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

 

Vegas Hockey Podcast with Dallas Stars Writer Matt Pryor

Stars Talk With Matt Pryor on the Vegas Hockey Podcast!! Matt climbs back in the box to talk about the Dallas Stars fast start, taking the overall lead in the NHL, and NHL expansion!! Listen to the show here !!

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

Seattle Arena Plans Turned Upside Down,NHL Timeline Shift to 2017-18 Comes Into Focus

Hello hockey fans, welcome to the blog! As always, thank you for taking time out to stop by. We appreciate all the support and feedback we have received, and look forward to more of the same! On tap for this post is what we believe to be the NHL timeline for expansion, and why the shift a few weeks back from a 2016-17 start up for Las Vegas to a 2017-18 date, allegedly.
NHL Expansion into the west has been rumored for a while now, with most now believing that the two front runners in the west are Seattle and Las Vegas. It’s kind of the worst kept secret since, well, Area 51. Everyone knew it was there, but the government said nope, nothing to see here. The same thing has been going on with the NHL. It wasn’t until As recently as April 21st that Comissioner Bettman acknowledged that he would report on the ticket drive results to the Board of Goveners. His comments here via CBC.Ca :

“What I’m hearing is that the season-ticket drive has gone and is going extraordinarily well,” Bettman said. “When we get to the [board of governors] meeting in June I will report to the board as to where things stand based on the expressions of interest and we’ll figure out then what, if anything, we want to do.”

Meanwhile in the Pacific Northwest, there is a decidedly different tone from the Commissioner, his comments here come from associated press reports:

“We believe there are substantial people interested in owning a franchise there, and I’m not surprised because I think it would be a great market for NHL hockey,” Bettman said. “But there’s a threshold issue which relates to the arena. … Somebody’s got to be in a position to execute. And as of this point, Seattle isn’t there yet. Obviously, if it gets to that point, and the interest from potential ownership continues, it will catch our attention.”

Also the Seattle Mayor believes the Commissioner is excited about the possibilities of a team in Seattle. Comments from King5.com.

As far as the NHL, Murray reiterated what he said through a press release earlier in the day, that the NHL and Bettman made it known to him that it would like to put a team in Seattle. That’s if the city had a NHL ready building to play in.

Seems like a decidedly different tone from Comissioner Bettman when discussing the two markets. Almost like he can’t believe how great things are going in Las Vegas and how hard Seattle is having to fight to get out of the ground. The “what, if anything” comment strikes us as almost intentionally designed to discourage.

What is now becoming obvious is that Las Vegas is leading the pack among suitors for an NHL franchise, and the league is struggling to find a dance partner for her.  What seemed like a good result for Seattle  when the EIS was submitted on May 7th has now seen the whole SODO MOA deal start to unravel, as reported by the Seattle Times:

“This deal’s just not doable, at least as it’s constructed today,” says Tim Burgess, the president of the Seattle City Council. “I wouldn’t say it’s dead. But we are not going to go ahead with this arena without substantial changes. And there are no plans right now for those.”

As things have progressed so well in Las Vegas, shockingly so to some, as expected by those who actually live here, the NHL appeared ready to expand into both markets for the 2016-17 season. So much so that Hockey Vision Las Vegas hinged their refund policy on the season tickets being sold to a franchise starting play in  the 2016 season. 

But, back on April 19th the air was let out of the balloon, somewhat. This report by ESPN.com writer Scott Burnside said the expansion process timeline could stretch to the 2017-18 season.

While there remains widespread belief within the hockey community that the NHL will become the first major professional sports league to put down stakes in the gambling mecca, it is now believed that the earliest a team would begin play is the 2017-18 season.

While previous reports had speculated the expansion announcement would come this June at the Board of Goveners meeting, the now expected timeline is an update on the ticket drive during the June meetings, followed by a vote in September, reported by Alan Snel from the Las Vegas Review Journal. 

… so the 2017-18 season is likely the earliest a prospective team in Las Vegas would start play in light of the NHL Board of Governors possibly voting on a Las Vegas franchise in September.

Curiously, on April 28th, just ten days prior to when the EIS study was due in Seattle, the reports coming out of the Northwest began of a new, privately funded arena project in the Seattle suburb of Tukwila, like this report on King5.com

On Monday, the City acknowledged that Ray Bartoszek, through a holding company, had expressed interest in building a privately financed arena in the area.The new documents reveal that Tukwila Mayor Jim Haggerton wrote a letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, back on November 14th, expressing the city’s interest in bringing the league’s to the City. In it, he referenced the group, led by Brown and Lee, that also includes NBA Legend Bill Russell:

So, with the Vegas timeline reportedly being pushed back a year becoming public just ten days prior to the Tukwila Arena plan being released, and that just ten days before the EIS report was due on the SODO site, the implications become clear. Especially when the new timeline for the Tukwila project is revealed. The expected completion date of that project if it goes forward? You guessed it, Fall 2017. 

This morning, ESPN’s Craig Custance reported that Ray Bartoszek is, as we suspected, the man behind the push to build a multi-purpose arena in Tukwila. Bartoszek, via his company RLB Holdings Sports and Entertainment, filed a code interpretation request with the city and is expected to file a SEPA application this Friday. The target date to open the arena is the fall of 2017.

The above quote comes from the Blog Sonics Rising. Since the newly public group has been quietly working with the City of Tukwila since at least May 2014, and the timing of the press reports, it’s not hard to speculate that there are at least some handshake deals in place with the Las Vegas and Tukwila groups. Especially with a billion dollars in franchise fees and a couple billion dollars in real estate development on the line. 

With today’s news that Chris Hansen’s SODO Plan is dead to the Seattle City Council in a hockey first scenario, and the Ray Bartoszek group apparently gaining traction in Tukwila, the shift from a 2016-17 start to a 2017-18 plan now seems to make sense. Unfortunately for Las Vegas, it seems. But we look at it from the perspective that getting a major league franchise in Las Vegas is long over due, and if we wait an extra year, that just gives Mr.Foley more time to make things better when they finally drop the puck.

As always, thanks for stopping by to share some time with us. You can follow us on Twitter or catch our show on ITunes. We are always ready to talk some hockey so drop in and say hi!

Mark Warner

VegasHockeyPodcast



Second Round Playoff Preview

Hello hockey fans and welcome to the blog! This posting will serve as our usual “show “summary” post for our fourth episode of the podcast. After a very successful first round pair of previews and picks that saw Mark hit on six out of 8 and The Buffalo Kid nail it at a five and three pace, we look ahead to the second round with the hope our luck holds up.

Just to do a quick recap, The Kid had winners with the Rangers, Caps, Bolts, Wild and Flames and Marked flipped on the Senators at the last minute adding Les Habitants to the winner list on his side of the ledger.

We started the podcast looking at the Rangers and Capitals series. Buffalo had the hardest time with this one out of the four remaining series. Tom ultimately decided that Coach Trotz has the Caps finally playing playoff hockey. He noted that they only allowed the Isles 11 shots on goal in a dominating, shut down performance in their Game 7 victory. Mark goes the other way here, calling the goalie match up for he Rangers, and home ice carries New York into their second straight conference finals.

Next bouncing to the West we looked at the Anaheim Vs. Calgary series. Mark thinks that the Ducks are just too deep for the Flames to get past, despite their great young talent and speed. The Ducks defense corps is their deepest in years with Vatanen and Lindholm maturing into good solid two way defensemen. Tom agrees, and cites the depth and experience of the Ducks. Both take the Ducks.

Moving back to the East, Montreal Vs. Tampa both Tom and Mark end up Riding the Lightning. The season series was so lopsided, going 5-0-0 to Tampa Bay. Mark thinks Tampa Bay has been waiting for this matchup since being swept by the Canadiens last year, and will be playing angry. Tom calls the depth of Tampa Bay’s scoring to the fore, citing Tyler Johnson’s three two goal games against Detroit. If Montreal pays too much attention to Stamkos, there are others that can hurt them. Bishop being healthy, while not Carey Price, should be good enough.

Lastly, we head West for what might be the most fun series to watch, Minnesota and Chicago. Tom straight up calls out former Sabre Thomas Vanek to stand up and be counted. If he can regain his scoring touch, maybe the Wild can pull the upset. Mark loves the way the Wild have been playing for two straight months.,but also thinks the Hawks might have the pedigree to get past the Wild into another Conference Finals.

Who did we pick? You gotta go listen to the show to find out!

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And don’t forget to follow us on  Twitter! Thanks for stopping by and giving us some of your time. If you like the show, go ahead and subscribe, because there is a lot of exciting things happening right now, and coming soon! You all get to come along for the ride!

Mark and the Buffalo Kid

Vegas Hockey Podcast

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!!!

Episode 3 Eastern Conference Preview

Hello hockey fans and welcome to the blog!  In this post, we will summarize our third episode where we break down the first round in the Eastern Conference. This is the second part of a two-part first round breakdown so let’s get to it !

We started this episode looking at the Rangers Vs. The Penguins.

In the first round Tom and I both think the Rangers will finish the Pens early. With the Pens defense decimated with injuries, the Rangers should have plenty of opportunities at the offensive end, and they can finish! In net… no real contest. Rangers sweep.

Next up was the Lightning and the Red Wings. Tom thinks the Tesla Coil at the arena in Tampa is the deciding factor here, as well as the unsettled state in the pipes for the Wings. Mark believes that hockey does work in Florida, and the Lightning will be wearing a chip on their shoulders in this years playoffs. Both pick Tampa.

Third in the East we looked at the Washington and New York Hockey Islanders. The second series we disagree on. Mark loves the defensive  corps on the Islanders with their experience and the mix of mobility and stay at home styles. Tom thinks Holtby and Ovechkin will carry the Caps.

Finally. What may be the most anticipated series in the first round, Montreal and Ottawa. Wow. The second of the all Canada playoff series here in the first round, the story lines are plentiful. The Canadiens sport the Vezina Trophy favorite Carey Price in net, while “The Hamburglar” holds down the crease for the Sens. Andrew Hammond was the hottest goalie down the stretch, going 20-1-2 since being called up. With Max Pacioretty and his 37 goals questionable for the series, Tom wonders where the scoring comes from for Le Habs. Mark thinks the youth of the Senators and the experience of the Habs should be a factor. Who did we pick? You’ll have to listen here www.Soundcloud.com/VegasHockeyPodcast to find out!!!

As always we love the feedback, so keep tweeting at us over @VegasHockeyPod and E-Mailing us at VegasHockeyPodcast@Yahoo.com We will answer all of your questions or comments ourselves so let them rip!!!