Posted on: April 30, 2009 6:10 pm
Edited on: April 30, 2009 6:12 pm

Ratings up, attendance up

Today I read more reports about NHL playoff attendance increases and TV ratings increase.

Kevin McGran at the Toronto Star:
The NHL may not be able to hide its delight with first-round playoff attendance numbers.
Many believed the post-season would be a casualty of the recession, but average attendance for the opening round increased and all but four of the games were sellouts.

Greg "I hate the NHL, and I wish I wasn't blogging about it" Wyshynski at Yahoo! Sports was critical.
Meanwhile, the Toronto Star writes an "all is well" NHL playoff attendance article without mentioning how attendance is counted or reported publicly.

Gotcha Mr. Negative. Name a sports league - NBA, MLB or NFL - that reports attendance differently than the NHL? They all do it by tickets sold. Anyway, I watched plenty of games on TV, and with the exception of Detroit, the arenas all looked damn near capacity to me.

Bill Beacon of the Canadian Press:
With fans flocking back to see good teams with star players in Chicago and Boston, the NHL says its rinks were full to 100.9 per cent capacity through the 44 first-round games, its highest figure in 16 years.
Only four games — two in Carolina and two in Anaheim — failed to sell out.
It also reports a 22 per cent increase in viewers on the Versus network in the U.S., which averaged a 0.44 cable rating, or 333,163 households and 442,301 viewers.

Also there was this tidbit.
It was a game between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia on NBC on April 19 that did best — a 1.3 rating, or 1,542,710 households and 2,223,151 viewers. The league called it the most-watched NHL conference quarter-final game on "over-the-air" TV since 2001, up 63 per cent from a comparable NBC game last year.

NBC bested the the Mickey Mouse networks?! Wow, that's hard for me to believe that the synergy between NBC and Versus beat the synergy between ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Radio, etc., when they had games in 2002, 2003 and 2004. Very hard to believe NBC surpassed the "sports leader." Maybe it's because the Mickey Mouse networks weren't giving it their all.

Finally, Jeff Z. Klein at The New York Times:
Tuesday’s two Game 7’s did not end well for metropolitan-area fans, but there were a lot of them watching.
The relatively high ratings for the Rangers and Devils came even though their decisive games were telecast simultaneously on MSG’s two networks.
The average ratings for both eventful series showed significant increases over last year’s numbers, with the Rangers averaging a 2.50 (185,846 households) on MSG, compared with a 2.13 in 2008. The Devils averaged 1.36 (101,100 households) on MSG Plus — way up over last year’s 0.59.

Posted on: February 7, 2009 11:15 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2009 11:16 pm

Poor play, poor team

The Red Wings flew high Saturday and weren't mired in Oil with a resounding 8-3 win .

DETROIT (AP) — The Red Wings scored three times in the first six minutes and Brian Rafalski, Maria Hossa and Pavel Datsyuk each had a goal and an assist to lift Detroit to an 8-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.

So is the poor play of the Wings over or did they just play a poor team? No disrespect to the Oilers but the Wings seem to match up well with Edmonton this year. Wings won 4-0 and 4-3 in two November games.
Is this finally the start of the Wings playing like a team ready to repeat or just an aberration?
Although the Wings won Monday and Wednesday they didn't look particularly strong doing so, and they certainly didn't look like a team wanting to repeat as Cup champions.

Lidstrom's late goal gives Wings 5-4 win
"It's not the way we want to win but we're still able to win games," (Nicklas) Lidstrom said. "We're still working at details in our game that could be better."

Anyway, Sunday's game at Pittsburgh, as the second half of a back-to-back, might be a better indicator for the Wings, not that the Penguins are playing particularly well, but they should be more rested than the Wings. It will be an interesting game.

Posted on: January 16, 2009 12:11 am
Edited on: January 16, 2009 11:46 am

NHL fans need more Versus coverage

Many hockey fans seem to think Versus' NHL coverage is lacking. That the announcers, cameramen, producers, etc. are sub par. I don't get that thinking.
In my opinion Versus' coverage has improved every season since 2005-2006. It's getting better all the time. I sincerely believe the quality of the telecasts has improved over time.
That doesn't mean Versus is perfect. My biggest criticism of Versus coverage is that games are only on two nights per week. There are games just about everyday. More games on different nights should be broadcast nationwide on Versus.
Wednesday night's game between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins is one such game.
A rivalry is budding between Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin, and another between Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. These players are arguably three of the most exciting, young players in the League too.

From the Canadian Press.
PITTSBURGH — Alexander Ovechkin let his play do the talking in what is becoming one of the fiercest interdivisional rivalries in the NHL.

The game reads as if it was pretty chippy too.
It's no secret Ovechkin and fellow Russian Malkin, who went Nos. 1 and 2 in the 2004 draft, have been feuding. In the two team's previous meeting Oct. 16, Ovechkin repeatedly sought out Malkin to deliver a hit to his former roommate.
Also, it appears the relationship between Crosby and Ovechkin - who entered the league together during the post-lockout 2005-06 season and were hailed as league co-saviours - might have soured. The previous two NHL scoring champions jawed at each other while the teams came onto the ice to begin the third period.

The Caps eventually won in a 6-3 shootout.
So there's a high-scoring, feisty NHL game, yet many hockey fans outside of Washington and Pittsburgh probably didn't see it. They should have, and the game should have been on Versus.
Category: NHL
Posted on: January 3, 2009 7:10 pm

Classic sweaters, apparel, ratings

OK, maybe this will be my last Winter Classic related blog entry.

The Red Wings and Blackhawks throwback jerseys were great in my opinion. Seeing them on the ice bumped up my intial thoughts about them. Last year's sweaters were too, but I'm not a big fan of the Penguins baby blue ones. They just have so much winning history with the black and gold ones.
One blogger wrote Detroit should keep the D sweater. I disagree; I'm in favor of keeping them for special events. The D jerseys will probably be a third jersey for Detroit next year.
Anyway while I'm a big fan of the looks of the Winter Classic jerseys, I'm not a big fan of the new-style sweaters. The authentics are expensive, and the replicas look horrible and feel cheap. So I don't know if I'll ever buy another NHL jersey, which is a shame.
That said there was other apparel I saw on TV or in pictures that I loved.
The jackets the coaches wore, the coats the players wore, the toques the players wore, and a hoodie I saw a fan wearing. See below.


Coats & Toques

I can't find the hoodie, but it's red with the D on it. It's available in black, but not red. The Wings don't wear black. Anyway good luck finding any of those things on the NHL website. I can't, but I'd buy every single one of those items. Disappointing.

As I mentioned yesterday, the ratings were up by 12 percent. Disappointingly, Detroit finished second behind Chicago. Also, more people in Detroit watched the Michigan State Spartans lose in a bowl game than watched the Red Wings win the Winter Classic.

More Detroit television viewers go Green than Red
Looks like Hockeytown was really Spartytown on New Year's Day.
The Winter Classic hockey game, shown locally on WDIV Channel 4, between the Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks had a 10.5 rating and a 20% share in Detroit. That translates to 203,000 households.
During pretty much the same time slot, the Capital One Bowl between MSU and Georgia aired on WXYT Channel 7. It beat out the Wings, drawing a 15.2 rating and a 28.3% share. That's roughly 293,000 households.

How many households in Detroit were watching the CBC feed instead of the NBC feed? That would be nice to know.

Here's the breakdown.

Top 10 Metered Markets:
1. Chicago 11.8/21
2. Detroit 10.5/20
3. Buffalo 10.1/20
4. St. Louis 5.3/10
5. Pittsburgh 4.4/8
6. Denver 4.2/10
7. Providence 3.5/7
8. Indianapolis 3.4/6
9. West Palm Beach 3.3/6
10. Orlando 3.2/5

Indianapolis, my hometown, finished eighth, pretty good for a city without an NHL team. Boston and New York aren't in the top 10. Those towns might be involved in the next Winter Classic. Of course maybe those two cities weren't "metered."
Posted on: September 12, 2008 7:03 pm

Pens' new igloo

Ground broke awhile back for the Penguins new home arena.
Arena groundbreaking is great day for hockey

Although work on the new arena has been under way for some time at this site, government and Penguins officials ceremonially broke ground yesterday on the long-awaited, much-debated facility. Everyone knew it was going to happen, but actually seeing shovels in the ground brought home the full impact of what this means.

Here's a link for more information and photos about the arena, which will seat a little more than 18,000 people.

Where the new arena is in relation to Mellon Arena.

Concept drawing of the new arena.

Looks nice ... but generic. I'm not totally sold on new arenas.
Most, if not all, in my opinion are sterile, antiseptic, and separate fans based on class.
Also, most have at least two bowls, if not more, which limits good sight lines.
Category: NHL
Posted on: July 6, 2008 8:08 am

Hackel: Therrien pushing Penguins away

Stu Hackel, writing with the New York Time, agrees with me about Michel Therrien and why so many Penguins left Pittsburgh. Though admittedly Hackel points to some different reasons, more than just the player - coach relationship.

And there’s one more factor in Hossa’s decision that no one talks about: That would be Penguins coach Michel Therrien. He was badly overmatched against Mike Babcock in the final and even though, like many of his inexperienced players, he probably learned a lot by going four rounds this spring, the whispers persist that a number of Pens who have fled were not members of his fan club. Nor are some who remain.

Therrien is not the emotional train wreck he was when he coached Montreal, but how far he’s come since then and how adroit he is at bench management remains debatable. Scratching Roberts at the outset of the final reveals some questionable judgment at work.

Perhaps it’s unrelated, perhaps not, but that’s why we’re not entirely surprised to read that talks on a contract extension for Therrien have been put on hold.
Category: NHL
Posted on: July 2, 2008 8:32 pm

Penguins fly the coop

OK so Penguins don't fly, but they are speedily marching away from Pittsburgh.

Who left: Gary Roberts, Ty Conklin, Ryan Malone, and probably most surprisingly especially considering where he landed, Marian Hossa.

Why did they leave?

Is it a mere coincidence or something more? I think it's the coach, Michel Therrien. His Final series antics - working the referees by complaining how the Red Wings cheated - annoyed his players. A national writer mentioned this in an article. That even Sidney Crosby had a tough time swallowing the company line.

Why those players left might be coincidence and a money grab by the players.

Still, I can't help but think that something might be rotten in the city of Pittsburgh, or at least with the Penguins organization.

Category: NHL
Posted on: April 9, 2008 10:54 pm

I did that

To be honest central Indiana, CenIn, isn't much better than southern Indiana, SoIn, when it comes to hockey viewing.
Indianapolis has the Ice, but that's probably a very small fraction of the populous here in basketball-land.
Tonight, the start of the 2008 NHL playoff I visited the southside Buffalo Wild Wings. I love that place. One, they serve Molson Canadian, on tap!. Two, they change the station to hockey games for me.
Previously when I've been there I watched games on NBC. Tonight I went there for the reasons stated above. Walking in I was surprised to see hockey on two different screens.  I didn't get much play at one end of the bar, close to a hockey screen, but far from ideal. So I moved to the other end. I watched for a bit and realized it was the NHL Network and not Versus.
"Can you change this screen to Versus?" I asked pointing to one of the TVs near me.
"What's that?" asked the bartender.
"What are looking for?" asked the manager.
"I'm looking for the Penguins - Ottawa game," I said.
OK, this is B-dubs. They should know what Versus is. It's freaking Indianapolis! Sheesh!!
Anyway, after trying the FSN Pittsburgh feed, which they don't get, the manager finds the Versus feed for me.
I'm happy!
Previously, only the NHL Network was on and most there were watching either the Cubs game or the Tigers game. When I left at the end of the second period, the Versus game was on at least three different screens, one that was a huge projection screen. I did that. I was a result of that change. Just call me Johnny Hockeyseed.

So yeah, the Tigers - Red Sox game was on at B-dubs, and it was the FSN Detroit feed. So tomorrow that might be the place to watch the Red Wings - Predators game. Will Indy receive the FSN Detroit feed when the Wings are playing? I hope so.
By the way, the Senators seem lifeless. This could be a sweep unless the Sens find something that will motivate them.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com