Thursday, August 30, 2012

Team Ranking$

Businessweek has put together an interesting graphic that measures the spending efficiency of all the major sports franchises. This includes all of the teams in the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB. All of the New York sports teams, except the Giants, are towards the bottom. No surprise there.

Bloomberg Businessweek:  
Smartest Spenders in Sports --

Behold our second annual ranking of how well the 122 franchises in the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB spend their money. We’ve used payroll data (from USA Today,, NBC Sports, and to calculate how much teams spent per win over the last five seasons. (For baseball, we also include the first half of the current season.) We then compared every team against league average, producing a total score we call the efficiency index. The median score for every league is zero. The lower the score, the less a team spent for its wins.

This year, we’ve added bonuses for the victories that matter most: wins above .500, playoff wins, and championships. Our scale counts regular season wins once, with a half-win bonus for every win over .500. Playoff wins count for 10 percent of a season; championships for half a season. In their Super Bowl winning season in 2011, for instance, the New York Giants got credit for 9 regular season wins, plus a .5 game bonus for their ninth win—the one that put them above .500. Their 4 playoff wins earned them 6.4 more wins. And the Super Bowl victory 8 more, for a total of 23.9 “weighted” wins.
Detroit Red Wing - spending efficiency
  1. Tampa Bay Rays
  2. Texas Rangers
  3. Detroit Red Wings
  4. Los Angeles Lakers
  5. Boston Celtics
  6. Pittsburg Penquins
  7. New England Patriots
  8. Green Bay Packers
  9. New York Giants
  10. Boston Bruins
  11. Miami Marlins
  12. Philadelphia Flyers
  13. San Jose Sharks
  14. New Jersey Devils
  15. Washington Capitals
New York Ranger - spending efficiency

44. Milwaukee Brewers
45. ** New York Rangers **
46. Philadelphia Eagles


54. New York Jets
55. Dallas Cowboys


70. Boston Red Sox
71 Colorado Avalanche

New York Islander - spending efficiency

115. Brooklyn Nets
116. NY Knicks
117. Chicago Cubs
118. Toronto Maple Leafs
119. New York Islanders
120. New York Mets
121. Minnesota Timberwolves
122. St. Louis Rams

Sunday, August 26, 2012

R.I.P. "Bones"

Don 'Bones' Raleigh
I was stunned. I had finished dinner and sat down to write a story about Bill Moe and the news came across the wire that Don "Bones" Raleigh had passed away at the age of 86. So another piece of my life story has left me. I never knew Raleigh. Never had the pleasure of even an accidential meeting. But he was about as blue as any Blueshirt was, is or ever will be. He played ten years with the Rangers and no other NHL team.

He was 5'10" and weighed 150 pounds. They must have weighed him soaking wet after a game, with his skates on and his stick in his hand. He was the key force in the 1950 run to the Cup, playing all seven games on the road. The Rangers had two home games in Toronto. Raleigh had nine points in seven games and had two OT winners.

Listening to that game and the finish was the biggest disappointment of my hockey life. I still hear "our shot' ringing off the crossbar and somebody named Peter Babando score the Cup winner.

But nothing detracts from Raleigh, his perfortmance in that series and his performance as a Ranger. He had a good a run as any Ranger had or will have for a long, long time. We will not see the likes of a Don "Bones" Raleigh for a long time, if ever.

Our sincere condolences to the Raleigh family. Rest In Peace Don Raleigh, we will miss you.

God Bless You.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Diary of A Wimpy Commissioner - Aug. 23rd

Diary of A Wimpy Commissioner: Gary Bettman Edition

Another installment of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman's take on the world and vice versa:

Gary Bettman Says 'Wide Gap' Still Exists on Fundamental Issues in NHL Labor Negotiations --
After cancelling a collective bargaining meeting on Wednesday, the NHL and the NHL Players' Association met for 90 minutes on Thursday. There's really no forward progress to report...

Bettman said there is a wide gap between the two sides, which are struggling to reach a common ground in the way of fundamental economic issues.

"The bigger point that I think we made [Thursday] goes to the fact that whether or not we're talking about these contract or system issues or we're talking about revenue sharing, it's clear that we're at a point where it's going to be difficult to move this process along until we deal with the fundamental economic issues, and certainly as it relates to the fundamental economic issue, we are far apart both in terms of magnitude and structure," Bettman told reporters.

This isn't good news for hockey fans, as a delayed start to the season is looking more and more likely...

The commissioner also called hockey fans the "world's greatest," while also emphasizing that the league survived the last lockout...
A Twitter sampling:


3rd Round Draft Pick:
Gary Bettman is a Diabolical Madman Who Must be Stopped -Pt 1
Gary Bettman is a Diabolical Madman Who Must be Stopped - Pt 2

Friday, August 17, 2012

Parsing Puppet Speak

Gary Bettman is the owner's diminutive sock puppet. He is also a very handsomely paid puppet.

NHL Executive SalariesGary Bettman's salary during the NHL's canceled 2004-05 season was $3.7 million. In 2010-11, according to the NHL's recent tax filings (via Sports Business Journal), Bettman's more than doubled to almost $8 million.

The owners obviously like how their sock puppet has been performing, because they are paying him so well.

So, as the NHL owners and NHLPA do their latest Kabuki theater, the best clues to figuring out how the drama will end will be coming from the puppet's mouth.

Jusin Piercy at CBC Sports has an article parsing the puppet speak, Gary Bettman's language of NHL labour talks, then & now:
The old adage is "it's not what you say, it's how you say it," but when it comes to the NHL's labour negotiations with the players' union, it could be argued that it's when you say it.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said on Wednesday that he believes comparing the work stoppage which wiped out the 2004-05 season to the current labour negotiations is essentially an exercise in futility.

Despite that claim, examining the language used by Bettman in these two periods of negotiations turned out to be an exercise in both contrast and similarities. That's because while the issues may not exactly be the same, the end result could very well become a mirror image...
Gary Bettman the Diminutive Puppet
Apples and oranges?

The difference in the CBAs between North American professional sports leagues has also been a hot topic during discussions in 2004 and 2012. It's also been looked at slightly differently in both cases:

Gary Bettman to reporters on Feb. 15, 2004, in St. Paul, Minn.:

"One has nothing to do with the other. Our economics are not baseball's economics. Our game is not baseball's game. Our owners are not baseball's owners, with one or two exceptions. Our union is not baseball's union.

"What we do has to be crafted and suited to address hockey, to address the NHL, to address our 30 teams and our 700-plus players."

Gary Bettman to reporters on Aug. 15, 2012, in Toronto:

"I think it's fair to say that we value the [union's] proposal and what it means in terms of its economics differently than the players' association does. And, I think there are still a number of issues where we're looking at the world differently. I'm not sure that there has yet been recognition of the economics in our world, and I mean the greater world and the sports industry, taking into account what recently happened with the NFL and the NBA.

"And, so there is still a wide gap between us with not much time to go … I do think it's fair to say that the sides are still apart, far apart, have different views of the world and the issues."

Breakdown: Bettman's comment in 2012 uses the imagery of work stoppage in other leagues to make his point, while in 2004 he dismissed the notion the NHL should follow in the footsteps of the MLB, saying it needs to plot its own course.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

NHLPA Asks for Less

Today the NHLPA presented their offer regarding a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) to the league in Toronto. Union leader Donald Fehr indicated that their offer says the players are willing to accept less. Here is the press conference, which 23 players attended, including Alex Ovechkin and Sid Crosby:

NHLPA tables offer to league, says players willing to accept less --
The union says its proposal to the league includes a smaller percentage of revenues for players and an expanded revenue sharing program to help struggling teams.

Union leader Donald Fehr says players could give up as much as US$465 million in revenue under the proposal if the league continues to grow at an average rate. If the league grows at the rate it has over the past two seasons, he says the amount could reach $800 million...

Fehr also said the union's proposal does not call for the removal of the hard salary cap the league won in the last round of negotiations.

The NHLPA also proposed expanded revenue sharing to help financially struggling clubs, which could reach more that $250 million per year...

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Alas, the Cheap Seats

The Rangers had an increase in their 2011-12 season attendance by 0.5%. Not bad when compared to the Yankees and the Mets, who saw their attendance last season drop by 3% and 8.1% respectively. The bottomline is that MSG sells out almost every seat in the building when the Rangers play home games and they cannot stuff many more people into the building. This, of course, means that ticket prices will keep going up.

MSG averaged 18,192 paying customers for each of their 41 home games last season. Wikipedia lists the MSG hockey seating capacity at 18,200. So there was a grand total of around 348 unsold seats (18,200*41 - 745,852) for the Rangers during the entire 2011-12 season!

Alas, the cheap seats have all died and gone to heaven. Killed by the law of supply and demand.

From Crane's NY Business -- New York Area's Largest Professional Teams:

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

The Same Old Rangers?

The key question going into the 2012-2013 season is whether the Rangers with Nash and Kreider will be carbon copy of the shot blocking, defense first team of last year.

For those of us who look unkindly at how Coach Tortorella has sucked the life out of creativity and failed to make use of assets (i.e., Avery), there is strong reason to doubt that the addition of Nash and Kreider to the mix of top six forwards will matter.  However, even if the basic structure of the offense and defense remain the same (and I hope not), there are two huge differences between this team and last year's team.

The Left Wing Lock:  The Rangers lost to the Devils in the playoffs, and were outplayed by the Senators (and almost lost) because of the "left wing lock."  In most simple terms, it is a defensive system, sometimes confused with the neutral-zone trap. The main objective of the left-wing lock is to prevent an odd-man rush and create turnovers. You prevent the odd man rush by always having your left wing back along with the two defensemen when the opposition is breaking out.

Then, your two other forwards aggressively force the puck to the offensive teams left wall, "locking up" the opposing winger on the breakout.  This gives the defending team a better chance of causing a quick turnover, creating an odd-man advantage and a scoring opportunity.

Visualize two Devil forwards deep, forcing the Rangers defense to throw the puck along the left boards to a waiting Ranger wing and then preventing that Ranger forward from advancing by surrounding him with two defenders and a forward.  The Rangers break out play from their own zone has always been to come up the side boards - tailor made for the use of this strategy against them.

Nash will make a difference. Kreider (as the season progresses) will make a difference.  They are each big, strong left wings, who have the power to force the puck up the wall and the speed to force one of the defenders to stay back a little.  We should be able to get out of the zone better, and maintain possession more often.

The Power Play:  The Rangers power play conversion rate during the past year was a horrible: 15.7%.  The playoffs were better, at 17.8% - and 2 of those 13 goals were from Kreider.  Otherwise the percentage was 15.1%.  Nash adds even more to the power play.  83 of his 272 goals were on the power play.  He is willing to play in front of the net like Cally.  Plus, he is hard to move, great hands and can open the ice for Gabby.  A power play percentage of 20% is very possible, and with that fewer liberties will be taken at even strength.

One hopes that the Rangers will employ a more aggressive defense (say 2-1-2) instead of the box and shot blocking, at least with the first two lines on the ice, but whether Torts uses the new tools he has remains to be seen.  However, even if Torts fails to change, this will be a better team.  A team that is not yet the best in hockey, but should be one of the top five.

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