A fan's perspective on the National Hockey League
2009 NHL ticket price trends
The North American economy is not in shambles, but its also far from booming. Unemployment is high in both Canada and the United States, the stock markets are still trying to lick its wounds and people in general are living with some level of economic uncertainty.
With this backdrop, it was interesting to see the 2009 report Team Marketing report (.pdf)
on ticket prices. On average, ticket prices have stayed the same. It probably shouldn't come as a surprise to Torontonians to see that the Maple Leafs lead the way when it comes to price hikes, with a 10% increase. The current Stanley Cup champs, Pittsburgh Penguins are second with an 8% increase.
Is the NHL players union in shambles?
The NHL Players Association went through a major leadership change when the lockout ended in 2005 and Bob Goodenow was whisked out, to be replaced by Ted Saskin. The infighting began
shortly after the changes as a group of players questioned the way Saskin had ascended into power. And now, Ted Saskin's critics have had their latest wish come true - the National Hockey League Players' Association will conduct an independent investigation his 2005 hiring as the union's executive director. Well known Toronto based labour lawyer Sheila Block has been appointed to the position.
Pittsburgh Penguins sold to Blackberry entrepreneur
The Pittsburgh Penguins are on the verge of being sold and Waterloo-based entrepreneur and co-CEO of Research in Motion (RIM) Jim Balsillie is the rumoured buyer. The Penguins have had an up and down history with great success in the early 1990s. Some of the greatest hockey players have passed through the city (Mario Lemieux, Ron Francis, Paul Coffey, Bryan Trottier, Jaromir Jagr, etc) and they have some of the brightest young stars (Sidney Crosby
and Evgeni Malkin) in their future.
Rick DiPietro signs mega deal - Some NHL execs just won't learn
We lost a whole season of NHL hockey in 2004-05 because player salaries were getting out of whack and small market teams were suffering. But many (including myself) have long felt that you can't do much to prevent stupidity. If a team or a GM really wants to shoot themselves in the foot, they could do very easily it in the pre-salary cap era and as recent events show, they can still do it with with this new CBA. The most recent example comes to us from the New York Islanders
(no surprise here, eh). GM Garth Snow and owner Charles Wang have signed goalie Rick DiPietro to an unprecedented 15 year guaranteed contract that is worth $67.5 million ($4.5 million per year).
Keenan quits as Panthers GM
Mike Keenan has resigned as General Manager of the Flordia Panthers, a position he held since May 2004. Reports out of Florida indicate that Keenan approached owner Alan Cohen last week to let him know that he was going to move on. This decision comes as somewhat of a surprise as Mike was on his way to putting a very distinctive stamp on this team. His big trade this off-season was with the Vancouver Canucks that sent goalie Robert Luongo and prospect Lukas Krajicek for Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan Allen and goalie Alex Auld. Keenan also signed free-agents Ed Belfour and Ruslan Salei to sure up the backend.
What's up in Long Island?
Earlier this summer, the New York Islanders made a bunch of front office moves that on first glance, looked all good. Pat Lafontaine, Bryan Trottier, Neil Smith and Ted Nolan moved into new positions while Mike Milbury moved out of his long standing role. But now just 40 days after he was hired, the Islanders have fired general manager Neil Smith due to as owner Charles Wang said, "philosophical opposition to our business model". What gets even stranger though is that Islanders goalie Garth Snow has announced his retirement and will move into the all important GM role.
Mario Lemieux hints a Penguins move
Its almost as if this happens once every couple of years, but Pittsburgh Penguins owner and superstar Mario Lemieux has once again
indicated that the Pens may be on the move. In this latest incarnation, Mario has expressed his disappointment at not being able to get a sweetheart deal for a new arena to replace the Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh. "I think we're running out of time," Lemieux said. "We probably ran out of time already. It's been unfortunate that the city and the county haven't been willing to work with us over the last two or three years."
Larmer's resignation sends NHLPA into tailspin
The 2005-06 NHL season has been special for fans. Not only has their beloved game returned after a one year hiatus, but the quality of the on ice play has been very entertaining. We finally can finally see superstars like Jaromir Jagr, Peter Forsberg, Joe Sakic and Dany Heatley at their best. But the National Hockey League Player Association (NHLPA) is not in very good shape. Ever since the deal was signed and Bob Goodenow was replaced by Ted Saskin, the NHLPA has seen its fair share of infighting
and dissention amongst the ranks. The most recent shoe to drop was the resignation of former NHLer Steve Larmer from his seven-year stint as the head of player relations for the union. Larmer sent a scathing letter to union boss Saskin and the player reps, announcing his decision to step down.
NHL's new marketing campaign under fire from feminist group
The NHL was hoping to hype its return with a snazzy marketing campaign but its television ads have raised the ire of Martha Burk, chairwoman of the National Council of Women's Organizations. The ad, which was unveiled in New York on Wednesday night, opens with the following quote from Sun Tzu's bookThe Art of War; "A clever warrior is one who not only wins but excels at winning with ease". It then shows a hockey player being dressed in his equipment by his female partner and ends with him walking to the ice as a young fan is shown cheering before the ads ends with the tagline: "My NHL." Martha Burk as been quoted as saying that the ad was offensive. She said, "The woman is dressed provocatively and when she asks the player if he's ready, it's a double-entendre in my view. She's in the ad as a groomer, a sex object."
Infighting takes over NHLPA
The NHLPA has gone through a traumatic summer. It signed a CBA that included both a salary cap and linkage (both concepts that it heavily opposed before), saw its boss Bob Goodenow resign/fired and the start of what could be considered questioning of the leadership. But now it seems that the gloves are off as a group of players wants an investigation into the process followed to get rid of Goodenow and hire Saskin. The union's bylaws stipulate that they should have hired a search committee to recommend replacements for outgoing boss Bob Goodenow. The absense of a democratic election process could put the NHLPA into chaos.