Blake’s Takes: And the First Pick Goes to…

There was a lot of big news in the NHL last week. Most notably, the NHL lottery was hosted and we still don’t know who has the first pick. We do know the newest six members of the Hockey Hall of Fame and the name of the arena the Seattle franchise will call home. Keep reading if want a recap of one of the most interesting weeks of the NHL season.

1. Playoff Team Wins Lottery

The NHL hosted its first phase of the draft lottery last week. As the league announced weeks ago, if a playoff team won a spot in the top three picks, another lottery would be hosted after the qualifying round. Many were hoping that wouldn’t be necessary, but it happened after Team E was selected as the winner of the lottery and will have the right to draft Alexis Lafrenière first overall. Team E is a placeholder for one of the eight teams that lose in the qualifying round.

For those still confused. Here’s a refresher. There are 16 teams playing in the best-of-5 qualifying series. The eight losers will all have an equal 12.5 percent chance to win the No. 1 pick. The second phase of the lottery will be hosted after the qualifying round ends.

As for the other two picks, the Los Angeles Kings and Ottawa Senators jumped the Detroit Red Wings, who had the best odds at 18.5 percent, for the second and third picks in the 2020 draft, respectively. The Red Wings were awarded the fourth pick, their worst-case scenario.

Ottawa’s third pick is a pick they acquired from the San Jose Sharks for trading Erik Karlsson. Ottawa also has the fifth pick in the draft.

As a Red Wings fan, luck is once again not on our side. The Red Wings had one of the worst seasons in the salary cap era and were rewarded with shit. They should have had the right to draft Alexis Lafrenière but instead won’t even sniff the chance. I know the lottery is designed to keeps teams competitive, but this stinks. I watched the Red Wings all year and they tried hard, they just don’t have the talent to compete with the rest of the league, and now they won’t get that chance. I’ll share two quotes with you to show how most Wings’ fans feel.

The first is from Wings’ GM, Steve Yzerman,

“To be honest with you, not surprised,” Detroit general manager Steve Yzerman said. “We had an 18.5 percent chance of winning the first pick. So realistically, I’m prepared to be sitting here today not talking about the first pick. I’m not really surprised. The bottom eight, or the eight playoff teams, had a 24.5 percent chance combined of getting the pick. So the odds were better that the first pick went to the bottom eight than it did us.”

The second is from one of my friends who is a Red Wings fan who will remain nameless,

“We all know the NBA draft is rigged, but they at least try to hide it. The NHL and Bettman are encroaching into Manfred territories of ostracizing fans. We all know Bettman has been in Crosby’s grill since day 1, but once they win the lottery, it’s obvious it’s rigged. The NBA gave the Knicks Ewing and the Cavs LeBron in order to make sure the stars didn’t go to the small market teams, but the Wings are the biggest market in the league. There’s a reason that they’ve won as many cups as they have since I’ve been alive.”

For the record, my friend is 26-years-old, and I share his sentiments. I have no positive way to try and spin this. I hate the lottery. The Wings deserved the number one pick and they got screwed.

2. 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame Class Announced

The 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame Class was announced last week. It will include Jarome Iginla, Marion Hossa, Kevin Lowe, Doug Wilson, Kim St-Pierre, and Ken Holland.

Sal and I shared our thoughts on the HOF class on the podcast last week, but I still wanted to mention it here.

Iginla and Hossa were two guys I got to see play frequently. Iginla is one of the best goal-scorers of all-time and is arguably the greatest Calgary Flame of all-time. He led the Flames to game seven in the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals before losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning. He also won two Olympic gold medals with Canada.

Hossa was a guy that flew under the radar during the early parts of his career in Atlanta and Ottawa. He was putting up monster numbers in both places. He was the victim of back-to-back losses in the 2008 and 2009 Stanley Cup Finals after flipping from the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Detroit Red Wings. The two teams played each other two straight years and Hossa was on the losing end both times. Then, Hossa signed with the Blackhawks and was apart of the core that brought three cups to Chicago. That cemented his legacy as a player worthy of enshrinement. He was also one of the most dominant players in the Olympics for Slovakia.

Lowe and Wilson were two guys I never got to see take the ice. Lowe won six cups with Edmonton and New York. Wilson won a Norris Trophy and was one of the best defensemen in Blackhawks’ history.

St-Pierre was someone I admittingly hadn’t heard of before the announcement. She won three Olympic gold medals as a goalie for Canada. Add in another five World Championships and she’s one of the greatest players in Olympic history.

Holland, now the GM for the Edmonton Oilers, was inducted as a builder. He is one of the greatest GMs of all-time, winning three Stanley Cups with the Red Wings. He is the architect that put together arguably the most loaded team of all-time, the 2001-02 Detroit Red Wings.

A special congratulations to all six members of the 2020 class. All of whom are deserving.

3. More Players Test Positive for COVID-19

We’re not out of the woods yet. Yesterday, the NHL announced that 15 players that have taken part in Phase 2 activities tested positive for COVID-19. Another 11 players have tested positive for the virus outside of Phase 2 protocol.

Thankfully, the NHL is testing players frequently to where they can catch the virus early. I’m no public health expert, but I’d expect the players to be safest when they arrive at their hub city. Then, everyone will be quarantined and the odds that the virus infiltrates the hub city is low. Again, I’m not an expert and could be wrong on this. But, as long as players have opportunities to make contact with someone who has the virus, everyone can be exposed.

This is a reminder for everyone to do their part by wearing a mask and staying inside as much as possible. The more we practice good hygiene and social distancing, the more likely we will get to see players hit the ice again this season.

4. Amazon Wins Naming Rights to Seattle Arena

And with the least shocking news of the week, Seattle-based corporate behemoth, Amazon, won the naming rights to Seattle’s hockey arena. The arena will be named Climate Pledge Arena.

Amazon chose the name to raise awareness for their ‘The Climate Pledge’ campaign. According to this report by front office sports,

The arena, which will be called Climate Pledge Arena, is named after ‘The Climate Pledge’, a campaign started in 2019 by Amazon and environmental activist group Global Optimism calling for signatories to be net zero carbon across businesses by 2040.

The Seattle franchise is redeveloping the old KeyArena where the Seattle SuperSonics used to play. The project will cost the Oak View Group over $1 billion.

It’s reported the naming rights cost Amazon $300-$400 million, making it one of the largest naming rights deals in history.

The Oak View Group plan to put their money where their mouth is. Here is a list of steps OVG will take to ensure the new arena is as sustainable as possible,

  • All-electric operations powered by 100% renewable resources.
  • Carbon emissions and sustainability performance will be publicly disclosed.
  • Using reclaimed rainwater in the ice system.
  • 44-million pound original roof reused in construction.
  • At least 75% of the food program will be locally-sourced.
  • NHL and WNBA Tickets double as free public transit passes.
  • Forming an advisory council to support local environmental initiatives.

I know Amazon and CEO Jeff Bezos takes a lot of flack, but this seems to be a net positive for the city of Seattle. Is this arena going to provide value for people in need, no? However, it will at least help to diminish Seattle’s carbon footprint. I assume stadiums are not great for the environment, so this should help. I’m not a city planning expert or environmental expert, but it does seem like taking steps to ensure the arena is sustainable is positive. Most companies probably wouldn’t be able to do that without very deep pockets.

Climate Pledge Arena may not sound sexy at first, but it could provide more value that we would expect from an arena naming rights deal.

5. First Look at the Islanders’ Belmont Park


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The renderings for the Islanders new barn at Belmont are insane. (Via Front Office Sports)

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With everything going on, it’s easy to forget the Islanders will have a new home soon. The new arena is slated to open for the beginning of the 2021-22 hockey season. Much has been written about the issues between the Islanders and Barclays Arena. So, I’ll just allow all of you to ooh and ahh at the renderings of the Islanders’ new arena.

I’ve never been to the Nassau Memorial Coliseum, but from what I’ve heard it’s a dump. I’m sure this picture is the best thing Islanders’ fans have seen in a long time. The team deserves a nice home to play in and the fans deserve it too. I’m hoping I can catch a game there in a few years after it’s built. ■

Blake Isaacs is a die-hard Red Wings fan that doesn’t go to as many games as he should. He is also a big fan of 7-Eleven Slurpeees, Chipotle, and all things Michigan State. Follow him on Twitter @bisaacs1995.


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