Not much to say about this video other than it is COMPLETELY ridiculous. Who thought it would be a good idea to bring a HUMONGOUS bird on the ice for a hockey game? On the bright side, the Bakersfield team can say they are named after a pretty fierce bird.
And how did the woman singing the national anthem get through it without busting a gut laughing?
If you are a hockey fan with a Twitter account you are most likely very familiar with painful complaining. It seems that every NHL beat writer, hockey sportscaster, and virtually everyone I follow from Canada has been lamenting the NHL lockout on Twitter for a couple of months. Is it deserved? Yes, absolutely. Will it change anything? Obviously not.
I am just as guilty as everyone else of producing these depressing tweets with the hashtag #EndTheLockout, but it is getting hard to stay optimistic. With the league and the NHLPA meeting tomorrow, I feel uneasy. Negotiations feel like they are getting down to the wire. Either there will be a shortened season or we will have yet another full-season lockout. The precedent the NHL has set for lockouts is a huge problem and there is speculation that fans might fight back this time. But with the most tribal fans in the US and Canada, would a Bruins or Canucks fan really stop buying season tickets and merchandise? Honestly, I don’t think so. The fans are clearly the losers in this battle between the owners and the players, but who else is losing?
Here are my top 5 losers in the 2012 NHL lockout (in no particular order):
1. The Fans– this is incredibly obvious. As a fan myself, I know just how awful this lockout is.
And as I waited to for the lockout to end during the Presidential election (which clearly didn’t happen), I secretly hoped someone in the audience at the debate would ask about what Romney and Obama would do if they were at the bargaining table. Although that question wasn’t asked at the debate (which in retrospect is a very good thing), Obama did talk about it on Jay Leno- and he was right on the money. Good job Barack, you got my vote. Thanks for addressing the most important issue plaguing America today.
2. Teemu Selanne- Selanne, an unquestionable future Hall of Famer, is 42 years old. He is at the end of his career and this lockout might cost him his last hurrah for the Ducks. When asked if he would not play in the event of a full season lockout, Selanne said this, “Probably. It’s hard to say for sure, but year after year it’s getting harder and harder to get ready for the season. When the season starts, it’s going to be fine. But doing all the right things at this age, that’s the hardest part. But, you know, I’m more sorry about this hockey world and these younger players. I would be sad to go out like this, but I got more than I really dreamed out of it.” Depressed yet? What about when Joe Sakic had this to say at his HHOF induction, “I lost a year of hockey. It would have been 21 years instead of 20. That’s what you lose.” Okay hold your tears Anaheim fans, I still have three losers left.
3. Small businesses with Ties to Hockey- This includes merchandise shops, bars, and restaurants around the unused arenas. One sports bar owner from Edmonton said this, “It’s like anywhere from $60,000 to $80,000 (in lost revenue) a month. And that’s just us, never-mind the big bars.” These owners are furious. I mean, the millionaire league owners and players fight over hockey related revenue, escrow, and make whole while at the same time putting Mr. Joe Shmo Hockey Man out of business? This Montreal man took his complaints to YouTube…
4. The Minnesota Wild- The Wild made potentially the move of the year with the off-season pick up of free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. No doubt Minnesota paid a ridiculous amount of money to do this, but there was a palpable excitement in the air. I watched on Facebook as my friends who are Twins fans posted about hockey (which is a huge deal). Will Minnesota be able to keep up the hype without any games? Maybe, but definitely not like what it would have been if the season had started on time. According to USA Today, “They have sold the equivalent of about 4,000 new season tickets since the day the 13-year, $98 million contracts for Parise and Suter were revealed, signaling the most-anticipated season in the franchise’s 12-year history. Thanks to the NHL lockout, though, the mute button has been pushed on the buzz.” And who likes a buzzkill? No one.
5. Team/League Employees- As a student studying Sports Industry Management, I really feel for the Team and League employees who are getting royally screwed over by the lockout. One day your job is secure and the next the St. Louis Blues are laying off 20 employees and dishing out pay cuts at the speed of light. Not to mention everyone trying to find a job in hockey (gotta love hiring freezes right when I am finishing graduate school). Some employees are being downgraded to four-day work weeks and some are taking permanent pay cuts. FAIL.
Other notable losers: The Pittsburgh Penguins who were favored to win the Stanley Cup, League sponsors, NBC Sports, and the City of Detroit.
At least someone is playing hockey. As the gloom and doom of the NHL lockout rages on, I had to share some pictures from an amazing Winter Classic-like event in Croatia.
The Pula Coliseum, a 2,000 year-old open air arena in Croatia, was iced over for a multiple-day hockey festival (and how cool does it look?). Medveščak of Zagreb, one of Croatia’s most successful hockey clubs, hosted the games and although the venue only held around 8,000 spectators, it created a huge internet buzz.
So logistically how did this work in an ancient coliseum in the 70 degree heat? According to the Croatian Times, the ice fit easily into the historic amphitheater. “It was almost as if the Romans took it into account when they built the place 2,000 years ago, the proportions of the amphitheatre fit perfectly to the proportions of a modern ice hockey rink.”
As you can probably tell from my lack of blogs recently, the off-season has been pretty rough on me. I mean, just how many blog posts can you write about what might happen or the potential lockout? It is just too depressing. I decided I would share something new and cool that produces far less anxiety.
One of my friends from grad school, Jonathan Merrill, started a business building furniture out of… wait for it…hockey sticks.
Although he is just getting started, he already sold a Capitals hockey-stick chair online for $800. Pretty cool, right?
Other creative collectibles include a coat rack made out of stick blades and picture frames/puck holders made from broken sticks.
When I asked Jonathan about how he got started creating household items out of hockey equipment, he cited his previous job experience with a hockey team, “While interning with a NHL team and running their memorabilia game auctions, I noticed that players were always breaking sticks and they were being thrown away.”
Jonathan saw this ‘trash’ as the beginning of a creative and innovative project. You know what they say, one man’s broken hockey stick is another man’s treasure.
According to Jonathan, “After doing some research online, I realized that some pretty cool stuff can be created from recycled sports equipment. I didn’t come up with idea for many of the things I have made, but when most people see Creative Collectibles for the first time they act like I invented the wheel.”
His company, “Creative Collectibles” has a new facebook page, twitter page, and he is available for orders if you email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While speculation is at an all-time high about the NHL’s CBA negotiations, one thing is for sure; if an agreement is not made by September 15th, the NHL players will be locked out. If this happens, it will be the 3rd time Bettman has allowed the NHL to go into lockout. The only thing that seems to be agreed upon by Don Fehr (NHLPA) and Gary Bettman (NHL) is that there is a ‘ wide gap ‘ or ‘ meaningful gulf ‘ between the sides.
So what does this mean for NHL fans? Well, if an agreement isn’t made, it means no hockey for a while. This also means decreased revenue and excitement around hockey, which has been growing exponentially the last 5 years. If the NHL has a lockout it will be horrible for the expansion of the game both in North America and abroad (global preseason games have already been cancelled)…
Don Fehr has suggested that the game should continue until an agreement is made. “Under the law, if an agreement expires, that may give someone the legal ability to go on strike or in this case to impose a lockout,” he said. “There’s no requirement that they do so and if nobody does anything you (can) continue to work under the old conditions.” But Bettman and the NHL owners do not have any intentions of operating under the current CBA, even if it means no 2013 season. According to Bettman, “We reiterated to the union that the owners will not play another year under the current agreement”. If the CBA is not finalized by September 15th, there is a good chance a lockout is imminent.
But what is everyone even arguing about anyway? Well, the league wants to make sure the owners are protected. They are trying to lower salaries for players and essentially put that money back into the owners’ pockets. According to Don Fehr on NHL’s proposal, “Seems to us that all of the revenue-sharing payments would be paid for by player salary reductions.” Revenue sharing is definitely the biggest issue at hand. The NHL’s current proposal includes an 11% cut of hockey-related revenues going to players (changing from 57% to 46%). Do the players or the owners really need this money? No, probably not. But they definitely want it and they will fight ’til the death (or until September 15th) to come to a compromise.
Personally, it seems that both sides are hard-lining. I mean, yesterday’s meeting lasted less than 2 hours. But hey, isn’t that what negotiations are about? Ask for more than what you want, and don’t let up until the very last second. And we aren’t at the very last second, not yet. I am pretty optimistic that the NHL and NHLPA will work out an agreement, because if they don’t they are hurting virtually all of their stakeholders (players, owners, league, agents, and the fans). Don Fehr and the NHLPA are expected to give their first counterproposal to the NHL on Tuesday 8/14. And hopefully in the meantime, fans don’t attack Gary Bettman and demand hockey. For now those fans will have to wait patiently… or make aggressive memes.
For my 3rd installment of NHL Award Previews (see Norris trophy and Calder trophy articles), I will cover the Messier Leadership Award. It is the newest award, with its introduction in 2007. The Messier Leadership Award has been presented to Chris Chelios, Mats Sundin, Jarome Iginla, Sidney Crosby, and reigning awardee Zdeno Chara.
What do these players have in common? They have all stepped up to lead their teams when they were needed most. Chelios won in 2007, the year after Steve Yzerman retired. Yzerman was not only the longest serving captain of the Red Wings, but the longest serving NHL captain of all time with a 20 year tenure. Those are some big shoes to fill, and Chelios did that without even wearing a “C”. When Chara won the award last year, he was both the captain of his team and a recent Stanley Cup winner.
Messier’s choices show a wide range of players. Some have formal leadership roles, while others step up when they see fit. Some players are defensemen, while others are forwards. Some leaders thrive in community initiatives off the ice, while others see on-ice success. Winners of the award have also been from a wide array of countries including Canada, USA, Slovakia, and Sweden.
According to Messier, this year’s candidates are Dustin Brown of the LA Kings, Ryan Callahan of the NY Rangers, and Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes.
Dustin Brown helped lead the Kings to their Stanley Cup win. He has respect from his teammates and rightfully so. Kings defenseman Matt Green said (about Brown), “Well, he’s not a rah-rah guy, we don’t have too many of those guys in the room. But he knows how to lead, and he does it by example.”
Ryan Callahan led the Rangers into the playoffs as the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Callahan inspires his team by getting down to work and scoring goals when his team needs it. He is also an important leader for Rangers fans as the first NY native to wear the coveted Rangers “C”.
Shane Doan was instrumental in gaining the Coyotes first ever division title. The Coyotes also had an amazing playoff run despite low fan engagement and ownership issues. According to Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, “You don’t see all the things happening behind the scenes, in the dressing room, the inspiration he is to the other guys there, how he cares about this team and winning”.
All three players are fit to win the Messier Leadership Award. They are inspirational, talented, and are the go-to man for their respective teams. So who will win? Logic tells me it will be Doan who has faced so many club/off-ice issues and yet so much team success. However, it is hard to imagine that Mark “We are going to win it” Messier not choosing a Ranger as talented as Ryan Callahan.
I found this Stanley Cup infographic today. Very interesting information (although it is not updated to reflect the LA Kings recent Stanley Cup win). I mean, who knew the Cup could hold 14 cans of beer or that for a few months it served as a flower pot?
What is going on in the hockey world you ask? Simply, a lot. With LA’s Game 1 OT win over the Devils in the Stanley Cup final, the NHL Combine taking place this weekend, the EA Sports Cover Vote coming to a close, and Lidstrom announcing his retirement, fans are in the thick of tons of hockey news.
Here are the most important headlines:
1. LA Kings win Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals in overtime. Kudos go to Kopitar who scored on a breakaway goal. See here:
Sidenote: The Kings have never won a Stanley Cup. For those of you who think that is no big deal, consider the fact that the Kings became a NHL team in the 1967 NHL expansion with the California Seals.
2. Nicklas Lidstrom announces his retirement from the NHL (the year before the Red Wings play in the Winter Classic- do I see an alumni game all-star in the near future?)
Sidenote: Lidstrom has played 20 seasons with the Red Wings, and is still just as good as he was way back when. I mean, he won 7 Norris Trophies for being the league’s best defenseman. Check out his first goal ever here.
3. The NHL Scouting Combine finished up interviews with potential players and have now moved on to test athletic ability. The Combine takes place in Toronto from May 28th until June 2nd. TSN draftcenter is covering everything you could ever want to know about the Combine.
Sidenote: Teams are increasingly worried about drafting high profiled Russian players for fear that they will choose to play in the KHL rather than the NHL. What? You think someone named Yakupov or Grigorenko would want to play in Russia? I wonder why they are worried…
Various players in the top of the scouting class have injuries that are not quite healed. No one knows just how the injuries will effect the players’ draft position (Most notably Alex Galchenyuk’s knee injury). Yeah ouch.
Sidenote: Malcolm Subban, PK Subban’s brother was at the Combine. He plays goalie. Who knew?
Sidenote: Top defenseman prospect Ryan Murray ended up vomiting after the Combine’s bike test to check oxygen consumption during intense exercise. To reporters he stated, ““I lost a little bit of my breakfast…too much bacon this morning.” Sounds like a comment an 18 year old would make. Oh yeah, he’s 18. Younger than my younger brother. Scary.
4. EA Sports Cover Vote for NHL 2013 has been narrowed down to only 2 candidates: Flyers’ Center Claude Giroux and Predators’ Goalie Pekka Rinne. Voting lasts until June 4th and the support for both candidates on Twitter is ridiculous. Giroux put out a message to fans on his own Twitter account, while celebrities like Carrie Underwood have come out in support of Rinne.
5. The NHL Draft and the NHL Awards are on the horizon. Not too much to say about this, other than I am getting excited. I am attending the draft this year. Let me know if you will be there and come ask me if I agreed with the choices at the Awards show (or tweet me @Fiveforboarding <shameless plug>)
6. Trades to watch out for: Rick Nash, Jordan Staal (Headed to Carolina with his brother?), Ryan Suter (Lidstrom’s replacement?), and Zach Parise (unrestricted free agent this summer).
Sidenote: And what about all this Tim Thomas craziness? Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli confirmed that “There’s a strong chance he’ll [Thomas] be taking the year off.” Why? Because he is Tim Thomas and he does what he wants. That was clear when he didn’t go with the rest of the Bruins team to the White House. Does he want to be traded? His no-trade clause does expire on July 1st… Time will tell.