Maple Leafs, Rangers, Canadiens all billion dollar organizations according to Forbes

Madison Square Garden

My, what a difference one year and a massive TV contract can make.

In 2013, when American business magazine Forbes released their NHL franchise valuations, only one team was said to be a billion dollar organization: the Toronto Maple Leafs ($1.15 billion). That the Leafs were – and still are – the most valued team in the NHL comes to little surprise what with a fan base that continually shells out top dollar regardless of the outcome. It is hockey mecca, like it or not.

But Tuesday, when Forbes released its rankings for 2014, two franchises, the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers, found themselves in the billion dollar club thanks in large part to a friendly bump from the NHL’s league-wide television deals plus some added money from local television contracts. Read more

The bite will be back for the Florida Panthers soon

Adam Proteau
Florida's BB&T Center (Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

SUNRISE, FLORIDA – For the grand majority of their 20 seasons of existence, the Florida Panthers have done little to instill a sense of confidence in their fan base. An average of two playoff appearances every tenth of a century tends to have that effect. A regularly changing ownership group doesn’t help much, either. But the franchise’s current powerbrokers know full well they can’t change that with hollow guarantees, PowerPoint presentations or slick ad campaigns.

The only thing that will fill their 19,250-seat arena on a nightly basis is what they’ve consistently lacked since their inaugural season in 1993-94: wins, and many of them. Read more

Los Angeles Kings will get salary cap relief during Slava Voynov’s suspension

Matt Larkin
Slava Voynov's salary will no longer count as part of L.A.'s cap hit while he is suspended. (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images)

Slava Voynov’s domestic violence saga continues, but its direct impact on the Los Angeles Kings was diminished Friday.

Voynov has been charged with one felony count of corporal injury to spouse with great bodily injury. The Kings defenseman, 24, allegedly injured wife Marta Varlamova’s eyebrow, cheek and neck seriously enough to require medical attention, and Voynov was arrested Oct. 20.

In a statement Friday, the NHL announced the existing terms of Voynov’s suspension “will be continued indefinitely.” The league also stated, through NHL.com:

“However, in light of the uncertain and potentially extended period of time that the legal process may entail, the NHL and the NHLPA have agreed to permit the Kings to replace Mr. Voynov’s Salary and Bonuses pursuant to the Bona Fide Long-Term Injury Exception under the terms of the NHL/NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement.”

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New helmet-mounted camera could be the future of NHL broadcasts

Jared Clinton
HWKIMain

When Rogers made their landmark deal for the NHL’s television rights in Canada, it became evident that the very way we watched hockey would change. Already this season, we’ve gotten looks that we’ve never seen before, for better or worse.

Now a new product has come along, called HWKI, which could revolutionize the way we watch big moments, the view of the referees, or see our favorite players game by game. You can see the product in action below: Read more

NHL’s opening salvo in concussion lawsuit battle with former players a clear case of victim-blaming

Adam Proteau
Bernie Nicholls (Getty Images)

As reported Thursday by TSN, the NHL has made its first significant legal reply in regard to the 2013 lawsuit filed by former players who believe the league seriously mishandled its approach to concussions and head trauma. And one only need give the reply a quick perusal to recognize it as the worst kind of victim blaming.

Filed in November of last year, the players’ lawsuit – now backed by a group of some 40 former NHLers including retired L.A. Kings star Bernie Nicholls and Toronto Maple Leaf Gary Leeman – alleges the league didn’t provide adequate protection from head injuries before a head trauma research committee was formed in 1997, and that, beyond that point, the results of that committee weren’t properly shared among players. Responding via legal documents filed in a Minnesota federal court this week, the NHL contends players forced to retire prematurely due to concussions should have realized on their own the risk they were taking and what could happen to them.

“Publicly available information related to concussions and their long-term effects, coupled with the events that had transpired – i.e., the players incurring head injuries – should have allowed (players) to put two and two together,” the NHL said in court filings obtained by TSN.

So let me get this straight – the league whose commissioner in 2011 said it was premature to link fighting in hockey with chronic traumatic encephalopathy is the same league that’s now saying players ought to have known what was up all along with head trauma in the sport because they should’ve read magazine and newspaper reports the league was questioning the veracity of? Does this make sense to anyone? Read more

Tonight Show’s Jimmy Fallon tackles pros and cons of a team in Las Vegas

Jared Clinton
Fallon on Vegas

Unlike some in late night television, Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon hasn’t been shy about using hockey as the butt of his jokes. While it may be the least followed of the four major sports in the US, hockey is still ripe for a jab here and there.

So, with late last week of a potential team in Las Vegas, Fallon took it upon himself to make up a handy list of pros and cons for what fans could expect if the league were to expand to Nevada: Read more

Hockey’s 10 richest contracts, in honor of Giancarlo Stanton’s monster MLB deal

Shea Weber

On Monday, Major League Baseball’s Giancarlo Stanton signed the richest contract in North American sports history. At 13-years and $325 million, the Miami Marlins outfielder stands to make more money than the average Canadian or American could earn in one hundred lifetimes.

In fact, here’s how it breaks down. Those earning the average 2014 income in Canada (USD$42,719) and USA ($51,371) would have to spend 7,608 and 6,327 years in the workforce, respectively, in order to match Stanton’s monster deal. Something tells me that might be unattainable.

There was a time – around the formation of the World Hockey Association – when Bobby Hull and the WHA’s Winnipeg Jets made waves with a $1 million dollar signing bonus. And in 1998-99, Sergei Fedorov made $14.5 million, the most ever at the time, which was more than the entire Nashville Predators roster made – combined. The days of both these contracts are long gone. These are the most lucrative contracts in the history of the NHL, all coming during the salary cap era. Read more

Reported “dramatic changes” to World Cup of Hockey would be a breath of fresh air – on one condition

Adam Proteau
Team Canada at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey (Getty Images)

For years now, many who follow the NHL have expected the league to announce the return of the World Cup of Hockey. That’s on the verge of being made official, but what nobody was quite prepared for was the stunning Sportsnet report concerning “dramatic changes” made to the structure of the off-season, league-controlled tournament.

According to the report, the NHL is considering a format that would see the six top hockey nations (Canada, the United States, Sweden, Russia, Finland and the Czech Republic) take part – but in a new twist, two “all-star” teams would join the competition: one squad would be comprised of the best players from countries other than the aforementioned six nations: Slovakia (who could offer Zdeno Chara), Slovenia (Anze Kopitar), Switzerland (Nino Niederreiter), and Germany (Christian Ehrhoff, Dennis Seidenberg), among others. The composition of the second team has yet to be determined, but one of the concepts being bandied about is taking all of the game’s best young players and giving them the same jersey to create a “Generation: Next”-type lineup.

As soon as the news broke, the reaction was less than universally positive. But you know what? I think the new format would be a terrific breath of fresh air – that is, so long as the return of the World Cup doesn’t mean the end of NHL participation in the Olympics. Read more