Bruins Talk

Cam Hasbrouck of The Hockey Writers jumped in the box to talk about a whole lot of topics with us. Among those are;



Podcast

  • The surprising season the Boston Bruins are putting together.
  •  The improved offensive numbers, especially the Power Play numbers, and what changed in special teams philosophy
  • Two trades went down last week and we talk about the effects to come on the teams involved
  • Up and coming young talent in the Bruins system and their contributions this year
  • The hit on Adam McQuaid and the repercussions

Plus we get into a lot of other hockey talk as well!!  Check out the Podcast!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/vegashockeypodcast/id987189439?mt=2&i=360613885

 

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What Makes Hockey “work” in A Given market? Will hockey “work” in Las Vegas? Part One of a Three Part Series

Hello hockey fans, welcome to the blog! We have received great feedback from our listeners and the twittersphere and one of the main topics is “will hockey “work” in Las Vegas” ? We think that is a great topic to explore more in-depth on a podcast, but for now, a few quick thoughts, or maybe not so quick.

If you have listened to our first episode, Thanks!!! In it, we had a great discussion with NHL Goaltender Clint Malarchuk about that very subject. Clint played Goalie in the most traditional of markets, Quebec City, and perhaps the least traditional market most hockey fans can imagine, Las Vegas. Which is one of the reasons we sought Clint for our first show. We felt his perspective on both markets would be unique. We were right. If you haven’t listened to the show, you can right here on Soundcloud Or here on iTunes Or you can follow us on Twitter

Among other things, one main theme came from him and he said it best. “I’m often asked if Vegas would work as a hockey market, and my answer is yes” Clint told us. He cited great fan support for a minor league team, which was over 7,500 and in the top ten in the league until the arena refused them a new lease. This was in 1993-97 at a time when Las Vegas had a population of barely 400,000 people. He said point-blank, “Vegas IS a hockey town”, Now the city has grown to over 2 million people in the area, most having moved here from cold weather, traditional hockey cities and the one thing they do miss from back home is their hockey, as Clint rightly pointed out. Some of us have been here since the 80’s, went to the first outdoor game in the modern era at Ceasers Palace between the Kings and the Rangers, went to as many Las Vegas Thunder games as we could, and know how the city feels about hockey first hand. Most of you don’t. People look for reasons the franchise here will fail, and cite the teams in Arizona and Florida as examples. People look for reasons the franchise will succeed and cite the 41 million tourists who visit Las Vegas each year, or the Casinos will prop up the team. We think the truth is somewhere in the middle. But the bottom line, as Mr. Malarchuk said, “Vegas WILL support a hockey team”. And there is no one who would know better than him.

So, what does make hockey “work” in a given market? Is it the weather? We here at the podcast hear that “Hockey in the desert is a stupid idea” all the time. Is it? Can NHL teams in warm weather climates succeed? How do you define success? One friend of the show from Quebec has said success is selling 90% of your tickets on average. We like to think that on ice results matter greatly, is that true? Do Cups equal success? How about a cities “passion” or “love” of the sport? Does that automatically mean buts in the seats and financial stability regardless of on ice performance and climate conditions? Does that even mean an NHL team will be financially viable in a hardcore traditional market? All very good questions that need to be asked and answered, so we will take a crack at them.

Number one and the easiest to answer is can hockey work in a warmer climate city and the answer is so obviously yes that to suggest otherwise is, quite frankly, laughable. Lets look at a few teams that have made things work in warmer cities, and then at some that have not. Maybe herein lies the answer to the larger question facing us.

We hear a lot of people using Florida as an example of why Las Vegas shouldn’t be given an NHL team. We agree that after the Panthers magical run with the rats raining down to the ice that things have gone south in a hurry, (no pun intended). However, these people conveniently  forget that just up the road is a team many consider to be thriving  in Florida, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Now by the 90% of seats sold barometer, we say the Bolts are a big success.  We will use post lockout numbers for the purposes of this discussion, mainly because looking at the last 10 years is relevant to the Las Vegas question. Over the last ten years, The Lightning have been 2nd,3rd.8th twice, 9th.10th 13th, 18th, and 21st twice. They have had a high average of 20,509 and a low average of 16,497. Six out of 10 years in the top ten in attendance. only twice in the bottom third. They have a Stanley Cup Championship from 2003-04. During that time they made the playoffs six times and did not qualify four times. This would seem to spell success, right? The team has lost money in 5 of those 10 seasons, according to Forbes, with a high of -11.9 million in 2010-11.

So in the Lightnings case. we would say marginally successful. The perception of  ticket sales equaling success seems to hold up somewhat, but on ice success in this market does not necessarily mean profitability.

Looking at another non-traditional market, Los Angeles may surprise you. Setting the three barometers of success as attendance, on ice performance, and profitability, how do the Kings stack up? Certainly there is a perception of an increased level of interest since the Kings won their first Championship in 2012, and then again in 2014. Is this entirely true? Was Staples Center an empty barn before 2012? Let’s find out.

Starting in 2002-2003, The Kings started a franchise record run of six straight seasons missing the playoffs. They would not see the postseason again until 2009-10. So, obviously, on ice performance was a negative factor. Or was it? During that time the Kings would start 12th in the league in attendance with 17,569, or 97 percent of capacity. They fell to a low of 22nd, drawing 16,488 per game in the 2008-09 campaign, or 89 percent of capacity. Still within a tick of the 90 percent sell rate we set as the bar for success. In between they finished 11th, 12th, 16th, 18th, only falling below the 90th percentile the one year. Pretty solid numbers for a team with no fans until three or four years later. And in a warm weather city far from the Canadian border.  Their operating revenue those years only dipped into the red once, 2010-11.  Now, since 2011, attendance has risen back to where it was in 2002-03 and above, which should be expected. This year, the Kings drew 100.2 percent of capacity at 18,265. Good for 15th in the league.  By the way the Kings won the Stanley Cup twice in three years from 2012 through 2014.

Summarizing the Kings last ten years, under the three guidelines we set forth above, we see a very successful franchise, even before their current on ice successes. Selling 90 percent of their  tickets while finishing tied for last in 2006-07 demonstrates a solid, loyal fan base in Los Angeles. And it’s been there for some time. The teams value has soared from 118 million in 1997 to a current value of 580 million.

Now let’s look at some very traditional, hockey rich franchises, starting with the Chicago Blackhawks. Does cold weather, proximity to Canada or “traditional market” decide profitability? How does on ice performance affect attendance in a hockey “hotbed?” Let’s see what the numbers say.

From 2003-04 to 2014-15 the Blackhawks have seen a roller coaster of attendance figures. In 03-04 Chicago drew only 13,253 fans finishing 27th in the league, at 58 percent of the standing room capacity of the United Center, the second lowest per game average in our survey, Lower even than the current poster child of “franchise futility” the Arizona Coyotes 2014-15 total of 13,345. The following year was even worse, checking in at 29th overall.  How is this possible? Was it the on ice performance that turned away the fans in Chicago?

From 2003-2007 the Blackhawks missed the playoffs.In 2003 they had the second worst record in the league with 59 points. Only Pittsburgh was worse with 58. Missing the playoffs again in 05-06 with a not much improved 65 points saw the attendance drop to 13,318, twenty-ninth in the league. In 2006-07 The Blackhawks drew only 12,727 fans, second to last in the NHL, again finishing last in the Central Division. How could such a tradition rich, cold weather team draw roughly 3,500 less fans per game with barely 55 percent of tickets sold, than the warm weather, non traditional market Los Angeles Kings during similar periods of on ice ineptitude? We have heard several reasons mentioned for this, most often hearing the lack of a TV deal, or the ownership wasn’t supporting the team as well as the fans might hope. But when you look at the next few years, it may be that on ice performance drives ticket sales in Chicago.

Beginning in the 2007-08 season the Blackhawks fortunes began to change. While they still missed the playoffs, they selected Patrick Kane with the number one overall pick in the 2007 Entry Draft. Having picked Jonathon Toews with the third overall pick the previous year, the Blackhawks on ice fortunes were improving, along with their attendance. They brought in 16,814 fans per game that season good for nineteenth in the league. Still well below the 90 percent threshold, but trending up. In the 2008-09 season, the Blackhawks would return to the playoffs and their attendance would continue to mirror their performance. In fact, they would lead the league in attendance with over 100 percent of tickets sold bringing in 22,247 per game. With skillful management building the team around Kane and Toews the Blackhawks would go on to win the Stanley Cup in 2010 and 2013. They have now reached the Western Conference Finals in three straight years and five out of the last seven.

On the financial side of things, the Blackhawks, in their lowest attended season. had negative operating revenue of 4 million dollars. All other years in the survey they had positive operating revenue reported by Forbes. Peaking last year with a 50 million dollar surplus, and a whopping 110 percent capacity average, easily taking the number one spot in both percentage of tickets sold and number of fans through the door, The sixth straight year the Hawks have led the league in attendance.

It was noted that Bill Wirtz claimed to have lost $191 million dollars from 1997-2007, however, when the revenue from the United Center and the Chicago Bulls among other events is factored in, the Blackhawks are very successful. Although, it must be said, attendance at the United Center appears to mirror on-ice results more than any other team we looked at.

In the next part of this three part blog, we will look at more franchises in depth like the Minnesota Wild and the Dallas Stars to see if we can determine if hockey works in two cities with the same franchise!

Thanks for reading, feel free to send any feedback to MarkWarner@VegasHockeyPodcast

Une conversation avec Clint Malarchuk

Salut aux amateurs de hockey et bienvenue au Vegas hockey Podcast! La première baladodiffusion était en l’honneur de Clint Malarchuk! https://soundcloud.com/vegashockeypodcast/clint-malarchuk
Il y a eu beaucoup de réactions favorables suite à cette diffusion. Plusieurs nous ont écrit pour nous parler de leur propre situation quant à la venue d’un club de la LNH. Que ce soit Seattle, Québec ou Las Vegas. Mark and Tom sont favorables à la venue de toutes ces villes et vont tout faire pour mousser la candidature de chacune d’entre-elles. Loin d’eux l’idée de favoriser une ville au détriment d’une autre. Toutefois, soyez avisé que si vous décidez de dénigrer la candidature de Las Vegas, il est fort possible qu’ils réagissent ! 😉
Pour la première baladodiffusion, leur invité était un vétéran ayant œuvré 10 ans dans la LNH, Clint Malarchuk. Il fut rencontré à l’occasion du lancement de son livre. Clint a joué dans la défunte Ligue Internationale de hockey (LIH) pour le Thunder de Las Vegas au milieu des années 90. Nous remercions grandement Clint d’avoir pris de son temps pour échanger avec nous. Son livre est intitulé « A matter of inches, or how I survived in the crease and beyond » mais au Canada le titre est « The Crazy game », publié par Triumph Books. Dans ce livre on y décrit notamment sa vie composée de troubles obsessionnels compulsifs, d’anxiété et de dépression qui ont failli lui coûter la vie. Nous ne pouvons que le remercier de sa générosité, franchise et humilité pour discuter de ces sujets si délicats.
Que ce soit comme joueur, assistant-entraîneur, entraîneur ou assistant-directeur général ses réflexions à propos de ses années dans la LNH avec les Nordiques ou dans la LIH avec le Thunder vous réservent des surprises!

En voici quelques extraits:
“Les gens me demandent souvent si ce fut thérapeutique pour moi d’écrire ce livre” – Clint
« Oui. Toutes ces années à se cacher derrière un masque étaient difficiles mais c’était rendu une seconde nature pour moi. » – Clint
« C’est une maladie et non une faiblesse et il y a de l’aide disponible »- Clint
« On me demande souvent si le hockey à Vegas pourrait être un succès et je réponds oui »- Clint
« Vegas EST un marché de hockey » – Clint
« Les gens qui venaient aux matchs n’avaient pas eu des billets gratuits du Casino, ils voulaient voir des matchs de hockey. Il y avait de l’ambiance »- Clint
“Bob Strumm est un gars que je vois impliqué dans cette franchise » – Clint
“Les gens de Québec étaient des maniaques de hockey et ce fut une magnifique expérience à cet endroit, ceci étant dit, Las Vegas aussi”- Clint
« Je crois vraiment que Las Vegas peut-être une ville de hockey »- Clint
« Québec est sans aucun doute une ville qui mérite une équipe »- Clint
“Il y a toujours eu de bonnes foules et de bons partisans à Vegas. Ils vont supporter une future équipe de la LNH»- Clint
Ceci n’était que de courts extraits de cet interview! Vous devrez écouter le prochain 25 minutes de cette conversation avec Clint Malarchuk pour en apprendre davantage! Venant d’un gars ayant gravité environ 35 ans dans le hockey, qui a joué à Vegas et à Québec, son opinion sur un groupe d’inconditionnels pouvant exister a son importance pour mesurer l’intérêt et le support qu’obtiendrait cette ville.
Je vous suggère d’écouter l’émission, plusieurs éléments intéressants s’y retrouvent! Si cela vous intéresse, vous pouvez également vous inscrire en appuyant sur le bouton « subscribe » pour être certain d’être avisé des prochains épisodes!
Merci à tous ceux qui sont entrés en contact avec nous dernièrement! Ce n’est qu’un début et on espère que vous ferez partis de l’aventure! N’hésitez pas à nous écrire!
Mark et Tom
The Vegas Hockey Podcast
@VegasHockeyPod

Q and A with Mr. Bill Foley

Hello hockey fans and welcome to the blog! Today we are going to relay to you all that went down at last Tuesday’s meet and greet with Mr. Bill Foley. 920 AM’s Brian Blessing hosted the event along with The Game Sports Bar inside the Suncoast Casino. On hand representing The Game was Mike Lewis, and a great host he was. Especially with more people there than probably should have been!

Brian led off with some background on Mr.Foley, about how he grew up playing hockey in Ottawa when he was five years old with his USAF Dad stationed there. By now, everyone knows he spent time in Texas as a child as well, (wait, hockey doesn’t work in… oh sorry, never mind, lol)  He graduated from West Point too, so thank you Mr. Foley for your service to our country.

Then Brian started talking hockey to the overflow crowd. He said they couldn’t talk specific numbers but noted that NHL Commissioner Bettman had spent the Lion’s share of his time the night before in Winnipeg talking about how “Very, very impressed” he  was with the Las Vegas ticket drive and that the model for success as a new franchise was in Winnipeg. Brian thought it was extremely telling that during the first playoff game for the Jets 2.0, that the Commish spent so much time on Las Vegas.

Mr. Foley: Absolutely, he and Vice-Commissioner Daly have both been very supportive and positive of the work we’ve done, the further we go along with the ticket drive, and the founding 75, that I believe we are on the one yard line here with this whole thing.

Brian Blessing: The story came out yesterday saying that if a team is awarded to Las Vegas, we might have to wait until 2017-18 to begin play. People felt a little chicken little maybe, but it’s not a bad thing really, you’ve proven your point, we’d like to play in 2016, but it’s in the league’s corner now.

Mr. Foley: There’s no question we want to play in 2016, but with so much left to do with all the hiring left to do, the General Manager, the scouting and development staffs, starting a whole other franchise with the minor league team and finding a place for them to play, that we could really use the extra time. I need to be patient because I don’t want to rush things and bring a loser in here.

Brian Blessing: You have talked about your goals with the franchise and with the expansion draft and the depth of talent coming through the Junior ranks and into the Amateur Draft, that you think you can be competitive very quickly.

Mr.Foley: Yes I’ve said our goals will be playoffs in three years and a Cup in Eight.

That last answer brought loud cheers from the crowd and then Mr.Blessing opened things up to questions from the crowd. Here are the highlights.

Guest: What are you going to name the team..

Mr. Foley: The season ticket holders will get to submit their favorite names, and then the top ten most popular names will be voted on. But I hope you guys will let me have at least ONE veto vote if I just really don’t like the name.

Loud laughter ensued..

Guest: What about the team colors?

Mr. Foley:  Well I kinda like Black,Gold and Gray,.

Take note those are the West Point colors.

We at The Vegas Hockey Podcast reported that Live on Twitter, so we will take credit for breaking that bit of news first. Then we got to ask Mr.Foley a question.

VHP: With yesterday’s announcement concerning the 2017-18 timeline, how do you maintain the momentum you have created during another year of waiting, if the reports are true?

Mr:Foley:  Well, what we have to do is stay active in the community and in the media with you guys making sure everything we do and every hire we make from the GM, to the Scouting Staff, when and where the minor league team is going to play, when the expansion draft will be, that we keep communicating with the fans what’s happening and i think those are some ways to keep this thing moving ahead.

Then Mr. Foley introduced the crowd to Murray Craven, 20 year veteran of the NHL and adviser to the ownership group. Murray played twenty years in the NHL with the Flyers, The Canucks, Whalers, Blackhawks and the Sharks. He played in 1,071 games totaling 759 points. He added another 118 playoff games, tallying 70 points and reaching the finals three times.  His latest contribution to the Las Vegas effort was to tour the under construction arena, specifically the locker rooms, according to Mr. Foley.  Mr. Craven then redesigned the rooms to be NHL ready when the time comes. With Murray that night was Rod Buskas, also a long time NHL player. He spent his 11 years in the league with Pittsburgh, Vancouver,LA, and Chicago. He finished his career playing with the Las Vegas Thunder in 93-95. He said he loves it here and he came for a year, and never left. We hope that both Murray and Rod, with his previous experience playing here in Las Vegas and both of their long NHL histories find a permanent home with the brand new Las Vegas NHL franchise!

So that wraps up the Q and A with Mr.Foley edition of the blog. Thanks to all you listeners and readers who keep reaching out to the show. You guys are awesome, and we have met some great friends right here in Las Vegas too! Keep it up, we answer everything ourselves, so no matter what, you know you are hitting us direct. You can follow us on Twitter , and listen to the show on Soundcloud or ITunes. One honorable mention of the week. Stephane, from Quebec, has reached out to the show and offered to translate our blog into French for all the French speaking hockey fans out there! How awesome is that??? We have titled the page The French Connection, after the great Buffalo Sabres line of yesteryear. So if you speak or read French share the link to that page here on the blog and spread the word. Thanks Stephane, you are the best!!!

Welcome to The Show!

Hello hockey fans, and welcome to The Vegas Hockey Podcast! Since publishing our first episode featuring special guest Clint Malarchuk, https://soundcloud.com/vegashockeypodcast/clint-malarchuk  the feedback from everyone has been great. Many of you have reached out to engage us in some great conversation about the NHL expansion possibilities in Quebec, Seattle, and right here in Las Vegas. Tom and I hope any city that wants an NHL team gets one, and you won’t see or hear us discrediting any other city or fan base just to make a case for Las Vegas. if our city is attacked, however, we will defend her with vigor, so let it be known the gauntlets will be thrown down! (GoodWill Hunting reference) lol

In our first Vegas Hockey Podcast show, we interviewed ten year NHL vet Clint Malarchuk about his new book and his time spent playing hockey here for the IHL Las Vegas Thunder during the mid 90’s. The conversation was amazing, and we can’t thank Clint enough for taking so much time out of his schedule to spend with us. His new book, his first, A Matter of Inches, How I Survived in The Crease and Beyond, or in Canada the title is The Crazy Game, Published by Triumph Books, details a lifelong struggle with OCD, anxiety disorders and depressions that nearly killed him. His openness and humble frankness when talking about these sicknesses he dealt with is not to be missed. His reflections about his time in the NHL with the Quebec Nordiques and later, with the Las Vegas Thunder as a player, Assistant Coach, Head Coach and Assistant GM will definitely surprise most hockey fans!  Here are some outtakes from the show:

People ask me if it was therapeutic to write the book, and no, it was almost counter productive in some ways.-Clint

Yes, masking all those things I was going through was difficult, but it became almost second nature.- Clint

It’s a sickness and not a weakness and there is help.- Clint

I’m often asked if Vegas could work as a hockey market, and my answer is yes.- Clint

Vegas is a hockey market.- Clint

The people there weren’t there on casino ticket giveaways, they were there to see Hockey… The arena was alive.- Clint

Bob Strumm would be my front man right now… It’s a no brainer to have Strummer involved in a Vegas franchise.- Clint

The people in Quebec were huge hockey fans and it ended up being a great experience there.-Clint

I really think Vegas is a hockey town that needs to tapped by the NHL.- Clint

The thing with Quebec is, it’s a sure go there.-Clint

Quebec was a great environment, but with that being said, so was Vegas.-Clint

In Vegas we had great crowds and great fans.-Clint

They will support a team in Vegas.-Clint

Now, I’m not here to give the whole thing away, you will have to listen to the podcast for the other 25 minutes of our talk with Clint, but as you can see, the content comes across as amazing. Coming from someone with 35 years in and coaching pro hockey, and who played in Quebec and Las Vegas, his opinions on the Las Vegas fan base should speak to the question of “interest” or “support” in our city, quite powerfully.

Give the show a listen, lots of good stuff in there. If you like it, please hit the subscribe button, as there are lots more episodes to come! Thanks again to everyone who has reached out to the show with all the positive feedback, it’s been great speaking and tweeting with you all, keep those cards and letters coming, and if you tweet the show, and we might use your tweets in a future segment!!!

Mark and Tom

The Vegas Hockey Podcast @VegasHockeyPod