Every week in the Spring is another big week in hockey. This week, we saw a bunch of jerks move on to the conference finals and a prospect finesse his way into a contract. The World Championships are also starting this week and one country is particularly stacked. I also highlight a few potential additions to the Triple Gold Club.
The NHL has evolved tremendously over the past 26 years — from a league of mainly Canadian athletes and meager television revenues, to a multi-national, multi-billion dollar league. At its helm since February 1, 1993 is Gary Bettman, a New York City raised attorney. Bettman’s mandate centered on growing the game, particularly in non-traditional regions of the U.S.
During Bettman’s tenure, the NHL has expanded by five teams; Florida, Nashville, Minnesota, Columbus, and Las Vegas, with a fifth coming to Seattle in 2021. Additionally, the original Winnipeg Jets and the Hartford Whalers moved to Phoenix and Carolina, respectively. These expansions, along with the recent success of teams such as Tampa Bay and Los Angeles, have increased viewership and participation in the U.S.
However, Bettman comes with his detractors. Continue reading “A Look at the Career of Gary Bettman”
This past Tuesday saw perhaps the most-stunning upset in NHL playoff history. The Tampa Bay Lightning, who won 62 games in the 2018-19 regular season, were swept decisively by the red-hot Columbus Blue Jackets, who outscored them 19-8 in the process.
Regular season success provides no guarantee for the postseason; as factors such as solid goaltending and special teams can power an underdog past the favorite in a seven-game series. Since the award was introduced in 1986, seven President’s Trophy winners have lost in the first round. Tampa Bay, however, becomes the first recipient to be swept in their opening series. Here are the top five most shocking first round playoff upsets, since the expansion era began in 1967.
One year ago today, emergency backup goaltender Scott Foster stepped in between the pipes for the Blackhawks after both Hawks goalies went down with injuries. Foster was perfect, stopping all seven shots that he faced.
Coincidentally, there have been exactly seven Chicago Blackhawks goalies who played in only one NHL game — Foster and six others. Here is a rundown of all seven Blackhawks goalies who had just one NHL game in their hockey careers.
On Monday, the fourth of March, 2019, the Detroit Red Wings and the world of hockey as a whole lost a true legend, Mr. Ted Lindsay. “Terrible Ted” was a four-time Stanley Cup champion with the Red Wings during his career. He was the first player to skate a lap around the rink with the Stanley Cup, which has become a yearly tradition at the end of every NHL season. He collected the 1950 Art Ross trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer with 78 points in 69 games. Lindsay played 13 seasons with the Red Wings and three with the Black Hawks, retired in 1960, then made a one-year comeback with Detroit in 1964-65 so that he could retire with the Wings. Twenty-six years later in 1991, his number seven was hoisted up to the rafters in Joe Louis Arena. But Lindsay’s biggest accomplishments may have been off the ice.
What makes a trade lopsided? Many hockey fans think it is when one team gets the better players, declaring that that team had “won” the trade. But getting the better players doesn’t necessarily mean that team always wins.
For example, look at the Wayne Gretzky trade. One could rightly surmise that the Los Angeles Kings won that exchange, since they acquired the game’s greatest player in the deal. But consider that the Edmonton Oilers got $15 million in the trade, which allowed them to stay afloat, and won the Stanley Cup in 1990 with some of the assets they received. The Kings raised their profile exponentially with Gretzky on their team, but did not win a Stanley Cup Championship until 2012, long after that trade had any bearing.
That trade doesn’t seem so lopsided anymore when you look at it that way, does it?
With today being the NHL trade deadline, here is a look at five lopsided trades, where one team clearly benefited, while the other got hosed.
If you grew up playing video games in the 1980s and 1990s, you definitely have seen artwork by Tom DuBois. He is an illustrator from Chicago who created many of the iconic covers that graced video game boxes. Remember Bayou Billy and Castlevania III for Nintendo, Lethal Enforcers for Sega Genesis, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time for Super Nintendo? All of those games, and dozens more, featured DuBois’ art on the covers. But most importantly for hockey fans, he illustrated the cover art for Blades of Steel, which came out for Nintendo in 1988. Recently, DuBois spoke with me about how he got his start in creating video game artwork, including Blades of Steel – and how working on that game got him in trouble.
If there are two things that Bruce Dowbiggin loves, it is sports and business – or more specifically, the intersection between the two. He is a former sportscaster for the Canadian Broadcast Company (CBC) and writer for The Globe and Mail. Dowbiggin was a part of the investigation that put Alan Eagleson, the corrupt former head of the NHL Players’ Association, in prison.
He has also written numerous books about sports and business. His latest work, entitled “Cap in Hand,” explains how parity and the salary cap are ruining professional sports in North America. Dowbiggin recently spoke with Sports Collectors Digest about his new book, why pro sports must change, and how soccer gets it right.
Sal Barry: Why would someone want to read “Cap in Hand”?
Bruce Dowbiggin: If you’re like a lot of sports fans, who wonder why it is that every season starts with eight to 10 teams that basically say “we’re not going to try and compete,” then I think you’re going to want to read this book. This is a book about how we got to where sports are today, to the point where it is that teams don’t care about winning, that teams are tanking. It’s all in the service of parity for the major league sports in North America. I make the argument that the usefulness of parity is over. We want a new sports economy, and it’s time that the people that run the leagues understood that.
SB: So, why write a book about the salary cap?
BD: I wanted to write a book about the 10 or 12 most-significant player contracts in history. I wanted to show the evolution from Babe Ruth to current contracts today. My publisher suggested that I put it in a bigger context. So, that’s where the idea came in, about how salary caps have done more harm to pro sports in North America than they have to help.
SB: Why is the salary cap the main culprit?
BD: As you know, in baseball, football, basketball and hockey, we’ve lost seasons or half-seasons. We’ve lost considerable amounts of time where leagues have locked out its players to get salary caps. Was it worth it? No, it wasn’t. Whenever there is a labor lockout, the owners and their commissioner are always talking about that somehow this is going to keep ticket prices restrained. That doesn’t happen at all.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.
A Look at Each Inductee and Their Rookie Cards
The Hockey Hall of Fame inducted perhaps its most diverse group of honorees on November 12. Consider Martin St. Louis, who at 5 feet 8 inches was passed over in the NHL Draft because he was thought to be too small, and yet ended up being a leading scorer even at the twilight of his career. Then there is hulking, 6-foot-3-inch Aleksander Yakushev, who never played in the NHL but dominated during international play for the Soviet Union in the 1970s. Jayna Hefford was a mainstay for Canada’s international women’s team for 17 seasons, winning 12 gold medals, as well as becoming the all-time leading scorer in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. Headlining the players’ category was Martin Brodeur, who is the all-time leader for NHL goalies in wins, shutouts and games played.
Inducted in the builders’ category was Willie O’Ree, who broke hockey’s color barrier 60 years ago as a player with the Boston Bruins, and then helped others follow in his footsteps for the past 20 years. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was also inducted as a builder for the growth the league has enjoyed over the past quarter century.
“He Will Take a Hit to Make a Play”
The first to the podium that night was NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. He is the longest-serving active commissioner of any pro sports league, and the only active pro sports commissioner to be inducted into a Hall of Fame.
“To imagine myself as a permanent part of this magical place is overwhelming,” Bettman said, “and I am thrilled to be enshrined in this Hall with this group of exceptional honorees.”
Bettman was the only 2018 inductee who never played hockey, but still took a humorous look at what kind of player he would have been: “The hockey scouting report on me would be something like this: lousy skater, not much of a shooter, you’re not going to outwork him, he’ll be strong in the corners and in front of the net, and he will take a hit to make a play.”
When Bettman took over as NHL Commissioner in February 1993, the league was a mess. Read the full article at Sports Collectors Digest.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.
Hey, guys I found another puck that was squashed and turned into a record. This time it’s the 1979 classic of legendary Hab-Dude Guy Lafleur, a.k.a. The Flower, teaching us how to hockey…to French-Canadian Disco! In the late 70’s there was nothing hotter that a dance beat and Les Habitants hockey in the bleu, blanc et rouge. Why not smoosh them together?
First and foremost, the packaging of this flattened biscuit is worth the price of admission alone. Continue reading “Lafleur! The Guy Lafleur Disco Album”