16 June 2009

Congrats to Pittsburgh, Congrats to Richards, No congrats for the NHL...

1) Penguins win Stanley Cup

Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Penguins for their comback victory in the Stanley Cup final series. After losing 5-0 to Detroit in Game 5, the Penguins had their backs to the wall traling 3 games to 2. But they did the only thing they could do to win. They outplayed the Red Wings in both games 6 and 7. The Penguins definatly had more hustle in the final two games, and the Red Wings just plain looked tired.

I find it tough to rip on Marian Hossa for changing teams and ending up on the wrong end of the Final for two years in a row. The Penguins had no long relationship with Hossa as they rented him from Atlanta for two months last season. Hossa may end up long term with the Wings. However the one critisim of him is the fact was a non factor in the Final, 0 goals in 7 games in pretty damning.

2) Todd Richards to be named head coach at noon presser today :).

The Wild will hold a press conference to announce Todd Richards has been hired as the next head coach. My preference was honestly for the more experienced Peter Laviolette, but the truth is Richards looks like a pretty good hire for the Wild as well. There were a lot of bad retreads out there, Crawford, MacTavish, Quinn. Maybe Laviolette belongs among that group as well, but personally I think he got kind of a bum rap in Carolina one season after winning the Stanley Cup.

Considering all of the bad candidates out there the Wild were rumored to be pursuing, this decision I would rate as good news, the Wild now have a coach in place going into the draft next weekend.

3) No Congratulations to the NHL for winning a their court hearing over possible sale to Jim Balsillie.

The Coyotes have been selling less than 15K tickets a game (and apparantly that's including about 1K the owner buys every night and writes off). In a best case scenario, it's tough to imagine the Coyotes can overcome the $30M average per year the team has lost in it's 10 years in the desert.

The Judge was very critical of both sides in the hearing last Tuesday, but ultimatly decided he could justify meeting Balsillie's deadline for a judicious bankruptcy, especially if the NHL is willing to keep the team afloat for another year (which means the Wild and all other clubs will each loose $1M and change a piece if the trend continues).

The Players association supports relocating the Coyotes, especially because their salary cap is tied to revenue, and if the better market is out there obviously that's in their best interest.

Right now the three U.S. Markets worth looking at (market size rank in parenthesis) in my Opinion are Houston (9th), Seattle (12th), and Kansas City (22nd). (For the record Minneapolis-St. Paul is 13th). But all of these pale in comparison to the prospect of another team in the Greater Toronto Area (as Balsillie would've wanted) as far as prospective revenue.

Houston- Toyota Center in an NHL ready building that hosts the NBA's Rockets. However, there are already NFL, NBA, MLB and MLS Franchises nearby, perhaps the competition is too crowded for a non-traditional market. Still the Aeros are consistently among the top 5 AHL teams in attendance.

Seattle- This would seem like a prime time for the NHL to take a shot at the Pacific Northwest, especially without NBA competition for the winter sports dollar. However, the Sonics left because the public said no to building the city an arena, I imagine chances are similar of getting an NHL building.

Kansas City- Though a smaller market, it's similar to Seattle as far as the teams the NHL would have to compete with. The big advantage over Seattle is that the building (Verizon Center) has been in place for a few years without a tenant. The biggest thing they host is the Big 12 Basketball tournament right now.

There are teams losing money in the NHL and it's hurting the players and the other teams. Bettman needs to stop being so stubborn about some of these markets and get some of these teams moved, for the health of the NHL.

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