Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The NHL in the USA

Since Gary Bettman jumped over from the NBA to the NHL, his mission has been to make hockey a major sport in the U.S. So far his plan has been a total bust. The NHL has lost almost $2 billion over the past 10 years. Teams that lost money before the lockout are still losing money. Franchises are in markets where they don't belong (Phoenix, Atlanta, Miami, Nashville). About 8 teams are for sale but there are enough rich Canadians around to buy them all up.

So last night was the start of the Stanley Cup finals. Of course the games will all be televised in Canada. Afterall, NHL hockey is one of the few profitable programs for the CBC. So I cruised through all the U.S. networks, Fox, NBC, etc. No one is televising the game.

I can think of one reason why hockey will never become anything in the US. Here is the reason. This is the roster of the Anaheim Ducks:

This is the roster of the Ottawa Senators:

How many American players do you see out of all those players? Exactly.

Why you don't leave your car while in a carwash

Sunday, May 27, 2007

My Final Playoff Prediction

Here is my final prediction:


Anaheim over Ottawa in 7 games. During the past week I was leaning towards Ottawa. Afterall, they have played some strong opponents and in each series has won handily in 5 games. Their top line have the 3 of the top 4 spots in the playoff scoring race and they are getting good goaltending. But then I reminded myself that they are not getting MVP goaltending - like what Giguere is giving Anaheim. As well, the Duck star defensive pair of Niedermayer and Pronger and defensive forward Pahlsson are more than capable of handling Alfredsson, Heatley and Spezza. With the edge in defense and net going to Anaheim, they should win the Cup.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

More on the Predators

Jim Balsillie wasn't the only one, according to the Wall Street Journal, angling for the Nashville franchise. Also bidding for the team was a group including Anschutz Entertainment Group, which had hoped to move the team to Kansas City which has been looking for an NHL team to move into a new $276 million arena that will open this fall.

What's interesting is that the NHL had a choice between Balsillie (Southern Ontario) and Anschutz (Kansas City), and the Canadian bid won out.

It's no secret that teams in Phoenix and Atlanta and Florida as well as Nashville can't make money even under the new collective agreement. The first to move after Nashville is likely Atlanta (maybe to Kansas City) where the owner is tired of losing money. Business groups in Winnipeg and eager to move the Phoenix franchise back to Manitoba.

Although the NHL has ignored Canada since awarding a franchise to Ottawa (and how bad did that turn out), it may be coming to realize that small markets in Canada can better support a franchise than larger communities in the U.S. sunbelt.

Balsillie Gets his Team

There’s certain to be a ninth season in the Nashville this fall, but it looks to be a lame duck one. Because while professional sports has its fair share of well-heeled absentee owners, hockey’s newest moneyman has already proven he isn’t out to grow the game in the nether regions of the United States.

He wants to bring it home.

Jim Balsillie bailed on what was, in essence, a done deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins in December when it was stipulated the team had to stay put — despite the fact Mario Lemieux’s club is a mere hop away from Kitchener-Waterloo on a chartered flight — something that makes it difficult to believe he’s got a soft spot for the fans of Nashville.
Finally, one of ‘our teams’ is coming home.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

My Playoff Predictions

So how did I do with my third round predictions?

Eastern Conference
Ottawa in 7 >> Ottawa in 5

Western Conference
Anaheim in 6 >> Anaheim in 6

My 3rd round results: 2-0
My 2007 playoff results: 11-3

Not Too Worried

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Ottawa Fans Getting Into It

Senators will never be Canada's Team

This is my rough guess:

Canada (population): 32.9 million
Ontario (population): 12.7 million
Greater Ottawa (population): 1.15 million
Percentage of Ontario that cheers for the Leafs: 90-95%
Percentage of Leafs fans that cheer for Sens: 0.1%
Percentage of country left over: 60-65%

It has been a lousy spring for hockey fans in many parts of Canada and understandably so as most of our NHL teams either failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs or got knocked out early. But the mood is particularly sour among the citizenry of the Leaf nation, as I have discovered in recent days by posing the question to many acquaintances:: Can you handle the Senators in the final?

The answer every time has been an emphatic, unequivocal "no," uttered with a mix of indignation and disgust. In fact, some even admitted that they were hoping the Buffalo Sabres would beat the Senators in the semifinal.

The fact of the matter is that, through the Flames' and Oilers' ultimately unsuccessful runs in 2004 and 2006, many of Leafs Nation's hardcore fans had no problem getting on the 'Canada's Team' bandwagon (it was, after all, nice to cheer for a winner) and I had little trouble finding accompaniment to the local watering holes to watch the exploits of Iginla/Smyth and friends.

Well, here's some advice for those who bleed blue and white, or the colours of other colours of other Canadian teams: take a pill and get over it.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Senator Fans are Getting Rowdy

NHL and the TV Networks

NBC pulled the plug on coverage of the overtime period between the Ottawa Senators-Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, denying viewers in most of the United States the conclusion the Eastern Conference final's Game 5.

NBC dropped the overtime period, which decided the series and sent the Senators to the Stanley Cup final, because it didn't want the hockey telecast running into its scheduled 90-minute coverage of the Preakness Stakes starting at 5 p.m. EDT.

An utter embarrassment, more so for NBC than the league. The only reason yesterday's game was broadcast in the afternoon was for American television interests, and when those interests are as obviously subsidiary to all others on the network, it really makes you question just why the game had been pushed into the afternoon (or morning, for those in the Pacific time zone) at all. The league gets almost no money out of this and a lot of bad press. It's time for Gary Bettman to give up on the American networks.

Meanwhile, the CBC which has been able to carry a Canadian team through the playoffs isn't doing too well either. It is reported that there numbers are really poor because all the Leaf fans are not watching. For reasons I don't fully comprehend, Leaf fans can't stomach watching Ottawa win a cup.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Leaf Salaries

UPDATED: Leafs have signed Boyd Devereaux and Ian White and Ponikarovsky (a whopping 3yr/$6+ million deal)...


PlayerPosStatus 06-07 Cap Hito7-08 Cap Hit
BelfourGYear 2 of buy-out $750K$750K
DevereauxFSigned to 2009$450K$650K
KilgerFSigned to 2009$900K $900K
NewburyFSigned to 2009$450K$450K
OndrusFSigned to 2008$475K$475K
PohlFSigned to 2009$463K$463K
PonikarovskyFSigned to 2010$713K$2.105M
RaycroftGSigned to 2009$2M$2M
StajanFSigned to 2008$875K$875K
SteenFSigned to 2008$901K$901K
TuckerFSigned to 2012$1.59M$3M

Club option


Signed to 2008


Signed to 2008

BelakDSigned to 2008 $670K$670K
GillDSigned to 2009$2.075M $2.075M
KaberleDSigned to 2011 $4.25M$4.25M
KubinaDSigned to 2010$5M$5M
McCabeDSigned to 2011$5.75M$5.75M
WhiteDSigned to 2010$453K$850K
WozniewskiDSigned to 2008$463K$463


Leaf RFAs

PlayerPosStatus 06-07 Cap Hito7-08 Minimum Cap Hit**



Salary cap is expected to rise to $47 to $48 million for 2007-08

*initial cap hit does not include club option on Mats Sundin.
** RFAs earning $600K or less, must be qualified with a 10% raise; RFAs earning earning $660,001 to $1M, must be qualified with a 5% raise - these are the required minimums only, players may, can and will likely sign for more.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Kyle Wellwood Turns 24 Today

Leafs could have had Andy Murray

Hockey Canada is now considering Andy Murray as coach of the 2010 Olympic team following Canada's surprise gold medal at the World Championships. He has now won 3 gold medals in 4 opportunities at that level. Whether or not that happens, he now goes back to his regular job which is coach of the St. Louis blues.

What's not well known is that Murray applied for the Marlie job last summer. The competition was essentially between Murray and Greg Gilbert but Gilbert won out because of his association with Ferguson when both were in St. Louis. Gilbert was a disaster as coach of the Calgary Flames and Mississauga Ice Dogs. The Marlies had a poor season and, unlike the previous season when they were coached by Paul Maurice, did not develop any young players for the Leafs to call up during the season or to compete for jobs next fall.

I wonder how much farther ahead the Leafs would be if Murray had been hired? But this is not the only position filled by a Ferguson colleague. He has operated like many before him. Hiring cronies rather than the most qualified.

Lost in Translation

Cheap shot by Pronger gets penalized

A continuing sign that the NHL is cracking down on hits to the head. The referee blew this call. Rob Niedermayer keeps his elbow down and makes a clean play, but the same can't certainly be said for Chris Pronger. However, Colin Campbell announced yesterday that Pronger would sit a one game suspension for a hit to the head.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Storm Nation is about to take off

The worst sports owners of all-time

The Feed has his Top 10 list of bad owners together, and amazingly hockey's Harold Ballard is not at the very top of it.

Although mighty close. Harold stood only 3rd.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Rick Nash Highlight Goal at the Worlds

The Answer is Not "C"

Dear Michael,

Every year I attempt to boost my students' final grades by giving them this relatively simple exam consisting of 100 True/False questions from only 3 chapters of material. For the past 20 years that I have taught Intro Communications 101 at this institution I have never once seen someone score below a 65 on this exam. Consequently, your score of a zero is the first in history and ultimately brought the entire class average down a whole 8 points.

There were two possible answer choices: A (True) and B (False). You chose C for all 100 questions in an obvious attempt to get lucky with a least a quarter of the answers. It's as if you didn't look at a single question. Unfortunately, this brings your final grade in this class to failing. See you next year!May God have mercy on your soul.


Professor William Turner

P.S. If all else fails, go with B from now on. B is the new C.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Canada Wins Gold

Team Canada won an unexpected gold today at the 2007 World Championships. It was a team that it almost seemed like no one wanted to play for as one after another NHL star turned down an invitation to play. The top line of captain Shane Doan, Matthew Lombardi and Rick Nash was its most reliable and carried the team offensively. In addition, the team recieved great goaltending from Cam Ward and Dwayne Roloson who equally shared the goaltending. This was the third world championship title in five years.

The Original 6

It's been 40 years since the NHL expanded from the original 6 teams to 12 teams. Funny how I used to think 12 was a lot of teams. I've come across a list of the original 6 teams' records since the league first expanded in 1967.

Record since expansion (W-L-T-OTL/SOL)
(3,096 regular season games played)
Montreal: 1644-990-421-41
Boston: 1616-1021-403-56
N.Y. Rangers: 1430-1237-387-42
Detroit: 1382-1268-409-37
Chicago: 1359-1255-438-44
Toronto: 1298-1378-383-37

Points (and average points percentage)
Montreal: 3,750 (.605)
Boston: 3,691 (.597)
N.Y. Rangers: 3,289 (.532)
Detroit: 3,210 (.519)
Chicago: 3,200 (.518)
Toronto: 3,016 (.487)

Goals scored (goals per game)
Boston: 11,138 (3.60)
Montreal: 10,956 (3.54)
N.Y. Rangers: 10,565 (3.41)
Detroit: 10,441 (3.37)
Toronto: 10,132 (3.27)
Chicago: 10,001 (3.23)

Goals against (GAA)
Montreal: 8,758 (2.83)
Boston: 9,408 (3.04)
Chicago: 9,731 (3.14)
Rangers: 10,002 (3.23)
Detroit: 10,332 (3.34)
Toronto: 10,643 (3.44)

Stanley Cups
Montreal: 10
Detroit: 3
Boston: 2
N.Y. Rangers: 1
Chicago: 0
Toronto: 0

Finals appearances:
Montreal: 11
Boston: 7
Detroit: 4
Chicago: 3
Rangers: 3
Toronto: 0

Playoff misses:
Detroit: 16
Toronto: 13
N.Y. Rangers: 11
Chicago: 9
Montreal: 7
Boston: 5

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Not going to graduate

Ouch, This Really Hurts

After finishing ahead of the Red Sox last season, a $90 million payroll, and the signing of free agent, Frank Thomas and a contract extension for Vernon Wells, there was some reason to be optimistic about the Toronto Blue Jays. With a 1/3 the roster on the Disabled List, they will be fortunate to avoid losing 100 games. For the record they are missing:

#1 starter - Roy Halladay
#3 starter - Gustavo Chacin
#5 starter- Victor Zambrano
closer - B.J. Ryan
setup for closer - Brandon League
leadoff hitter- Reed Johnson
all star 3rd baseman - Troy Glauss
starting catcher - Greg Zuan

And its only 5 weeks into the season.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Updated Leaf Salary Cap

UPDATED: Leafs have signed Boyd Devereaux and Ian White and still paying Belfour's salary.


PlayerPosStatus 06-07 Cap Hito7-08 Cap Hit
BelfourGYear 2 of buy-out $750K$750K
DevereauxFSigned to 2009$450K$650K
KilgerFSigned to 2009$900K $900K
NewburyFSigned to 2009$450K$450K
OndrusFSigned to 2008$475K$475K
PohlFSigned to 2009$463K$463K
RaycroftGSigned to 2009$2M$2M
StajanFSigned to 2008$875K$875K
SteenFSigned to 2008$901K$901K
TuckerFSigned to 2012$1.59M$3M

Club option


Signed to 2008


Signed to 2008

BelakDSigned to 2008 $670K$670K
GillDSigned to 2009$2.075M $2.075M
KaberleDSigned to 2011 $4.25M$4.25M
KubinaDSigned to 2010$5M$5M
McCabeDSigned to 2011$5.75M$5.75M
WhiteDSigned to 2010$453K$850K
WozniewskiDSigned to 2008$463K$463


Leaf RFAs

PlayerPosStatus 06-07 Cap Hito7-08 Minimum Cap Hit**
Ponikarovsky FRFA$713K$749K



Salary cap is expected to rise to $47 to $48 million for 2007-08.

If the Leafs re-sign Mats at $5M, re-sign their RFAs at league minimum (not going to happen) and keep Antropov, total committed payroll will be approx $40.2M

*initial cap hit does not include club option on Mats Sundin.
** RFAs earning $600K or less, must be qualified with a 10% raise; RFAs earning earning $660,001 to $1M, must be qualified with a 5% raise - these are the required minimums only, players may, can and will likely sign for more.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

McDonalds Sells More Chicken Than KFC

Who knew? McDonalds is now the largest seller of chicken in the US, according to Bill Lamar, McDonald's U.S. marketing chief. Yum! Brands (KFC's parent company) spokesperson Laurie Schalow, countered with the fact that KFC still sells more chicken per store. Story here.

My Playoff Predictions

Here are my round #3 predictions:


Ottawa over Buffalo in 7 games. It has become obvious that Ottawa has finally addressed its past deficiencies - weak goaltending and a lack of physical play. Now add to that an unstoppable line of Heatley, Spezza and Alfredsson and you have a Stanley Cup finalist. Buffalo is a great team with excellent goaltending as well. But so far in the playoffs they have not displayed the offense or the defense that Ottawa brings to the table. Buffalo today is Ottawa 4 years ago. Not quite ready for prime time.


Anaheim over Detroit in 6 games. Detroit is beginning to rack up injuries and the loss of Schneider is big. You don't lose your #2 defenseman and powerplay quarterback and not feel it. Although Detroit's euro-look has been a success all year, they are now playing the most physical team in the NHL. Anaheim will wear the Wings down over the course of this series.

10 Attributes of a Really Lazy Person

1. Inability to put forth the effort required to complete any task.


No Surgery for Mats

Apparently Mats Sundin's career isn't in danger of being cut short after all. Hmm what a shocker.

A week after a published report in the Toronto Sun claimed the Maple Leaf captain might require career-threatening hip surgery, it turns out Sundin doesn't need any surgery at all.
Sundin was examined in Stockholm today by an orthopedic doctor specializing in sports medicine. The finding was that no surgery is required.

The original report cited "medical sources" and said Sundin would definitely require surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip, and that doctors would determine whether it was serious enough to be compared to the hip problems that ultimately wrecked Alexander Mogilny's hip.

As it turns out, the story was completely wrong, and there's great speculation in and around the Leaf camp that the story was planted to make it appear as though GM John Ferguson didn't have a handle on health issues facing his team as Ferguson. There are some evil people working down there.

Vernon Wells knows how to handle hecklers

Toronto Blue Jays centerfielder Vernon Wells was getting heckled by some unruly fans in Cleveland. So he tossed them a baseball.

"Dear Mr. Dork,Here is your ball! Can you please tell me what gas station you work at, so when you are pumping my gas, I can yell at you!!! Now sit down, shut up and enjoy the game.- Your favorite centrefielder

Leafs are after everyone's hard earned dollars

The price of being a Toronto Maple Leafs fan continues to go up.

After Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment raised ticket prices this month, the company is now planning to put as many as 20 Leaf games on its digital channel – an increase of up to eight over last season. You can see where this trend is going.

Meanwhile regional televised games (on TSN and Sportsnet) will fall from 35 to 27. I can see a day when the only free games will be HNIC televised games on Saturday nights. And as Leaf TV gets more games, look for the monthly fee to be increased as well.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Bruins Welcome Arrival of Future Savior Rask

Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli announced the signing of the club's top prospect Tuukka Rask to a three-year contract worth $850,000 per season, the maximum allowed under the CBA. The team also announced he's headed for North America and will join the Providence Bruins for the duration of their AHL playoff run. Chiarelli noted Rask will only practice with the team and not play.

The 20-year-old Rask recently finished his season with Ilves Tampere with an impressive .928 save percentage and 2.38 goals-against average. A 2005 first-round pick of Toronto, Rask was acquired on last June's draft day for Andrew Raycroft.

While Chiarelli was quick to point out that Rask is a potential No. 1 puck-stopper, and everyone who talks about the 20-year-old claims he’s mature beyond his years, Rask said he isn’t sure how he’ll match up once he gets on a North American rink.

It seems a longshot for Rask to earn one of the Bruins’ two goaltending spots to start next season - though that could change if the Bruins, as some predict, trade away Hannu Toivonen. It also could change if Rask came to camp and simply dazzled. So the Raycroft trade make begin looking real bad for the Leafs as early as next season.

Lost in Translation

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Power of 64K of Memory

I remember this "portable" personal computer weighed about 23 lbs.

My Playoff Predictions

So how did I do with my second round predictions?

Eastern Conference
Buffalo in 5 >> Buffalo in 6
Ottawa in 7 >> Ottawa in 5

Western Conference
Anaheim in 5 >> Anaheim in 5
San Jose in 7 >> Detroit in 6

My 2nd round results: 3-1
My 2007 playoff results: 9-3

Next Season's Power Skating Coach

Leafs Lower Marlie Ticket Prices

Fans in Toronto apparently will pay any price for Leafs tickets, but they have not shown the same tendencies with their AHL affiliate. So the Toronto Marlies and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment have come to their senses and are implementing a ticket-pricing that reflects that they are in the AHL.

AHL fans are hockey junkies, families, couples on dates looking for affordable hockey. They are not the well-heeled Bay Street clientele that occupies the Air Canada Centre. Model big-city franchises like Chicago, Manitoba and Philadelphia have long understood this dynamic and priced their tickets accordingly. Marlies ticket prices maxed out at $54 this season, an utterly absurd price to pay for an AHL game.

More than 84% of the seats at Ricoh Coliseum will now be $25 or less with season seat prices ranging from $15 to $30 per game.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Leafs Raise Ticket Prices

Season ticket holders will pay nearly six per cent more to watch the Leafs at the Air Canada Centre in 2007-08. The highest priced tickets have been raised the most with platinum and gold sides going up to $182 each from $171.52. The lowest priced seats, purples, have been raised to $37 from $34.70.

Is the price increase justified? Well of course. According to MLSE President Richard Peddie:

"Show me businesses that have not passed on costs of the last three, four years," said Peddie. "That's not being greedy. I think in real dollars that dollar today is still worth less in real buying terms to us than it was four years ago because we're not keeping up with inflation. I think our behaviour in the last couple of years has not been greedy at all."

Well at least he didn't suggest that the tickets were a great entertainment value. I guess he may have seen the ESPN Fan Satisfaction Ranking that I had posted earlier on the affordability of Leaf tickets.

Be sure to book all your emergencies

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

About blogging

Thank You Wayne for the Wonderful Memento

I couldn't think of a better way to cap off this past season - a DVD screening highlighting the past year. I think I speak for everyone that Wayne's labour of love was beyond expectation and something to look back at for years to come. From the disappointment against Durham to the thrilling shootout win against Mississauga, from Jasmine's centre ice tumble to Rebecca's victory dance - it was all there!

As I've mentioned previously, I enjoy each season but we had a special group of people on the team this year that I will always look back with fond memories. I hope both parents and our newest ex-players drop by at the arena from time to time to let us know how you are doing. And there will always be the blog and email to catch up on what's happening.

Janice is leaving our staff and we certainly enjoyed and appreciated her support - you will be missed. Also, S. K., we will be thinking of you later this month and wish you a speedy recovery.

Good luck to everyone next year!

Coach Willie

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Who is out to sabotage the Sundin contract?

The reports today about Sundin's career-threatening injury makes me very suspicious. Leaf management and the Sundin camp were quick to refute the claim. So where did the rumour come from? My only guess is that someone is out to sabotage the negotiations. But the target is not Sundin but rather Ferguson.

My guess is that another power struggle is underway in the Leaf organization and Ferguson may be caught in the middle. The allegation that Ferguson is about to sign a seriously injured player is an attempt to embarrass the manager. Remember in the past Cliff Fletcher, Mike Smith, Ken Dryden and Pat Quinn were all victims of behind the scene executive battles. This might be just another one in development. Stay tuned!

Politics and Hockey

I think this is just about the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard:
Hockey Canada officials are being summoned by a parliamentary committee to explain their choice of Shane Doan as captain of the national team at the IIHF World Hockey Championship.

The Conservatives, Liberals, and NDP supported a Bloc Quebecois motion that demands officials from Hockey Canada and Sport Canada appear before the House of Commons' Official Languages Committee.
At issue is an alleged derogatory remark by Doan toward a French-Canadian referee during a game in 2005. Doan denies making a slur and was cleared by the NHL. Quebec politicians just won't let it go. Their justification for interfering is that Hockey Canada gets a lot of money from the government.

And politicians wonder why much of this country is disillusioned with the political process.

Sundin May Require Career Ending Surgery

The Toronto Sun reports Sundin needs surgery almost immediately to repair a hip problem, complicating his still-to-be determined contractual status with the Leafs. The hip trouble and surgery is similar to the operation that all but ended Alexander Mogilny's career as an NHL player at the age of 37.

In the past, Ferguson got himself into some difficulty signing Ed Belfour to a long-term contract before determining the goalie needed back surgery. Considering the heat Ferguson took on the Belfour contract, he may not be in a hurry to sign Sundin to an extension or even pick up his option? On the other hand, he may have $6 million more to spend on a younger free agent.

Note: Ferguson has now told TSN that this story is 100 per cent inaccurate. Sundin hasn't been examined by a doctor.

Quebec Remparts Drop Jewish Hockey Player

Benjamin Rubin’s decision to stay true to his Orthodox Jewish beliefs means he will not be playing with the Quebec Remparts junior hockey team next year. Coach and owner Patrick Roy gave the promising forward an ultimatum that he either play full time next season, including the Sabbath, or he won’t be invited to this summer’s training camp.

Rubin, who turned 18 in January, did not hesitate to respond that he would not change his way of life. He will not play, practice or travel between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday. He hopes to catch on with another Junior team.

He played in only 29 games during the Remparts’ 70-game regular season, scoring three goals and one assist. The Remparts played 38 games on Fridays and Saturdays. But Rubin had little ice time after mid-January, even when he could play.

Innocent Until Proven Guilty