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Long-term investments

Canadian hockey player Tim Horton (left) of the Toronto Maple Leafs challenges Czech player Stan Mikita of the Chicago Black Hawks from behind during a game, 1960s. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

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Canadian hockey player Tim Horton (left) of the Toronto Maple Leafs challenges Czech player Stan Mikita of the Chicago Black Hawks from behind during a game, 1960s. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Now that the season is underway, your questions are really pouring in, but don’t hesitate to keep ‘em coming HERE. As always, my apologies if I couldn’t answer you either here, or in the Ask Adam (I always hesitate to shorten it to AA for hopefully obvious reasons) feature that now appears in The Hockey News magazine.

Hey Adam,

I saw some people complaining about your predictions and I wanted to say that since I am a Habs fans I don’t mind if your crystal ball is sometimes hazy.

But my question is, did you see Sean Avery's interview on the CBC, and what do you think of what he said?

Justin Daskaluk, Ypsilanti, Mich.


Hey Justin,

Thanks. To be perfectly honest, I’m never bothered in the slightest by the complaints. Sports is one of the last vestiges of tribalism, so it’s to be expected people get a tad irrational when anyone critiques their team.

I didn’t catch Avery’s CBC interview, but I’ve read his comments (as well as the ones he just made in an ESPN interview) and while I think he was wrong to target an all-around fantastic dude like Jarome Iginla, the guy is absolutely right when he says the NHL isn’t where it should be in terms of marketing.

It’s like Jeremy Roenick told me a few years ago – do you think the NFL created a key marketing tool like NFL Films on the cheap? To the contrary: it was a sizeable expenditure that paid off in spades for them. But they had to lay out the capital to achieve that goal.

What did the NHL spend much of its time focusing on in the late 1990s? Building a financial war chest in its battle against players and agents.

That’s what you call different priorities.

While the NHLPA has come quite a ways in terms of its willingness to get players out in the public eye, it’s going to take a much bigger push from the league and team owners to really do the game justice.

Trouble is, if you look at the history of the NHL, you see that long-term planning and continual re-investment has never been its strong suit. So to me, the truth hurts, especially when it comes from behind Avery’s villainous (and yes, partly contrived) smirk.

Hi Adam,

Why do the commentators sometimes say, at the beginning of an NHL game, that the home team "gets the last change." What does that even mean?

Thanks.

Kevin Whitwham, Halifax, N.S.


Hi Kevin,

The “change” refers to the change in players on the ice after a whistle. And having the last one means a coach gets to match up his players with those on the ice for the opposition.

So for instance, if the visiting team has its checking line out in anticipation of the home team’s big guns (quick aside: thanks to too many childhood years spent watching Married With Children, I now can’t type the word “guns” after the word “big” without feeling a little dirty on the inside) the home team’s coach might choose to foil them by removing his top line and inserting his third or fourth line instead.

Hey Adam,

Most people today only know Tim Horton as a name on the donut shop. I remember the strong, physical guy who was a complete hockey leader, and the awful way he died. Why haven't there been any stories or biographies on him, or have I missed them?

Lamar Pesci, Lackawanna, N.Y.


Hi Lamar,

You’re right, it is a real shame to think Horton will be known for coffee and glazed dough more than for his astonishing hockey career and his rise from the clutches of childhood poverty to the NHL.

I know there was a CBC documentary done on Horton in 2001 called “Tim Horton: The Perfect Husband,” but I don’t believe you can easily get your hands on a copy, and it isn’t available online.

For me, the worst part of that doc – which, as its title suggests, looks at Horton as a family man – was the fact that one year after his gruesome, alcohol-related death in 1974, his widow signed all of his business interests away for the sum of $1 million.

In 2005, the donut chain had sales of $1.48 billion. When you see what little money he earned during his time in the NHL, it’s a crying shame his family didn’t wind up with a bigger cut of that pie.

Adam,

Why is the shot between the goalies legs called the five-hole?

Richard Decker, Rochester, NY


Richard,

That particular term is derived from the breakdown of scoring areas in a hockey net that also has a goalie protecting it. The left and right top corners of the net are considered to be the one-hole and the two-hole, and the bottom left and right corners are the three- and four-holes.

Adam,

Is it true the NHL is going to shorten next year’s regular season by four months? If that's true I'll be very upset.

Chris Marsh, Montreal


Chris,

I’m a little too pale and patois-challenged to be Miss Cleo, but I see happy days in your future.

The NHL has already announced it will play games up until Sunday, Feb. 14 of 2010, and the first men’s Olympics game begins two days later in Vancouver.

The men’s hockey final is set for the last day of the games (Feb. 28), which means you’re looking at a three-week shutdown at most. And besides, it’s the Olympics! You planning on boycotting it or something?

 

Ask Adam appears Fridays only on TheHockeyNews.com. To send us your question or comment, click HERE.

Adam Proteau is The Hockey News' online columnist and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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