Guest blogger: Spiderpig

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It is a bittersweet chance that some of us get to guest blog for a couple weeks. While it is great for us to be featured on the blog, it is only a result of newspapers cutting costs and giving their employees more vacation time. For my appearance, I don’t have any fresh opinion on the Rangers that hasn’t already been discussed here, so I’m going to take an overall look at the National Hockey League.

The 2004–05 lockout was devastating at the time, but the prevailing opinion was that the league could come back stronger than before. Why they couldn’t do this without canceling a season, we may never know. The biggest issue for Commissioner Bettman and the league was that they needed “cost certainty,” which was their code for a salary cap. Fans of the Rangers and other teams with high attendance probably did not see any problem with the 2004 NHL, but the less heralded teams were struggling, especially in places that gained expansion teams under Bettman’s regime.

In 2009, Bettman would like to have you think that everything is rosy with record-setting attendance numbers every season since the lockout. However, are we really in a much better position now? Revenue sharing was good common sense and should have been in place for a longer time before teams were absolutely hemorrhaging money. Despite what the NHL says, we can still see arenas with a lot of empty seats, especially the new Prudential Center (when the Rangers are not playing there), and the Phoenix Coyotes did not get any better financially, being forced to file for bankruptcy. Many of the seats are filled only due to ticket deals and freebies.

Before the lockout, the NHL did not have great television ratings in the United States and therefore had a contract that generated low revenue. Since starting play again, the contract has only worsened, moving the games on cable to a channel that players can’t find in hotel rooms and only having one game per week for ten weeks in the second half of the season on a broadcast network that focuses on only a few big-market teams. In addition, NASCAR is probably ahead of the NHL in popularity, but the NBA is falling back a bit. With four seasons passed since the new CBA was ratified, teams are now finding innovative ways to play with the salary cap so that the stars still get paid and the role players have to fight for every dollar or leave to play in the KHL.

At this point, the best thing that could happen for the NHL would be to bring in fresh ideas in the form of a new commissioner. Without any ties to Bettman, the new person in charge could make changes where Bettman held strong to defend his position. This could include moving one or two teams back to Canada and finding a better way to market the league and its star players, such as putting the two latest No. 1 draft picks on national television more than twice each (only one of these is in a Versus-exclusive window).

All of these problems that still exist will lead to more heavy negotiating in the next couple of years leading up to the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, especially as the salary cap will likely see its first drop after this upcoming season. – Brandon Franz

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117 Comments

  1. Dam, not first, probably fifth or sixth by the time my slow typing is finished. The NHL needs to be back on ESPN. Good topic and article!!!

  2. Good morning Carp, sally, grabachev, laurel, and everyone else!!! I hope everyone has a crease clearing hard hitting physical d man day (especially greg l who REALLY needs one)!!

    And no carp, they have not signed one yet!!!!

  3. Going back to the last post: it says something about the Rangers lineup as it currently stands that there are no obvious, go-to choices for the A and that many fans dislike or disrespect the man with the C.

    Good is not good enough.

  4. p.s. Spidey: hockey is a niche sport. Until everyone excepts the truth of that then the NHL is doomed to flail, particularly in a world of ever-expanding entertainment options. And, even with HD, the televised product is too hard for non-fans to follow. How many of us have had friends love a live game and refuse to watch a televised game? Ever one of us. The energy doesn’t translate for a casual fan. Sad, but true.

    Oh, and the regular season should be 65 games at most.

  5. Canada’s six clubs are responsible for bringing in almost one-third of NHL’s entire ticket revenue.

    Paul Kelly has been fired as executive director of the National Hockey League players association.

    “Kelly’s relationship with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly was perceived by some as being to close.”

    The infighting needs to stop in the NHLPA

    A “niche sport” lol….over saturating the US market is a huge issue. Saturday Night CBC Hockey Night in Canada has huge ratings, and I’m glad to pay for “NHL Hockey” from my cable provider, just wish they provided better overall product…(this does not include what is on the ice)

    Good job Spiderpig!

  6. bull dog line on

    spider pig,
    you left out the part about all the awful new rules.
    the shootout, 4 on 4 overtime, and the elimination of the 2 line pass.
    we now have some games worth 3 pts, and others worth 2. we now have overtimes that teams sit back and wait for the shootout. and the elimination of the 2 line pass has done nothing to deter the trap teams. You are right, Bettman must go.

  7. True Fans Bleed RW&B on

    Geez, this league is awful! After the TB and PHX debacles, the last thing they need is a classic 6 franchise fighting with the commish and everyone else.

    Sorry Franz Kafka, haven’t read your post so I cannot congratulate you on your Pulitzer worthy writing(cough, cough, Greg…), well not just yet at least… i have an exam to take first.

  8. excellent post spider!! congratulate the man greg!. i think the nhl isnt as popular because in all honesty, nobody in america, can really relate with a guy who barely speaks english, and has a name that nobody can pronounce. they dont relate to all these european and russian players. its like that commercial where you cant get a job cuz you didnt go to school, you didnt go to school cuz you didnt have money, you couldnt get money cuz you have no skills, you cant get a job and on and on. the amount of american born players in the nhl is kinda small. and most arent huge superstars that kids will relate too. and thats nothing against any euro or russian players. its just a fact of life. second, you cant get kids to play it, because the money it costs for equipment, finding ice to skate on, and schools are too cheap to support a hockey team. like in basketball, all you need to do is find a net, a ball, and a few other kids to play. you cant find an ice hockey rink in iowa, because nobody cares. alot has to do with marketing and all that too. theres not enough diversity,(black, hispanic, etc…). america is very diverse and when 99% of players are white, you dont bring in many fans of different ethnicity.all of these points are sad but true reality.

  9. the rule changes will not bring new fans in. that was made for the fans so the game becomes more fast paced and exciting. not as many stoppages. also, half of the U.S. is in a warm to hot climate, and they dont get ice on lakes in winter, so you dont see kids skating on them playin hockey. you wont find hockey equipment(let alone just a stick, ball, and net) in most every sporting good store down south. when i was a kid, alot of us were into hockey. our local kmart sold rollerblades, lots of cheap hockey stuff to play. nowadays i cant find any big retailer like walmart selling any hockey equipm,ent. i asked the manager where i could find some(this is iowa)and he had no clue. you also have to realize that hockey players usually get little press. no exposure through media really. as bad as football players are, even the bad press they get is better than none and so hockey stays in the background in america.

  10. And This One Will Last A Lifetime on

    The NHL needs to be on ESPN or ESPN 2 in a big way. That would cure many of the revenue, exposure, and popularity problems. If their could be 3 or 4 nights per week of hockey, sometimes double headers, rhat would be great.

    One or two more Canadian teams, maybe Phoenix moving there, would help. The impending Islanders move to Kansas City is going to be good as well.

    Spiderpig, the answer to your question is simple. Yes, we are in a position now. But, we still have miles to go before we sleep, and miles to go before we sleep.

  11. The NHL was on ESPN and they found out that they could get better ratings with poker than with hockey.

    There just aren’t enough viewers to make it profitable for ESPN to carry it. And, you know, it’s always about the Benjamins.

  12. True Fans Bleed RW&B on

    Hockey will always be a sport that’s difficult to market if…
    1) Only people in upper classes can afford to play.
    2) It doesn’t cross racial/ethnicity barriers.
    3) It can only be played in cold climates
    4) (related to all of these) To be honest, isn’t a “world” sport (like baseball or soccer). It’s not the US’s #1 sport so it cannot thrive on its own here (unlike Football). There are many continents (and i’m not referring to the poles) where it doesn’t get played, in any form.

    Hence, much of the problem is Bettman. However, much of the problem is the inherent inability of people to have the time to play pickup hockey at midnight nor do they have the resources for $1000 in equipment or $75+ everytime a stick breaks. No access to the sport, no access to the heart of a fan.

  13. great post!!!!

    Mike in IA-great comments…i argue with my friends all the time about a huge reason why the sport is not popular… how many kids out of 100 play hockey….its very expensive and very dangerous…..and how many rinks are there compared to softball fields, basketball courts, etc…..

    i hate the argument its hard to follow on TV-the problem is most people cannot anticipate what is going on on the ice as opposed to what happens in football/baseball because it is second nature to them….

    another big thing is besides the big players not be marketed well by the nhl is the fact that the players you route for are hardly ever seen-you watch them play hockey 60 minutes a night but they are hidden behind helmets, visors, etc and obv is the NHL does not have the resources to have a postgame show like the nfl does….i probably attended 35 home games last year, watched about another 40 ranger games on tv, watched another 50-60 devil/islander games (obv i am a diehard ranger fan and a hockey nut) but i couldnt pick out someone like dmitiri kalinin or if it wasnt for paul mara’s beard i wouldnt know who he was-my point is a young kid wants to relate to a player and that is very tough to do with a player from the NHL

  14. Mike in IA- Russian players ARE Europeans. I know, it’s too far to see that from Iowa, but I suggest you look at the map. Russia is located mostly in Europe, and parially in Asia. I forgot whether they teach it in elementary or middle school.

    The popularity has very little to do with the skin color or race. Exactly the same players play in Canada and it’s number 1 sport.

    By the way, the lockout didn’t do much of “cost certainty” The current cap is already way above what some teams can afford.

  15. Hockeyman Rangers on

    Yes something needs to be done. I agree with Spiderpig, they need some fresh new marketing ideas, marketing of the NHL really sucks. The only time I see NHL commercials is when I am already watching hockey they need to go other places with those commercials. And they better quit promoting Cindy because unless you are a Pittsburg fan everyone dislikes Crosby. The other thing I hear a lot of people say is that hockey is only good at a live game, that they don’t like to watch it on TV. Nice topic Spiderpig, geeez all you guest bloggers have all done so well you might just be getting Rick the boot out of here, this blog can run itself. (hope not Rick just saying) 12 days till camp but who’s counting?

  16. Brandon,
    excellent post! I’m a fan of the game, not the business,
    but without the business there would be no fans.
    Bettman has done alot of harm to the NHL and I agree, like Sather it’s time for him to go.
    Thanks!

  17. True Fans,

    Whole-heartedly agree. It is difficult to cultivate a passion for a sport when there are so many barriers (socio-economic, logistic) to even get a small sampling of the game.

    While there might not be de jury segregation of the game along racial lines, it is pretty easy to see that the overwhelming majority of the sport is played by people of European extraction. Hockey isn’t the only sport at fault as golf, tennis and NASCAR – laugh if you will but if you see the attendance numbers it’s a major sport in this country – have those issues as well but I’ll concede as far as team sports go, hockey is extremely homogenous.

    I think that aspect of the sport in the US limits the popularty far more than some of the other excuses. Here’s a few that on the surface sound reasonable but could be applied to other more popular sports:

    – You can’t see the puck on TV, the game moves too fast: When you think about it, you really have to go on the reaction of the players in baseball to get an idea of where the ball is going. It is more visible than a puck but the ball moves just as fast and especially during day games it can be difficult to discern where the ball when in flight. I’d go so far to say that golf has this problem even moreso than hockey.

    – The players identities are obscured by all the equipment: C’mon, like you can really tell who any of the football players are with their helmets on. Or guys wearing hats in baseball. Basketball players obviously look unique, especially given the lack of equipment and difference in heights for different positions but that’s why hockey uniforms have numbers.

    – The regular season and playoffs are too long: Essentially the same number of games and playoff rounds as basketball. Half the number of games as baseball. Football is an outlier. Plus, the Stanley Cup is by far the coolest trophy in all of sports. What other trophy do you get your name carved into and you can drink champagne (or other beverages of choice)?

    No doubt that the league has marketed the game poorly. But until the sport becomes an ingrained part of the culture it will remain in the second tier in terms of popularity. I mean baseball has seen its biggest and brightest stars “cheat the game” and the NFL and NBA are so riddled with poor behavior of their players on and off the field (Steven McNair, Plaxico, et al) but since such of a huge proportion of little kids all across the country are still on baseball diamonds, football fields and basketball courts those games keep a healthy fanbase and a captive audience.

  18. THE REAL MikeyNJ on

    So i read two places already, other blogs, that Dubi has accepted his offer, can anyone confirm this?

    Will play for his 600K and change, and hopefully work out a new long term deal over the course of the season.

    IF this is true, its about time!

  19. bull dog line – I didn’t mention the rule changes because most of them are pretty good and I just wanted to be negative. ;) I still don’t like the idea of a shootout ending a game because I am fine with a tie, but it’s undeniably fun to watch. Hopefully, the rules that sped up the game are the real reasons for gaining new fans.

    For the last couple of seasons, I have heard about these great NHL commercials, but I have barely seen them outside of watching hockey. If I remember correctly, Versus did a good job last year getting into those local cable advertising spots to announce their upcoming games in commercials on ESPN. They have also done well for themselves to expand their sports lineup to include IRL and colllege football; unfortunately, that has yet to translate into many more viewers.

    Should I thank everybody now, Greg?

  20. Good post Spider, I remember hearing Shanny on WFAN (Francesa’s Show) he was asked what the NHL could do to make the sport more marketable. Shanny said the US networks should bring in a producer/director from HNIC. They show angles and close ups that US broadcasts don’t, and their lead-ins are superb. Sometimes silence speaks volumes.

  21. Banj-wow good call-that was over a year ago the interview with shanny!, he mentioned they just do a fabulous job north of the border and they bring in guys that have tons of experience…..he mentioned a close up view of the shootout that makes the fan at home feel like they are at center ice with the shooter, shanny needs to retire and get a job in the front office and work to improve the marketing of this great game!

  22. so duby is signed then? i mean he was basically signed this whole time for this upcoming season right after they qualified him? now, a team cant offersheet him yet because hes not an rfa right? anybody elaborate on this, i dont know too much about the business side of the game.

  23. Just wanted to add a funny Bettman anecdote. I used to belong to a country club that Bettman was also a member at. Not a particularly hoity toity place but really a place for good golf. Bettman very rarely played there. One day, I am on the 6th green about to take my put, when in the middle of my backswing/takeaway, a golf ball goes whizzing between my head and right shoulder, at first scaring the s–t out of me. I, as well as my playing partners are ready to kill except that we are completely perplexed as to where that ball could have possibly come from as it was not from golfers behind us who could have been trying to reach the green, given the direction from which the ball came. I turn around and look up to the 7th hole tee box, which is completely parallel to the green that I am standing on, but sits 50 to 60 ft above it with a bunch of trees/mini forest in between. Standing there completely embarrassed is Bettman who, it turns out had just teed off on the hole but managed somehow to hit his drive exactly 90 degrees off the tee (ie- directly where he faces when he sets up to the tee!)and almost take my head off. I (and moreso my friends)was ready to kill the guy as someone at the Club had just recently been hit in the face and hospitalized by an errant drive where the golfer hitting the ball had failed to yell fore and everyone was even more sensitive than normal over such situations. Bettman just stood there sheepishly and apologized and noted that he is an awful golfer. I pointed out that it wasn’t necessary to note he was an awful golfer as his attempted drive clearly demonstrated that. I suggested he see the Head Pro for some lessons and he told me that sadly, he already had and he used to be an even worse golfer and that this is why he rarely played because it was embarrasing and possibly dangerous for him to play. At that point my friends and I laughed and walked away though we did ask his playing partners to notify us before he was going to swing on any future holes if it was physically possible (even if inconceivable given the angle of a shot) that he could hit into us again.

  24. Sorry, reposting as I am not sure about those deletion markings.

    Just wanted to add a funny Bettman anecdote. I used to belong to a country club that Bettman was also a member at. Not a particularly hoity toity place but really a place for good golf. Bettman very rarely played there. One day, I am on the 6th green about to take my put, when in the middle of my backswing/takeaway, a golf ball goes whizzing between my head and right shoulder, at first scaring the s–t out of me. I, as well as my playing partners are ready to kill except that we are completely perplexed as to where that ball could have possibly come from as it was not from golfers behind us who could have been trying to reach the green, given the direction from which the ball came. I turn around and look up to the 7th hole tee box, which is completely parallel to the green that I am standing on, but sits 50 to 60 ft above it with a bunch of trees/mini forest in between. Standing there completely embarrassed is Bettman who, it turns out had just teed off on the hole but managed somehow to hit his drive exactly 90 degrees off the tee (ie- directly where he faces when he sets up to the tee!)and almost take my head off. I (and moreso my friends)was ready to kill the guy as someone at the Club had just recently been hit in the face and hospitalized by an errant drive where the golfer hitting the ball had failed to yell fore and everyone was even more sensitive than normal over such situations. Bettman just stood there sheepishly and apologized and noted that he is an awful golfer. I pointed out that it wasn’t necessary to note he was an awful golfer as his attempted drive clearly demonstrated that. I suggested he see the Head Pro for some lessons and he told me that sadly, he already had and he used to be an even worse golfer and that this is why he rarely played because it was embarrasing and possibly dangerous for him to play. At that point my friends and I laughed and walked away though we did ask his playing partners to notify us before he was going to swing on any future holes if it was physically possible (even if inconceivable given the angle of a shot) that he could hit into us again.

  25. Spiderpig

    Good article man… and no Greg, im not just saying that because i guest blog tomorrow! it is a good article and a good topic to talk about.

    Buttman to NHL is like Sather to Rangers. Poison.

  26. Doodie Machetto on

    Spiderpig, it’s a good thought, but just two points:

    1) The majority of the owners LOVE Bettman because he managed to get the player’s union to agree to the hard cap.

    2) The markets in Canada have to be ones that the rest of the owners would agree to.

    This is being played out with the Ballsillie attempt to move the Coyotes to Hamilton. Hamilton is an area that is claimed by both the Maple Leafs and the Sabres. Moving a team there would cut into those two markets. For the Leafs, probably no big deal, but for the Sabres, they need every fan they can get. And not every Canadian market will support a team. Everyone forgets that the Coyotes moved from Winnipeg, where they were doing just as terribly financially. The Nordiques moved from Quebec and until the past couple of years sold out almost every single game in Denver. In fact, if you look at Forbes’ list of the most valuable NHL franchises, Canadian teams make of 4 of the bottom 5 (Buffalo being the American team in there).

    Shipping ailing franchises to Canada isn’t the answer. Contraction is the answer.

    Three teams I would definitely contract: Coyotes, Islanders, and Sabres.

    And then three of the following list of teams: Edmonton or Calgary (not both, one would benefit from the demise of the other), Tampa Bay or Florida (same deal as Edmonton and Calgary), Nashville, or Anaheim.

  27. Doodie Machetto on

    RETRACTION, I was looking at an outdated list. Canadian teams have rebounded due to the strength of the Canadian dollar.

    Updated list of teams that I would contract:

    Definites: Coyotes and Islanders.

    Then 4 of the following: Edmonton or Calgary, Carolina or Washington, Columbus or Nashville, Tampa Bay or Florida, Atlanta, Anaheim or San Jose, Buffalo.

  28. I thought about contraction, but of two teams at most. If you go out contracting that many teams, the benefit from improving the product will be outweighed by the loss of fans from those franchises, as little as they may be. In addition, if you market the players better, fans might go out and buy more merchandise, including jerseys which are more expensive than a lot of game seats.

    DKA – You have the strike out mark because of putting hyphens at either end of where the strike out is, touching text.

  29. Reducing the size of the league sends an unequivocal message of failure to the sporting world and the television industry (i.e. where the money is). Make the existing franchises viable by any (legal) means is the answer. Not eliminating them.

  30. Hockey, just like European football, will never be popular in the United States for the simple reason that it was not invented there. Americans only care about what they can call their own.

  31. Mike

    i moved to Brooklyn from Odessa on April 11 of 1992.

    But i became a Rangers fan way before that… back in 1989 my father and i came here to visit my grandparents who already lived in NY since early 80’s. Back then, it was my dedushka (grandfather) who introduced me to the dark world of New York Rangers Hockey. So, when i moved to New York for good i was already a fan.

    Yes, I was on the team back in Ukraine… it was called “Gop Stop” lol (my Russian fellows know what I mean)
    There were no rules and we played hard! lol

  32. THE REAL MikeyNJ on

    A FLY

    I think I read it in one of the posts on SNY Rangers Blog, and outside the Garden

  33. Wow, the Bruins are price-gouging worse than the Rangers! (scroll down to “Price of ‘gold’ goes up”) They have a successful team and the Winter Classic and fans willing to pay for it all. I would hate to see what happens to you season ticket holders when the Rangers get to host a Classic, possibly next season. Dolan could do even worse if the economy is back in shape.

    http://www.boston.com/sports/hockey/articles/2009/08/30/allison_a_renewed_leaf/?page=full

  34. seriously can anyone confirm dubi has been signed, i need to oda my dubi jersey ASAP, im exchanging my gomez jersey 1st preseason game!

  35. Seth how are you exchanging the jersey? Did you already buy it?

    I went to the NHL store and they told me the best they could was sew over the name and number of my old jersey (Gomez). I was thinking of getting Gaborik but the guy told me the best one would probably be Staal. I don’t know how ridiculous that will look but it’s better than spending $350 for a new jersey.

  36. last year at the MSG store they had a deal – exchange and old jersey and get like 40% off a new jersey……

  37. Good day to you all, if anyone is looking for a nice read on Michael Del Zotto here you go.

    http://www.blueshirtbanter.com/2009/8/31/1004516/prospect-review-michael-del-zotto?ref=yahoo

    I can’t wait to see the battle at camp for the d-man spots we have open. I know it will be tough due to the contract we gave to Gilroy but I’m still excited to see how close he is to making the team.

    I’m still worried about the physical d-man we are sorely lacking (wicky299 I know you agree!) Mara was the closest we had to that and he is gone and I just can’t see Staal and Girardi being physical enough to warrant that description. Potter is a possibility and so is Sauer (SP?). Can’t wait for camp to see who has worked hard over the summer and who the sleeper prospects are.

  38. CCCP- “Gop Stop”, huh? I’d lake to see the “sticks” you used for your game. Do you still “skate”? J/K

    I don’t think contraction is the answer. It does send the wrong message about the league. The new, more innovative leadership with experience in, maybe other sports, open minded and brave may help. Bettman and Co. have exhausted all their abilities.

  39. Jane McManus has left Lohud. What a shame. I’ll really miss her. Lots of luck in the future, Jane.

  40. I think contraction is good for the league in two ways – it will lead to revenue sharing that can actually help ailing teams, and even more importantly, shrink the league to a point where the number of teams fits the talent pool. Two or even three fewer teams in the league would make every team more competitive.

  41. I feel bad for Hank, teams are gonna run over him every game. Our D will be a bunch of kids, a Euro puss, and Dredden, who doesn’t even have enough balls to hold Laperriere so he can stop sucker punching his teammate. Gotta feel for the guy.

    Ohh, but Brash will be his savior, cause everybody fears an old guy who used to have nightmares of McSorley after the stick incident. Muahahahaha !

  42. flippedturtle on

    Glad you liked it Staal I have been scouring the prospect reports due to the lack of news during the summer god I need camp to start!

    Anyone else feel like we have not had a hard hitting defense man in a long time? I would say since beukeboom.

  43. i hate how little attention hockey gets. anyone think the move to HDTV televisions might help – bigger screens and better picture quality really make the action of the game come to life?

  44. Doogie747- good stuff on Dubinsky. Looks like Carp was right all along- it’ll get done. I like his attitude.

  45. Nice job, Spiderpig.

    Bettman is the bane of my existence and I believe he was bought in back then JUST to work on institution of the salary cap. His regular trampling on hockey traditions is sickening to purists like myself. I’d accept it if the changes resulted in more fans or marketability. Instead, those with Directtv may not even see the games on Vs. this year as they are dropping them from the lineup.
    An owner like Jim Balsillie could bring positive press to the league, but Bettman has turned his dislike of the man into a circus.
    Very napoleonic fellow.

    nice link Doogie. Shows those other sites had the info wrong Re: Dubi accepting the qualifier. It will be done soon.

    Been away a few days –
    So I tip my hat to Patrick Hoffman and Rob C. for their great posts as well. I just waded through all the comments they generated – good stuff everyone to generate all of these discussions.

  46. I feel bad for him…everyone has him pencilled in as our #1 center…..except Sather??

    It’s criminal that he is the lowest paid player on the team (VOROS….gag), but has the highest amount of pressure to perform. He played so well with JJ, he seems to be the one suffering the fallout of “average seasons” by Nasland, Drury, Gomez….

    He sounds really postive, COME ON SATHER, give the kid a break

  47. Olga Folkyerself on

    It’s a good thing there’s a Salary Cap- otherwise Sather would be spending $100 million for a 10th place team instead of $56 Mil.

    Fire Sather!

  48. HDTV doesn’t matter when you’re broadcasted on a channel that only a slither of the country knows exists.

    Or when you have 12:30 PM weekend broadcasts only during the downtime between football and baseball seasons on a major network. I’d almost tolerate the glowing pucks and robots to see the game get better exposure.

  49. I agree the main problem with hockey is the cost of participation. So if that is true, then why couldn’t the NHL subsidize registered youth hockey programs in the United States and Canada. Also visit schools all over both countries and do this for 10-20 years as part of a long term program. You would see hockey popularity gain across the country. It would connect youth with hockey and their local teams and the NHL would ultimately get their money back through souveniers and ticket sales.

  50. Mike(Grabachev)in IA
    “99% of players are white”

    NHL Diversity

    Canadian 52%
    USA 20%
    Czech 7%
    Sweden 6%
    Finland 4.4%
    Russia 3.5%
    Slovakia 2.2%

  51. I knew Russians were declining in numbers but I didn’t think it was that low. Almost a half Canadian, non-Canadian league though.

  52. And as much as you don’t like Bettman….Buzz Hargrove is really really NOT the answer for the NHLPA…Scary!!

  53. i dont think Chekoslovakia, Poland or Slovenia were ever part of the USSR…mayeb part ot the East European communist states… but never part of CCCP.

  54. What is the point of that article on Drury? Is it to remind us again about his Little League World Series title? I believe we’ve heard about it before…

  55. yes CCCP you are right…fyi, the only Slovenian player in the NHL…Anze Kopitar, not much of a hockey hotbed.

  56. bull dog line on

    Doodie mentioned earlier in the post about eliminating teams from the NHL.
    You are 100% right. The NHL does not need all those teams in the south, Nashville, and Columbus. They could subtract 5 teams in a blink, and it would make the NHL so much better. All the players that really belong in the AHL would be gone, and the talent level would go way up. It will never happen, but it is a great idea.

  57. I didn’t know CCCP wore panties. That Drury story is the most over-hyped story in sports history.

  58. Rangers Fans,

    Tickets for the 2009-10 New York Rangers pre-season home games will go on sale Tuesday, September 1st, beginning at 10:00 am.

    Tickets are available at the Madison Square Garden Box Office, online via http://www.newyorkrangers.com, via Ticketmaster charge-by-phone (1-800-745-3000) and Ticketmaster outlets.

    PRE-SEASON HOME SCHEDULE:

    Tuesday, Sept. 15 vs. Boston Bruins @ 7:00 p.m.
    Monday, Sept. 21 vs. Detroit Red Wings @ 7:00 pm
    Thursday, Sept. 24 vs. Washington Capitals @ 7:00 p.m.

  59. CCCP

    Not only do I know why Jagr wore 68, did you know “Jaromir” means “Spring-time” or “Famous Spring” — ala, Spring, 1968? Jan Palak, et al…

    Thanks for asking :) and, thanks for reminding (the rest of) us that in our lifetimes, people have experienced real hardship and real revolution.

  60. StaalWart-, devils hopefully the devils minus gionta and madden get blown out in the garden and avery and brashear double team MAARTYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY, islanders get to see tavares choke in his debut on broadway , flyers-pronger becomes an instant hater for the people in the blueseats, redwings-watch a classy organization that just takes care of business every year, and phoenix-come watch prucha/korpikoski return to MSG!

  61. CCCP
    Congrats, bro.Tommorow is your native city 215 Birthday!
    Odessa rules! Isn’t it simbolic you have your Guest Blog tommorow as B.-Day gift. So,Happy Birhtday! And good Luck.

  62. How about dedicate post to Russian players contribution to NHL (Odessa players would be fun, but hard to have a full page…)

  63. No pressure, thou, just interesting topic.I try to get full list of ALL Russians played for Rangers, pretty impressive.

  64. Ukranian hockey players…. Tretiak! And I kinda think Gretzy’s of Ukranian decent – anybody know? If so that’s a good pedigree!

    I’ll throw in Viktor Petrenko just cuz I think he’s cool.

  65. Nice Pice Spiderpig

    No matter how you slice it, I completely agree that it’s time for Bettman to take a hike. Simply put, since this crooked politician too over the NHL experienced not one but two work stoppages, the latter resulted in the loss of a full season. The first time it happened since it’s inception.

    So, we go from 1994 where the sport reached it’s height in popularity taking over as the number 4 sport in america. Bettmans stance on eliminating the tough physical brand of hockey(which he now denies) to a more european style has not put butts in the seats. And…for anyone that wants to say the attendance is better, make it to a Rangers game during the week, and get there for the 1st period. See how empty Madison Sq Garden is…And imagine with this crazy economy, the ballz of Dolan to actually raise ticket prices again! But that’s another story!…However, once again…Out with the Bettman, in with the New Commish. Hopefully JD eventually makes his way up there.

  66. Tretiak has a Ukranian name, but I believe he is from Russia. Gretzky is of Polish descent.

    CCCP -can’t wait for your post. You go, bro.

  67. My grandparents were from Odessa, but they didn’t play hockey. Maybe that’s why they were chased out.

  68. BTW, plenty of Canadian players (Andreychuck, Tkachuck, Semenko etc.) are of Ukranian descent from Early Ukrainian Settlements in Canada 1895 -1900. Doubt any of them were from Odessa, though. You can find ice on Privoz in Odessa.

  69. ZzZz B ZzZz "The grapevine "… says Greg L. on

    Risky move Brandon(spiderpig) by not making it a Ranger topic .Great job and I do agree with bringing in a “new” face.

  70. Shush, guys.CCCP dissapeared writing his Thesis(Theme) for tomorrow.I hope he would have some sleep.

  71. actually September 2nd 1794 is when my second mom (Odessa) was born! Odessa is very special to me… thank you guys! Everything I know and everything I am, I own it to Odessa.

    My post isnt aboot hockey though… there’s been plenty of hockey talk lately…so i wanted to stir away from it just for a little…

    btw, Viktor Petrenko is a really cool guy. My brother-in-law and Victor grew up together. They are pretty good friends.

  72. Colorado Mark on

    I know the Drury little league story is tired, but a little known fact is that at age 12 he also won the USA Hockey national championships, making him a two sport champ. Drury is not the biggest problem this team has, but I’ll give him a chance to redeem himself before writing him off. There is no denying that he knows how to win. I just hope it pays dividends for the Rangers sooner rather than later.

  73. If Dury plays like he did in the final few games of the regular season, he’ll be great. He had a couple of great games against the Habs and Flyers and was on a nice point streak until he broke his bone.

    Kudos to Dubi for going to camp so far and not holding out. That says a lot about his character.

  74. Thanks for the kind words, guys. I’m here waiting up for CCCP’s post!

    Greg L. – Was that really you ranting yesterday or is it a troll now? So confused.

    Dubinsky is a smart cookie and knows he will get his if he deserves it based on his play. He doesn’t want to make an enemy in Sather so that he won’t be allowed to come back to play here later.

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