Stories about Arizona’s arena saga are rarely fun to read. The latest development in Glendale has AEG Facilities taking over as managers of Gila River Arena. The company is an offshoot of the firm that owns the Los Angeles Kings and has vast experience in arena management. As always, hope is high in some corners and not so high in others. But guess what? This is a minor development in a state on the rise in the hockey world.
Hockey fans living in the central time zone and anywhere east of there may one day remember spring of 2016 as The Red-Eye Playoffs. The need to stagger games has produced some late start times, and we’re not just talking the usual Pacific Division fare that starts at 10:30 p.m. ET and only stops diehard East Coasters from going to bed.
This year’s post-season has produced the oddity of Central-time games being treated like West Coast telecasts. Game 5 of the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues’ Central Division semifinal Thursday started at 8:42 p.m. central and 9:42 p.m. eastern for the third time in the series. The wildly entertaining game was too good to turn off, so it sucked a lot of sleep from a lot of people. Among that group: Chicago Blackhawks play-by-play personality Pat Foley. He decided he was fed up with the scheduling and unleashed this rant, mid-broadcast, before a commercial break cut him off:
The man responsible for executing the 12-year, $5.2 billion Canadian television deal between broadcasting giant Rogers and the NHL says the deal is still a very good one for Rogers, despite the fact that an absence of Canadian teams has first-round ratings down more than 60 percent.
Scott Moore, the president of Sportsnet and NHL properties for Rogers, isn’t even all that surprised at the low numbers. And he tends to look at it from a perspective of the glass being half full. Historically, as Canadian teams drop out of the playoffs, so does the viewership. Well, that had already happened before the playoffs began, so logic would dictate that audiences will likely hold steady for the rest of the playoffs. And depending upon the matchups in the second round, they might even improve. The Canadian broadcaster has already been forced to swallow the poison pill and, in fact, had been chewing on it for the last quarter of the season when it was clear that no Canadian teams would be in the post-season.
The three top prospects for this year’s NHL draft all played in Europe this season and they’re all projected to become enormous stars in North American and make millions of dollars over the course of their careers. And if things go as planned, they’ll be a cash cow for their NHL employers, as well.
But what about the teams they’re leaving? In the case of Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi, the Tappara and Karpat teams in the Finnish League will not only be losing their best players, they’ll also be parting with two young men in whom they’ve invested an huge amount of resources. And once they sign deals with the NHL teams that select them, they’re receive a one-time payment of about $240,000. That’s it. Nothing more. Do not pass Go. Do not collect any more money. And in the case of the Zurich Lions in the Swiss League, they won’t receive a cent.
The company that owns the world’s largest manufacturer of hockey equipment is the subject of at least one class-action lawsuit, saw its chief executive officer resign earlier this week and has witnessed a drop in stock price of about 90 percent during the past nine months.
Performance Sports Group CEO Kevin Davis resigned from the company that owns both the Bauer and Easton hockey brands after allegations surfaced that the company had misstated revenues and misled shareholders. It represents the end of a contentious relationship between Davis and former Bauer chairman Graeme Roustan, the company’s largest individual shareholder. Roustan has been trying for the better part of a year to have Davis removed from his post.
Notre Dame and Michigan will meet in the first round of the Frozen Four on Friday and whichever team loses, they can apparently say “see you in two years.” That’s because the former CCHA rivals will reportedly be reunited in 2017-18 when Notre Dame joins the Big Ten conference.
This is huge news for college hockey.
This week’s NHL GM meetings yielded chatter on everything from blueline cameras to goalie equipment, but the sexiest news nugget had to be the NHL revealing an outline for an expansion draft format.
While nothing is set in stone until the NHL Players’ Association agrees on the details, we have a rough idea of how the process would work. As reported by TSN’s Frank Seravalli, each of the existing NHL teams would stand to lose one player if the league expands by one team and two if the league expands to include Las Vegas and Quebec City. Teams can protect (a) seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender or (b) eight skaters at any position and one goaltender.
First-and second-year players on entry-level contracts would be exempt from the expansion draft. It remains to be seen if no-movement clauses would give veterans automatic amnesty. Every team would have to expose at least 25 percent of its salary cap, while the expansion squad(s) would have to reach a salary floor. Hello, high-profile money dumps. That situation would grant existing NHL teams the equivalent of compliance buyouts – especially if no-movement clauses are nullified.
Commissioner Gary Bettman indicated at his All-Star Game press conference the earliest we could see an expansion team is the 2017-18 season. So if we assume the league announces one team by then, what players might we see changing addresses at a 2017 expansion draft, which would likely be held after the Stanley Cup final and before the entry draft?
Time to examine potential targets. I won’t include any players who will be unrestricted free agents in summer 2016 or summer 2017. I’ll list more than 23 names, just to deeper explore candidates to get claimed. It’s difficult to imagine players with no-movement clauses will be ruled exempt, because, if they didn’t have to count toward a team’s protected list, too few quality players would be available to the expansion squad. A team loaded with clauses, like the Tampa Bay Lightning, would have most of its roster exempt and still have room to protect most of its other players. Also, as my colleague Ian Denomme pointed out, players with NTCs and NMCs tend to be expensive, so exempting them would make it harder for teams to clear 25 percent of their salary. So, for the sake of argument, let’s look at two groups: the players with clauses and the players without. Cap hits for 2017-18 are included for each name, courtesy of capfriendly.com.
It was a short, simple sentence, but it rocked the world of pro football Monday. As ESPN senior writer Steve Fainaru reports, during a concussion roundtable convened by the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Energy & Commerce, NFL senior vice-president of health and safety Jeff Miller was asked whether there is a link between brain trauma sustained playing football and neurodegenerative diseases such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
Miller’s response: “The answer to that question is certainly yes.”