Thursday, October 27, 2005
Are you sick of hearing “no lead is safe in the new NHL” yet? I am, and I’ve been wondering how many teams are coming back from the 7-2 boring blowouts I’ve watched. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen some good, close games, I’m just not drinking the Komeback Kool-Aid.
Neither is Tom Benjamin, who wrote a few days ago that there are no more comebacks (when a team is leading after the second period) than there were last season, and he’s got the statistics to back it up.
That’s why I was in shock when I saw this article in today’s Globe and Mail. For the most part it’s supposed to be cheeky, about how beat writers used to be able to mail home the story about the game by the end of the second period, but now, because of all the comebacks, they have to wait until the very end of the game to write their piece.
Through the first month of the 2003-04 season, the numbers to back up this trend were staggering. In the opening 142 games of that season, teams that got down 1-0 had just a 16.9 per cent chance of winning in regulation time. If that deficit went to 2-0, the percentage of winning in regulation time dropped by half to 8.3 per cent.
Meanwhile, teams that held leads - any leads - after two periods compiled a record of 87-7-19 in regulation time. Which meant the possibility of a team that was leading after two periods coming away without at least a point was 93.8 per cent.
You don’t need statistics to know that’s not the case anymore. The new NHL has restored the element of surprise to hockey, that sense that any letdown could invite disaster.
Woah. I do need statistics. They make the world go round. Or is that love? Or money? Or CBA agreements? Either way, the first thing I thought of was Tom’s blog entry from a few days ago and how he might react to this story. Patience did me well as Tom decides to post those statistics we didn’t need to know.
So far this year, teams leading after the second period have compiled a record of 85-6-7. Which means the possibility of a team that is leading after two periods but coming away without at least a point is now 93.9 per cent. It turns out there are actually fewer come from behind victories in the new NHL than in the old one.
Guess those beat writers can still get home early after all.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
One of the new “more access to players” features of this new NHL is the impromtu interview given at the end of every game with that game’s number one star. I’ve seen it a few times already in different arenas and assume it’s a league-wide policy (perhaps only when the #1 star is a home team player?). The interview is not only televised, but also broadcast within the arena itself for the fans. It’s a good idea for the most part, a little way for the fans to get to know the players better. Tonight’s Bruins-Leafs #1 star was Eddie Belfour, who made 49 saves leading the Leafs to a 5-4 win over the Bruins after a shootout. Eddie was interviewed right after the game and didn’t bother taking his mask off. Besides not giving us the clearest audio, he remains as faceless to some as he did before. No one’s going to have the best hair after the game, that’s understandable, but perhaps the interviewer could have a towel and even a hat ready and all players, goaltenders and position players (especially those with tinted visors), should be encouraged to shed their helmets for post-game interviews. If the NHL wants more recognizable faces, these guys have to be seen in the first place. Exposed faces good, impressions of Dumb Donald bad.
Monday, October 24, 2005
I could’ve sworn most sports sites started this NHL season showing W-L-OTL-SOL for win, loss, overtime loss and shootout loss. While there’s no difference between OTL and SOL in terms of points earned, there’s still a difference in how the game ended. The NHL however just lists OT, for overtime, and it combines OTL and SOL. It seems as though most sites have taken the NHL’s lead in combining the columns into an OT column (some still refer to it as OTL though). Outside of the NHL standings I list on hockeyfights.com, the only other site I could find that still separates the outcomes is USA Today. I happen to like seeing the extra column, knowing how a game ended, but the NHL has long been criticized for having too many columns in their standings system, so I understand their want for simplicity.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
I’m not looking to rain on the “this game has so much flow” parade, but these games all seem like they’re taking longer to play due to stoppages. I’m having trouble finding any sort of average time per game statistic to back this up. I’ll point out this doesn’t mean the action in between stoppages isn’t better or more “flowing”, but these games do seem longer - can anyone point me to some numbers to prove me right or wrong?
Mini-complaint department: OLN needs to check their sound levels. The entire network is low compared to other channels on my cable system, but perhaps that’s just my cable system. Here’s where it’s not: there’s a nice difference between the game and the commercials. The worst is having to turn up the volume to hear the game, and then have a commercial suddenly knock you over. And then you still have to remember to lower the volume before you change channels (if you would dare turn hockey off).
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was on Quite Frankly with Stephen A. Smith yesterday. Nothing new was said, mostly fluff or things hockey fans have heard a million times before. I’m sure Bettman saw it as an opportunity to reach sports fans (who might not be hockey fans) and just put some hockey talk out there for them.
One thing to note: during a montage introducing Bettman and the NHL, Quite Frankly used the old NHL logo. I thought nothing of it until I saw Bettman sitting near a screen that also had the old logo being used. You’d think an ESPN production would be on top of something like that.
One other thing that’s worth mentioning: Smith mentioned that many seem to think the NHL needs to market individuals more (and Smith tossed his own opinion in, agreeing with the sentiment). Bettman replied that the NHL marketing team does plan on getting more individual faces out there, but made sure to mention he thought hockey was the major sport that relies the most on team and the least on individuals.
Sort of on-topic, Steve Ovadia, from PuckUpdate, points us to an SI article about a reporter who covers Sidney Crosby full-time. Ovadia writes about the full-time coverage:
Right now, it’s not a big deal since it’s still a rare thing. But as the trend grows, you can bet it’s going to turn into an ugly, festering sore of a problem.
I have to say I agree, it’s so rare now that it’s not too much of an annoyance; and if the public wasn’t craving information, it’s unlikely any one athlete would be covered in such a way.
While hardcode hockey fans may be a bit sick of the Sidney Crosby hype, the NHL definitely needs more recognizable faces, and if it’s done by smothering us with coverage of one star (or soon-to-be star) at a time, so be it… for now.
Monday, September 19, 2005
There will be hockey in HD this year, but just might not where you’re looking for it.
Thanks for the mention!
We will be announcing our NHL sched in the next week or so. We have kept a low profile in this to help out the OLN negotiations, but we will have 2 or 3 games on every week, in full 1080i. In fact, most OLN games will not be in HD, so HDNet will be the home of more HD games than all the other outlets combined!
Owner, Dallas Mavericks
A: No problem Mark. Thankfully someone is going to make sure hockey is shown in High-Def. To me, its the only way to watch it. I just wish Cablevision would provide HDNet to its subscribers. I’m missing out on too many good High-Def games. Might have to get a dish this year.
Be sure to check out HDNet’s website during hockey season for game listings.
Monday, September 12, 2005
Sirius currently broadcasts NHL games, and will continue to do so through the 2006-2007 season. Until then, both XM and Sirius will broadcast NHL games. After the Sirius deal expires, the XM deal is exclusive.
XM currently has the larger subscriber base and exclusive deals with MLB and NASCAR. Sirius has an exclusive deal with the NFL and Howard Stern.
It’s probably not much of a make or break deal for the NHL. It’s doubtful the league will gain or lose any fans over a satellite radio deal. I’m sure it’ll be more or less convenient for some current subscribers, but for the next two seasons, the fan wins, as each major service will carry games.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
The Washington Capitals have launched blogs for their online community.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Wednesday, Sept. 7, the Washington Capitals will launch a new blog section of their website. WashingtonCaps.com is among the first NHL team sites to offer blogs, or web logs, as an added-value service to our online community
A blog is an internet medium consisting of periodic articles posted by registered users. Fans can access the Capitals blogs through the main navigation on the home page and will be able to create their own individual blogs to which other members can post responses and questions.
No word yet if any hockey people (management or players) plan on blogging or if this is a feature for fans only. I’ve inquired and will update when I receive a response.
Update: Sept 7 1155 - The Capitals have let me know they do plan on having players and possibly even coaches blog. However, they are waiting for training camp to conclude before arranging anything.
Hopefully the Caps can lead the way and encourage a couple of players to blog, at least semi-regularly (and leave commenting on). MLB has MLBlogs, and a good number of well-known people and (current and former) players blogging there. While the posting to some of the blogs is sporadic, it’s still interesting, fun and the sheer number of them still make it feel regularly updated. Obviously an organization like MLB has size on its side, but the Caps blogging site has a ton of potential to be interesting and interactive.
On a related note: The Caps are also the only team I know of putting out podcasts. It’s updated weekly and available on the front of washingtoncaps.com. There’s also a feed. Very encouraging.
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
In last week’s OLN Worries Seem Short Term, I mentioned how that OLN was possibly going after MLB games, besides the late season NFL package. Those deals would make the channel a sports powerhouse alongside ESPN, even if it doesn’t have any brand recognition yet.
When I was originally writing about OLN and what it could do to become a better network, the NLL definitely crossed my mind, but I knew it was on ESPN currently and couldn’t find any contract details. Instead, I leaned on the idea of renegotiating a few deals and broadcasting the minor league games that local Comcast stations already have the rights to.
If OLN does want to make a deal with NLL, it should do so fast:
NLL Commissioner Jim Jennings said OLN has an advantage over ESPN because it has available weekend windows to air the games live, while ESPN could only air them on a tape-delayed basis.
If OLN can pick up MLB or NFL games within the next year or so, available weekend windows might become a thing of the past, better to sign now, and position yourself better for the future. OLN certainly won’t have a ton of quality filler for a long time, might as well show some games whenever possible.
All of this possible dealing should make the NHL confident that Comcast is serious about turning OLN into a sports powerhouse. Having the NHL as the product to lead the way can only help the league as long as it can stay in the foreground of the station’s plans.