• The NHL’s in-game entertainment experience is broken. Here’s how to fix it

    Adam Proteau
    Goalie Race (STEVE RUSSELL/TORONTO STAR)

    The off-season is when NHL teams examine their rosters and look to improve. But as we know, there’s more to every franchise’s business dealings than the players themselves. There’s also the matter of the in-arena experience for fans who spend big money on tickets. While some teams are better at it than others, there’s lots of room for improvement in the way paying customers are entertained 41 nights per season. Here are three easy ways to do that:

    1. Enough of the same old song. At the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, the same songs often are played not just game after game, but in the exact same circumstances every night. (I’m not talking about a team’s “goal song”. That’s fine.) While there are hundreds, if not a few thousand people on any given night who may only attend one or two games a year, there are many more who are season-ticketholders in attendance every night. It’s indefensible to subject them to a near-identical, cookie-cutter in-game experience, but that’s the reality in many rinks.

    Instead of leaning on songs everyone has heard numerous times before, teams could either branch out and use a wide variety of music – or hire a live band that could inject some personality into the mix and react to what happens during the game with different song choices. Same goes for intermission entertainment: NBA teams have brought in retro bands to engage crowds before:

    and there’s no reason NHL teams can’t do the same. It sure beats the goalie race, which may be the lamest thing ever seen in pro hockey:

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  • Would the Maple Leafs be even more valuable if they were actually good?

    Ken Campbell
    Leaf fan

    When Forbes magazine came out with its 50 most valuable sports franchises Wednesday, it had just one NHL team on it. You know the one. It plays in The Center of the Hockey Universe™.

    Yes, once again the Toronto Maple Leafs are ranked as the most valuable franchise in the NHL at $1.15 billion. That put the Leafs No. 26 on the list with a worth less than half of the No. 1 team, Real Madrid, but ahead of such iconic sports franchises as the Pittsburgh Steelers, Boston Celtics and Chelsea.

    It’s important to note that the franchise value was based on solely on the value of the hockey team and its share of non-hockey revenue generated at the Air Canada Centre. Two years ago, 80 percent of the entire Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment empire – which includes the Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC and Marlies – was sold for $1.32 billion, which would have pegged its overall value at about $1.65 billion at the time. Read more

  • NHL logo rankings No. 27: Vancouver Canucks

    Rory Boylen
    canuckslogo

    The Vancouver Canucks have had a few primary logos in franchise history – and we think the current look isn’t very good.

    Why? Because in 1995 the Canucks came under control of Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment and though the name was changed to Canucks Sports and Entertainment in 2008, it’s the same thing. And in 1997, the Canucks changed their color and logo away from the streaking skate to the current whale, which could also stand for the ownership company. So this logo promoted the ownership as much as it did the hockey team. Major turn off for us.

    But at least with Vancouver being a coastal city the whale jumping up out of the water makes sense. And, of course, the “C” stands for Canucks. So while we aren’t fans of the Canucks logo, it isn’t the worst because a) it’s a logo, unlike Washington’s look, and b) it does make sense for the city.

    But we like some of their alternate logos better.

    Think you can design an improved logo for the Canucks? As we’ve done with Carolina, Colorado and Washington, we’re opening it up to you, the reader, to get creative and come up with your own design for the Vancouver Canucks. Use whichever color scheme you want, whether it’s the current combination, the old yellow, orange and black, or some other variation, and send it in to editorial@thehockeynews.com. After we’ve finished rolling out all 30 NHL logo rankings, we’ll pick the best redesigns for each team and share them on the blog.

    (All logos below are from Chris Creamer’s website.)



    North Vancouver’s Joe Borovich
    hit the nail on the head with his Stink-in-Rink design for the very first Vancouver Canucks NHL logo. The blue and green color combination connect well and the stick that breaks up the oval makes the logo into a “C” formation for Canucks. Vancouver enjoyed its first success with this logo, finishing atop the Smythe Division in 1974-75, although they were bounced in Round 1 of the playoffs.

    This one was so good the team throws back to it often today. The Canucks’ colors and look have changed a few times over the years, but none are better than the original. Here’s hoping the Canucks go back to this look full-time someday. Hey, they’d move up in our rankings.

    canucks1

    The black, gold and orange (later yellow and red) color scheme was introduced in 1978-79 and though the skate blade was the main logo, the awful, awful jerseys hid it on the shoulder. Rememeber the Flying V? Yikes. Read more

  • How Bobby Hull helped build the Oilers dynasty and how close Edmonton was to drafting Teemu Selanne

    Jason Kay
    draft day 1988

    How much credit does Bobby Hull deserve for the Edmonton Oilers’ dynasty of the 1980s? A fair bit, according to the Golden Jet, in this edition of Throwback Thursday.

    In the July, 1988 edition of The Hockey News, Hull told Stan Fischler that Oilers’ GM Glen Sather got the idea for remaking his team when “myself, Ulf Nilsson and Anders Hedberg terrorized his Oilers in the last years of the WHA. He’d get so frustrated watching us throw the puck around that he finally vowed to build a team on our (European-style) lines.”

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  • Which franchise will be the next to win its first-ever Stanley Cup?

    Wild-Blues

    We recently sorted out our Yearbook predictions for 2014-15, which included projected standings and which team will win the Stanley Cup. Without giving it away, our anticipated winner has been to the promised land before. Which mathematically, should not be surprising. Only 12 of the NHL’s 30 teams have never won the league title and it’s hard to say who will be next. When the Los Angeles Kings won their first Cup in 2012, they broke a streak of futility that had stretched back to 1968 when the team originally entered the league. The following teams would like to join them:

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  • Toronto Maple Leafs only NHL team to crack Forbes’ list of 50 most valuable sports franchises

    Rory Boylen
    Toronto Maple Leafs

    The Toronto Maple Leafs may have only qualified for the NHL’s post-season once over the past 10 years – pulling it off in a shortened 48-game season – but they’re still the league’s most valuable franchise, according to Forbes’ annual rankings.

    The last time Forbes ranked the 30 NHL teams according to value was in November of 2013. Toronto finished atop the list with an estimated $1.15 billion worth and the Rangers came in second at $850 million.

    Wednesday, Forbes released its top 50 list of the most valuable sports franchises in the world. The top of the list was dominated by soccer teams, with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United taking the top three spots. Thirty of the 32 NFL franchises made the top 50 (Jacksonville and Oakland failed to make the cut) and six baseball teams made it. From the NHL, only Toronto cracked the all-world list. Read more

  • These five unrestricted free agents can still help an NHL team

    Adam Proteau
    Daniel Winnik (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Some two weeks after the beginning of unrestricted free agency, the NHL’s pool of talent-for-hire has shrunken considerably. Players raced to sign for as much money and/or term as possible in the first few days of the month, and since then, the pace of signings has slowed to a trickle. Some players may choose to wait the rest of the summer and into training camp to see if trades and/or injuries open up a roster spot and/or a better salary.

    That said, there are still players out there who have something to contribute. My colleague Ken Campbell assembled a list of them in early July, but all but three players on it – veteran winger Daniel Alfredsson (who will return to Detroit or retire), two-time Stanley Cup-winner Dustin Penner and Devin Setoguchi – have been taken off the market after agreeing to new deals. So who’s left? In no particular order, here are five UFA players who can help a team:

    1. Lee Stempniak, RW. The soon-to-be-32-year-old has bounced around the league since he broke in with the Blues in 2004-05 – and while he’ll never be mistaken for Alex Ovechkin, he’s about as reliable a 10-15-goal-scorer as you’ll find in the league. He’ll also come significantly cheaper than the $2.5 million he’s earned in each of the past two seasons. Read more

  • Rumor Roundup: O’Reilly to arbitration can’t have a happy ending

    2014 NHL Awards - Inside

    The NHL’s salary arbitration hearings begin Monday, July 21 through Aug. 1 in Toronto. While 23 hearings were scheduled (20 player-elected, three club-elected), as of July 15 four players – Boston’s Matt Bartkowski, Dallas’ Cameron Gaunce, Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm and Ottawa’s Derek Grant – avoided arbitration by re-signing with their teams. Another, St. Louis’ Vladimir Sobotka, has jumped to the KHL.

    Most NHL arbitration cases never reach an arbiter, as players often re-sign with their teams before the hearing takes place. It’s a process both sides prefer to avoid. It’s ego-bruising for the player as management makes its case over why he’s not worth the salary he seeks. Management subsequently risks losing that player to unrestricted free agency once his arbiter-awarded contract has expired.

    In most cases, arbitration is used as a negotiation tactic by both sides. For the player and management, it establishes a deadline toward reaching a new contract without negotiations dragging on into training camp and pre-season. When a team takes a player to arbitration, it’s also to prevent him from receiving an offer sheet from a rival club, except for a five-day window from July 1-5.

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