Monday, November 30, 2009

Ovechkin Hurt Himself

I'm a Don Cherry fan. I don't agree with everything he says, but I think he has a good grip on whats right and wrong with hockey. I agree with him in the fact that Alexander Ovechkin gets away with some stuff that he shouldn't. When I saw him go down tonight with an injury, I felt bad for him. When I saw the replay of how it happened, I did not feel bad for him anymore. Take a look:

I took that screenshot about an hour ago. Clearly, he is sticking his knee out to an extent. Don Cherry is going to have an absolute field day with this. All the knee-to-knee hits last week was the issue, and now this? I cannot wait for Coach's Corner.

Alex Ovechkin, I do not feel bad for you, you stuck your knee out in a reckless way and no observer that saw you do this should be shocked that you might be injured.

That is all.

Monday, November 16, 2009

On Ottawa and the NHL

So I was at the Rangers 2-1 SO Win over the Ottawa Senators Saturday afternoon inside Scotiabank Place. Ottawa is great, and even though the arena is in Kanata (about 10 minutes outside the city), there is plenty to do around Kanata as well.

The Senators as a franchise were lucky enough to have the distinct advantage of being placed in Canada to start from a business perspective. Unless they never win a game for the next five years, I don't see how their attendance could ever dive below the top 15 (in terms of percent capacity). The biggest business challenge for the Sens to me? They are going up against the history of the Maple Leafs, Canadiens, and even the Quebec Nordiques to an extent.

I was thinking about this at the game. Ottawa is, for the most part, just stuck between Montreal and Toronto. With the Leafs and Habs being apart of the original six, generations upon generations of Canadians grew up supporters of one of the two clubs typically. With the Senators playing only their 17th season this year (16 if you want to subtract the lockout), its no wonder some people seem to think Sens fans aren't as dedicated as others.

To this I say bullshit. I know the passion is there otherwise they wouldn't fill the arena year in and year out. The key, to me at least, is to create a consistently winning team. I mean, look at the fan passion during the 2006 Stanley Cup final. That looks like a lot of fun for anyone. What needs to happen is the team has to give a reason for the roof to blow off Scotiabank, which could easily happen with a playoff run.

To me, part of the reason why the Rangers are so popular (besides being from NY), is because of 1994. The support of the Rangers got passed down generation by generation just like any other original six team, but 1994 awoke many sleeping fans along with creating new ones (including myself, as my dad is a Bruins fan with his parents from Boston). Hockey was hot in '94, and conveniently one of the biggest cities in the world captured the top prize. Coincidence that there are Ranger fans scattered across North America and the World today? Not at all.

My end point is this: I want Ottawa to succeed because I think there should/can be at least two more teams in Canada. This whole southern expansion thing has been good and bad, but the NHL needs to cut its losses in the next three to five years. The NFL did it with NFL Europe, and cut its losses eventually. Canada is where hockey will always be king, and the NHL needs to take advantage of that in a business sense. The great thing about the Senators is that, from my point of view as an American going to games at Scotiabank, all they need to do is put a winning team on the ice consistently. Everything else will fall in line because Ottawa is lucky enough as a franchise (from a business sense) to be located where Hockey is king.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Re-Grand Opening: What a Pass

Few will read this, but for those of you who will (because your either still following or you forgot to delete me from your RSS feeds), I'm back with a new look. Welcome to What a Pass (WaP for short), where I (Rob) give my dilettante-esque opinion on the business of Hockey and Soccer (and occasionally the sports) in North America (for the most part).

If any of you remember Puck Money, this is the same site (with all the old posts), but instead of trying to act like the journalist I will never become, I am just going to write what I think and post it. It may not get much attention here, but I plan on sending stuff around to see if I can make any waves. I would venture a guess to say half the time I will be reacting to a link or story I saw, while the other half I will be attempting to share some ideas with many about improving the popularity and financial viability of Hockey and Soccer in North America.

Why Hockey and Soccer? Well, I've played Hockey almost all my life, and I've suffered almost fifteen years now of being a New York Ranger fan (It doesn't help when one of your first sports memories is the 1994 Stanley Cup win). As for Soccer, I am memorized by the loyal support of the fans in Europe along with the high level of difficulty of the game (similar to Hockey, to me). In a perfect world, I would be singing and supporting the New York Rangers in Madison Square Garden with 10,000 other crazed fans like at Soccer games and SC Bern games in Switzerland. But, thats not how Americans work, so I'll have to settle with what I've got for now.

I plan on going into the Business World of Sports in one way or the other. My plan now is to crack in with the MLS or NHL, and go from there. Ideally, I get lucky and get the right connections and end up with decision-making power of some sort for a North American NHL or MLS franchise. Being the "non-traditional" sports guy among friends of NFL, MLB, and NBA fans, I seem to spend a lot of time explaining issues and persuading them to watch NHL and MLS games with me. Big games aren't the problem - even I watch the World Series and the Super Bowl - its the league games that I wan't to improve.

So if you're reading this, check back in eventually. I expect to update the site three to five times a week, so lets see where this ends up going. I'm actually headed to Ottawa this weekend for the Ranger game, so I'm sure I'll have something on that.

Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I Thought You Quit.... Phoenix Coyotes Links

Yeah so by know you all probably know about the Phoenix Coyotes situation with Jim Basillie. Well if you are looking for more in depth reading, Here are some quality links:

- A solid summary by James Mirtle (From The Rink).

- The NHL is apparently really pissed off about this and this will all be heading to court (Mirtle - From The Rink). A couple of things about this...

I received the email he mentioned to by their marketing team, which kind of shocked me that I was considered a "popular hockey blogger." Still, that only shows that I can't do this daily because I was so far behind on the news that by time I read my email the news was a day old.

But more importantly is the power battle that is going on between the NHL and Basillie. Basillie has a little bit of leverage here because he has offered to pay certain debts (already), and has essentially put in the hands down best offer for the club with a clause that they have to move to Southern Ontario. BUT... the NHL has the legal rights to the club when Jerry Moyes basically gave up a couple of months ago. And there is no chance the courts will turn against that. This should be fun to watch...

- A Coyotes Call to Arms at Five For Howling.

- A small timeline of all that's gone on with the Coyotes since January (Puck Report)

- The official news release that I received (Canadian Press). Still can't believe they sent it to me.

So that's that. I'm considering a comeback now (it always seems to work this way, doesn't it?) for something small, but I would have to figure out how much time I could dedicate. You'll know by Sunday.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The End (?) of Puck Money

To any loyal readers:

I am sorry to say that I will not continue this blog beyond this day. It has been four months of fun and I have learned a lot about the Business of Hockey, but I am unable to fully commit to writing this blog daily, which makes it unfair to you guys to keep it going. I am not deleting the site in case anyone needs my statistics and such, but this will most likely be the last post unless I for some reason revive it in the unforeseeable future.

This blog did allow me to improve my writing skills and get noticed for a new gig (New York Ranger analysis at Blueshirt Banter). For that I am grateful. Thanks to all the commenters, and if anyone needs anything feel free to email me.

Here's to Northern Relocation and the NHL growing in general,

Rob Luker - Puck Money.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Coyotes Living Off NHL Funds

The Phoenix Coyotes are now living under the NHL's financial roof (AZ Central):
The day after the team agreed to loan terms Feb. 24 with the NHL, it paid Glendale nearly $351,000 in overdue arena rent payments that dated to late summer 2008. The money also likely was used to meet player payroll.

The loan, for an unknown amount, gives the NHL more control over the future of the Coyotes - including the possible relocation of the team. The Coyotes have never made money since owner Jerry Moyes became an investor in 2001, and annual financial losses have exceeded $20 million during his tenure.
Good and bad. Bad obviously because the league and other successful franchises are supporting the Coyotes in this horrid economy. Good because now this gives the NHL leverage to find a new owner or (preferably) move the Yotes out of Arizona.

To get money from the league, the team pledged all of its assets, including its management agreement of Arena in Glendale, as collateral, according to financial records filed with Maricopa County Recorder's Office. Glendale officials had no comment.

The league's investment ultimately could give the NHL leverage to move the team, according to one sports business expert.

And exactly how deep were the Coyotes in before this loan?
Public records do not indicate how much money the NHL loaned the Coyotes. The team already had borrowed at least $57.5 million since December 2003 from affiliates of MSD Capital, records show.
My emotions as I write this consist of rolling my eyes and just having my face in my palms. The NHL needs to figure this out in the long term ASAP, and I don't think keeping the Coyotes in Phoenix is a viable option.

- Enjoy another Hockey Falls commercial, where analysts go to get ideas apparently:

BallHype: hype it up!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Relocation Issues and a Panthers Merger?

News and Notes from around the Business world of Hockey...

- The NHL and NHLPA are butting heads over a possible second franchise in the Toronto area via Relocation (Globe and Mail):

"With a handful of Sun Belt teams struggling to sell hockey, NHLPA director of player affairs Glenn Healy believes the timing could not be better for the NHL to seriously look at transferring a second team to the Toronto area.

He also stated that, in addition to Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie and a group that wants to bring a team to Vaughn, Ont., there are at least two other factions interested in landing another NHL team for Southwestern Ontario.

"They have been trying to fit a square peg into a round hole for a lot of years," Healy said yesterday, in reference to the failure of the Sun Belt teams in the NHL. "They have tried everything in the world to sell the game, market the game, put fans in the seats and it doesn't work for a lot of reasons."

The square peg into a round hole analysis is a perfect way to put it. I've never been a big fan of the southern movement to being with, but I'm all for sticking with the ones that have worked relatively well so far.

- Speaking of the Southern movement, the Florida Panthers are the subject of merger talks (Sports Business Journal):

"The Florida Panthers are in negotiations to merge the team, its arena management company and rights to the real estate surrounding BankAtlantic Center with Sports Properties Acquisition Corp., a public-stock company formed last year, sources said.

The potential deal values the assets at $230 million, including debt, with the plum in the talks a planned mixed-use development around the south Florida arena, the sources said. The negotiations have been taking place over the last several weeks, the sources said."

As a franchise, the Panthers have struggled from poor on-ice performance, but the BankAtlantic Center books over 200 events per year, which most likely means a nice profit in general. The merger would probably help a lot with any Panther debt that is lying around.

- That's all I got for today, but I found these commercials on YouTube the other day and I cannot believe I forgot about them. "Clement Clement, hands of Cement" haha, enjoy:

BallHype: hype it up!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Light Week


I have a final tonight at 7 PM, a paper due Wednesday, and another Final on Thursday at 8 AM. Because of this I will most likely be absent most of the week. And it's 80 and Sunny in Norhtern New York, kill me now.

Thanks for reading as always, and check out Blueshirt Banter for all your Rangers News and Opinion.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Thursday Memo

News and Notes from around the Business World of Hockey...

A relatively big day business wise, lets kick it off:

-All national TV outlets (American and Canadian) experienced a rise in ratings this season, along with 12 franchises gaining on the tube as well (Sports Business Journal):
"The leaguewide increase at the gate carried over to television, where average ratings were up at each of the league’s national broadcast partners. In the U.S., average viewership on Versus increased 14 percent to 310,000 viewers and a 0.3 cable rating, and NBC’s ratings rose from a 1.0 to a 1.1 household rating through nine telecasts. In Canada, viewership was up on CBC by 5 percent to an average of 1 million viewers, TSN by 12 percent to an average of 451,000 viewers and RDS by 7 percent to an average of 650,000 viewers."
- The KHL is obviously in a financial mess, so with their recent re-draft, some salaries were cut up to 50% in light of the economy (From The Rink).

- The big news today of a "serious" group of investors that met with Bill Daly last week in downtown Toronto looking to put another NHL team in northern metro Toronto in approx. 3-5 years (Globe and Mail):
"The unidentified group met with NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly in downtown Toronto last week, according to sources. The group proposes to build an arena at the intersection of Highways 427 and 7 in Vaughan, Ont., on land north of Pearson International Airport that's owned by businessman Victor De Zen."
James Mirtle has his take, and a very wise one at that:
"I likely wouldn't have said this prior to moving to Toronto, but after having lived here for six or seven years, it's very clear that a second team in – or close to – the city would be a huge success...

For Canadian hockey fans, however, the new team would be a huge boon. There are a lot of transplants in Toronto, like myself, who are hockey fans but not Leafs fans, and I could see many taking up the new franchise as their own (especially if tickets are more widely available). For Leafs fans, it would mean another regional rival and some heated intercity competition; for fans in other NHL cities in this country, it'd be another Toronto team to cheer against."
He also mentions that it would obviously be a financially sound club, which is what I definitely would look forward to. I would say all systems go, but its still in a very primitive stage at the moment.

- Finally, I have a new gig to go with this one. I am now a co-writer at Blueshirt Banter; SB Nation's Ranger blog. I am excited to work there in a great (for now) time for the Rangers, so please stop on by.

BallHype: hype it up!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Wednesday Memo

News and Notes from around the Business World of Hockey.

Yes, I'm still around. School is winding down (one paper, two finals to go) so I will start thinking about my little corner of the Internet here instead of school so much (who needs it, right!?). Here's some headlines...

- The Columbus Blue Jackets have generated over $2 Billion of economic impact in Columbus since their conception in 2000 (Business First of Columbus):

"Among the study’s findings are:

• More than $850 million in spending in Central Ohio has been directly attributable to the Blue Jackets, Nationwide Arena and Columbus Destroyers, the city’s You can watch up to ten companies at a time.

" width="13" height="13">Arena Football League franchise.

• An estimated $160 million in indirect spending at hotels and restaurants can be attributed to out-of-town visitors attending Blue Jackets games and other events at the arena.

• Approximately $4 million in local income tax revenue has been generated by the Jackets and Destroyers since fiscal year 2002.

And more..."

Can the Thrashers boast this? At least they have a "green" arena...

- What the Lighthouse on Long Island project and Kellogg's Nutra-Grain bars have in common (Let There Be Light (house)).

- Game 3 of Caps/Rangers was the highest New York area rated game in 12 years; watched by 2.72% of NY area homes (Puck The Media). God I feel bad for everyone that wasted their time, I wish I had my three hours back of that game.

- Finally, Versus has put out some sick ads this year for the playoffs:

Come on back tomorrow, should have more than just headlines.

BallHype: hype it up!

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Monday Memo

News and Notes from around the Business World of Hockey.

- A summary of the Game 1 Local TV Ratings (Puck The Media). NYC ratings surprisingly low.

- The Blue Jackets are still operating at a loss (Business First of Columbus):
"Q: Will making the playoffs make the team profitable this season?

A: We’ll clearly operate at a loss. I’m not in a position to get into the details, but there are a number of factors that go into it. A franchise such as ours, we have to be above average in ticket sales and above average in our corporate support compared to larger markets because we don’t benefit from the media (revenue)."

- The NHL's credit is going up to just under $200 million in an effort to help the Coyotes (Globe and Mail). It is anticipated the club will lose around $35 million this season. The credit crisis is likely to get worse, and the league is taking more of it? Ugh...

- The Subway Ad's on the Madison Square Garden glass will be back for Game 3 and 4 starting tonight (Sports Business Journal). They may be back for all of next season too.

Some Ranger fans are really upset about this. I can deal with it, because I watch for the hockey. But many make a good point that it might be a slippery slope to over-advertisement.

- Finally, an amazing Versus NHL Playoff promo:

A little NYR inspiration. Also, that is a hook Scotty.

BallHype: hype it up!

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Friday Memo (TV Ratings Galore)

News and Notes from around the Business World of Hockey.

- Wednesday Nights TV Ratings for all the games (Puck The Media). Let's just say, we're off to a good start.

- Last night was nearly as good with Boston pulling a 9.4 rating on NESN (Puck The Media).

- Versus is also experiencing a playoff jump as well (Sports Media Watch).

- Finally, some interesting information coming out about the Sabres (Buffalo Business First):
"DiPofi said the Sabres sold 765,229 tickets this season.

Based on media information distributed by the team, however, it appears the ticket count was 741,547. The Sabres had 15 games at HSBC Arena that did not sell out, including two that drew fewer than 18,000 people to the 18,690-seat venue. In 2007-08, the Sabres said they sold out 38 of 41 home dates."

I've got the Sabres at 26 sellouts, which means the 15 non sellouts is the accurate number. I also have that the total number of fans at all regular season home games for the Sabres comes in at 759,787 spectators. This is below what the Sabres are saying they are sold, but above the articles statement. I'll keep tabs on this and I am beginning to work on a paid attendance tracking chart.

Enjoy the games tonight and I should be back Saturday or Sunday or whenever I recover from the Rangers Saturday game.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Wednesday Memo/Merry Playoffs

I have a lot going on - tests, papers, presentations, Ranger playoff games, the norm. This is the only small post today to basically let you know that I will try to be around tomorrow with some more attendance figures, but if not I will be back on Friday when the dust settles.

- The city of Allen, Texas; a wealthy northern suburb of Dallas will be getting a Central Hockey League team for the 2009-2010 season (Dallas Business Journal). It will be interesting to see how the team does there, as the report says the team will have a close relationship with the Dallas Stars.

- The Penguins have a "tweetup" planned (Pittsburgh Business Times). Basically, get drunk and watch the Pens-Flyers at TGI Fridays with friendly Internet people.

- Hoping your team has a "tweetup" planned? Check out - where you can find the answer to the exact question I just posed.

That's all for now, I'll be back later in the week. Let's Go Rangers.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I Have an Opinon on The Acutal Game, Too...

As you guys know if you read regularly, I am a Rangers fan. I was five in 1994, and it is one of my first and greatest memories waking up to see Messier lifting the cup. I've also played for 15 years now with a semi-successful high school career and have coached when possible throughout college around home. So as much as I sit here in my little niche of the hockey blogging world, I do have an opinion on something many have opinions about; the actual games.

I was asked to write an analysis/opinion on the Rangers-Caps series coming up tommorow for the Bleacher report which can be found if you click the following:

Mistake Free Hockey Will Be Key for Rangers, Caps.

I'll jump to the juicy end of the article, which sums up my overall opinions:

So do you want a prediction? Well lets put it this way. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Rangers go down here. They made me proud in fighting for a playoff spot and coming through in the clutch recently, but they have been an inconsistent hockey club all year and have been a disappointment overall.

At the same time, the Rangers can beat Washington, and I think the key to that will be making less mistakes than the Capitals. The Rangers play such defensive and safe hockey sometimes that when they make a mistake it is blatantly clear what happened and who is to blame. The Rangers are the underdog alright; but sometimes that is exactly where you want to sit.

Please let me know what you think if you feel like it. Thanks for reading as always.

April Yields Best Attendance for NHL

With one more long day to go before the fight for the toughest championship in sports begins, I wanted to update as many graphs as I could with the final attendance statistics. First, what the title describes, the NHL average attendance by month (click to enlarge):

Granted, April clearly had the least amount of games, but at the same time it was a good measuring stick for playoff tickets. The max number of games the NHL playoffs could complete (7 game series for every match up each round) is 105. With April having a great average at around an accurate number of games the playoffs might represent, I think playoff ticket sales will be fine this year.

Now, the NHL average capacity (click to enlarge):

Much of the same here, as an average NHL game in the month of April enjoyed a 97% capacity crowd.

Next, the NHL average attendance by "Round" (click to enlarge):

I anticipated the spike back to a near-league sellout for the final weekend of games, and it happened. What this graph tells us is that basically average attendance will always rise over a successfully financial season. Say I run the same graph next year, and the attendance is flat, I think then there is serious cause for concern.

Finally, lets take a look at the final Second Half Boost Numbers. First the average attendances:

Colorado is at -2% and should be in red, my bad.

Then the average capacity percentages:

As much as Carolina, L.A., and Columbus are the success stories of the second half, I'm more interested in the bottom of the list. Tampa Bay, St. Louis, and Ottawa all gained ground after falling heavily in the beginning of the second half. What this means to me is that there are hockey fans who will support the game just as much as they support their selective teams. I was very please to see Tampa Bay make such a large jump in the past two weeks considering they have been out of the playoff race since basically February.

I might have some division statistics later, but I'm not sure because of some school work. Like I said before, I'm getting into crunch time for school, so please excuse my absences until May 1. Then its all summer. Thanks for reading as always.

Monday, April 13, 2009

NHL Average Attendance Up; Blackhawks Up 22%

The United Center will be ready to go on Thursday against the Flames.

The 2008-2009 NHL regular season is in the books. Coming up this week; final attendance updates across the board in all the categories, so stay tuned while we all wait for Wednesday.

Chicago, Colorado, New York Islanders, and Philadelphia all wrapped up the season last night at home, as they round out their averages and the NHL final average. To the chart (click to enlarge):

The NHL bumped up almost a percent from their all-time average attendance high last season, which is great. Chicago's revival is very evident in the standings as in the seats, with a 22% increase; 40% over two seasons (NOTE: As far as I know, the Winter Classic home game for the Blackhawks counted as a sold out United Center crowd of 20,500. That is what I recorded it as). And as much as the Islanders are on the other end of the spectrum, they are up in attendance this year and if they land there man in John Tavares, the Nassau Coliseum might be rockin' a little bit more next season.

Can the NHL average climb higher next season? Possibly, I would bet right now. If teams like Colorado, Florida, Tampa Bay, and Dallas can turn around their on-ice product, they could easily benefit by gaining back some of their fair-weathered fans.

More later.

BallHype: hype it up!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Attendance: Columbus/Detroit Up 5%; Others Drop

The Columbus faithful will be rewarded with the playoffs this spring.

Eleven teams finished up their home games and seasons last night. Atlanta, Buffalo, Calgary, Columbus, Detroit, Florida, Los Angeles, Montreal, New Jersey, Phoenix, and Toronto were the teams. Lets take a look at their attendances (click to enlarge):

This group has been the most boring of all so far, with no real shocking numbers. Some thoughts (in alphabetical order):
  • The Thrashers are still below their pre-lockout attendance levels.
  • Buffalo has made great strides since before the lockout, but I italicized being down 7.11% this season because the reported average for them last year was 19,950. HSBC Arena holds 18,690, and that is what the club has been announcing all season. I don't think they are down that much because of this flaw.
  • Calgary has been consistent the past five years, but lets not forget where they were before the lockout.
  • Columbus leads the way in this group, and with the team making the playoffs for the first time in their existence, I expect a big bump next season.
  • The Devils are up 10% in attendance since moving to The Prudential Center aka The Rock.
  • Phoenix actually gained in average attendance this season by about 50 spectators.
That's all I have for now. More travel today and Phil Mickelson just went 6 under on the front 9 at Augusta. Insane. Check back tomorrow for the final attendance update and more.

BallHype: hype it up!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Blues Attendance Up 5%; 30% In Two Years

An empty Scottrade Center is a thing of the past...

Another night of final home games on Friday, another day of fresh attendance stats. To the chart (click to enlarge):

Anaheim, Edmonton, Minnesota, and St. Louis wrapped of their home ice schedules last night for the record. The Ducks dipped a bit from last season (which might have been an all-time high), but are still up over the long term and have really improved since before the lockout. The Oilers and Wild are steady as always, while the Blues made the biggest jump yet. In the 2006-2007 season, the St. Louis Blues averaged 12,250 spectators per home game, and a lot of the games looked like the picture above. Gone are those days, as the Blues made an incredible run for the playoffs after being in last place after the All-Star break, and rewarded the dedicated 19,250 fans that showed up for 29 sold out home games. Surprisingly, the Blue are still down a bit from the '03-'04 season, but to be back in the playoffs with sold out crowds this season probably is all that matters at the moment.

That's all for today, more of the same tomorrow.

BallHype: hype it up!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Bruins Attendance Up 10%; Others Drop

These days are gone in Boston, for now.

No daily memo today, I am traveling for a job interview. Sorry.

Ahh, the smell of fresh Attendance statistics. Eight teams finished off their seasons at home last night, which gives us the final attendance (announced, that is) stats on their seasons. To the chart (click to enlarge):

In alphabetical order; Boston, Carolina, New York Rangers, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Tampa Bay, and Vancouver finished up their home games for this season Tuesday night. A couple of thoughts before I hit the road...
  • I hope we don't see as many teams dropping in attendance this year as the ones thus far. 5 out of 13 thus far.
  • How much affect did the Second Half Boost have? Carolina enjoyed a ridiculous 2,300+ Second Half Boost with a first half average of 15,135 and a second half average of 17,942; wow. Boston also enjoyed a boost of over 700 spectators per game; while Ottawa's average attendance dropped in the second half.
  • Boston is the closest to the ridiculous numbers the Capitals put up this season, coming in up 10% from last season. The B's have been trending up for a bit the past two or three seasons, as well.
  • Pittsburgh and Carolina have made enormous strides since before the lockout; a very encouraging feeling if you are Gary Bettman. A little blip for the Pens this season though, as they slip a bit from their Cup Final appearance last season.
  • San Jose staying very constant the past couple of seasons, but at the same time have really stepped it up from before the lockout.
  • Are Senators fans only fair-weathered ones? Wheres the Canadian dedication?
  • Finally, it is no surprise that the attendance in Tampa Bay has dropped significantly since the Cup win; but really? By double digits % each year? Wow, apparently you need two cups to keep fans around in Florida.
Thoughts? Concerns? Sorry for the rough and quick analysis, but the real life calls. Thanks for reading as always and have a nice weekend. I'll be back Sunday or Monday.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Nashville's Attendance Up/Thursday Memo/Winter Classic Update

News and Notes from around the Business World of Hockey.

- Literally no "news" that I know of, but the Nashville Predators played their final home game Tuesday night, so we have new stats (click to enlarge):

Nashville finished up over a half a percent this season (announced attendance), where the Second Half Boost and their race for the playoffs (which looks bleak now) undoubtedly played a huge role. The Predators enjoyed almost a 1,000 person boost in second half regular season games this season, all of the heels of the recent announcement that the club will make the 14,000 average paid attendance mark required for revenue sharing this semester. Now although still down from their best season attendance wise (and possibly on the ice, too) two years ago, the franchise has grown leaps and bounds from their pre-lockout attendance figures.

- The Rangers have a big game tonight against the Flyers, win and we're in (yea, I said we). So, I present to you my favorite Bobby Granger commercial. Classic:

More (if anything happens) later.

Update, 12:00 PM EST

- Is Fenway Park the destination for the 2010 Winter Classic? (Boston Herald) Take a look:

Update, 2:00 PM EST:

- Speculating investors for the Montreal Canadiens (Globe and Mail)

BallHype: hype it up!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Wednesday Memo (Subway Update)

News and Notes from around the Business World of Hockey.

- So last night during the third period of the Canadiens - Rangers game Subway rented out the end glass where a virtual/digital Subway logo was in large letters across the glass. Innovative marketing, sure, but what is more funny is how many Ranger fans are actually mad at this (HF Boards). Some actually think it was a giant sticker, thus obstructing the fans views. Priceless; if I find a picture today I will update here.

Found one. Thanks to Capitals Kremlin. Go there to take a look for now, gotta run.

- Watch the Minnesota Wild's Xcel Energy Center get changed over from a Coldplay Concert to a Hockey Arena on DIY's "Project Xtreme" Tuesday, April 14, at 10 PM EST (

- I'm sure most have heard of TLC's hit show "American Chopper" where customer chopper motorcycles are built for mainly chairty auctions. Well on this seasons premier episode on Thursday, April 9, at 9 PM EST, Ranger legend Rod Gilbert will deliver an "Original Six" NHL-style chopper to the Reebok NHL Store in New York ( I like the show and will def. be watching.

- TSN and Versus will broadcast a half-hour shower featuring the NHL draft lottery drawing (

- The Detroit Red Wings are helping out Hockeytowns fans by offering a new layaway system for ticket holders (

"eLayawaySPORTS is a payment processor that allows the Red Wings' season ticket holders to customize their payments for their season tickets over time. These monthly payment dates are selected by the fan and automatically deducted from their bank accounts. The technology charges a 1.9% flat transaction fee and zero interest. The new program will give Red Wings' fans the opportunity to pre-pay for their season tickets in a manner that meets their lifestyle and budget and receive the tickets when the package is paid in full."
Very nice. I wish more teams would use such a system.

- Finally, the mysterious NHL Portal that opens on Monday, April 13:

More later.

BallHype: hype it up!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Latest League Revenue Prediction

Is Mr. Bettman being overly-optimistic?

As I reported earlier, Gary Bettman was in Vegas promoting the NHL Awards when a gem of a business comment caught my eye in the Yahoo article that described the press conference:
"Bettman said the NHL is in sound financial shape, and he expects to see league revenues to increase 5 percent this season. He said that playoff ticket sales and season ticket sales for next season were fine, based only on anecdotal evidence."
Awfully optimistic. But Bettman always is; he never would admit that the NHL is in big trouble, because that is just being a poor salesman. What shocks me more about the comment is the actual figure of 5%. The time line for revenue projections were as followed:
  1. Pre-Season: 1, 1.5, or 2% increase in revenues.
  2. All-Star Break: 1% increase or flat revenue.
  3. Monday, April 6: 5% increase in revenues.
Quite a jump, no? 5% doesn't seem like a huge number, but when we're dealing with billions, especially in a "niche" sport, it can make all the difference. Take a look at the chart (click to enlarge):

Essentially, with a 5% increase in revenues, around $130 Million more dollars get brought into the league and its clubs. I think that may just be enough to cover the Escrow worries as of late; which would mean players would get most of their money back (or definitely more than is planned right now).

Along with this, what would this do to the salary cap? Many are planning either a small drop or staying at the same $56.7 Million figure the league is at now. It would definitely stay flat if the 5% increase stays true, but I still don't think we will see much if an increase next season because of worries of inflation and bloated contracts in general.

So yes, it was a small comment in a small article. But it could make all the difference when it comes down to the NHL's bottom line come the end of the 2008-2009 fiscal year.

The Tuesday Memo

News and Notes from around the Business World of Hockey.

- The Nashville Predators will in fact reach the 14,000 paid average attendance mark for revenue sharing (The Tennessean):
"That's big news for management, because it likely will mean more than $10 million dollars to help the franchise remain financially competitive with larger-market teams."
- Playoff tickets that went on sale yesterday for the Penguins we're snatched up quickly ( From the gist of the article, it seems as all the playoff tickets are sold.

- Former Canadiens Captain and GM Serge Savard says he plans on making a bid for the Canadiens if they do in fact get put up for sale (The Gazette):
“If George Gillet clearly says that the Club de hockey Canadien is for sale, then, if that’s the case, me, I’m ready to do the deal,” Savard told the Montreal newspaper La Presse this morning. “I can complete the deal and buy the club.”
- Gary Bettman said yesterday while in promoting the NHL Awards Show that arena issues are the main hurdles for Las Vegas getting any franchise, but at the same time the NHL has no plans to expand (Yahoo). I also found this little gem involving revenue:

“We have no plans to expand, and I don’t think anybody does in this time frame based on the economy,” he said.

Bettman said the NHL is in sound financial shape, and he expects to see league revenues to increase 5 percent this season. He said that playoff ticket sales and season ticket sales for next season were fine, based only on anecdotal evidence."

5 %? Where did the conservative 1% bet go from the All-Star weekend? That would put the league around an HRR (Hockey Related Revenue) of $2.74 Billion. Wheres the escrow news? Hopefully more on this later.

- Phillips Arena (Home of the Atlanta Thrashers) gets a coveted award for their environmental practices (

- The Lighthouse Project on Long Island took a stumble last week, getting to political to keep it short. But with public outcry heard, the Project is gaining momentum as opposition is dropping (Let There Be Light (House)).

- Finally, the classic Verizon Wireless maternity ward spot:

More later.

BallHype: hype it up!

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Monday Memo (2 PM Update)

News and Notes from around the Business World of Hockey.

- The Carolina Hurricanes clinched a playoff spot Saturday night, which means playoff tickets will go on sale Tuesday at noon to the public (Bizjournals).

- The Blue Jackets neared there all-time TV Ratings record last Tuesday, drawing a 3.9 with their win over the Predators on FS Ohio (Sports Media Watch). The Blackhawks ratings are surging as well, reaching a high of 2.1 on CSN Chicago with their win on Friday, March 27th against the Devils.

- It seems like a slow day business-wise, but two teams have finished their home-game schedules, which means fresh attendance statistics are in. For now, until the off season, I'm going to keep it simple with this table (click to enlarge):

As you can see, Dallas and Washington are the two teams that have no more home games for the remaining week of the regular season. If I had to describe Dallas' season this year in one word, it would be disappointment. They dropped almost 2% from their average attendance last year, which had risen every season since the lockout. If Dallas had played to their potential this season, they could have neared pre-lockout highs of an average of 18,532.

Washington, on the other hand, might have made the biggest improvement in the league. Up nearly 15% from last season and over 23% from two years ago, the Capitals are the face of the "New NHL" and Ted Leonsis has to be smiling ear to ear. Next season the Caps will have people on a waiting list for season tickets for the first time, so I expect this trend to continue, but just not at such a huge rate like 15% (the Verizon Center capacity is 18,277).

EDIT: All figures that do not have the differences next to them like Washington and Dallas are figures as of today. Those teams all have home games left, which is why I have not calculated the differences yet.

- Finally, don't mess with Eric Lindros' lucky jersey:

That is all for now, more later.

- Update, 2:00 PM EST:

- More TV Ratings news, as NBC's Game of the Week between the Wild and the Red Wings drew a 0.9/2 overnight (Puck The Media). The Blackhawks/Red Wings game from the same weekend drew a 0.6, so the 0.9 is actually an improvement.

- Are the Dallas Stars in serious financial trouble? (Globe and Mail):
"Even though Stars owner Tom Hicks went into default on $525-million (all currency U.S.) in loans, the NHL claims it is not worried about the future of the team. Hicks said there is no chance his sports teams — the Stars and baseball's Texas Rangers — will be taken over by creditors."

BallHype: hype it up!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Second Half Attendance Boost: Part V

Playoff Hockey will soon be back in Carolina...

Here we have it, the last installment of the Second Half Boost series before the season ends. Wasn't it just All-Star weekend last week? It sure feels like it. As always, you can find all the previous editions here. Lets take a look at the Average Attendance figures first (click to enlarge):

Carolina, Columbus, and L.A. still have the gold, silver, and bronze in the bag. Columbus dipped a little for reasons I'm not sure, but sitting in sixth place currently it looks as though the Blue Jackets will have their first taste of playoff hockey since becoming a franchise in 2000; which will do wonders for their bottom line. The big winners the past two weeks have been Nashville and Ottawa. Nashville currently sits in eighth place tied with St. Louis in a tight playoff race there. Nashville played four home games over the past two weeks, winning 3 of them and losing one in overtime. Over this time, the Predators played only one Central division rival, so I think its safe to say playoff fever has taken a hold in the Music City. Ottawa, who gained just as much as Nashville, is playing for pride and ice-time. There doing a great job as playoff spoilers, going 6-4 in their last 10, to which the Sens army are staying faithful and optimistic about next season apparently.

Lets see if the same goes for the Capacity Percentage figures (click to enlarge):

Much of the same here, but what is good to see once again is the green positive figures towards the bottom of the bunch. Of the five teams in overall negative figures, only one is in playoff contention (St. Louis), so for those teams to be staying flat or actually gaining in their attendance towards the end of the season is very encouraging for the league.

With the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs starting a week from Wednesday, the next week and a half will be a lot of fun (not necessarily for me though, as the Rangers seem to have it set that they will make this a living hell). The Boost should continue, all the way into playoffs, where one of the first tests of the struggling economy will show its affect on the NHL.

Please do comment.

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Thursday Memo

News and Notes from around the Business World of Hockey.

- The NBC Stanley Cup Finals broadcast schedule, and the problems with it (Puck The Media).

- Jack Carnefix, the senior vice pres. of communications/new media for the ECHL, clarified to Mirtle yesterday about the reason as to why ECHL teams are dropping fast (From The Rink):
"Travel costs are not really an issue as teams from the East and West are not required to play each other during the regular season," Carnefix said. "Even for teams in the West who fly more frequently, travel costs are approximately 8.5 per cent of their budget.

"The overall reasons for most minor league teams ceasing and suspending operations are financial, however, it has more to do with attendance than travel costs. It is a very tough time for minor-league sports."

- St. Louis Blues President John Davidson will join Commissioner Gary Bettman on his weekly show, 'NHL Hour' ( The show should be available for podcast on Friday. From my experience watching Ranger games, Davidson is a class-guy who has definitely revived the Blues and their fans the past couple of seasons, and I would not be surprised to find the show littered with business talk.

- The International Olympic Committee has approved Hockey Canada's new logo (CTV). It has not been revealed yet, but the new brand look will most certainly sell well in 2010.

- Finally, play some office hockey today:

This will be my only post today, unless there are updates floating around to be added. I will not be around until Sunday, as a minor road trip is planned for Friday night. The joys of college.

BallHype: hype it up!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Monthly Attendance Update

With March 2009 completely in the books, lets review how the month did attendance wise across the league and each of its divisions. Here is the last divisional update, and the last league-wide update. I would normally do it separately, but I've got all my stuff together so we mine as well do it all at once, no?

First, the overall good news. The monthly Average Attendance for March is up about 2% since February. Take a look (click to enlarge):

The month of March was the busiest for the NHL season, with 210 games which lead to over 3.7 million spectators and thus drives the overall NHL average for the season up to 17,423; a 0.7% increase from last season.

With some more good news, the average capacity attendance was up over 1.5% since February during March. See below (click to enlarge):

Capacity percentage was way up in March, helping drive the average cap. % for the season over 94%. I think it will be interesting to see if April can keep up with such a pace as there are few games but all of them are playoff-like for almost all teams.

Now although the league as a whole improved the numbers for the season and over February, four of the six divisions saw their average attendance drop since last month. First we will look at the Eastern Conference (click to enlarge):

Only the Southeast lost some ground here, which I was kind of surprised to see as both Carolina and Florida are benefiting from the Second Half Attendance Boost. The Northeast is at its highest point since December, and the Atlantic had its best month yet. Not much else going on here, and I think the numbers should be about the same to wrap up the season in April.

Finally, the Western Conference, which is the worse-off by far (click to enlarge):

As you can see, March was not kind to the Pacific and Northwest divisions, but with only 4 out of 10 teams in playoff contention, its not really much of a shock. Teams that come to mind are L.A. and Phoenix for the Pacific; who were in the running back in February but are out of it now. Colorado, the weakest link in the Northwest, is experiencing all-time low crowds at the Pepsi center. Meanwhile, the Central division jumps to record numbers for the Western Conference. These numbers were no doubt helped by having Chicago host 11 home games during March, but at the same time when all five Central division teams have a shot of making the playoffs, the intensity is cranked up. The numbers should be about the same in April, as well.

So that is that for the monthly updates. Next week I will come up with some plans to release a quick (not in-depth, we will save that for the off-season) report for the season, along with anything special for playoffs.

BallHype: hype it up!

The Wednesday Memo - 2:45 PM Update (Lighthouse and Winter Classic)

News and Notes from around the Business World of Hockey.

- According to Stephen Brunt, Canada stands to benefit if the economy really "slams" the NHL going into next season (Globe and Mail). I can't say I disagree with him much.

- Within days, the Washington Capitals look to sell-out their season tickets for next season (Washington Post):
"Within days, the Capitals expect to be sold out of the nearly 12,000 tickets they've allocated for full-season plans for next season. When that happens, the sales staff will be forced to do something perhaps only majority owner Ted Leonsis envisioned when he purchased the team 10 years ago: put names on a waiting list."
- Monday nights Flames-Sharks game gave Comcast SportsNet Bay Area the highest San Jose Sharks telecast ever, with an average of 2.17 and a peak of 2.79; which equates to over 52,000 viewers (

- Finally, Crosby does a Gatorade commercial:

More later.

Update: 2:45 PM EST

- The Lighthouse Project on Long Island, which is centered around the Nassau Coliseum renovations to keep the Islanders at home, received a political "No" yesterday (NYI Point Blank). All is not dead though, its just more of the Town of Hempstead (where the Coliseum is located) saying "It wont work the way its planned now."

- Flyers-Pens at Penn State seems to be in the talk of things for next seasons Winter Classic (

BallHype: hype it up!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Marketing the Game: Celebrities and the NHL

Vince Vaughn at the 2009 Winter Classic.

One of my roommates here at school is an Ottawa Senators "fan." I use the quotation marks because he doesn't watch any games during the season, he only knows three to five current players on the roster, and above all has absolutely no clue where they are in the standings. All that matters to him is two things. First, Mike Fisher stays with the team. And second, the Senators win in our annual trip to Scotiabank Place when the Rangers visit the Sens in October or November of each season (three years and running the Rangers have lost this game, kill me now).

I subjected you to all of that because he just started talking the whole Mike Fisher-Carrie Underwood relationship thing/fling/news; weeks after I mentioned it to him. This got me thinking about other NHL celebrity fans. Jeremy Piven has been interviewed at least once if not twice at Ranger games this year, both of which seemed forced and awkward. Spike Lee was also caught at the garden as well. I've seen Pat Sajak at Kings and Capitals games, and plenty of stars showed up for the 2009 Winter Classic at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

Do not get me wrong, having Celebs at the games are great. It no doubt brings attention to the game along with probably making a couple of fans out of dumb Americans that follow celebrities. But like I said above with the Jeremy Piven-New York Rangers interviews, most interviews just seemed forced and fake. I guess what I'm really trying to get at is, the NHL seems so desperate when it comes to recognizing public figures at its games. Personally, I think the NHL should be very nonchalant about it. Sure, do a story about them at the Winter Classic and ask some simple questions. Sure, take a picture of Hilary Duff and Carrie Underwood once or twice and ask them their opinions during the game. But after that, just let them be. I understand celebrities are used to attention, but don't bring it to them when they are trying to relax watching a great game in a great sport that is under-appreciated to begin with.

This isn't really a big issue, but it just seems like anytime a famous face is in the Garden during a Rangers game, they have someone sticking a mic in their face and asking awkward questions about their next entertainment ploy. I guess I just don't want to drive away any star power the league has to begin with. The league should act like the cool older brother to the group of little sister and friends, where they say hello, talk to them from now and then, but at the same time just let them be most of the time.

Any thoughts on the issue for the few of you loyal businessmen/women out there?

BallHype: hype it up!