The myth and hazards of the Winter Classic…Change in time for today’s Winter Classic game…Canadian NHL teams making the most money…Blues Ian Cole suspended for three games…Avalanche’s Paul Stastny hopes for improvement in 2012…Wild’s Guillaume Latendresse left powerless by injuries.
SI.COM: Michael Farber suggests the Winter Classic is more about myth, and examines the potential hazards of playing an outdoor game.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The whole “hockey back to its roots” theme of playing outdoors is clearly a novelty that hasn’t worn off for the NHL, its fans, and even casual sports fans. It remains a box office and ratings bonanza for the league, and for the teams which participate. The ice and weather conditions present potential problems for player safety. The league does the best it can regarding the ice, but can do little but hope regarding the weather.
PHILLY.COM: The NHL has changed the start time of today’s Winter Classic game to 3 pm ET, as there will be better weather conditions at that time.
TORONTO STAR: Canadian based teams accounted for 33 percent of league revenue last season, with five of the top-six revenue generating teams residing in Canada. A strong Canadian dollar and fan base account for the strong revenue numbers of the Canadian teams.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: These are also cited as reasons for the NHL to relocate struggling teams to Canada. Two problems with that: lack of suitable markets, and the volatility of the value of the Canadian dollar. Market-wise, only Quebec City and Southern Ontario have the suitable size to handle NHL franchises, and in the latter, there would be concerns over conflicting with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres. At most, you could move three more NHL teams into Canada.
Nearly three years ago, the Canadian dollar sunk to .77 cents US before it rallied again. Unsurprisingly, league revenue showed minimal increases for the 2008-09 season, to where the salary cap only rose by $100K for 2009-10, as the cap is tied to revenue fluctuations. It was ten years ago the Canadian dollar was worth less than .65 cents US, and there was serious talk of relocating the Oilers, Flames and Senators to the United States. The Canadian dollar is strong now, but there’s no guarantee it’ll still be that way in a year, or three years, or five, or a decade from now. That’s the real risk of moving franchises back into Canada in the long term, and why I remain concerned about the long term viability of the Jets in hockey’s smallest market. That’s not a knock against Winnipeg fans, by the way, but even the most fanatical fan support might not be enough to keep them going if the Canadian dollar sinks for a significant period of time, especially playing in the smallest venue in the league.
DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche center Paul Stastny is hoping for improved offensive numbers this year. The Avs will be looking to him to step up now that Matt Duchene is sidelined with a knee injury.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: Minnesota Wild forward Guillaume Latendresse is upset that another season is being destroyed because of injuries. Back-to-back concussions have sidelined him for 23 of the past 25 games this season, while last season he missed all but 11 games to hip and abdominal injuries.