Thursday, December 28, 2006

Just Say No To Possible Groin Pulls

Have you seen this? Derek Booggard isn’t allowed to skate during stoppages to stretch his legs any more. As a matter of fact, he received a ten minute misconduct for doing it! According to the ref, he was “inciting.” As the article mentions, he hasn’t fought in over 40 days? Who exactly was he inciting?

The hypocrisy of it is this… only a tough guy could pick up such a penalty. If, let’s say, Jeff O’Neil (who gets LESS ice time than Jim Vandermeer!) were to stretch the old hammies during a t.v. timeout, would he get nailed for ten minutes? No chance. And inciting? The league needs to incite some excitement into the game by actually promoting guys like Derek “The Boogeyman” Booggard instead of slapping tough guys on the wrist for, well, being tough.

Do did you see the Briere spear to the Russian Rocket of Alex Ovechkin? After checking to make sure his utility belt was still in place, Ovechkin went over and asked the Sabers captain to settle their running feud like gentleman. Briere declined. Let’s face it, both players doled out cheap hits. The league should have sent them both a message and suspended them a game each for their respective plays. It could be argued that the Ovechkin hit was an act of poor judgment. The Briere spear, however, was pre-meditated. The Capitals sent their feed to the NHL. Nothing will be done by the league.

To the brass on 6th Avenue, it is in their best interest to protect star players, even when they play dirty. Why waste time with dirty plays when there are much more important things to attend to… like guys stretching his hamstrings during a television timeout?

Site Update – We hope to get a press release out about the Night Out some time early next week. We have also found a site designer that will be drawing up a banner and logo for the site. The logo will also end up on tee-shirts, which we will look to sell in a few months. Proceeds will benefit the site and next year’s Night Out.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Fight Poll from

Check it out... a recent poll on (results taken November 26, 2006). A meager 3.5% of hockey fans (who else would be on the Bruins site?) have a negative perception of hockey fights. 90% of hockey fans enjoy them.

Do hockey fights bother you? Current Results:

Nope, I love 'em.

I don't mind them, especially when someone stands up for a teammate.

I don't care either way -- part of the game.

I'm not a big fan.

They bother me very much

Sunday, December 24, 2006

They're just not buying it

They're just not buying it
Bruins still a tough sell to skeptical fans
By Kevin Paul Dupont December 24, 2006

These are strange times, eerily so, on Causeway Street. For those who came aboard the hockey lovefest in the '50s and the pre-Orr '60s -- when there really wasn't much of anything or anyone to love -- the acres of empty seats today are hauntingly familiar. Never has the "retro" look been so, well, downright wretched.

The Bruins are winning these days, and with some regularity, but still no one comes. OK, that's an exaggeration. The Vault isn't empty, but for the first three months of 2006-07, the building's ushers have rarely wiped down the turnstiles once everyone has made it to the opening faceoff.

Read more here.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Can the NHL end the slide?

Can the NHL end the slide?
By Gerry Fraley

It had been coming on for some time. In December, the NHL's post-lockout honeymoon has withered and died.Attendance?There was a telling snapshot to the season on Saturday. Seven games had announced gatherings of fewer than 16,000. That included announced turnouts in the 10,000 range for Boston and the New York Islanders.

Read more here.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Stats are Beautiful...

I love stats. As a matter of fact, I have made a career of identifying trends for organizations. Here are some stats that I have found are characteristic of the new NHL trend for calling penalties.

Some stats from December 13, 2006

12 games
119 penalties called
2 boarding
1 charging
2 cross checking
1 diving
3 elbowing
2 fighting
12 high sticking
19 holding
34 hooking
2 illegal play by goaltender
11 interference
2 interference with goaltender
1 kneeing
1 misconduct
2 puck over glass
4 roughing
4 slashing
2 too many men on ice
13 tripping
1 unsportsmanlike conduct

All told, 18 stick violations, 9 excessive hits, 1 fight, 2 misconducts, 1 dive, 4 roughs, 1 fight, 4 puck violations, 2 bench violations, 77 obstruction calls.

This is the “new” NHL. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

TV ratings going south

TV ratings going southIt keeps getting worse in big U.S. markets
Tony Gallagher, The Province
Published: Sunday, December 10, 2006

The NHL governors got a rude awakening at their board meeting this week at the beautiful Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Fla., when they had the U.S. television ratings plunked in front of them.

Talk about devastating. And unless there is a rapid recovery, it's very difficult to understand what will become of this sport in the U.S.Keep in mind this has nothing to do with the league's appearance on Versus network, or the old Outdoor Living Network as it was known last year. This is virtually every U.S. city in the league as viewers seem to be turing away from the game at a remarkable pace.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Food for Thought...

So have you read any of t.v. ratings articles? Amazing stuff. This is one of my favorite sections because I firmly believe that the NHL skewed its post-lockout attendance numbers. I mean, c’mon, what sport comes back from a season long lockout with increases in attendance from before the lockout? That is laughable. The NHL should be ashamed to release such figures and statements as facts because real sports fans know that is impossible. Sure… hockey fans are loyal the Commish will tell you. I believe that too. But I also believe what my eyes were telling me… and that is, numerous whole sections were and still are empty in NHL arenas. So while the NHL was busy putting out press releases about the strong comeback after the lockout, countless other articles were pointing out that the NHL wasn’t getting much hype on the tube. As a matter of fact, the NHL has consistently lost in ratings to taped curling, bowling, and poker! This is sickening. If the NHL thinks its current product can continue on this path, they are wearing blinders. Time for a change… and I don’t mean in marketing. I mean the game needs a change.

The NHL brass never cease to amaze me with their brilliant ideas. Did you know you can watch any NHL game FOR FREE on Google? Sure! Go for it! They are all right there… watch them on your computer and enjoy. While you are at it, cancel you NHL Center Ice Package. That costs around $150.

As you know, I am a Caps’ fan. But I must say this; last night’s game between Ottawa and Washington was disgraceful to watch. And the Caps won. AND there were two scraps. So why am I so upset? Well… here is a blip from ESPN’s recap of the game:

“It was a penalty-filled game, with each team whistled 11 times, and Senators coach Bryan Murray wasn't exactly pleased. "I'm not supposed to comment, but [during] the first goal, Ovechkin was offsides, and we watched it. His foot was well over the line, and his other foot was in the air," Murray said. "The third goal, with an icing call ... that's what we were yelling about, and they call it a clean play."”

Murray obviously had a problem with the refs last night. He even put his team two men down by yelling at them after a Denis Hamel phantom hook. There were 12 obstruction-like penalties last night, many of them having little to nothing to do with the flow of the play. One of the worst calls was on Mike Green for interference. Right… his backed bumped into a player that had just released the puck, the player fell over… penalty. It’s absurd. There are numerous examples like this every night in the new NHL. They say they call them because they are freeing up the ice. Instead, they are making the game boorish to watch. Watching players skate to the penalty box after yet another hooking or holding call is boorish and it disturbs the flow of the game. Free up the ice? Sure… but at what price? The NHL thinks increased scoring will bring fans to arenas. Instead, boorish hockey has sent them running in droves to the parking lot. Like I said, if you want your fix, watch it on Google.

Welcome to HFU

So my first column isn't all original thought. Get used to it... some people simply say it better than I do. An example is below and we will get that.

First and foremost, let me say welcome to I hope this site is successful and we can have an eventful North American Save the NHL Night on January 20th. We chose that date because there are games played in major media markets throughout Canada and the United States. Even if there are only 500 - 1000 people holding up signs that night, that is a success to us. We hope for more of course. We will continue the tradition on an annual basis until the NHL realizes that this is a North American game for North American fans that want their traditional style of hockey back. I'll spend another Sig's Corner on this at some other point. In the mean time, enjoy the site, make the most of it, keep your comments clean, and promote, promote, promote the site and the Save the NHL night out.
Now on to the Caps/Thrash game. Okay, I admit it, I subscribed to NHL Center Ice this year. I TIVO games that I think are going to be exciting and will watch them if they live up to my expectations. Watching an average hockey game this year in unthinkable though. However, I do regularly watch my Caps. I am a hometown guy all the way.

Last week, I had the pleasure of tuning into the Caps/Thrashers game. This has turned into a good Southeast rivalry and it has been enjoyable hockey to watch. Both teams are young, talented, and have some toughness and grit to their teams. Unfortunately, one team adequately uses their toughness and one team doesn't. That night, Bob Hartley decided to scratch Eric Boulton from the Thrashers lineup knowing full well the Caps carry regular tough guys in Donald Brashear and John Erskine. On top of that, Garnett Exelby was out. So adding Boulton seemed even more logical. No dice.
With little time left and the game in hand for the Thrashers, rugged D-man Andy Sutton tried to lineup youngster Mike Green from the Caps. He missed however, but not before throwing his elbows up near Green's face, leaving his intent very clear. Ben Clymer went after the much bigger Sutton for his actions. Unfortunately, Sutton is much bigger and more skilled in the art of fisticuffs and handled Clymer fairly easily. While this was happening, a scrum ensued between Thrashers star Ilya Kovalchuk and Caps captain Chris Clark. Kovalchuk, for whatever reason, thought it was in his best interest to grab and pull the fish bowlesque cage that Clark was wearing as a result of having his teeth rearranged by a puck. A classless move to say the least.
Next shift, Hanlon throws out Brashear, Erskine, and Matt Bradley amongst others. Brashear goes right after Vishnevski, no doubt because he has taken a few cheap shots at Caps' players this year and has not to pay for his transgressions. Brash grabbed Vish with his gloves still on and Vish was actually the first to get his gloves off. Soon after, Brash dropped his gloves and pummeled Vish to the ice, leaving a bloody mess behind. Erskine went after Hossa and pummeled him, no doubt because a number of Thrashers players have taken liberties with Caps' star players this year. And Bradley went with de Vries, an even matchup that Bradley won. Next face off, Sutherby pops Larsen, who his reluctant to drop his gloves. Next face off, Thrashers captain, Scott Mellanby edges out Cap Jamie Heward in a good tilt. While this is happening, Hanlon and Hartley are having words. Reports of such verbal jabs as "You wanna go?" and "Next game" are picked up. Hanlon even gives Hartley the chicken dance. Hanlon reportedly tries to get at Hartley after the game with no such luck.
A couple of days later, NHL policeman, Colin Campbell releases his verdict. Brash picks up a three game suspension, even though he plays a regular shift and was the last one to drop his gloves. And if you check out Brash's fight card, his fights have gone down over the years. As a matter of fact, this was only his second fight this year! Sutherby gets a game for what could have been called a non-fight since very few punches were thrown (Larsen latched on to Sutherby's legs). And Mellanby gets a game for doing what a captain should do. Hartley gets $10,000 drawn from his pay check and Hanlon has $30,000 taken from his because of wonderful NHL rules that prohibit instigators in the final five minutes of a game.
A couple of thoughts about all of this. First, this rule is terrible. As with many other new rules the NHL has implemented, they didn't investigate the side effects. If you cannot "invite" a player to a fight, how are you supposed send a message that cheap hits won't be tolerated against your team in the final five minutes? Here is an answer... cross check, high stick, or slash a guy. Even if you get a major, you won't be suspended. I am, of course, being sarcastic. Does the NHL brass not see that their current rule actually promotes cheap play and no retribution? And if each of these subsequent instigator fines leads to double the amount of fine, at what point do you stop? Will Hanlon lose his full salary if his guys keep standing up for their teammates?
Next, kudos to Glenn Hanlon for carrying a tough lineup. Apparently Bob Hartley doesn't feel it is necessary. Why else would he scratch Eric Boulton against a tough squad? Atlanta fans should be disgraced that Boulton wasn't in there to help protect their star players like Vish and Hossa. Hanlon used his toughness the way it should be used. Hanlon obviously feels that men should settle their differences in a gentlemanly manner, not with the use of flying elbows and high sticks. What Hanlon didn't realize is... the NHL doesn't agree.
Finally, as Hartley said, "Next game." That game is December 15th by the way. Next game, Hartley will do what he should have done this game. Dress Boulton. Exelby should be back as well. Sutton has a bummed ankle and is out. Needless to say, it has all the makings of an old-time game. But here is where things will go wrong... the NHL brass will step in. The timely pre-game phone call will be made to both locker rooms warning that Bettman and Campbell are watching closely. The NHL brass will essentially squash any chances at an emotion-filled game. While they exclaimed that more games with division opponents will breed more rivalries, they obviously do not promote rivalries that involve rough and tumble play. This is the NEW NHL ladies and gents. Emotional, physical, and traditional hockey is not politically correct and will not be tolerated.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Fight Night, Redux
For far too long, Bob Hartley's Atlanta Thrashers have been tossing around questionably-legal elbows, knees and slashes like rice at a wedding. Wednesday night, Caps' coach Glen Hanlon and his Washington Capitals had had enough. But before we get into that, let's get a few facts out there for context:
Entering Wednesday night's game with Atlanta, the Caps were last in the NHL with only three fighting majors on the season.
In an eight-day span during which the Caps got beat by Division rival Carolina twice by a combined scored of 9-1, there wasn't a single fighting major in either game.
There was not a single fighting major in Wednesday night's game until after Andy Sutton - a player who has, in the past, been suspended for a cheap shot - went head-hunting on Mike Green.
With those out of the way, we can discuss the end to Wednesday night's game in context. Simply put, Hanlon was mad as hell and he wasn't going to take it any more:
"It was a 4-2 hockey game and someone, a 21-year-old kid with a cut mouth [Green], gets his head knocked off with a high hit and one of their players [Ilya Kovalchuk] is grabbing our captain [Chris Clark], grabbing his cage and shaking it," Hanlon said. "What the heck are they supposed to do?"
What they did was release the hounds. Donald Brashear paired off with Vitali Vishnevski, Matt Bradley and Greg de Vries danced and Marian Hossa wisely turtled (but still somehow got five for fighting and a ten minute misconduct) rather than face John Erskine's fists. Immediately after the next faceoff, Brian Sutherby went after a visibly disinterested Brad Larsen, and Thrasher captain Scott Mellanby did the same to Jamie Heward following the next puck drop. All told, there were 135 minutes in penalties (if my math is correct) in a four-second span of hockey time, but the fireworks didn't end there:
The animosity continued in the hallway between the teams' locker rooms afterward, with Hanlon reportedly screaming at Hartley. In the game's waning seconds, Hanlon, on the Capitals' bench, gestured toward Hartley, flapping his arms like a chicken. Hartley responded by mouthing the words, "Next time."
Next time is a story for, well, next time. But regarding what happened last night, respect in the NHL is a two-way street. When you respect your opponent and the way they play the game, that respect is reciprocated. When the other team doesn't respect your players, however - when they send a cheap-shot artist out there to run players in the dying minutes of a game that has been all but decided - sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands (or fists, as it were) before someone gets hurt. And that's exactly what happened Wednesday night.Vishnevski's face will heal. But if Sutton cleanly landed his shot on Green, the kid could be out with a concussion for who knows how long. And if the Caps let Sutton get away with that garbage, who knows what liberties he or his teammates might take next. Now, at least, Atlanta knows that if they mess with the bull... well, you know.And while Hartley may paint his team as a bunch of choir boys, Mellanby had the proper prospective on what happened:
"Obviously, they took exception to [Sutton's] hit -- they were defending themselves, I don't necessarily agree with the way they went about it [captainese for "we would have done the exact same thing"], but they've developed a lot of pride and identity with that team. That comes from Hanlon, and I mean that as a compliment. He's instilled a great work ethic in that team and great pride. That was just old-school hockey, and I don't have any problem with it. It's part of the game, it happens."
The bottom line is this: Sutton ran Green and Ben Clymer went after him for it, but nothing came of it. Feeling that the Thrashers hadn't answered sufficiently for that hit and others that happened throughout the night and the other three games in the season series thus far, Hanlon put out a few toughs to send a message, and they certainly did send that message. Sutherby's fight was overkill (and who knows if Hanlon sent him out there to fight - Suts may have just wanted to do his part as an alternate captain and decided to drop the gloves on his own), and Mellanby's was similarly unnecessary. But Clymer said it best: "We’re going to stick together and if things get ugly, teams know they’ll have to face all 20 [of us]."Without question, fines and suspensions will - and should - follow. But they're all a small price to pay for respect and pride. And I can't imagine there's too much outrage throughout the rest of the League that the Thrashers got their lunch handed to them for once.
(Cross-posted at Japers' Rink)
UPDATE: Here's the action from the final 1:30 or so (thanks to Eric at Off Wing for the pointer)

Friday, December 8, 2006

The NHL's Attendance Myth

The NHL's Attendance Myth
Gary Bettman is crowing about the NHL's attendance increase.
TFP Columnist Greg Wyshynski explains why that elation may be short-lived.
By Greg Wyshynski

(WASHINGTON, DC) -- Kevin Morgan was the Vice President of Sales for the Washington Capitals in 2002 when I interviewed him for a magazine article called "How Hockey Can Take Over Your Town."

His arrival in D.C. came at a time when the Caps were literally giving away thousands of tickets to home games, just to get fans through the arena doors and on line for the concession stands. My, how times haven't changed...

Of course, he's not alone — the same rubes who think non-hockey fans will flock to the arena because they might see a skills competition end an overtime game are probably thinking that the elimination of the red line accounted for at least 2% of that record gate increase.Like I said: rubes, the lot of them.

This isn't a screed against the quality of the "new" NHL, because the game is more entertaining than it was before the lockout. But let's not kid ourselves: the on-ice product is wonderful, but its effect on the attendance increase is completely unsupported.

Read more here.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Lies, Damned Lies, and NHL Attendance Numbers

Lies, Damned Lies, and NHL Attendance Numbers
From Jamie Fitzpatrick

How much can you trust official NHL attendance figures?

Consider this: the Detroit Red Wings reported 20,066 through the turnstiles for Wednesday’s game against Phoenix. Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News estimates actual attendance at about 13,000.

The Wings have an iron-clad excuse: They were up against the Tigers, who are closing in on a berth in the World Series. Once the ball team’s near-miraculous season is over, Detroit’s hockey team will resume its place as one of the top draws in the NHL.

But if Hockeytown can pad its numbers by about 30 percent, what kind of lies are they telling at other NHL arenas? How many real people showed up for Wednesday’s games in Florida (which reported 14,312 loyal customers), Atlanta (12,579) or Anaheim (12,394)?

Read more here.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Fans keep seats empty: Garden, league suffer

Fans keep seats empty: Garden, league suffer
By Douglas Flynn/ NHL notes
CNC Sports Reporter
Sunday, December 3, 2006 - Updated: 12:35 AM EST

The Bruins had just won seven of their last nine games. They were coming home Thursday fresh off back-to-back emotional wins against the division rival Maple Leafs in Toronto.

With the Red Sox in hibernation, the Patriots next game three days away and the Celtics heading in the opposite direction in the standings, the game was sure to be a hot ticket in town. Not quite. The matchup drew a season-low 11,150, leaving more than a third of the Garden’s 17,565 seats for hockey empty as the B’s pulled out a dramatic 4-3 shootout victory.

Empty seats are nothing new this year. In 13 home games, the Bruins have sold out just one, the home opener Oct. 19 against Calgary. And even with an official sellout announced that night, there were still a large number of vacant chairs in the building.

Read more here.

Saturday, December 2, 2006



The number of fans at the United Center for the Chicago Blackhawks' second home game of the season, marking a single-game low for one of the league's most venerable franchises which has fallen on hard times. The Blackhawks' attendance problems underscore something of a league-wide issue at the gate this season — one year after the lockout when the league put more emphasis (and dollars) into marketing.

Original article here.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Attendance down in Los Angeles, Chicago

Attendance down in Los Angeles, Chicago news services

The Colorado Avalanche played before empty seats at home for the first time in nearly 11 years on Tuesday.
Last week, the Los Angeles Kings had their lowest attendance in five years. The Chicago Blackhawks had 8,008 fans in 20,500-seat United Center the same night.

Is hockey attendance in trouble? Commissioner Gary Bettman says it's too early to hit the panic button.
"It's a couple weeks into the season and any speculation would be premature," Bettman was quoted as saying in Tuesday's Los Angeles Times.

Bettman, the Times said, blamed the "schedule being a little different. It's a little premature two to three weeks into the season to be writing attendance stories."

Read more here.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Hockey ratings take a tumble

Hockey ratings take a tumble
NHL's post-lockout honeymoon is over for TSN and CBC
Nov. 30, 2006. 06:35 AM

Canadian hockey fans' euphoria at having their game back, which produced record TV ratings, has apparently cooled off.

National ratings for CBC and TSN show a significant decline from last season, the first after the NHL lost an entire season to a labour dispute.

And while the league has been touting the attractiveness of the "new NHL," with its new rules designed to open up the game, ratings thus far indicate the league is not much more popular here than it was prior to the lockout.

There are some possible explanations, but TV executives are mystified by the size of the decrease.

Hockey Night In Canada ratings are off 19 per cent for the early game and a whopping 33 per cent for the late one compared to last year. TSN's ratings have dropped 18 per cent.

That follows a season that saw CBC ratings soar to their highest level in more than a decade and TSN's set an all-time record.

"We all thought the numbers would come down, but this is more than we thought," admits Joel Darling, CBC senior executive producer. "It's a bit puzzling.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Adam Proteau: Time to invest in NHL broadcasts

Adam Proteau: Time to invest in NHL broadcasts
The Hockey News

There are a couple ways to interpret the news that the NHL will be the first pro sports organization to partner up with Internet phenomenon YouTube.

The optimist in me says the league deserves a whole heap of credit for hitching part of its wagon to a cutting-edge technology. He also says youngsters who spend much of their spare time perusing the world wide web – on which YouTube is now ubiquitous – will become familiar with the game and its players in ways they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to using the Betamax video terminals mom and dad still have hooked up in the rec room.

The pessimist in me counters by noting that a greater degree of familiarization with the NHL will breed contempt among fans when they realize what those of us lucky enough to have the Centre Ice satellite package already know: the stark disparity in the production quality of televised U.S. games remains a sore spot for a league eager to expand its horizons beyond the gate-driven present.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Taped Curling Beats Hockey in Ratings

Taped Curling Beats Hockey in Ratings

SWEEPING WITH STARS: Curling gets the star treatment on NBC Sunday with something called the Elite Challenge (2 p.m.) It's a made-for-TV event that pits the U.S. men's and women's champions against each other, with skier Picabo Street and speed skater Dan Jansen joining in. "For people who had never even touched a rock until the morning of the event, (Street and Jansen) were unbelievably good," says announcer Don Chevrier, who will be joined by fellow Canadians Don Duguid and Elfi Schlegel. "It's a fun, made-for-TV thing but it will go a long way toward building curling interest in the United States." If you're wondering why NBC is doing this, don't forget that in 2004 taped curling beat ABC's NHL broadcasts in the ratings. ... The serious curling season starts tomorrow with the Continental Cup (1 p.m., CBC). ... The Vanier Cup gets the A-list treatment tomorrow (3 p.m., The Score) with a broadcast in high definition complete with virtual first-down line.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

'It's empty in here': Will Blues fans come back?

'It's empty in here': Will Blues fans come back?
By Jeremy Rutherford (email)

In the late 1990s, Blues defenseman Jamie Rivers was in his first stint with the Blues. His fondest memories are of the crowds that gathered to watch their beloved Bluenote.

Nearly 21,000 fans packed the arena now known as Scottrade Center, and when they left, the buzz from the building continued to ring in their ears.

"It was just crazy in there," said Rivers, who rejoined the Blues last summer. "You couldn't hear anything at times. Just the screaming alone, it's almost like it would mess up your thoughts."

Read more here.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

NHL attendance problems?

NHL attendance problems?
It's too early to start worrying
Posted on 24/10/06

As the revamped, salary-capped National Hockey League skates through the third week of its second postlockout season, critics are already pointing to sagging attendance in several markets as a sign that the league still faces serious problems. That is a ridiculous leap in logic.

Attendance is off only marginally league-wide from the level of a year ago, which was to be expected.
Last year at this time, teams were pulling out all the stops to draw people back to the sport, and even casual fans were curious about how their teams would fare under new rules. Now they've drifted back to their old habits. And in most U.S. markets, going to hockey games, particularly during the work week or early in the season, is not one of them.

"The reason you see some week-day crowds so far this season in the 10,000 to 12,000 range is because that is likely close to the season-ticket base of those teams," said Steve Violetta, the executive vice-president of the Nashville Predators. "Not too many groups or walk-up tickets are sold in most markets on a Tuesday."

Read more here.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

NHL attendance could be a problem. Again.

NHL attendance could be a problem. Again.
Last Updated Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2006
by Scott Morrison

Gary Bettman is probably right, of course: it is still a little too early to panic.

But be careful because, as Yogi Berra once said, it gets late early out there.

Bettman was referring the other day to some early troubling attendance trends in the National Hockey League, which, as of Tuesday, were showing an overall average decline of one per cent from a year ago, though there have been big increases in Buffalo, where there is hope of a championship, and Carolina, where there is proof of one.

The usual hotbeds, especially north of the border, have continued to fill the seats but, early or not, there is no denying there are some concerns out there.

Read more here.

Sunday, July 9, 2006

NHL Lockout Sinks Canadian TV Ratings, Annoys Petulant Network Execs

NHL Lockout Sinks Canadian TV Ratings, Annoys Petulant Network Execs
From Jamie Fitzpatrick,

Start the telethon and schedule the bake sale. Canada's TV networks need your help.
Channels that usually broadcast NHL games and highlights are losing a bundle during the lockout.

It apparently never occured to them to reduce their dependence on hockey revenue, even though everyone could see this shutdown coming for several years.

Television is the all-powerful god of sport, so we should all be losing sleep. And Canadian hockey fans are expected to shoulder their share of the blame. According to one whining television exec, Canadians aren't real hockey fans at all.

Thursday, June 8, 2006

NHL Game 3 could bottom out TV ratings

NHL Game 3 could bottom out TV ratings
By Michael Hiestand Updated

History might be in the making: NBC's Game 3 of the NHL's Stanley Cup Finals on Saturday night just might produce the lowest broadcast network prime-time rating ever.

Reasons include: the series having a Canadian team — Edmonton — and our neighbors to the north aren't counted in U.S. ratings; the other team — Raleigh, N.C.-based Carolina — is in a midsized Southern city; neither team is a big brand name; and Saturday is TV's least-watched night.

Such factors were in play when a Tampa Bay-Calgary Finals game on a Saturday in 2004 scored the second-lowest-rated network prime-time rating ever of 1.4% of U.S. households. It was tantalizingly close to the all-time mark: 1.3% for snowboarding on NBC in 2002.

Monday, June 5, 2006

NHL's Strong Comeback Marred by Poor TV Ratings

NHL's Strong Comeback Marred by Poor TV Ratings
By Tarik El-Bashir and Thomas HeathWashington Post Staff Writers
Monday, June 5, 2006; Page E01

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman stood before a sea of cameras in New York last July and promised the league would emerge from its canceled 2004-05 season with more excitement and an economic system that would give all 30 teams a shot at profitability.

As the Stanley Cup finals begin tonight, Bettman appears to have achieved most of his goals: scoring and attendance are up and revenues are healthy, rule changes have made the game faster and more thrilling, and any team -- even those from small markets -- can win, as the finals between the Carolina Hurricanes and Edmonton Oilers proves.

The big exception is television ratings -- a key revenue driver and measure of a sport's mass appeal -- which have gone from bad to worse. The NHL playoffs, mostly relegated to the Outdoor Life Network (OLN), a second-tier cable channel known for hunting and fishing programs and its Tour de France coverage, have barely registered with the American public.

NBC's ratings aren't great, either."You look at the playoff [ratings] numbers, and they have been beaten pretty soundly by poker and bowling," said Paul Swangard, managing director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon.

NHL TV Ratings Suffer

NHL TV Ratings Suffer
June 5, 2006 3:45 p.m. EST
Christopher Cornell - All Headline News Contributor

(AHN) - Following the lock-out season in 2004-2005, the NHL has rebounded nicely this year and has achieved many of the goals it set out to accomplish.

The games have featured higher scoring, attendance is up, revenues are healthy and thanks to the new collective bargaining agreement, there's more parity between all the teams.

One thing that hasn't improved from years past are the television ratings. In fact, they've only gotten worse. ESPN declined to renew their contract with the NHL this season, leaving the broadcasting rights to the Outdoor Life Network which usually covers hunting, fishing and the Tour de France.

According to the Washington Post, OHN posted a 0.4 rating for this year's playoffs thus far. In 2004 ESPN's coverage posted a 0.7. NBC's coverage of select playoff games this year posted a 1.1. ABC posted a 1.5 rating two years ago for the same amount of games.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

NHL's meltdown gives other sports TV opportunity

NHL's meltdown gives other sports TV opportunity
Posted 5/10/2005 10:54 PM
Updated 5/11/2005 1:01 PM

Focusing on the notion that you're irreplaceable, rather than expendable, can be healthy.
Sadly, facts can sometimes get in the way. Take a pro league, whose player salaries averaged $1.83 million per year, that skips an entire season. That leaves the league's national TV carrier to gin up replacement shows to fill what would have been hundreds of hours of playoff coverage.

As the National Hockey League and its players association continue to meet today, this must be depressing: TV ratings, so far, suggest as many viewers might want to watch hockey players bowl as watch them play hockey.

ESPN's Bowling Night, in which pro athletes from sports including hockey hit the lanes, is a stalwart in a replacement lineup that's now averaging 0.7% of U.S. cable TV households on ESPN and 0.4% on ESPN2.

That might not sound like much. But consider that at this point last year, ESPN/ESPN2 had aired 46 NHL playoff games — and drawn identical average ratings.