Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Pick Jinx Sinks Lightning

Picking the Tampa Bay Lightning to win Lord Stanley's Cup was a sure fire way to to put the pundit hex on them. Game 1 is winding down, Calgary just scored to go up 4-1 and it's clear that we miscalculated this one. Forgot to measure the gravitational pull that the whole country of Canada is exerting as they collectively will the Cup to come home to Canada.

Lord Stanley's 2nd Law of Hockey: Force (Canada's collective will to win) = Mass (the Cup's historical significance) x Acceleration (years Cup has been away - squared)

Therefore the Lightning will need to strap-on a massive booster rocket in a hurry if the want to escape this gravitational force.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

ESPN Now Supports RSS Feeds

It is very nice of ESPN to provide a NHL feed given the "shrinkage" issue regarding hockey's popularity. College football and basketball interest probably surpasses hockey.

ESPN.com news
ESPN.com NFL News
ESPN.com NBA News
ESPN.com NHL News
ESPN.com MLB News

If you're not up to speed on RSS read this.

We can not escape the Danton Story the first thing that comes of the new NHL RSS feed is this: Judge denies bond for Blues' Danton.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Will Primo Primeau Playing Pull a Pack of People to Puck Watching?

The Flyers captain Keith Primeau is playing like a man with his hair on fire. Getting Primeau and All-Stars Jeremy Roenick and John LeClair from Philly (5th largest national market) into the finals might be the only shot the league has at matching last years low TV ratings. Even the hockey bloggers might snooze a little if it's a Calgary and Tampa Bay finals.

Last year's finals between the New Jersey Devils and Anaheim Mighty Ducks averaged a 2.9 rating. That was less than half the audience for last year's NBA Finals.

How popular is the NHL?

Here is one measure of the popularity of various sports - it counts the number of visitors to their associated web sites. Top Online Sports Sites:

Brand or Channel...Unique Audience(000)...Active Reach(%)
ESPN.................................4,336.......................3.87
eBay Sports.......................2,521.......................2.25
Yahoo! Sports.....................2,509.......................2.24
MLB.com...........................1,881.......................1.68
nascar.com........................1,517.......................1.36
NFL Internet Network............1,462.......................1.31
AOL Sports.........................1,288.......................1.15
SI.com................................1,082.......................0.97
NBA Internet Network.............1,056........................0.94
Sportsline.com.......................922.......................0.82

The eBay Sports website at number two is just sports memorabilia, not news. Seeing Yahoo!Sports at number three is surprising - never realized it was that popular. The NFL Internet Network is comprised of NFL.com and the websites of the league's 32 clubs. Sadly the NHL is not on this radar screen. The recent NHL TV deal with NBC also highlights this problem of trying to measure the potential audience for professional hockey when it has become overshadowed by so many other sports options.

Top Online Sports Sites [CenterForMediaResearch.com]

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

NHL Gets Minor League Deal from NBC

The NHL signed a deal with NBC on Wednesday for its TV rights, which guarantees it nothing - no upfront money. The league and the NBC will split advertising revenue. However, NBC gets to cover its expenses plus the money the network could have gotten for selling the bulk time to other programmers.

The Arena Football League got the same basic deal from NBC. This is just another sign that the NHL is quickly sinking to "minor league" status. Add a players strike to this and the NHL goes down to the AA Baseball level as far as fan interest.

The Bachelor featuring a 2nd string quarterback in search of love will have millions more viewers than NHL semi-final hockey.

NHL management and the players now need to get their act together regarding their contract. Then they need to start finding new ways to promote a great sport and compete for the attention of an audience that thas a large number of alternatives. Or else the sport of pro-hockey will continue downward in a "minor league" tailspin.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Flames vs Sharks

To say San Jose, Ca under appreciates the Sharks is an understatement. Here's what the local bay-area Tri-Valley Herald says of local enthusiasm for the Sharks:

THE SAN Jose Sharks have been camping out in the Bay Area's backyard for 13 years now, patiently waiting for some large-scale hugs and kisses from the region as a whole...

And the general mood around here regarding the Sharks playing in pro hockey's exalted Final Four? Oh. They are? How nice. How sweet. Too bad our Warriors can't do that in the NBA. We might even watch for a smidge, if we make it back from Nordstrom's in time...

...most Bay Areans wouldn't know a blue line from a Costco line. They wonder what the heck happened to Arturs Irbe. Icing? Sure, a salt rim and a lime slice with that margarita, too, if you would. And nobody dares talk about hockey on the radio around here...

Compare the blase California 'tude with the Flames who carry the weight of Canada around like a dead moose head on their shoulders. The Whitehorse Daily Star (Yukon) says:

The Calgary Flames are now officially Canada's team...now even Yukoners are jumping on the ever-growing Flames bandwagon, a territory which is usually reserved for Canucks and Oilers fans with a bunch of Leafs and Habs fans thrown in...

"Those damn Flames," said Whitehorse Mayor Ernie Bourassa. "They beat my Canucks. But I guess I'm cheering for them. You've got to hope for the Canadian team."

...There are already a few Calgary car flags and stickers traveling around Whitehorse and anyone wishing to purchase new merchandise now is out of luck. "We're sold out of all Flames memorabilia," said Brouwer, "We've sold all of our red jerseys with the black C. We only have one white jersey left"...
OK, fans, time to bone up on Sharks, eh? [Tri-Valley Herald]
Yukoners begrudgingly cheering for "those damn Flames" [Whitehourse Daily Star, Yukon]

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

The Strange Story

Sure hockey's 2nd season is in full swing, but the Danton/Frost story just keeps begging for our attention:

The Mike Danton saga gets stranger each day. In this weekend's twists, prosecutors confirmed the St. Louis Blues forward's agent, David Frost, was the intended victim in a murder-for-hire plot. Frost denied it, and helped Danton make a phone statement from jail to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in which he claimed he was emotionally and physically abused during his childhood by his estranged parents.

A professional hockey player accused of planning a murder. An agent who some believe held a Svengali-like influence and control over the player. A family accused of abuse. The story is slowly playing out like a scene from an Agatha Christie mystery, in which detective Hercule Poirot scans the room of gathered suspects and even the innocent -- whoever they end up being -- appear guilty.

Unraveling lives [startribune.com]

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Frost/Danton Fiasco

The real story behind this fiasco is that Frost promised Danton he would get him traded to the Rangers where he would be grossly overpaid and there would be no pressure to produce. And Danton would look good in a tux at the charitable events. Oh well, who said life is fair.

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