Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Other ways that NHL teams are cutting costs during the lockout

Stanley practices his hitchhiking in
an attempt to find a ride home.
We're now into week two of the NHL lockout, and the financial impact is starting to be felt around the league. But while locked out players have the option of finding jobs overseas, the same can't be said for team employees who are falling victim to layoffs and cutbacks as teams tighten their belts in anticipation of an extended lockout.

Perhaps the most unusual example came last week in Florida, where the Panthers reportedly laid off their mascot. But they weren't the only ones making cutbacks. The Ottawa Senators announced significant staffing reductions, and the Vancouver Canucks informed employees that they'd be forced to work four-day work weeks and accept a 20% pay cut.

Other teams around the league haven't announced major cuts yet, but with everyone feeling the financial pinch every dollar counts. Here are some of the ways that various NHL franchises are trying to save money during the early days of the lockout.

Winnipeg Jets - Now that he's signed a long-term contract, we can probably go ahead and disconnect that giant fluorescent heat lamp we hung over Evander Kane's house to make him think this city sometimes get sunlight.

Toronto Maple Leafs - Make sure the team bus doesn't waste gas on any long and costly trips by firmly wedging a former goaltending coach underneath it.

Minnesota Wild - Lay off the executive vice president in charge of reminding owner Craig Leipold that he's been complaining about massive contracts for years and it would be completely ridiculous of him to start signing them right before a lockout and oh wait I guess they already did that in June.

Columbus Blue Jackets - Sorry, have employed Steve Mason for the past few years, are unfamiliar with the concept of saving anything.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Take the quiz: How well do you really know the CBA negotiations?

For the last time Brian, no, we can't
just lock out the players from Ontario.
The weekend's expiration of the NHL collective bargaining agreement made official what everyone already knew was inevitable. We have a lockout. Again.

If you're like most fans, you've probably already formed an opinion about who's right and wrong. You've probably also shared that opinion, loudly, to anyone who'll listen. But do you really understand the complex details behind these negotiations? Take this quiz and find out.

In late July, the NHL responded to the NHLPA's request for more financial information by turning over 76,000 pages. Why were the documents so long?
a.) For sake of completeness, the document listed everyone who's ever been rumored to be buying the Phoenix Coyotes.
b.) For reasons nobody's completely clear on, the package contains all of Mitt Romney's old tax returns.
c.) The owners wanted to make a note of how much they hated Bob Goodenow, so the middle 75,980 pages are just the repetition of the word "very".

The players submitted a counter-proposal in August, but the owners didn't immediately offer an official response. Why not?
a.) It was a contract offer, so out of force of habit the owners immediately tried to figure out how to front-load it.
b.) One of the rich owners asked if the proposal included a comprehensive revenue sharing to help the struggling smaller markets, and then they all just laughed and laughed until it was time to go home.
c.) They were advised to completely ignore it by that one really hardline guy in the group who nobody recognizes but who come to think of it looks kind of like David Stern wearing Groucho Marx glasses and giggling.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Don't Call It A Rollback: Gary Bettman's old-school message to the NHL's players and fans

Hey, did you hear about that new NHL video game that’s just been released?

No, not that one. Please. Hockey teams actually playing hockey? That’s so 2011.

This new game is a little bit more… realistic. And unlike that other one that puts all the focus on the players, this hot new release knows who the fans really want to see.

RSS readers, click here.

I can't wait for the sequel to come out in a few years. And a few years after that. And a few years after that...

Lyrics after the jump.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

An in-depth review of NHL 13

The two logos in the bottom corner mark
history's last known example of the NHL
and NHLPA being on the same page.

Today marks the official release of NHL 13, the latest version in the much beloved series of hockey video games from EA Sports. Fans around the world are busy downloading the game or lining up at stores in anticipation of seeing what the developers have come up with for 2012.

Of course, this year's version may be more important than most - after all, thanks to the pending lockout the game could be the only NHL hockey that fans get to see for months. But is it any good? I got my hands on an advanced review copy, and I can report that the results are mixed.

Here are some of the new features, latest improvements and unfortunate bugs that can be found in NHL 13.

What's New

  • The developers are hyping that the new "True Performance Skating" system, although there are still moments when the skating animations remain completely unrealistic. For example, when I skated towards a defenceless opponent while controlling Raffi Torres, my skates stayed on the ice.

  • Players will be able to choose from five different difficulty settings: Easy, Medium, Hard, Impossible, and "Guy who has to handle public relations for the NHL owners".

  • "NHL Moments Live" is a new feature that promises to let fans relive the most memorable moments from recent seasons, which has Edmonton Oiler fans excited since previous versions of the game never included the draft lottery.

  • In a nice bit of cross-promotion, the game will access the worldwide database of FIFA Soccer 13 owners, find the one with the most pathetically abysmal record, and promote him to president of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment.

  • The game can also be purchased in a special "Stanley Cup Edition". It turns out to be exactly the same as the regular version, except when you try to take it home from the store Gary Bettman will refuse to hand it over until you've posed awkwardly for photos with him while everyone boos.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Team Canada's 1972 Summit Series application form

While hockey fans may have missed it among all the lockout doom and gloom, Sunday was an important anniversary in hockey history. The day marked forty years since Canada and the USSR took to the ice at the Montreal Forum for game one of their infamous 1972 Summit Series.

Most Canadians know the story of the series by heart. But did you know how the team was put together? Hockey historians recently unearthed the original application form that was sent to Canadian players, and DGB spies were able to send me a copy.


Thank you for your interest in playing for Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series. To help us narrow down the list of candidates, please fill out the application form below.

Your name: _______________________
Your position: ________________________
NHL team that you play for: _______________
(If you wrote “Montreal Canadiens”, skip the rest of the form; you’ve made the team!)

What was your first thought after series organizer Alan Eagleson initially approached you about participating?
( ) “It would be an honor to represent my country.”
( ) “This sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
( ) “It will be interesting to travel all the way to Russia.”
( ) “Hey, that’s weird, my wallet is missing.”

What is your primary reason for wanting to join Team Canada for the Summit Series?
( ) Have always admired the passion of Canadian hockey fans, and think it would be fun to be booed mercilessly by them the first time we have a bad shift.
( ) Will be a nice change of pace from the typical 1970s player’s pre-season preparation of trying really hard not to chain-smoke quite as much while grilling ribeye steaks three meals a day.
( ) Hoping assistant coach John Ferguson brings his adorable five-year-old son to the practices, since it’s so cute how he falls for the “trade me two dimes for a nickel” trick every single time.
( ) Honestly, just want to be close to Phil Esposito’s sideburns.