, but Turner dropped out yesterday. NBC/Versus had the right to match any ESPN offer, but the league took NBC’s deal before giving ESPN one final chance.

Pro-ESPN people bring up that the Worldwide Leader will increase the NHL’s marketability. They will also say that ESPN is in more households, therefore bringing more viewers in. More highlights on Sportscenter is also a positive. Those are good points, but where would the NHL fit in on ESPN’s busy schedule. ESPN isn’t just going to shove aside MLB/NFL/NBA to squeeze in hockey.

But, what about the potential 2011 lockouts in the NFL and NBA? That’ll open up slots, right? Sure, it would be great until the other leagues settle on new CBAs and get back to playing. Where does that leave the NHL? I’m sure this was a concern Bettman and company had while negotiating with ESPN.

However, despite those concerns, NBC/Versus has done some good for the NHL. After the lockout, and ESPN insulted the league with a very low offer, OLN took a chance and the NHL has grown exponentially. I admit, I had no idea where the Outdoor Life Network was on my cable lineup at first. But ratings have grown each year. The Winter Classic was an NBC creation, and this year’s game was the highest viewed regular season game since 1975, even beating out a college football bowl game on ESPN.

The real question is, does Versus continue as its’ cycling-cage fighting-bull riding channel, or does it change under NBC? Since the channel added the NHL (and changed it’s name and image), it’s added college football, and the National Lacrosse League as well. Could the NHL deal help Versus evolve into an ESPN-like channel, or even a threat to ESPN? The channel has shown interest in the MLS’ TV rights.

One real concern of NBC/Versus I can agree with is the lack of diversity of teams who are broadcast. More than likely, a random game will feature Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, the Rangers or Washington. That will be needed to change for two reasons. One, to expose the fans of the NHL to other teams such as the Lightning, Kings, Sharks, to name a few. Secondly, to not overexpose people to the same teams and players. If people see too many doses of Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, among others, they will become disinterested. There has to be a happy balance between marketing and overmarketing.

If NBC wins the Winter Olympic bidding in 2014, one would assume the league would agree to send its’ players to Russia for the games.

Would I have loved to see a deal like the NBA has (ESPN & TNT)? Absolutely. More hockey is good for everyone. Unfortunately for us, they either couldn’t agree on that type of deal, or the proposal was never offered.

Please share your comments, concerns or questions.