A fan's perspective on the National Hockey League
Chelios doesn't want to hang them up
When it comes to longevity in professional sports, Chris Chelios has to be one of the best examples of what one can accomplish with hard work and determination. The 47 year old former NHL defenseman is making a comeback, signing with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League.
In my opinion Chelios has accomplished everything a pro-hockey player could want. He's played in a ton of games, won the Norris Trophy multiple times as the best defenseman and won multiple Stanley Cup championships. But he still has enough passion for hockey...to ride the buses in the AHL. Good for him.
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.
The Washington Capitals are off to a blazing start, scoring 10 goals in the opening two games. I realize that this is VERY early in the season, but the Capitals team has some impressive (young) offensive stars. In their game this past Saturday, the Caps simply outclassed the Toronto Maple Leafs scoring 6 goals. But this game also showed the potential achilles heal of the young team - inconsistent defensive play. The Leafs were able to make a game of it in the third period, but the offensive skill of the Capitals was clearly apparent.
Olympics, NHLPA in disarray, Mike Modano and more
- NHL players may not be participating in future Olympics, at least those that are outside North America. In a recent interview, Gary Bettman shared his views on why it makes little sense to disturb the NHL regular season Olympics that wouldn't showcase the game and league in prime time. This will prove to be an interesting point during the next contract negotiations with the NHLPA.
- Speaking of the NHL Players Association, this organization is once again looking to salvage its image as an association in total disarray.
- Mike Modano starts his 20th NHL season with the Dallas Stars (counting when they were the Minnesota North Stars). In the age of free agency, you have to tip your hat to Modano and the Stars for showing this commitment. He's had a superb career and benefited from his time in the legaue, as have the Stars.
NHL kicks off 2009-10 season
The 2009-10 NHL regular season kicked off tonight with four games being played. Among them is one in Denver, Colorado where NHL great Joe Sakic
saw his number 19 raised to the rafters of the Pepsi Centre. The Maple Leafs also played tonight; taking on the Montreal Canadiens in Toronto. They blew a 3-2 lead late in the third period to lose to the Habs in overtime. The drama in Phoenix continues to be a distraction for everyone. This week has been no different as bankruptcy judge Redfield T. Baum rejected both Jim Balsille and the NHL's current bids to buy the dwindling franchise.
Back in action
The "Hockey Critic" blog has been limbo for just over the year, but its now time to resurrect the blog. There is a lot going on in the NHL and hockey in general, so the voice of a fan should once again be heard.
Are the Toronto Maple Leafs shopping for front office help?
The Toronto Maple Leafs barely ended their 5 game losing streak by defeating a flu depleted Carolina Hurricanes team 5-4. The team's poor showing on the ice has created some rumblings about the fate of its general manager, John Ferguson Jr and even the head coach, Paul Maurice. Earlier this week, several sources reported that the top brass at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) had started looking for an experienced hockey executive who could take over the general manager responsibilities on an interim basis. One name who the Leafs have apparently spoken (tampered) with is Hall of Famer Cliff Fletcher, currently enjoying his retirement from hockey. Fletcher's entry into the Leafs sweepstakes is somewhat ironic because he was pretty much driven out of town in 1997 after some very successful years at the helm of the Maple Leafs.
Hockey pool draft
My keeper league draft is this evening and I am just not prepared. We are in year 8 of the 10 year league and the salary caps will absolutely kill me this year. The likes of Joe Thornton, Olli Jokinen, Dany Heatley, Alex Tanguay and Daniel Sedin are now in the 5% of the salary scale and so I am going to have to dig out a lot of deals. As of right now, almost all 10 of my picks have to be very close to the minimum salary level for me to be able to make it under the cap.
Stanley Cup Final is (finally) underway
After an excruciatingly long wait, the Stanley Cup Finals get underway in Anaheim, California this evening. This should be a very competitive series but the NHL may have managed to really screw it up. The bigwigs in New York have allowed themselves to be pushed around all playoffs by the US television networks and now, have seen a poorly planned Ducks schedule really come home to bite them.
The state of (NHL) hockey in the United States
About a week and a half ago, I had the opportunity to spend a couple of days in Silicon Valley for work. With the NHL playoffs in full swing and the San Jose Sharks in the mix, I thought I'd share some of my experiences. First off I couldn't watch any of the games live as my hotel didn't carry Versus - I had ESPN and ESPN 2, but no Versus. And ESPN and ESPN 2 didn't really give hockey a lot of coverage. Highlights began almost 30 minutes into Sportscenter though they did have Barry Melrose commenting on some of the games, during the late night broadcast.