Monday, June 27, 2011

Gary Bettman's State of the NHL talk at MN Wild fan fest

These are videos of Gary Bettman's "State of the NHL" discussion at the MN Wild's "Fan Fest" on Saturday, June 25th. Five videos, total content time approx 45-50 minutes.

On a side note related the the NHL Draft: have updated the listing of pro hockey players on Twitter to include those players who were drafted this year.  (Draftees listed under the third section "Other pro hockey players").

Bettman discusses his NHL Live radio show and the new NHL television broadcast arrangements, and how the NHL plans to expand coverage and get the NHL into more households. My apologies up front for the quality of the video. (First video is most likely to make you seasick!) This was shot with a Flip camera and I didn't have my monopod to prevent video shaking.

More discussion about broadcast partners as well as sponsor relationships, and relationships with the NHL fan base. Also discusses "HBO 24/7"; hockey players as athletes; the future of the Winter Classic -- including MN fans asking about getting the game in Minnesota, how the NHL chooses who gets to play in the WC, and why the NHL chooses the stadiums that they do

Talking about NHL realignment; talking about home/away uniforms; discusses the Phoenix, Winnipeg and Minnesota (North Stars) moves, and team moves in general; and the decision to move to Winnipeg and how the fanbase there has reacted. The figure about how many people signed up online to get on the season ticket list is staggering.

Discussing how the salary cap/floor has increased competitiveness between teams; how old-school salary parity affected the game; Bettman talks about how he became interested in hockey as a kid; taking questions from the audience, re: realignment, rivalries, asking about Horton hit, European vs North American ice size/game, and safety regulations.

More audience questions: NCAA vs USA Hockey; and preventing a CBA work stoppage and how the last lockout affected the NHL.

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This post made Puck Daddy!  

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Congratulations to the Boston Bruins!

Congratulations, Boston Bruins!
The 2011 Stanley Cup Champions!

This was my favorite moment: Tim Thomas's beaming face as he lifted the Cup.
(Yeah, I took pictures of my TV...) Enjoy your party and year with the Cup, Boston. For the third time in four years, another Original Six team hoists the Cup.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final: the pinnacle of dreams

Although the Chicago Blackhawks have been out of the running since game 7 in Vancouver on April 26th, they have remained the reigning Stanley Cup Champions until now.

That ends tonight in Vancouver.

More than 100 games later after players across the league took to the ice to start the season, the playing field has been whittled to two: the Boston Bruins and the Vancouver Canucks.

There are many things this playoff season will be remembered for, and this Final round has been one of the wildest rides in recent memory. Two teams that barely had nodding acquaintance to one another, at the farthest ends of the continent from one another (nearly 2,500 miles apart), have gone at it tooth-and-nail since the first puck drop in Game 1.

Those of us who have watched this series unfold will remember for many years the details: the Burrows Bite; the Finger Incident. The Rome hit; the Boychuk hit. The battle of the gee-aw-shucks, happy-to-be-here, gritty, hard-working, "battlefly" goalie, versus the high-priced greyhound franchise goalie who might have a gold medal in his closet but who needs the Stanley Cup to silence all of his critics. The battles of words.  The diving. The records set.

But it all comes to a peak in game 7.

Tonight is like Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve and the night before your birthday all rolled into one. The excitement, the anticipation, has the fanbases on overload. It is the joy and expectation, the giddy thrill and the gut-twisting anxiety that marks the final hours. On Monday, the thought was "Is this the day?" for both teams.

On Wednesday, it IS the day for both teams. 3-3. It all comes down to one game. 60 minutes.

As Ryan Kesler said on Tuesday, "If we win, we become legends," something that is true for either team. In the case of the Canucks, it means earning the first Cup in Canucks team history.

For the Bruins, it would mean bringing home the first Cup Boston has had since 1972. Tim Thomas said it succinctly in interviews today: 
"The reality is, for me anyways, this may be the only Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals I ever have in my career. If we happen to make it again, hopefully we can win before 7. It's a big game, but you know, when we're in the garage or driveway, playing as a kid, and you're fantasizing ... you're saying to yourself, 'Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.' You're not saying Game 6, you know? So this is really what every kid dreams about."

The Bruins haven't been to a Final round since 1990, and haven't won a Cup in 39 years. The Canucks haven't been to the Final since 1994, and haven't won a Cup in 40 years of team history. Both are nursing huge, multi-decade stretches without a Cup. 

Fans on both sides will be loaded with emotion throughout Game 7 -- one will walk away riding a wave of ecstasy and jubilation that lasts for weeks; the other, stomaching disappointment, and thoughts of next year.

In the short term, these memories of a strange and surreal Final round will be the topic of conversations for the rest of the summer, and a few years to come; but sooner or later, those memories will fade, replaced by the memory of the game-winning goal, the Captain first hoisting the Cup, and a team, a city and its fans celebrating.

There is no greater excitement, no better glory to be had in sports than the Stanley Cup - with a playoff season that stretches across two months, and ends on the ice in June.

Somebody will be a hero, with the game-winning goal. 

Tonight, the tanks get emptied, and it gets all left on the ice.

Good luck to both teams. 

As they say in Minnesota: Let's... play... hockey!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Where might the players travel with the Stanley Cup?

One of the great things about being a hockey player who wins the Stanley Cup is that you get your "day with the Cup" -- 24 hours spent with the greatest trophy in sports.

Last year, tracked the Blackhawks and where they took the Cup around the globe. Tonight, with only one or two games left before a new champion is crowned, let's take a look at where both teams might take the Cup on their "Summer with Stanley".

Worth noting: it doesn't matter which team wins the Cup; a Cup winner will visit each Final city on their Day With The Cup. Although neither team has a "native son", both teams are home to a player from the other side's city -- Milan Lucic of the Bruins grew up in Vancouver; and Cory Schneider of the Canucks grew up in Marblehead, just outside of Boston. (Additional fun fact - Schneider's parents are long-term Boston Bruins season ticket owners!)

Teams are presented alphabetically. Locations represented on the map are those players who qualify to be engraved on the Stanley Cup (41+  regular season games or 1 Stanley Cup Final game; teams can always request exceptions). Click through on either map to see a larger-resolution version.


Boston's roster is heavily Canadian, and in particular, represents many of the eastern provinces. If the Bruins won the Cup, the Summer With Stanley Tour would include stops in British Columbia, Alberta, Québec, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, plus many stops in Ontario; then Pittsburgh and Michigan in the U.S.; and on to Europe, where it would visit Germany, Finland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic.


Vancouver's players are also spread across Canada, with a large clusters around and Montréal and an even larger one around Toronto. The Canucks roster represents British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Québec. In the U.S., it's Minnesota, Michigan, and Massachusetts. From there, the Cup would go to Europe, where it would of course be heavily represented in Sweden; but also make stops in Finland and Germany. The Cup would also go to Denmark for the first time, as Jannik Hansen is from Herlev, on the island of Sjælland.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Where were you one year ago tonight, Blackhawks fans?

One year ago today, on Philadelphia ice, the Chicago Blackhawks broke a 49-year drought and won the Stanley Cup. 

I don't normally go out to bars for games, but for THIS game, for the one that might be THE win, I had to be around other people. I met up with some other Blackhawks fans/Twitterfolk at the Brew & View at the Vic (what could be more awesome than watching this game on that HUGE screen?), but the theater's projection system kept having problems. Ridiculous! Couldn't put up with this at a time like this!  

So I ran down the street to see if Leona's or Trader Todd's was showing the game, and we ended up moving over to Trader Todd's for the 2nd/3rd/OT parts of the game. There weren't many of us in there - maybe 20 people in the place - and I was fine til about five minutes left in the game. Nervous wrecks, each and every one of us. Then Kane scored the OT goal, and I leapt to my feet so quickly that I nearly keeled over immediately from the blood rush.

"And they score! We saw no light! We saw no signal! And we're not sure if they've sent a signal to the goalie lamp, but they're celebrating at the other end of the ice! What chaos!" -- NBC

"And it's in the net! They scored! It's in! It's in! The Hawks win the Stanley Cup! .... It's in the back of the net! The Hawks have won the Stanley Cup! Blackhawks fans around the world, you've endured 49 years of frustration! But your patience has finally paid off! Lord Stanley's new address is sweet home Chicago! The Chicago Blackhawks have won the Stanley Cup!" -- WGN

We could hear screaming and car honking outside. After celebrating and shaking hands all around ("until next year"), I headed out to get my car and to take in the city. 

Wrigleyville was wild, happy chaos; police had already cordoned off a large stretch of Clark Street where all the bars are, close to Wrigley Field, but for blocks around, people were running down the street, high-fiving anyone in sight. People hefting replica Cups; people dancing in the streets. 

They say in Chicago that baseball divides this city, but hockey unites it. Where were you the night the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup?


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Hockey bingo - Stanley Cup Final round edition!

Bingo is always fun. With the Stanley Cup Final upon us, and two games already complete, we bring to you Hockey Bingo - the Stanley Cup Final round edition!

Play either the "at home" or "in arena" card - if your printer doesn't print out this entry as two separate pages, click on the cards to go direct to Flickr pages which should be printer-friendly.