Adam Proteau

Adam Proteau, currently the brand's columnist/writer, has worked for The Hockey News since 2002 and won the Professional Hockey Writers' award for best column in 2006. He also won the Esso Medal of Achievement for most improved player as a 13-year-old at the 'A' level in 1985, but he's less proud of that.

NHL logo rankings No. 12: Florida Panthers

Adam Proteau
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The Florida Panthers have drastically revamped their team for the coming season. However, in THN’s 2014 NHL logo ranking contest, their logo – which hasn’t changed much at all in their 21-year existence – fared well among our in-house panel of judges. They ranked the Panthers’ current logo 12th-best.

Do you think you could improve on the Panthers’ logo? If so, create one and submit it to editorial@thehockeynews.com. Once our logo rankings conclude, we’ll share them online.

HISTORY OF THE PANTHERS LOGO

(All logos from Chris Creamer’s website.)

The Panthers joined the NHL in 1993 and had their name selected in a fan voting contest. The choice in animal was connected to the Florida panther, an endangered species cougar known to inhabit swamps in South Florida. And their first choice in logo has proven to be such a hit, it’s essentially stayed the same ever since. Read more

Five reasons to be excited about another outdoor NHL game in California

Adam Proteau
Dodger Stadium (Noah Graham/NHLI via Getty Images)

The NHL announced Wednesday it will stage another California outdoor game – this one Feb. 21, 2015 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara between the host Sharks and the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings. Here are five reasons to be excited about the event:

5. Outdoor games will be more of a novelty this year. Last year the NHL staged six outdoor games – in Detroit, Los Angeles, Chicago, Vancouver, and two in New York City – but NHL brass has said there will be fewer outdoor games this season. So there will be a fresher feel to this one.

4. It’s California outdoor hockey – who knows what can happen? Everything went off without a hitch when the Kings hosted the first NHL California outdoor game in history last season and L.A. lost to the Anaheim Ducks 3-0. But Mother Nature can always be a challenge – and despite the savvy of NHL ice guru Dan Craig, the elements could be an issue. The league has had great luck with weather thus far in its outdoor games, but sooner or later… Read more

Signing Michael Del Zotto an indictment of Flyers’ middling defense corps

Adam Proteau
Michael Del Zotto (Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

After receiving tough news Tuesday about veteran blueliner Kimmo Timonen, the Philadelphia Flyers moved quickly to replace their most experienced defenseman by signing Michael Del Zotto to a one-year, $1.3-million contract. But the fact GM Ron Hextall turned to a former hot property whose stock has fallen precipitously is an indication Philly’s defense corps could be the area that prevents the Flyers from securing a playoff berth this season.

Since star blueliner Chris Pronger had his career ended in 2011 by post-concussion syndrome, the Flyers have been searching to bolster their blueline. Timonen and Braydon Coburn are the only holdovers from Pronger’s time in Philadelphia, and because the organization hasn’t been able to produce a home-grown d-man of impact, they’ve had to look elsewhere – namely, the New York Islanders, from whom they acquired former Isles blueliners Mark Streit (via free agency) and Andrew MacDonald (via trade). They dealt skilled young winger James van Riemsdyk to Toronto for Luke Schenn. And those moves didn’t produce the desired result; Philly was 17th in Corsi-for last season and were in the lower tier of the NHL in goals-allowed (20th overall at 2.77 goals per game).

Those numbers won’t improve with the arrival of Del Zotto, who at age 24 has arrived at a crossroads in his five-year NHL career and who had to accept a major pay cut (from $2.55 million last season) to continue playing in hockey’s top league. Read more

THN logo rankings No. 14: New York Rangers

Adam Proteau
RangersMAIN

The New York Rangers are fortunate to have the aura that comes along with being an Original Six franchise, but in THN’s 2014 NHL logo ranking contest, their reliance on tradition hasn’t pushed them to the top. Our in-house panel of judges ranked the Rangers’ current logo 14th-best.

The Blueshirts have made very few tweaks to the original team logo used in their inaugural season of 1926-27. In many ways, that’s a good thing that speaks to the positive reception it’s had with the franchise’s fan base. But at a time when brands are almost always reshaping their image, the Rangers aren’t standing out with their current logo.

Maybe you think you could improve on the Rangers logo. If that’s true, put one together and submit it to editorial@thehockeynews.com. Once our logo rankings conclude, we’ll share them online.

HISTORY OF THE RANGERS LOGO

(All logos from Chris Creamer’s website.)

The Rangers – initially owned by George Lewis “Tex” Rickard, boxing promoter and president of Madison Square Garden – had their logo designed in part to differentiate from the rival New York Americans, who’d began playing at the famous arena one year sooner. Whereas the Americans’ logo spelled our their name horizontally, Rickard’s Rangers would begin their existence by spelling out their team name diagonally.

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P.K. Subban’s new contract a win-lose for Canadiens GM Bergevin

Adam Proteau
P.K. Subban (Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The reaction in Montreal to P.K. Subban signing an eight-year, $72-million contract extension with the Canadiens Saturday afternoon was a combination of relief and elation: relief that the ticking time bomb of arbitration had been defused after Friday’s hearing had concluded in tight jaws and terse words; and elation that their star defenseman would return to the fold happy and secure.

Now that the smoke is clearing, two things are apparent: firstly, that Habs GM Marc Bergevin deserves credit for backing away from the abyss and coming to his senses before it was too late. Had he waited another day and allowed the arbitrator’s verdict to be rendered, who knows what bitterness would’ve lingered between the two parties and where that would’ve led.

But it’s also clear Bergevin’s 2012 gamble with Subban on a short-term, “bridge deal” has not paid off for him. In fact, it held him upside-down by the ankles and shook free more money and salary cap space than the franchise would’ve needed to utilize had the Canadiens invested on a longer-term deal two years ago.

You want to know why the Maple Leafs invested five years and $20.25 million in Jake Gardiner last week, and why so many teams sign their youngsters coming out of their entry level deals to long-term deals? This is why. Longer-term gambles are cheaper gambles. And if things don’t work out on one of those longer-term contracts, GMs usually can find a team to take the underachieving player off their hands. That’s because rivals always think they can tweak a player’s game and help him realize the promise that made his first team invest in him.

But that’s not what happened with Subban. All he did after Montreal gave him a two-year, $5.75-million deal two years ago was deliver on every count: he improved in each year; he won a Norris Trophy; he emerged as a leader and a frontrunner to take over the captaincy from Buffalo-bound Brian Gionta; and last spring, he proved he could deliver in the playoffs as a near point-per-game player (14 points in 17 games).

In other words, Subban didn’t just win this bet with Bergevin. He won it running away.

Would it have been possible to get Subban’s name on a five-year, $25-million contract after the NHL lockout ended in early 2013? You’d better believe it. He was making $875,000 in the final year of his rookie contract and was still honing his game. A four-to-six-year deal would’ve given him a tremendous raise, bought out some of those unrestricted free agent years and still allowed him to sign another massive contract at age 28 or 29.

Instead, the Habs now have to pay much more, much sooner. Yes, the cap ceiling will rise and reduce the amount of space Subban’s deal takes up, but Bergevin’s process with one of his young stars has hurt his team’s flexibility. He’s had a strong run as a young GM, but Bergevin burned his hand on the stove this time. He saved himself some money in the short-term, but nobody much cares for or remembers that anymore. All they’ll remember is that, while it’s great he didn’t allow the situation to backslide into open acrimony, Bergevin’s risk-reward policy didn’t pay off.

Veteran gamblers understand the house usually wins. But Bergevin learned the hard way: when it comes to player contracts, the players are the house. The league’s collective bargaining agreement is designed to make teams project and make tough decisions on elite young players earlier than ever.

By opting for that bridge deal, Bergevin tried to delay that process by two years. You’d hope that, as the ink dries on Subban’s new deal, he realizes why that was a mistake.

How the NHL can do a better job of welcoming women

Adam Proteau
Female fan (Derek Leung/Getty Images)

Earlier this week, You Can Play Project co-founder and NHL director of player safety Patrick Burke tweeted an interesting thought:

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Burke’s question makes the point clear: pro sports could be doing a much better job of engaging with and cultivating female fans. But how? I’m not qualified to speak for them, so I solicited answers from female friends and women on social media. Here are some of the best responses:

1. Don’t market specifically to women. Market to hockey fans. This was by far the most popular answer and speaks largely to the fact women don’t want to feel singled out among the larger pool of hockey fans. It makes perfect sense, given that sports fandom is an exercise in tribalism; as soon as you start carving the tribe into sub-groups, the alienation process kicks in.

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Arriving at this end would mean doing away with promotions such as “Ladies’ Nights” and “Hockey and High Heels” initiatives, but in doing so, the league would strengthen its bond with women who already love and understand the game and aren’t turned off by a patronizing approach.

2. The color pink doesn’t define the female gender. The NHL’s decision to aggressively market pink and/or bedazzled versions of team jerseys doesn’t sit well with many women. They’d prefer to wear the colors of their actual team and not conform to tired gender-assigned hues.

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3. More variance and fairness in merchandising options. Speaking of jerseys, the lack of proper-fitting team wear for women is a real problem. So is the idea women should be charged more for clothing than men. That crap may fly in the hairstyling industry, but sports is supposed to be different. They don’t charge women different ticket prices than men and the same ought to go for things such as t-shirts.

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4. Hire more women. The NBA Players Association just hired its first female executive director. Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees hired a female assistant GM in 1997. But there are no women to be found in positions of prominence in NHL team management circles – and for that matter, there still aren’t enough women covering hockey in the media.

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There are two possible explanations for this – either there are no women who have insight on the game, or teams and news organizations aren’t doing enough to integrate one gender into the mix – and one is absolute nonsense. The sooner more is done to show women there’s a place for them in all corners of the game, the better off the sport will be.

5. No more ice girls/cheerleaders. The Florida Panthers recently discontinued their cheerleading squad, and that’s only going to help them in the eyes of women who see half-dressed females promoted and instantly feel objectified. Unless teams are willing to establish Chippendale teams of male cheerleaders, equality should rule – and cheerleaders/all-female ice crews should be a thing of the past.

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6. Basically, don’t do anything that makes women feel different, and do more to establish a culture of inclusion. That’s a simple enough message, right? Women aren’t The Other. They’re as varied in their background, experience and perspective as men are, and just as devoted to and passionate about hockey.

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If the NHL really wants to do more for its female consumers, removing as many labels as possible is the key. For the sport to continue growing, there has to be an improved sense of equality and stronger efforts to emphasize similarities between the genders. My friend – we’ll call her ‘C’ – encapsulated this mentality perfectly in this email:

I may be in the minority, especially of those you encounter on Twitter, but I look at the “marketing” a little differently than a lot of my peers on Twitter.

I’m not insulted by being called a “female fan.” I also have no problem with Hockey n’ Heels nights (though I wouldn’t go to one because it’s below my knowledge level, not because of the concept). I’m not offended by pink merchandise nor will I complain about the “cut” of a shirt or ice girls.

I just see it differently.

People spend so much time hating on each other. My saying these things must mean I’m not a “feminist” or I’m not as good of a “feminist” as someone who stands against all these things.

Neither of those are true. I simply believe that everyone is different. There are women who enjoy pink clothing (otherwise it wouldn’t sell), there are women who get a lot of benefit from the introductory information provided at hockey n’ heels style events and there are women who aspire to be ice girls. Either way it’s okay in my book.

The truth is marketing is a business. If people didn’t buy pink shirts they wouldn’t sell them. If women didn’t attend hockey n’ heels teams wouldn’t host it.

Instead of ripping on teams and the league for producing merchandise that sells or events that people attend maybe we as women should look back at ourselves and do a little less shaming of each other.

Instead of belittling the people who like these events or wear the t-shirts, saying they’re wrong or ignorant or not real fans or feminists, why not offer a culture of support and celebration?

Why not enjoy that people are enjoying the game?

Well said, C. When hockey gets to a point where men and women can enjoy the game without reminders of their chromosome makeup, it will have done all fans a tremendous service.

Announcement of Selanne’s number retirement ceremony reminds us why we love him

Adam Proteau
Teemu Selanne (Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

The NHL will be a poorer place this season without the on-ice presence of icon Teemu Selanne, who retired at the end of last year after a 21-year, first ballot Hall of Fame NHL career. But fans will have another chance to let the gentlemanly Finn know how much they appreciate him when the Anaheim Ducks retire his No. 8 before a January 11 game against his former Winnipeg Jets team.

No one would argue Selanne deserves the honor, as he became one of the most universally beloved NHLers in the modern era. Here are three reasons why he became such a hockey treasure:

1. His skill. Let’s face it, if Selanne wasn’t such a wizard with the puck – his 684 career regular-season goals place him 11th on the NHL’s all-time goal-scorer’s list, and his 1,457 points in 1,451 games are good for 15th overall all-time in league history – we wouldn’t have invested nearly as much time and effort into following him over the years. But he was an incredible force, as this video recap demonstrates:


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Armed with new contract, Robin Lehner will soon grab Sens’ starting goalie job

Adam Proteau
Robin Lehner (Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Senators signed Robin Lehner to a $6.675-million contract Thursday morning, locking up the 23-year-old restricted free agent goalie for the next three seasons. Lehner has been hailed for years as Ottawa’s goalie-of-the-future, but by the end of this coming season – or perhaps sooner – he’ll be firmly, finally ensconced as their No. 1 netminder.

Given that veteran Craig Anderson – who’ll be 34 years old at the end of the coming season – is entering the final year of his contract, Lehner won’t have to wait much longer to be given the starter’s job. Playing on a poor Sens squad in 2013-14, he posted a better save percentage (.913) than Anderson (.910) and his workload has increased gradually (from 12 games-played in 2012-13 to 36 last year). His new contract, which carries an annual average value of $2.225 million, is perfect for his budget-conscious franchise and won’t raise fan expectations to unattainable levels.

What does Lehner’s new deal mean for Anderson? Read more