Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

This and That

11

A variety of thoughts on a variety of subjects:

1) A sloppy, wild and hugely entertaining World Series game distracted me from hockey (and another forgettable Canuck performance) last night. That the Winnipeg Jets and Philadelphia Flyers played a sloppy, wild and hugely entertaining hockey game the same night gives rise to the question, “Are poorly played games more entertaining than well played ones?” Ironically, the answer is probably yes.

At least Ladd scored Winnipeg’s winning goal late in regulation. Giving both teams a point in a 9-8 game would have been a travesty.

2) Tyler Dellow dug up a nice little contradiction between what Gary Bettman has been saying about the league involvement with the Dallas Stars and papers filed in the bankruptcy case. I don’t think it is a terribly large surprise that the league has been footing the bills. (Somebody had to picking up the tab and it was neither Hicks nor his creditors.) It also it isn’t a huge surprise that Bettman lied about it. Why would he want us to know the league was running two franchises rather than just one?

The more important issue is the fact that Tom Gaglardi is apparently going to get the team for a song. Where were the bidders willing to pay, say, a short melody? Why would the prospective owners of the Blues or the Coyotes pay more than Gaglardi paid in the better market? The fact that the creditors are taking a bath will probably make it even harder for potential buyers of NHL franchises to obtain financing is another concern for Gary.

3) Bush league move of the season so far: Pierre Gauthier’s decision to fire Perry Pearn because the Habs got off to an awful start. I can understand the pressure to do something, but nobody can possibly lay the blame for the start at Pearn’s feet. What about Pearn’s family, his career? He did not deserve his fate. That Gauthier would do such a thing leaves me with less confidence in the quality of the Montreal organization – a critical factor in winning, in my opinion – than any bad start ever could.

4) I refuse to say anything about visors in the wake of the Chris Pronger injury simply because we all know how it will play out. Pronger will lock his barn door by donning a visor and nothing else will change. I’m not sure why Eliotte Friedman thinks goaltending masks will be treated differently. Goalies will wear what they want just like players will wear a visor or not.

5) Apparently an $850 MM renovation at Madison Square Garden is doing everything except fix the ice. Is it impossible to make a good surface for hockey in some places? I think one of the reasons offense has deteriorated over the past 20 years is the average quality of ice has gotten much worse.

6) If the Canadiens are off to a bad start, the Leafs, the Oilers and the Sens have all, to one degree or another, surprised. In my opinion, Toronto is the only one with a decent shot at the playoffs, and won’t that be a feather in Brian Burke’s cap? A year ago, the Toronto media was all but declaring his rebuild a failure.

I’m always amazed by how suddenly a team goes from being lousy to being pretty good. (The next leap – if it happens – from pretty good to very good will happen suddenly, too.) A team gets better gradually – one player at a time – but it often doesn’t show up as improvement in the standings until enough additional talent is acquired. Then there is a sudden leap.

7) Goaltending controversy? What goaltending controversy? I’d just like to see the Canucks start showing up with their “A” game. Like, maybe on Saturday night?

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Comments

11 Responses to “This and That”
  1. beingbobbyorr says:

    The fact that the creditors are taking a bath will probably make it even harder for potential buyers of NHL franchises to obtain financing is another concern for Gary.

    Does this help or hurt the NHLPA in next summer’s labor kerfuffle?

    I refuse to say anything about visors . . . .

    I will continue to ask the pro-mandatory-visor busybodies why — if they are really concerned w/ player safety & since stick blades can still get under the visor to the eye — they aren’t demanding that NHL players wear full face cages? i.e., are they willing to concede that they’re making concessions to marketing, and that one can in fact put a price on health/safety?

    Is it impossible to make a good surface for hockey in some places?

    I imagine it’s all economics (energy cost for the ice plant and air conditioning + lost revenue due to those ex-customers unable to deal with the residual cold air).

  2. Tom says:

    Does this help or hurt the NHLPA in next summer’s labor kerfuffle?

    I don’t think it really matters. The problem for the league is the same as last time except the gap between the haves and have nots is even bigger. The only solution Bettman has is to get the players to pay for increased revenue sharing. The only real question is whether the rich teams are willing to lock out the players to benefit the poor ones. The last time they got what they wanted – a CBA that favoured the rich – along with fatter profits. They don’t have nearly as much to gain this time around and there is a lot more revenue to lose in a work stoppage.

    If Fehr and the NHLPA have any leverage at all, it is that. Neither the players nor the rich teams want a work stoppage.

    I will continue to ask the pro-mandatory-visor busybodies why — if they are really concerned w/ player safety & since stick blades can still get under the visor to the eye — they aren’t demanding that NHL players wear full face cages?

    When everyone is in a visor, somebody will try the full cage and the debate will keep on keeping on. Never mind the eye, jaw and mouth injuries, would full cages reduce concussions? Most fans look at something like equipment, and think, “Change the gear rather than change the game. I’d rather see guys smash into each other in a full cage than a less violent game without cages.”

    To be honest, I can’t see the marketing problem but I agree that a price can be placed on player safety, but the most important economic factor in this equation is the cost of the injuries. I can respect the idea that the players should have the choice, but his choice has an impact on the organization, the team and the fan. Anything that is easy to do and reduces injuries should be done.

    I imagine it’s all economics (energy cost for the ice plant and air conditioning + lost revenue due to those ex-customers unable to deal with the residual cold air).

    Is there a problem with cold air in a hockey rink? Do customers expect to be warm? If so, isn’t this a marketing issue? “Bring a sweater because we want a great game on great ice?” The players call MSG ice a “potato field”. Making a pass is an adventure. The best in the world can’t make a play with a bouncing puck. Bad ice discourages offense and encourages defense and defensive systems.

    Energy costs may be a factor, but spending more to improve the product? Shouldn’t that pay?

    • beingbobbyorr says:

      To be honest, I can’t see the marketing problem . . .

      The marketing problem (w/ full face cages) is that the players would become almost wholly unrecognizable save for the name on the back of the jersey. The obvious response then becomes, “Well, the NFL does ok with that scheme!” to which I can only respond (for now) that (a) the NFL is a very different animal than the other 3 major team sports, which is a whole nother dissertation beyond the scope yada, yada, yada, (b) not the least of which is that they have the luxury of endless replays of every down to dissect who did what.

      Energy costs may be a factor, but spending more to improve the product? Shouldn’t that pay?

      It’s the law of diminishing returns; sort of like going from 3 to 4 on the x-axis (energy cost input) of this graph . . . .

      http://itl.nist.gov/div898/handbook/eda/section3/gif/expcdf.gif

      . . . . which clearly produces a small delta on the y-axis (new fans that tipped over due to crisper passes).

  3. Tom says:

    The marketing problem (w/ full face cages) is that the players would become almost wholly unrecognizable save for the name on the back of the jersey.

    They said the same thing about helmets and the flowing locks of Guy LaFleur. Turns out the star players are easily recognized without seeing their hair. I suspect it would be the same with full cages. A Pavel Bure would be easily identified even wearing a Halloween mask. We recognize players by their size and the way they skate, not their faces, particularly on TV.

  4. James Mirtle says:

    On Burke’s rebuild – it certainly hasn’t been without its potholes. They were second last in the NHL in his second season (definitely not part of the plan) and were fourth last midway through last season.

    The Leafs biggest issue in Burke’s first two and a half years was goaltending – they were always, always in the league basement – and James Reimer surprisingly solved that for a half season last year. They can’t make the playoffs with poor goaltending this season – and it’s still anyone’s guess what they’re going to get there.

    This is Burke’s fourth year – you better believe there’ll be criticism if they miss the postseason again. And it’s entirely possible.

    • Tom says:

      On Burke’s rebuild – it certainly hasn’t been without its potholes. They were second last in the NHL in his second season (definitely not part of the plan) and were fourth last midway through last season.

      Is a hockey rebuild ever without potholes? I doubt it. I’m not sure it is fair to charge Burke with the 2008-09 team, but okay, this is his fourth year. Goaltending was a big issue, but so was the fact that they had a lousy group of skaters. I think this team has a lot more talent than the one he inherited. Don’t they?

      Going from really lousy to a playoff contender in four years is excellent work. Look around the league at recent rebuild jobs. Burke made the playoffs his third year in Vancouver, but he started with a better team and he didn’t take over in mid season. The Leafs may not make them this year – they aren’t nearly as good as their record so far, IMO – but I don’t think they are a lousy team any more.

      • James Mirtle says:

        They had 83 points the year before Burke arrived. They had 85 last year.

        Obviously they’re better this season in terms of young and talent, but that 2007-08 team was not horrendous. One of the main things it lacked was a quality goaltender, but Burke sat with the same guy for another two seasons for no reason.

        http://espn.go.com/nhl/statistics/team/_/stat/scoring/sort/savePct/year/2008

        What excuse was there for finishing second last in the NHL in 2009-10, a year and a half after Burke arrived? All part of the rebuild? At least they’d signed Komisarek for five years.

        Toronto needed a 10-12 point improvement when they hired Burke to be a playoff team. It’s taken 3.5 years to get to the point where they can do that.

        Recent rebuilds? How about Chiarelli in Boston? Flyers under Holmgren? Quite a few of the cap teams that have really bottomed out recently have bounced back a lot quicker than 3.5 years later.

        • Tom says:

          They had 83 points the year before Burke arrived. They had 85 last year. Obviously they’re better this season in terms of young and talent, but that 2007-08 team was not horrendous.

          The team that got 83 points in 2007-08 was led by Mats Sundin and Bryan McCabe. When it became obvious that team was going to miss the playoffs again, Fletcher blew it up. Very few people thought this was a bad idea. I don’t think anyone in the media panned Fletcher for doing what he did even though he didn’t replace any of the talent he shipped out. Anyway, the team Burke inherited was nowhere near a playoff spot. It very clearly was horrendous.

          I don’t think either Boston or Philadelphia were in remotely comparable situations. Boston hadn’t missed the playoffs when they decided to trade Thornton and signed Chara the following year. They tried to win every year. They never made a decision to trade everyone good for draft picks and then find a brand new core. Neither did Philadelphia make the choice to blow it up and start over.

  5. Roberto says:

    When everyone is in a visor, somebody will try the full cage and the debate will keep on keeping on. Never mind the eye, jaw and mouth injuries, would full cages reduce concussions?

    I doubt it. Might even increase them due to shield-to-shield contact that wouldn’t have occurred with players just wearing visors or no facial/eye protection.

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