FanDuel - WFBC

February 10, 2004

The NHL is sinking.: This article from the SF Chronicle's Ross McKeon comes on the heels of an earlier SpoFi thread on hockey salaries. "In 10 NHL cities -- a third of the league -- buildings are barely at more than 75 percent capacity, ... Twelve teams ... are averaging less than 15,000 people a game. ... The Sharks, up until now an easy sell in the South Bay, saw their season-ticket sales drop by 3,000 this season and have sold out only three of their first 28 home games. ... The NHL landed a $600 million television contract five years ago from ESPN. ... The deal expires at season's end, and not only will the league not get another $600 million commitment from ESPN, it might struggle to find its way on any network in the near future." Ross also offers ways to stop the sinking. I didn't know it was this bad. Is it?

posted by worldcup2002 to hockey at 04:28 PM - 33 comments

Looks like GMs will formally propose a handful of rule changes to the League. A couple drastic ones in there. Goalies can't handle the puck behind the red line? Wow.

posted by Succa at 04:47 PM on February 10

They forgot to get rid of the instigator penalty. Bettman & Co. receive a season misconduct for that infraction.

posted by garfield at 04:51 PM on February 10

Argh! I can't believe they didn't institute the three rules that I thought for SURE should have been made official:

  • no-touch icing - less injuries, less wasted time chasing the puck (but I'd make icing only occur from behind the blue line because I'd...)
  • remove the red line - longer passes stretches out defences which gives more room for skating
  • mandatory visors - I'd have a grandfather clause for anyone in the league, but make ALL rookies wear them for the rest of their careers...Screw Don Cherry, this is simply a safety issue and it's as smart as when they brought in helmets.
I'd also ditch that "no touching the puck behind the net" thing for goalies. That seems a bit weird to me. What's next? Tethering them to the posts so they can't leave the crease at all? I would like to have seen the AHL try a season where icing is still enforced for short-handed teams. That would make powerplays even more deadly.

posted by grum@work at 04:58 PM on February 10

As for the whole money issue in the NHL, until they let some independent arbitrator/accountant view ALL of the figures for ALL of the teams, I really can't trust anything either side says about finances. I know the NHL and NHLPA are both lying to us about how much teams are making/losing money. And how sad would it be if the NHL goes dark for a season or more? Just when the Canadian teams are finally making a serious run for the Cup (Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver are strong contenders, while Montreal and Calgary should make the playoffs as well. Edmonton? Well, they might be the most exciting team to watch...)

posted by grum@work at 05:01 PM on February 10

I love hockey and I hate Gary Bettman. He isn't even a hockey guy. He's some PR wizard from Madison Ave or some shit, and his rule has been an over-ambitious, fake-smiling fiasco. He tried to NBAize the game, and hockey just doesn't translate the same way. (not a diss on the NBA, its just different) As I recently heard on a broadcast, hockey is the only sport that freely changes the players on the ice, creating a team-like organism, an which is totally unique to hockey. Hockey is the only sport where fighting is tolerated, and needed. 'Nuf said. No two goals are the same. Every goal sacred. Every goal is great. If a goal is wasted, God gets quite irate. Oh yeah, and the players by most modern 1st world standards are the most respectable athletes. Not sure what it is, but listening to a hockey player talk during intermission can be captivating, despite the repeated 'ums' and lack of 'camera' presence.

posted by garfield at 05:08 PM on February 10

Yeah I can't get the aversion to no-touch icing. I haven't heard a single argument for that one. I'm not sold on the red line. You still have to weave the pass through the trap. I'd prefer if they made the blue line the icing line. The goalie puckhandling rule seems weird, but I can see it working. It gives an advantage to the team dumping the puck, in that the goalie can't fling it right back out while the defense obstructs the rush into the ground. Call it the Brodeur rule. Maybe they can stop the puck behind the net but not shoot it out past the goal line; unclear on that. 10-inch pads! Yes! No killing the stick curvature rule? As for the linked article, boy, that's a grim picture. I would hate to be Gary Bettman right now. Simply put, the NHL lacks intensity on a nightly basis, the all-out effort, commitment and desire displayed during the two months of the Stanley Cup playoffs every spring. There's nothing wrong with that NHL. Exactly. Imagine weekly NHL games like in the NFL? Damn.

posted by Succa at 05:18 PM on February 10

Can someone explain icing to me? Coming from a soccer background, I can easily get offsides, but what's up with icing? Why not just do away with the icing penalty entirely? I'm not sure what benefit it brings, but it seems like it just interrupts what is mostly a fast-flowing game. Help me.

posted by worldcup2002 at 05:33 PM on February 10

I actually think the goalies should be allowed to play the puck anywhere, but they should be treated like any other player. If your goalie wants to play the puck he better be ready to take a hit. Why do you think goalies never use to play the puck? Even though a lot of people don't believe the owners crying about the leagues finicial situation I think the facts are starting to speak for themselves. The NHL needs to reduce the number of teams and the players need to accept a pay cut. I still think they should move to the bigger ie surface as well.

posted by camcanuck at 05:40 PM on February 10

If someone dumps the puck from their side of centre and it crosses the deep redline (the one that runs through the goalie crease) without someone on their own team touching it first, it's considered icing, and as soon as the defensive team touches it, there will be a face off in the other end of the ice (essentially penalizing the team that just dumped the puck). The reason they have the rule is to stop teams with a one-goal lead from simply clearing the puck ALL the way down the ice everytime they get control. Since the game has a set time limit, you could easily waste lots of time with this tactic.

posted by grum@work at 05:40 PM on February 10

garfield: totally agreed on trusting neither the NHL or the NHLPA, but a couple questions: * why is the NHL different from the NBA, besides the obvious 'it's on ice, stupid.' I'm sure there are some good ones, but I don't really see them and I'm curious what a serious hockey fan thinks. * why in the heck is fighting needed in hockey? because the refs are too weak to just throw people out or (gasp) penalize them? or is there something I'm missing?

posted by tieguy at 05:44 PM on February 10

Thanks, grummy, for the icing explanation. That works for me. I wonder, however, why have a face-off afterwards? I mean, why should the offending team have a chance at the puck? If you're penalized for icing, your entire team has to line up behind the redline on the left and right of your goal (your goalie can stay in goal). And the other team gets the puck at the center-circle and they have to line up behind the halfway line. They can pass to start the play or take a direct shot. It's kind of like a throw-in or corner kick. This might discourage icing even more. I'm just saying. As an outsider.

posted by worldcup2002 at 06:09 PM on February 10

tieguy, I've wondered about fighting too. /aside Wouldn't it be neat if there was fighting in basketball? You know, Shaq gets tired of being fouled and just throws his wristbands down...

posted by dusted at 06:09 PM on February 10

Fighting is a way of self-policing the game. If a player on an opposing team is taking liberties with your star players -- stick whacks, roughing, elbowing, what have you -- he does so with full knowledge that he could get his butt kicked by your team's goon for his efforts. That's the way it worked pre-instigator rule, at least. As for WC2k2's question about faceoffs, it would simply be too easy to score if the puck were handed directly to a team in the offensive zone. So they use the faceoff for a little randomness.

posted by Succa at 07:43 PM on February 10

First, sorry for taking this thread in yet another direction, but all these rule changes do nothing for me. I like some, dislike others, but mostly I enjoy the game anyway so I just want it around next year (and beyond). I was discussing this with garfield last night and I came up with an idea that I need to test. Someone out there with a larger brain than mine and a more sober mind than garfield's needs to explain to me why this idea won't work... The NHL implements a cap. We'll make it similar to the NFLs with an exception for veteran players that allows them to count only a portion of their salary against the cap if they've stayed with the same franchise for 8/10/12 years. This, I believe, would ensure an even playing ground for most, if not all franchises. It would also enable teams to stay together a bit more than the NFL and perhaps eliminate the parity side-effect seen in football. In general, it would ensure the financial success of the league. It would also piss off the players and since they would hate this cap on their earnings, we cap the owners' earnings as well. After owners reach a certain revenue level, money earned goes into the NHLPA pension fund. This returns money earned to the players and makes them actual partners in the league's success. Perhaps you'd need to cap that as well, eventually returning the money to the owners, but who knows. You'd certainly need third-party auditing, but that can be worked out as well. What I want to know, in general terms, is why this would not work and make boths sides reasonably happy.

posted by 86 at 08:07 PM on February 10

What I want to know, in general terms, is why this would not work and make boths sides reasonably happy.


Intelligent fellow: "What I'm proposing is a kind of salary cap..." Players Association: "A cap?! A CAP?! LALALALALALA! I can't hear you!"
Intelligent fellow: "What I'm proposing is a more equitable sharing of revenues..." NHL owners: "Sharing more revenues?! SHARING?! LALALALALA! I can't hear you!"
And that's why it wouldn't work...

posted by grum@work at 08:15 PM on February 10

Besides limiting the size of goalie pads, the two changes which would do the most to open up the game would be to eliminate the red line and adopt the international-size rink. Increasing the size of the rinks would really open up the game (more like European play rather than North American), but would force teams to give up some arena capacity, so it's a no-go with the owners. Too bad. I don't understand the logic behind the goalie puck-handling rule. Watching some older clips (during all-star weekend coverage), the goalie equipment was so much smaller.

posted by andrewraff at 09:33 PM on February 10

There was such good hockey on tonight. Awesome and depressing at the same time. andrewraff: "...the goalie equipment was so much smaller" - No kidding. And it wasn't even that long ago.

posted by 86 at 10:10 PM on February 10

"I actually think the goalies should be allowed to play the puck anywhere, but they should be treated like any other player. If your goalie wants to play the puck he better be ready to take a hit. Why do you think goalies never use to play the puck?" right on camcanuck. ive been watching hockey for so long, it amazes me to think how much i had forgotten how goalies were a target in the old days, and how that changed the game. The NHL implements a cap. We'll make it similar to the NFLs with an exception for veteran players that allows them to count only a portion of their salary against the cap if they've stayed with the same franchise for 8/10/12 years. This, I believe, would ensure an even playing ground for most, if not all franchises. It would also enable teams to stay together a bit more than the NFL and perhaps eliminate the parity side-effect seen in football. In general, it would ensure the financial success of the league." 86, my brain might not be bigger than yours. but this thread from the cc weblog offers a pretty interesting and informative discussion on that.

posted by owl at 10:58 PM on February 10

I don't understand the logic behind the goalie puck-handling rule. Today's game: puck shoot in, Brodeur shoot out With new rule: puck shoot in, slow defense go back to get puck, attacking forwards have chance to get possession in zone. Basically, this rule makes the dump-in an effective offensive tactic instead of a gasp for air from an asphyxiating neutral-zone trap.

posted by Succa at 08:39 AM on February 11

* why is the NHL different from the NBA, besides the obvious 'it's on ice, stupid.' I'm sure there are some good ones, but I don't really see them and I'm curious what a serious hockey fan thinks. It's on ice, stupid. Well, the 'team organism' analogy is the first thing that comes to mind. Most NHL teams either play 3 forward lines or roll 4 forward lines all game, changing up without a necessary game stoppage. Basketball, you have that horn and a whistle, so its quite apparent who is on the court. In hockey, the flow puts emphasis on team, while the subbing puts emphasis on the individual player. Which leads to the major difference. In basketball, one player can dominate for long periods of time, while in hockey that is essentially impossible. The closest hockey comes to the b-ball iso is on the powerplay when a player rushes the puck all the way up ice and dangles by a few folk before depositing the puck in the net. And my original comment stemmed from the marketing differences, hence the relation to Bettman. Ol' Gary tried to sanitize the NHL and prop up 'star' players and give the teams a face. The failure of that is not entirely his fault, as hockey players just aren't as visible, but he should've realized that. Sometimes I wonder if he's had the average hockey fan experience and understands what his business goals should be. Basically, he tried to apply a formula that was ultra successful for the NBA to the NHL, and the fit was not a good one.

posted by garfield at 09:38 AM on February 11

86: I actually like that idea, but I think it might become overly complex. I don't remember where I read this, but someone suggested that NHL should give the equivalent of stock options to players. They move forward with a salary cap, but now the players also have part ownership in the league. The league now being a public company would have to report earnings every quarter, and be subject to all the business rules any other public company is. This is very similar to 86's suggestion, just a different way of going about it. It makes them partners in the leagues success (or failure for that matter). While these idea might sound good on paper I don't think it will happen. The owners will not relinquish control of the teams they own, and the NHLPA has publicly stated that any hard salary cap will never be accepted (see grum@work's comments above).

posted by camcanuck at 09:38 AM on February 11

So, how long until a cut in the no. of teams happens?

posted by worldcup2002 at 09:51 AM on February 11

In basketball, one player can dominate for long periods of time, while in hockey that is essentially impossible. Not entirely. You can have a goaltender "dominate" a game (Hasek in his prime). It's not the same thing, but one player can definitely control the outcome. But less so than in basketball because the goalie is strictly a defensive player while a dominating basketball player can control both aspects of the game. So, how long until a cut in the no. of teams happens? It will have to be involuntary. The league won't deliberately slash the number of teams because it sends out a terrible message (our league is dying). However, I could see one or more teams going belly-up in the next 5 years, especially if there is an extended lockout/strike situation. The Canadian fans will come back to the game, and the fans in strong hockey markets in the US (Minnesota, Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit) will come back too. But will fans in Phoenix, Nashville, Miami, Tampa Bay and San Jose give a rats ass about hockey when it's out of their collective conscious for more than 6 months? I doubt it.

posted by grum@work at 09:57 AM on February 11

About goalies being fair game outside the crease...I agree wholeheartedly with everyone else. Unfortunately, the PA would never go for it, since it would probably increase the already too-high number of goalie injuries. So here's my idea...the goalies aren't fair game outside the crease, but relax the goalie interference rule outside the crease. If Brodeur wants to play the puck behind the net, fine, but the skaters should be allowed to reasonably impede his progress back to his net...at least they should be able to get in his way for a couple seconds. Inside the crease, the interference rules stays the same, but outside, the goalies should be at least closer to being a skater than an untouchable... Another issue I wish the league would address is sub-par ice. We've all seen games in Phoenix or Florida or Dallas or wherever where the ice looks like a Slurpee, there's pea-soup fog in the rink, and the puck's bouncing like a tennis ball. Hockey is a winter sport, played on ice...if you can't create a stable, safe surface to play on, then you shouldn't have a team...period. I've see baseball, football, and basketball games postponed because of inferior playing surfaces, but I have yet to see a hockey game called because of bad ice. I also believe there's a definite link between bad ice and the rash of groin injuries the last few years... As for other rule changes, bringing back the tag-up rule and moving the nets back closer to the end boards could wipe out a lot of problems, IMO. Finally, the NHL needs to take a page from the NFL's marketing book. Baseball and basketball are more about individuals than teams. Hockey and football are truly team games. The NHL needs to market its teams, not its stars. And instead of trying to eliminate violence in the sport, play it up. The NFL thrives here in the US, and is the most violent of the 4 major sports. The US loves violence, so show us just how violent hockey is. Gimme commercials with bloody Chiclets, bone-jarring, glass-shattering, cobweb-clearing hits, guys being carted off on stretchers. Let everyone see replays of Shanahan's flying clothesline on Roy, or Suter's crosscheck into Kariya's face, or a highlight reel from a Flyers/Leafs playoff war. The unwashed masses will trample each other to get to the box office...

posted by MeatSaber at 11:02 AM on February 11

Sub-par ice: At least in San Jose they've realized this is a big enough issue that the team and city just made a deal to spend about $350k fixing it.

posted by billsaysthis at 11:38 AM on February 11

Hockey is interesting, but I think for most people (if you already like hockey ignore this), it boils down to this. With 82 games, what the hell does it matter if I watch this one? Whether or not the team I'm watching wins or loses this one, it's ultimately largely irrevelant over the season.

posted by patrickje at 11:42 AM on February 11

Good point...but that doesn't stop basketball (82 games) and baseball (162 games, fer Chrissake) from getting high ratings...

posted by MeatSaber at 11:49 AM on February 11

With 82 games, what the hell does it matter if I watch this one? I agree. There are a lot of awful games in the schedule. But there has to be, otherwise there would only be a few games every season (Ottawa/Toronto, Detroit/Colorado, NYI/NYR, Philly/NJ, Calgary/Edmonton). Savour the good games and watch the bad ones for the chance to see players you might have missed before (Luongo, Nash, Marleau, Smyth all play on bad teams but are great players).

posted by grum@work at 12:23 PM on February 11

grum, I think you're onto something there. If the non-NHL fan thinks there are too many games, then the NHL needs to hype weekly events. 'The game of the week' if you will, maybe even two, cuz we all know there are nightly gaps in entertaining tv. I stay up late just to catch the Canucks, but if a newbie has never seen Nash bulldoze his way to the crease(btw, did anyone check out that move out of the corner Nash pulled in the All* game. Man, it was sweet.) they quickly realize he's worth the price of admission or enough to put down the remote for a few. 'Gary, you listening? For your sake, I hope so.' Exploit your assets, don't invent them.

posted by garfield at 01:17 PM on February 11

I honestly think the NHL regular season is too long. Unfortunately as was mentioned in the earlier SpoFi thread the NHL is driven by gate revenues. Fewer games will have an impact on teams botton lines so it is unlikely to be very popular. As for promoting games the NHL needs a TV network to step uo to the plate and not be afraid of the violence in the game. Maybe FOX would pick up again? Can someone explain to me why NHL GM's seem to have a problem with 'no-touch' icing. Prevent injuries & speed the game with a very minor rule change. This is such a no-brainer it hurts, yet they don't even suggest it? I don't get it.

posted by camcanuck at 02:01 PM on February 11

cam, i'm with you on the no-touch icing. If they think some rushing to touch a puck, quickly followed by a whistle is going to hold my attention more, rather than flip to see what else is on, they are sadly mistaken. What is icing known as? The most exciting play in all of sports.

posted by garfield at 02:24 PM on February 11

A former chairman of the SEC will be releasing a 'detailed financial breakdown' tomorrow. I only hope it includes new data, and is not just a reconfiguration of the same numbers.

posted by garfield at 03:07 PM on February 11

Weave & Bob

posted by garfield at 03:35 PM on February 12

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