National Hockey League

Monday, July 16, 2007

More Please?

So, Jeremy Roenick isn’t sure that he’s done, despite the previous “report”.

No word on whether or not Roenick sent this txt to his agent: maybe play, k thx bi

Thanks to KK for the link.

Posted by David M Singer on Jul 16, 2007 at 08:38 PM

Monday, July 09, 2007

Lay Down, Not Low

Obviously, Rick Tocchet is not concerned with appearances before his sentencing (Aug 17th).

According to thepokerbiz.com, Tocchet’s playing in the World Series of Poker.  Not only that, so is his alleged gambling buddy Janet Jones (Gretzky).

I’m not one to judge here as I don’t think playing poker is the same as betting (or taking bets) on a sporting event, but there are many out there who lump it all into “gambling”.  For Tocchet’s sake, I hope the judge who rules on sentencing doesn’t hold his WSOP trip against him.

Update Jul 12 145pm: Tocchet did not show up for day two of the tournament:

Rick Tocchet Pulls a Vinnie Vinh
Yes, it’s unfortunate that Vinh’s condition has become a catchphrase, but I think it’s one that is here to stay. While Vinnie Vinh himself showed up today (but busted early with a short stack), Rick Tocchet never returned for his Day Two. He survived Day 1c with 17,100 in chips, and his stack made it to the second level without him before succumbing to the blinds. Why didn’t Tocchet ever return to play? There’s a theory that he was getting too much pressure for his legal troubles with gambling and conspiracy charges. While it’s completely legal for him (or anyone over the age of 21) to play in the World Series of Poker, it may have been bad for him in other ways. Regardless of the reason, Tocchet never returned on Day 2b, and his chips are now gone.

Hat tip to One Fan’s Perspective

Posted by David M Singer on Jul 09, 2007 at 02:54 PM
Major StoriesOperation SlapshotNHL
3 CommentsPermalink

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

omg no mo hky lol

It appears Jeremy Roenick, one of the great American hockey players, has announced his retirement on July 4th in a way that can only be described as “modern”:

“I’m retiring; is that still news?” Jeremy Roenick told The Inquirer by text message.

Hopefully he winds up behind a mic somewhere soon.

Posted by David M Singer on Jul 04, 2007 at 10:37 PM
1 CommentPermalink

Friday, June 15, 2007

Looking Into the Blog Box

This week the New York Islanders announced the start of the “Blog Box”:

We’re setting up a BLOG BOX in the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum – sort of like a press box, but away from the scribes and broadcasters because we know you want to cheer, shout, have a pretzel and enjoy the game experience on your own terms.

We will provide you with a media pass for a few games next season and a seat in the NYI BLOG BOX. You will also receive your own set of Game Notes when you enter the Coliseum Press Gate. All you have to do is bring your note pad and/or voice recorder and cheer as loudly as you want. After the game you attend, we will set up an area where you can toss a few questions at a coach or players, based on your requests and their availability.

Shortly after the announcement an interview was posted on Deadspin with Isles VP of Communications, Chris Botta.  Deadspin’s Will Leitch did a good job keeping it light, yet asking real questions and Botta answered all while not straying from the tone.

Reaction to the concept of the Blog Box has been mixed, and often from the same source.

James Mirtle, blogger and Globe and Mail scribe, was the subject of the Deadspin interview a couple of times.  Botta acknowledged a blogger in his position would probably have no problems being in the main press box.

Mirtle’s initial reaction to the Blog Box:

This is a step in the right direction, and it’s nice to see more NHL teams are making allowances for blog coverage, but you can certainly sense the organization’s apprehension here when it comes to putting “fans” in the actual press box.

Would he sit in the Blog Box? In a follow-up post he answers:

I will say this: The only reason I’d ever apply to go to the Blog Box would be to write about its existence (and maybe to have a pretzel).

Let’s put that on the schedule for 2007-08.

I think that’ll be the reaction from anyone outside of the metro area, those with mainstream media ties or any with previous press box experience.

Eric McErlain, who writes for his own blog Off Wing Opinion, along with AOL’s FanHouse and NBCSports.com, isn’t too thrilled about the idea:

I don’t know why anybody would apply for a watered down version of a press pass that only allows guarded access to Islanders players and staff and no access to visiting players at all.

He adds:

The Islanders idea is a press pass with training wheels. Then again, if I were in the shoes of Islanders Army or The View From Section 317, I’d give it a shot.

Islanders Army is exactly the type of site the Islanders are aiming for with this type of program.  Isles-centric and Murph gives off a pretty sane vibe.  Murph makes his intentions known:

Free tickets, pretzels and wireless on Wang? Sounds like a good deal to me, we’ll be sending in our application soon. We’ve got competition, the Islanders said they had 100+ applications already. This move is all about fan access and not some statement by the Islanders in the bloggers vs. professional press debate. I don’t think I’d want a real press pass anyways - being at the game and not being able to chant “Let’s Go Islanders” wouldn’t be fun for me. I might be able to bite my tongue for a regular season game, but if it was a playoff or Rangers game… no way.

So while bloggers like Mirtle and McErlain look to break the blogger-fan stereotype, Murph gladly accepts it, or at least the journalist-fan in-between that the Islanders have created for him.

The Islanders have made their own post about Blog Box coverage, including opinions like McErlain’s.  Murph responds to some of the negativity:

Nothing is stopping a more established and professional blogger from applying for a real press pass. It’s also not 100% fair to be judging the concept without seeing the final execution. I think the majority of bloggers would prefer the Blog box setup compared to rules and pressure of working with the professional press. I think the Islanders approach is good while it still can be improved over time.

This is one of those situations where everyone seems correct.  The Blog Box is innovative, limiting, encouraging, guarded and progressive.

The Islanders want to open up, make sure they get quality coverage from those with access, and not scare away the pros.  The pros, besides being protective of their turf, would like to keep their environment as professional as possible.  The bloggers simply want more access to the game they love covering, and to possibly get a different perspective on the game.

One audience that hasn’t been mentioned much is the audience of the selected bloggers.  Their reaction will be important as to how the Blog Box is accepted.  For it to be positive the bloggers must come through with some quality pieces (or why be in the box?), and the Islanders must be thick-skinned about any reasonably written criticism.  Readers will be looking for the honest opinions they’ve grown accustomed to.  The first sign of a censored blogger and the reputations of both the blogger and the program will be in jeopardy.

I’ve written some considerations for bloggers with press access before, but the Blog Box should be a bit more relaxed than some of my experiences.  Remember, just as important as covering the game on the ice, the Blog Box will allow its members to build relationships.  Think about both today and tomorrow if you’re one of those who chooses to participate in this program.  Oh, and lay off the beer.

While it would have been nice to see the Islanders take an open approach like the Capitals, the Caps are recognized as being an exception to what’s normally a closed-door policy.  Instead of moving idly about, waiting to see what happens around the league, the Islanders have decided to be pro-active.  It seems cautious, but it’s movement in the right direction and should be an interesting experience for all involved.

Posted by David M Singer on Jun 15, 2007 at 02:30 PM
3 CommentsPermalink

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Random Media Notes

After both games four and five I made sure to tune into ESPN.

Sportscenter was already in-progress after game four and after the game recap the first story was shown. The same thing happened with coverage of game five. The Cup wasn’t part of the teaser but was actually the first story shown. It was a lengthy segment (especially for hockey) that gave a complete recap of the game.

ESPN.com had the games as the cover story on the front page after the completion of each.  Upon a visit just a little while ago I was greeted with a prestitial (a full-page ad before you get to enter the site) for the NBA Finals.  After that, a big photo of Scott Niedermayer lifting the Cup with the title of Duck Season

Where the Cup is being covered on US websites:

* Lead story on Fox Sports, Sportsline, USA TOday, NY Times and Sports Illustrated
* “Latest News” area on front page of cnn.com, main photo on Fox News, in “In the news” on MSNBC

Other notes:

* anaheimducks.com has been down since at least the end of game five. Update 1am: The Ducks site seems to be up and running again.

* I’m doing a round-up of links over at hockeyfights.com.

* NBC brings more energy than CBC - William Houston of The Globe and Mail prefers NBC’s coverage over CBC’s.  Jeff Marek and Bill Watters on Leafs Lunch were voicing similar opinions.  “Stale” seems to be the most common criticism of CBC.  Houston also mentions the low ratings by NBC (something mentioned many places), but rightfully points out that a year off and small market Final match-ups don’t help boost ratings.


* Isles can make good use of extra cap space | Fans, this buyout is gift to you | Islanders buy out Yashin’s contract for $17.63M
* Bruckheimer eyes NHL team in Vegas

Posted by David M Singer on Jun 07, 2007 at 03:31 AM
3 CommentsPermalink

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Toch Block?

Jim Kelley broke out some reality with his punny title, Don’t bet on Tocchet’s return.

It’s being played that Tocchet really didn’t do much wrong, but he did plead guilty regarding his involvement in the betting ring and that will come up every time the Coyotes come to town if he were to be reinstated as a coach. The view from here is that Bettman won’t be cutting Tocchet any real slack anytime soon.

Indeed.  The league is going to have to wait and see what public perception is, because in the end that is what will rule.  The public seems to have forgiven Tocchet, but that doesn’t mean the public will forgive the league for allowing someone who plead guilty to being involved in a sports-related gambling ring, to have an influence in determining game outcomes.

Posted by David M Singer on May 31, 2007 at 03:06 AM
Major StoriesOperation SlapshotNHL

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Tocchet’s Next Step

Now that the guily plea has been entered, and jail time is not expected, the speculation as to what may be next for Rick Tocchet has begun.

The NHL has stated there won’t be any official ruling until sentencing, and after Tocchet has met with Bob Cleary, an investigator hired by the league.

New Jersey Deputy Attorney General Mark Eliades said there was a “presumption of non-incarceration” in the case because of the low level of the offenses and because Tocchet, 43, had no criminal record. Sentencing was scheduled for Aug. 22.

“You’re asking me to prognosticate,” Bettman said in response to a question about Tocchet’s future. “Rick Tocchet pled guilty to a Grade III felony. He has yet to be sentenced. . . . We will finally have an opportunity to have Bob Cleary, who is conducting our investigation, meet with him.

“I’m not in a position to say what is going to happen until they plead the disposition of his case and we have an independent arbitrator interview him and finish interviewing other people and present a report.”

Alanah has a great post about what may be next for Tocchet.  Be sure to read the comments.

Posted by David M Singer on May 30, 2007 at 03:06 AM
Major StoriesOperation SlapshotNHL

Friday, May 25, 2007

It’s Official: Tocchet Pleads Guilty

As expected, Rick Tocchet pleaded guilty to gambling charges earlier this morning. However there is a chance that Tocchet may never the inside of a jail cell.

Former NHL player Rick Tocchet pleaded guilty Friday to running a sports gambling ring, but might not have to serve any jail time.

He pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to promote gambling and promoting gambling. Such offences usually do not carry a jail sentence for first-time offenders.

“It’s a huge operation and I think it exposes to people the allure of gambling, illegal gambling, in New Jersey,” state Criminal Justice Director Gregory A. Paw said outside the courthouse.

The maximum sentence for the charges Tocchet pleaded guilty to are 10 years in prison and a US$50,000 fine. Paw would not say whether prosecutors will ask for jail time for Tocchet.

So Tocchet probably won’t see time behind bars and his other two accomplices will? I’m thinking it might have something to do with Harney and Ulmer’s charges being higher than third-degree and the fact that Harney was a cop of all things.

Tocchet’s lawyer, Rick Marino did say outside of the courthouse that Tocchet hasn’t spoken to the NHL yet in regards to how the guilty pleas may affect his future as a coach in the league.

Update 615pm: The Phoenix Coyotes have released this statement:

The Phoenix Coyotes will await the completion of the National Hockey League’s investigation and will support whatever decision the Commissioner may render regarding Mr. Tocchet’s status.

- DS

Posted by John Chandler on May 25, 2007 at 04:00 PM
Major StoriesOperation SlapshotNHL

Guilty Plea Expected From Tocchet

Rick Hepp of The Star-Ledger is reporting that Rick Tocchet is expected to enter a guilty plea today in the Operation Slapshot case.

Tocchet, who took a leave of absence from his job as associate coach of the Phoenix Coyotes after the State Police busted the ring in February 2006, is expected to plead guilty to third-degree conspiracy and third-degree promoting gambling, according to two people with knowledge of the case. The presumption in third-degree crimes is no prison time for first offenders.

With prison avoided, the obvious question is: will he be back behind the bench for the Coyotes?  Also from the Star-Ledger:

It was not clear last night how Tocchet’s admission would affect his dealings with the NHL, where he is best known in this area for his two tours with the Philadelphia Flyers during his 18-year career. After he was charged, Tocchet was granted an indefinite leave of absence by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman as long as Tocchet ceased all contact and communication with all NHL and team personnel.

So when/if he can return is unknown.  It’ll be interesting to see how the league deals with the situation.

Also, yesterday I wrote:

Additionally, Tocchet’s been suspended without pay from his job as assistant coach with the Phoenix Coyotes.

The phrasing of that was similar to what was reported by many news outlets over the course of this story.  However, the Star-Ledger paints a different version of Tocchet’s absence and I wanted to point that out for clarification.

Posted by David M Singer on May 25, 2007 at 04:36 AM
Major StoriesOperation SlapshotNHL

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Canadian Draw

Al Strachan writes that the sale and possible move of the Predators is a sign that the NHL is losing the battle for popularity in America (via Kukla’s Korner).

Strachan cites the NHL’s state-side TV deal, expansion, which he labels as a “spectacular failure”, and then how American owners won’t want to see another Canadian team:

This is a league that does not share its attendance revenues. So a Canadian team might draw well at home, but an American owner couldn’t care less. He’s not going to see any of it. What he does know is that Canadian teams are traditionaly the NHL’s worst road draws. An owner in a major American city doesn’t want to try to sell tickets for games against teams from places like Winnipeg, Quebec and Waterloo — or even Calgary and Edmonton for that matter. He wants visits from New York, Boston, Los Angeles and so on.

Now, once Balsillie purchases the Predators, the battle will be on. He will want to move that team out of Nashville and into Canada. Perhaps, down the road, some other entrepeneur will try to follow a similar pattern with the Atlanta Thrashers or the Florida Panthers, and some of the other cities that Bettman brought into the NHL.

And while Canada is a nice place, it’s not the place to be if you’re trying to establish your sports league as a major league in the United States.

Strachan would be dead-on if this was a team other than Nashville.  The Predators were last in the league in filling a building on the road this past season.  The other teams Strachan mentions are actually #25 and #27 on the list.

Canadian teams stretch across the list, from #6 Vancouver to #26 Ottawa.

As the current schedules are very division-heavy, remember that division opponents are important here.  Boston’s #3 on the list thanks to Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and Buffalo, teams that collectively averaged sell-outs for the season.

For that same reason, you have to cut Nashville at least a little slack, having to visit St. Louis and Chicago as much as they did last season (about 20% of their road games right there).  Divisional opponent Columbus, despite their perennial non-success, still keeps at least some crowd at home, but also falls short on the road, ranking #29.  Detroit, generally a top draw around the league, ranks #12, the best road ranking from the Central division.

If a team is already the worst road draw, the other owners might just be willing to test out another locale, no matter where it is.

Strachan brings up a thought you’ve probably read a good amount the past few years:

In 1994, after the Rangers won the Stanley Cup, there existed another universal view of the game, a view that was diametrically opposite to the one held today. At that time, the NHL was seen as the league poised for stardom.

The NHL definitely looked like it was ready for that #3 spot, right behind the NFL and MLB here in the States.  They never got there, and now the NHL would probably rather not look at any popularity charts.

However, one thing to remember is 1994 was when the league was at its all-time high in Canadian teams, with eight.  It wasn’t a long time, just three seasons that the Ottawa Senators existed before the Quebec Nordiques became the Colorado Avalanche.

Posted by David M Singer on May 24, 2007 at 10:58 PM
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