Avalanche Attendance: Woe is Everyone

They say that there are three sides to every story: yours, mine, and the truth. When it comes to hockey, and blogging about hockey, nothing seems more accurate.

And then, if you are a blogger at the Fanhouse, you can apply that principle with the other blogging stalwart: If it worked once, do it again and again.

First, Adrian Dater (again with the Dater) is reporting in his blog that the Avalanche are finally doing something they should have done a few years ago:

Just got off the phone with Kroenke Sports, and they will be selling upper bowl tickets for $20, starting noon on Wednesday at the Pepsi Center box office, for Wednesday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

You read that right, $20 upper bowl tickets. As Lewis Black once said about the tax rebate, “Free at last, free at last.” Dater goes on:

What does this say? It says that the Avs, once the toughest ticket in this town, are getting desperate to fill the building again, by any means necessary.

We’re almost into February, and the Avs are having to off-load tickets at bargain rates against an Original Six team.

I have to say, Adrian Dater has become a pretty decent hockey blogger. “Desperate?” Punching the keywords of doom and gloom to get the reading public on board. Perfect. If you break out your hockey blogger thesaurus, desperate = any reason for change.

The story here is that they are, so far, only doing it for one game, doing it the day of the game, and only for the upper bowl (no, I do not think they should have $20 lower bowl, come on). In other words, not enough to make a huge impact, and a target audience of people who are making the game a last minute decision. While we are at it, who cares if the Blackhawks are an Original Six team or not? Why is that a draw? They can’t sell in their own arena, why would they sell in Denver? What I see is a test run, to determine whether or not ticket prices can be linked to butts in seats. I have news for Kroenke Sports (who own the Avs, Nuggets, Rapids (soccer), Mammoth (lacrosse), and more), it can. If you can not afford to pay the price for a ticket, you do not go. It’s really as simple as that. Of course, price is not the only factor to go into the decision of going to a game. But I will get into that in a moment.

On to the Fanhouse, where Greg Wyshynski, in a post titled “Support for Avalanche Rapidly Melting,” picks up on the ticket price reduction, and runs with it:

Dater writes that Denver’s economic downturn is a primary factor, but it’s not like the Avalanche were fleecing fans to begin with. The last Fan Cost Index from Team Marketing Report had Colorado below the League average and even the Islanders and Blue Jackets. The Avs are currently in the eight hole in the West; that, and their slew of injuries clearly have fans feeling pessimistic.

OK, make that slowly staggers away with it. The Fan Cost Index? What the FCI is barely adequate for is determining the cost of going to a game, and spreads it out over the entire arena. It talks about the average cost, which includes the cost of beer, hot dogs, a hat, parking, and a program. It’s an overview, but a selective one. More on the FCI in a moment.

Lets take a look at some real numbers. Here are screen captures from the latest ticket sales numbers from some of the up and down teams in the league. These are taken from Ticketmaster.com, today, for the next home game, be that today, or nest week.

Detroit Red Wings (who are also having attendance problems):

Ssp Temp Capture

Pittsburgh Penguins (who are selling out left and right):
Ssp Temp Capture-1

Nashville Predators (again with the attendance woes):
Ssp Temp Capture-2

Anaheim Ducks (who have a serious sellout streak going on):
Ssp Temp Capture-3

New Jersey Devils (who’s attendance the very next Fanhouse article is about):
Ssp Temp Capture-4

Minnesota Wild (who sell pretty well, the understatement of the year):
Ssp Temp Capture-5

OK, let’s get back to the matchup of the Blackhawks and the Avs, where this whole debate started.

Chicago Blackhawks:
Ssp Temp Capture-6

Colorado Avalanche:
Ssp Temp Capture-7

OK, now that we have the numbers (and this is only a sampling, but a decent cross section of teams on either end of the spectrum), what sticks out? First off, aside from the Penguins, who are selling out games left and right, the Avs have the highest ticket price at the bottom of the chart. They are two dollars more than the Minnesota Wild, who are selling out games left and right, and the Detroit Red Wings, who have attendance problems of their own. But let’s say that you don’t want to sit on the end of the rink, within five rows of the top of the building. The next tier of prices for the Avs is a $14 increase. The ticket price increase for the Ducks is higher ($18.50), but that next-level ticket is still cheaper than the Avs next level ($38.00 for the Avs, $35.50 for the Ducks).

Where does the FCI fall apart? Remember, we are talking average ticket price. Looking at the top prices of the list, the Ducks ticket price tops out at $300, the Avs at $209, the Blackhawks at $275, the Penguins at a measly $150, and the Red Wings at $85. Remember, these are the prices given by Ticketmaster, today. The averaging of ticket prices for a game is nearly impossible to calculate. A better calculation would be seat price versus seat location. How do comparable seats in various arenas price out? Look at the jump in price for the Blackhawks, from $85 to $275, between the top price and second to top. A similar story is seen in Minnesota. While the trend is not tracking between price and ticket sales, it does show how the average ticket price can be thrown out of sync with the rest of the teams in the league.

The NHL has always stipulated that ticket prices are based on what the market can sustain. If the market can not afford the price of the tickets, or if there is not enough value for the money, ticket prices drop. If tickets are in high demand, the price will go up, and the people selling the tickets will test the limits of the market. If that’s the case. believe me when I say, the Avs have found that limit. It wasn’t that long ago the sellout streak at the Pepsi Center came to an end. In fact, it was just last year. Ticket prices, against the odds, are still priced as though the streak continues. Something had to give, and this could be the start.

When I was in Detroit, I got into a conversation about the Red Wings and their “attendance woes” with a man who was not, by his own admission, a hockey fan. He was trying to figure out ways for the Wings to sell more tickets. His angle was a better delivery system, something digital, something with cell phones. I told him only one thing would work, lower ticket prices. And the funny thing was, he didn’t want to hear it. He thought there was some gimmick that would make the whole thing better, some way of making the ticket buying cooler, and more enjoyable. I had to break it down for him: Best record, hottest goalies, winning games at home, passionate fans, players the fans love. Every factor you could want in a hockey team, every factor a fan could want to in their team. And still they weren’t selling. What else was there to do?

Take away those factors by half, and you have the situation that the Avalanche are in (good home record, fan favorite players who are injured, decent home record). Add to that the sports budget stretched farther than ever in Denver, thanks to the World Series run of the Colorado Rockies (which had never happened before), and injuries decimating the roster (Tyler Arnason is the top center right now), and you have plenty of reasons not to go to the games. But even with that, the number one factor for going to a game is if you can afford it or not. If you do not have the money, you do not go. Simple.

Here’s a line that tickled me pink from Wyshynski’s post:

Last month, Jes Golbez lit a powder keg on FanHouse with a post about the eroding attendance numbers for the once-infallible Colorado Avalanche, covering everything from the argument that the team has too few stars to the debate about the effect the League’s national TV ratings have on Denver.

You know, that made me laugh. “Everything?” Not even close. While Golbez piled on the the snark, he left out the biggest reasons people may not want to pay to see a game (or any event, for that matter). Fan experience and value for money. I don’t know if Greg or Jes have ever attended a game at Le Can, but I certainly have seen my fair share from the last season, and can talk about the experience and value I got for my money. And if you do not think it’s worth the price of admission, you aren’t going to go.

While on the subject, if you are going to read the articles put out on the Fanhouse, you should also take a moment to read this post by Jibblescribbits. On the Fanhouse, it is called a “furious rebuttal,” I would say it was a “researched rebuttal.” In the immortal words Brian Regan, “They’re using numbers and stuff.”

Let me say that I do not endorse the ticket prices laid out by the Colorado Avalanche, or Kroenke Sports. It think they have been way too high for too long, and think they should have lowered ticket prices as soon as the lockout ended. If not then, certainly the season after. Doing this now, and for only one game, shows a misjudgment of the overcrowded Denver sports market.

If you trust the FCI, and want to pull numbers from it, then you can see that the Avs ticket price did not change from the 2005-06 season, to the 2006-07 season. Which is what the FCI is measuring, not the current season. That’s right, they are a season behind. So know what you are getting into when you look at their charts. This comes from the bottom of the FCI:

Average ticket price represents a weighted average of season ticket prices for general and club-level seats, determined by factoring the tickets in each price range as a percentage of the total number of seats in each stadium. Luxury suite sales are excluded from the survey. Season-ticket pricing is used for any team that offers some or all tickets at lower prices for customers who buy season tickets. Costs were determined by telephone calls with representatives of the teams, venues and concessionaires. Faxes were sent to verify the information supplied. Identical questions were asked in all interviews.

How realistic is this? For the average hockey fan, and not the season ticket holder, highly unrealistic. And the FCI is based on season ticket prices, not the prices for fans like you and I. Season tickets are a constant for hockey teams, and are not where attendance woes are coming from, nor where this current ticket price cut is aimed at. The FCI isn’t high on my list of useable sources.

This has all taken about as much research as rolling out of bed. Don’t get me wrong, I like Greg Wyshynski. I met him at the NHL Draft this past year in Columbus, and think he is a good writer and a nice guy. But I really think he should have done a better job on this one. Looking at the FCI, quoting Dater, and rolling the eyes is not good enough. Then again, this is hockey blogging. Research does not get people reading like snark. So maybe it is.

All-Star Game Liveblog: Latenight Edition

Welcome to the All-Star Game Liveblog. Comments are open, so leave what you want. If you know the score, it’s time to pretend like nothing has happened.

Running a little behind, so here we go…

Well, the grand experiment, which has worked so far in other tests, is not working correctly. So, on with the regular liveblog model. What I have done so far…

11:12 Henrik Sedin still looks sad.

11:10 This is a slightly better intro than last night. But still… How do you think the Hives like this sort of thing?

11:09 Someone take away the zoom control from Versus. Please.

11:05 I’m sure the commercials are better during the regular broadcast. Not that the same three commercials are that good. Beef Jerky only can sell so much.

11:01 Thanks for the insight Eddie O. Goalies don’t like the ASG? How about Rick DiPietro. Think he likes his hip injury from last night? This isn’t about the goalies, ever. Ever.

11:00 You should not need to refresh your browser for this. The board should update on it’s own. ASG is on!!!

On with the show.

11:16 Can the NHL please buy a new effect that wasn’t used in 1974? The flame jets on wheels were much more impressive in the disco era.

11:18 And you know, thanks for the Hives and all, but can we get a more hockey band for this sort of thing? You know, like the ZAMBONIS!?!??!?!?!?!

11:19 Hey, the Canadian National Anthem rhymes in French as well as English. Who knew? OK, the Canadians, but I didn’t. That’s planning.

11:21 I want to see Grammy nominated Amy Winehouse do the national anthem. Talk about a mess. Sure, the Atlanta Boys Choir is heartfelt and nice, but it isn’t like we haven’t heard it every game everywhere ever.

11:23 Chuck Norris sounds and looks like William H. Macy. I have never seen a “total gym” on an Aaron Sorkin sitcom.

11:25 DiPietro gives up a goal while talking about his hip :12 seconds in, and the tone is set. He makes up with a poke check shortly after.

11:27 Hey does this uniform make me look fat? Yes, it does.

11:28 Osgood gives one up to Eric Stall. Does it make me evil that I am happy to see Osgood score on him? It’s just an All-Star game, but I love to see him get scored on.

11:29 DiPietro with baseball bat putting the puck up ice. It’s icing, but it still looks cool.

11:30 DiPietro shows us some stickhanding that would get him fired in any regular game. Sweet. The way he holds his stick is crazy. I had read about it before in The Hockey News, but to see it in action is pretty cool.

11:35 The action, while not physical, is quick. The effect of not having the checking is that you can see what is happening on TV better. The ice looks wide open, mostly because there aren’t five players clogging up one area. It may not be amazing hockey, but it sure is fun.

11:38 Garth Brooks is there. Remember last year when Chuck Norris was promoting his fighting show on Versus? It was pathetic, and took away form the event. While Brooks is pimping a good cause, let’s get back to the game.

11:39 Markov scores on Osgood again. Pinball between the pads five hole. I smile on the inside.

11:41 Apparently, offsides is still a rule at the All-Star game. Offside by a mile.

11:44 I said it last night, and I will say it again, picture in picture does not work in hockey. DiPietro goes down, and there is no call. he got dumped hard, and with his hip (see last night), they should be taking it easy on him.

11:47 AO gets a goal on Osgood. Hard angle on that one. I want to shake his hand just for scoring on Osgood.

11:50 DiPietro doesn’t care for the trapezoid area, where he can’t play the puck. A puck moving goalie doesn’t like the trapezoid? Surprising.

11:51 Osgood=Sieve. 4-1 east.

11:52 MegMegMeg makes the observation that it is easy to root for the East, since they are talking to DiPietro. I agree, but it’s easy for me with the crop of Red Wings out there. It may be the All-Star game, butt I can still hate the Red Wings.

11:54 Ovechkin scores again on Osgood. 3rd career ASG goal. And did the crowd just heckle Osgood? I would.

11:56 Not surprisingly, the goalies still care about goals being scored against. And then DiPietro gives the play-by-play.

11:58 It’s the end of the first. Will Ovechkin have a hat trick? Will DiPietro get a new gig calling games at Versus? Is Osgood going to cry? We will know soon.

Midnight: I ain’t tired yet. You?

12:02 Brian Engblom is bad enough when he talks about hockey that matters. This is worse.

12:03 Accuscore? What the hell is that? Are they just making words up now? If Versus really has better stats and graphics then NHL.com, then you have to wonder what they are thinking.

12:05 Some guy is talking about a “reverse mortgage.” Isn’t that where they foreclose on you, and they take your house away? What the hell are they selling here? Latenight TV ads are stupid. Stoopid. Stouped. Just plain dum.

12:13 We are back. Willy O’Ree is in the house.

12:15 For all the complaining that people do about the All-Star game, they sure do love the ceremonies that go on. Retiring players jerseys, honoring the players of the past. And O’Ree deserves every accolade that the league and fans pass his way. I’m just saying that we take so much time honoring the past, it’s nice to take a moment and honor the players who are playing right now. Sometimes you have to take a step back and just have a little fun, and give some love to the players of today.

12:17 Don’t forget, the AHL All-Star game is being played tomorrow. Click here for broadcast information. I get to see it on FSN Pittsburgh. If I wanted to drive six hours, I could go see it, but not this time. I’ve been to an AHL ASG, and it’s totally worth going to. But tomorrow is my day off, and I want to relax a little.

12:22 Ovechkin almost scored on his own net, not realizing that Vokoun is not DiPietro. Note to the Panthers: Do not pass to Vokoun.

12:28 Not nearly as much action in this period so far. A few shots, not as much interest. You have to wonder if the players are figuring out that this is going to be a long game.

12:29 AO looking for open ice, then heading up ice. I think that was the deepest in the zone I have seen Ovechkin in any game. Ever.

12:30 Nash with deke breaks the scoring drought. Slick move. 5-2 East.

12:32 Henrik Sedin doesn’t know it’s an All-Star game and tries to poke a trapped puck away from Vokoun. Next up, Phaneuf boarding Malkin, and Pronger with a two-hander on St. Louis.

12:37 What a dissapointment Kovalchuk has been in this game. He can’t even receive a pass.

12:38 Ovechkin makes a pass, which reminds us that he has no one to pass to on the Capitals. And at $124 million over 13 years, he probably won’t for a while.

12:39 Niedermayer scores. Scott Miedermayer: All-Star.

12:43 Again., I’m sick of this picture in picture thing. I have seen people on television before. I have seen people on TV talking. I can even hear them talking. I do not need them blocking the game.

12:46 Kovalchuk gets robbed by Nabokov. Great save, and a great reaction.

12:48 Kovalchuk should just break his stick. Can’t score on a breakaway, thanks to the Nabokov pad stack.

12:49 The 2nd period has come to an end, and the Western Conference is making a comeback. What do you think Mike Babcock said in the dressing room? And so far, AO or DiPietro is the MVP in my book. I have seen nothing so far about the ASG online, so this is as raw a guess as though it were running live, and not a rebroadcast.

12:52 Versus is doing a better job with the highlights for the ASG than they do during the regualr season. Sure, they have only one game to pay attention to, but they backed up the videotape enough to show how the play started.

12:55 Back after the concerts. I really don’t care about the music, unless it’s the Zambonis. Notice a trend here?

12:58 This can not be good for the ice. A marching band? A keytar (a keyboard carried and played like a guitar)? Something has to give here, people. Oh, the humanity.

1:00 AM I’m not tired yet. OK, I am a little tired, but I did two shows today. I deserve to be tired.

1:04 Anyone going to get a hat trick tonight? I don’t know yet, and you may. It’s like you are in the future. Do they have flying cars yet?

1:08 Bettman in the “hot seat.” He’s wearing the same headset I wear. I remember the last ASG on ESPN, before the lockout, and Bettman was next to Goodenow, and the ESPN guys were hard on them about the upcoming lost season. This is a love fest.

1:11 Thomas is in net, and he gives up a goal to Getzlaf. Legace and Bettman are going back and forth about the gear the goalies wear. Legace doesn’t pull the punches that the Versus crew does. Good for him.

1:13 Hat trick for Rick Nash. I would have figured AO for three goals first. And you know what, I have no idea what the prize is for ASG MVP. Do they get a car? You are in the future, not me. Hmmm…..

1:15 Legace says he’s the opposite of Rick DiPietro. Thomas, on the other hand, makes the amazing save.

1:17 Finally, a home town boy player scores. Hossa with the goal, and Legace with the humor. his little legs don’t reach that far.

1:20 Gary Bettman says that home and away schedule is not good for attendance, since divisional games are better attended. But I do not buy, and would like to see the paperwork on this one, that the fan research does not care about seeing every team play in every building once a season. It seems that every time Bettman is asked a question, he has fan sentiment on his side, which is not what I hear at all. I do not believe it one bit.

1:25 Things have slowed down a little. I suddenly realize that the lighting is much better than it was last night.

1:27 Gaborik scores on Thomas. Have the Red Wings done anything in this game? How many players do they have at the ASG, including the head coach? Did they do anything yesterday? Are they even trying? I wonder if coach Babcock told them to back off a little bit, and not get hurt. That’s my conspiracy story, and I’m sticking to it.

1:32 Stall with two now. Game tied at 7. Legace: “I should have had that one.” Is this the same guy that was accused of being a cancer in teh dressing room in Detroit? Somehow, I don’t see him being a problem. Sure, he’s expressive, but nothing “cancerous.”

1:34 I was wondering what it was like for Legace to be on the same team as Osgood, but he says they are good friends, so nothing there.

1:35 Add Iginla to the invisible player list. Where has he been all night?

1:37 Malkin with a hell of a pass behind the back to Alferdsson.

1:38 Are we going to overtime?

1:39 first broken stick of the night.

1:39 Savard!!!! Top shelf where momma hides the MVP trophy. Won’t happen, shouldn’t happen. It’s just fun to say.

1:41 The East wins the game. Tim Thomas is the winning goalie.

1:42 Why am I looking at a marketing guy? This is the sales crap that the fans hate.

1:43 Bettman gets booed as usual. I think he told the guy next to him that it happens every time.

1:44 Eric Staal gets the MVP? More east coast bias in teh NHL. I bet Rick Nash will have a few errant words under his breath. If he wants to be an MVP, he should teach his brother Jordan to step it up a little.

1:48 Hey, someone is taking Staal’s car. Stop, thief! Unless it’s Rick Nash.

1:50 Final thoughts: That’s it from the ASG. Would it have been any better if Sidney Crosby would have been there? I would have to say no. It would have been Crosby and the Other Guys, much like the Penguins are already treated. The game was fun, and had it’s moments, much like any NHL game. The ASG should be about having fun with the game. If you don’t care for these things, that’s fine, just don’t take it away from those of us who like it.

It’s back to work for the NHL, back to playing games, earning points in the standings, and fighting, checking, and getting injured. Speaking of which, is Rick DiPietro OK? Will he be back in the net for the first Islanders game after the break?

Thanks for staying up late.

Staying Up Late?

if you are staying up for the rebroadcast of the All Star Game, stop on by for some live-ish blogging of the rebroadcast. It’s fun for those of you who haven’t seen it yet. I’m working through the live version, so I’m getting while the getting is good. See you then. Or Monday, whatever you like.

Live Blogging the Skills Competition, Rebroadcast Edition

It may be dumb, but there is only so much opportunity I get these days to liveblog a hockey game, and I was running a spotlight during the skills competition, so this is my chance. Sure, most hockey fans have already seen it, and I’m sure many of them have had the amount of beer needed to kill a horse, so I don’t expect much from the audience on this one. But I think this is going to be fun.

11:31 Eddie O and Doc are doing the call. Ray Bourque looks awesome in the old-school footage of accuracy competition.

11:32 Do we really need celebrity judges? No. This isn’t a horse race. This isn’t the Belmont Stakes. This isn’t Dancing with the Stars. OK, maybe it is.

11:34 Is Ovechkin the worst interview ever? Yeah, but he is trying, and he is much more personable than Crosby.

11:36 Introductions time. Aside from the fact that they are starting late, this is the worst part of the Skills Competition. If they do it again for the game Sunday night, they are going to lose viewers. Or at least me. Sure, you have to do it, but it takes forever, and people only care about the players from their team.

11:38 Hey, it’s snowing in Pittsburgh, right outside my window. What’s the weather like in Atlanta?

11:39 Herrik Sedin looks lonely. I wonder why.

11:40 Eastern Conf introductions. I can go get some chips now. OK, I’ll stay. But still, I’m bored.

11:41 I should say, right now, that while I’m bored with this (Moby’s James Bond theme in the background?), I like these sort of events by default. Sure, it isn’t a hard hitting game. It isn’t the NHL you see every day, but I think that’s kind of the point. If you could watch your favorite hockey players just goof off everyday. you would tire of it. But every so often, fans can put everything else aside, and watch some fun. You can hate the Red Wings, for example, outside of a game situation.

11:45 And with that, commercial. How bored must the fans at the game (and I’m calling it a game for simplicity sake)? Back in a minute.

11:48 How long until Chris Pronger shaves his head? Versus, not all of us have HD. Make your graphics fit the screen.

11:50 Obstacle Course: What the hell is this? It’s absolutely silly looking. Is it going to be worth it? I would rather see them take on the American Gladiators obstacle course.

11:51 Could anyone see wat the hell was going on? Did they test this thing before putting int on the air? This thing looks horrible. If people think hockey looks bad on TV, they ain’t seen nothing yet. Oh, wait, they didn’t see anything anyways.

11:56 Rick DiPietro makes 3 shots out of four. Remember kids, learn to stick handle as a goalie. You never know when it may come in handy.

11:58 Commercial break. I’m getting chips.

Midnight: I’m up. Who else?

12:02 Didn’t they say that the hardest shot was coming up next? I’m so confused.

12:03 So, this is just lame. I liked the once around the rink race. Sure, someone could get hurt, but you can’t etell me this is more fun. And the timer looks to be broken. Doc and Eddie have no idea what’s going on now.

12:06 Yep, teh timer is broken. And the thing seems fixed. Kovalchuk wasn’t the fastest? Where’s the video judge?

12:10 I don’t understand the scoring system. It makes no sense to me. But hey, it’s late.

12:11 Shootout. And this is where the shootout belongs. Not in games. There. I said it. I like the spectacle, hate the thing decideing games.

12:12 Skater-cam sucks. Sucks. I get the feeling that Versus is trying to make hockey look worse and worse. How can we screw things up more for our audience. And Doc tells us Phaneuf is shooting on DiPietro. Nope, that was Vokoun. Nice try, guys. And the mic that DiPietro does not work. Again, nice try, Versus.

12:17 Osgood sucks, Malkin rules. I get to be childish, it’s the skills competition. Tim Thomas is up, and I am actually very excited for him. He is one of my favorite stories in the NHL.

12:18 Thomas gets break, and the puck goes just wide.

12:19 Thomas is two saves on two shots. Good enough for me.

12:20 I can’t see anything with this skater-cam. Plus, the lighting sucks. Seriously, when I saw Legace’s jersey, I was trying to figure out which LA King was playing in net.

12:21 Thomas misses on Phaneuf. It makes me dislike the Flames more. Don’t score on Thomas. Don’t do it.

12:23 Legace with the huge save, and gets two for tripping. The West wins, and I still have no idea how. This is like new math.

12:25 Las Vegas (most likely their tourist board) sponsored the Shootout competition. Was that a bid to get a team in Vegas? Keep them in mind ad money? Hmmm…..

12:28 Youngstars game. Last time, Malkin was cherry picking, and was the only one in the game not to score a point. Even the goalies got assists. It was sweet justice for those who play the game, and play it like a team sport.

12:29 But first, introductions…..

12:32 Wait a minute, wait a minute. Are there no youngstar goalies? None? Seriously? I like wathing Thomas play, but still, I think some young goalies should get a shot at it. Maybe all the goalies are just plain old these days. Hey, let’s put Hasek in. Dude could be these guys dad…or grandpa.

12:35 Clarkson lights up Osgood. Makes me happy. Thomas had a save. This game is going just fine.

12:37 Note to Versus: Picture in Picture does not work during a hockey game. Osgood gives up another one. And another. Happy days are here again.

12:39 Staal with a great shot on Osgood. Osgood is a goal funnel. And he should have gotten a penalty for playing the puck in the zone. And he gives up another one. 5-1 East.

12:41 6-2 East so far. One period down, one to go. The Versus crew asks how it would be with a second overtime with 3 on 3, and I say, it would be short, but it would rock.

12:42 Legace is hilarious, but he is no Marty Turco. Legace wants the hooking call, but you could call him for interference. Legace likes the idea of 3 on 3 better than a shootout. Me too.

12:45 Remember, this isn’t a real game. There is no checking, no real penalties, but it sure is fun. Vokoun is a sieve out there.

12:46 Legace get the MVP of the Youngstars game, and maybe the broadcast. They did the same thing with Marty Turco, and it was great, but this was excellent. Talk about excited.

12:47 Double drop pass, and Legace with the save.

12:49 Legace says go with the team aspect, and have a second 3 on 3 overtime. I’m down with that. Commercial break, so I’ll be right back.

12:53 I do not need to see Chris Simpson eating. Not now, not ever. But apparently, brisket is a local favorite. Whatever. More hockey please.

12:55 More commercials. Smart lids? I may get one. Wait, what am I saying?

12:59 Even more commercials. Oh, yeah, and they better fix the lights for tomorrow.

1:02 We are back, and still going strong. Goalies are out for the moment, and accurate shot is up. Jason Arnott goes 4 on 5 shots, and even hits one twice for good measure.

1:04 Kaberle goes 4 for4. Impressive, young Skywalker.

1:05 Lidstrom sucks. At this. But still, I’ll take what I can get.

1:06 Niedermayer…. Allstar. Should have been skating more on the offseason.

1:10 One on one final? What is this? Did they tell us this? No, they didn’t. Kaberle doesn’t quite go 4 for 4 in this round, but he is pretty impressive.

1:12 But he still wins it. That was pretty impressive. Foam targets may not be goalies, but it’s still pretty cool. Hey, you do it.

1:16 Al Iafrate Worst hair ever? Not just hockey hair, but any hair. Worst. Ever.

1:18 Zdeno Chara, 6’9″, 250 lbs. Yeah, I could take him.

1:21 Arnott breaks 100, Ovechkin doesn’t. But DiPietro says it’s OK, thanks to the amount of goals he has so far. And who knew DiPietro started out as a forward? The things you learn.

1:23 Lecavalier hits 101.3, and that’s pretty damn impressive.

1:24 Phaneuf. Soft shot. Ha!!!!

1:27 Chara is 101.4 on the first shot, 103.1. Damn. I blame the longest stick in the NHL. Plus, he put his entire body into it, and that’s a lot of body.

1:28 Final event is next, and I don’t think I will understand how they score it either. Breakaway challenge? Is this where we get the celebrity judges?

1:34 That’s the celebrity panel? Whatever. At least they should know some hockey.

1:36 Datsyuk doesn’t get much for the first, and more for the second. Mellanby is not easy to impress.

1:38 St. Louis screws the pooch. Lacrosse move is a bust, backhand is worse.

1:39 Getzlaf off the skate impresses the judges, backwards between the legs does even better. It’s fun, but I want to see the lacrosse shot.

1:41 Kovalchuk bores me on the first shot, but the from-the-knees shot is more fun.

1:42 Gaborik goes between the legs on the first shot, and tries the wraparound. DiPietro says he “f%#ked” his hip up again. Did he make a little dig against HAsek? “He’s got some speed, I may have to take his knees out.”

1:45 Did DiPietro really jack up his hip? Is that the scoop of the year (not for me, but Versus).

1:46 Ovechkin has the move of the game. Scooping it up on the stick was impressive, but I would have loved to see him just carry it on his stick, and tip it in.

1:48 He can’t bat it in, but how cool was his moves? Bat it up in the air, 360 spin, and the baseball swing. Really impressive.

1:50 Oveckin with the win, but barely any goals. The replay in slow motion shows the dangling tongue, the signature of AO. I have a hard time disliking the guy.

1:56 AM Final thoughts: Waht, other than it’s late? I have to get to bed, I have two shows tomorrow. But it was still worth staying up to watch the skills competition. I had a great time, and even though I had some complaints, I thought it was a lot of fun. For the record, I think the obstacle course sucked hard. I thought the camera work was awful (thanks, Versus), and the event rarely made sense. There were too many stupid scoring options, and if the most important thing is bragging rights, don’t pile up rules that we aren’t going to care about. The best part of the evening was the shootout skills, and while it was fun, I believe this is where those skills belong, in a skill competition, not in a game. Manny Legace was awesome, and Rick DiPietro was fun, but when I think of him now, I will always remember him “Fucking” up his hip on air. Good job, Rick. Make it so we have to watch the games on a delay. Language!!!

I think I will do this tomorrow night, for the rebroadcast, since I will again be working for the live event. Are you going to miss it too? Pop on ny. It will be a party.

All Star Game Has Who?

This is up on the Versus schedule, right now. Seriously (emphasis mine):

56th NHL All-Star Game
The 56th NHL All-Star Game will be the first for the city Atlanta. The league’s brightest stars including Sidney Crosby, Vincent Lecavalier, Jarome Iginla, Nicklas Lidstrom and hometown favorite Ilya Kovalchuk will light up Philips Arena in what is sure to be a memorable weekend of hockey in the Peach State.

Ummm….. Sidney Crosby? Who was spotted last night in a bar in downtown Pittsburgh (and yes, I know he is 20 years old, but he is Sidney Crosby). Versus has this TV thing down, don’t you think?


The map is up for the (new and nowhere near the same) IHL. For those of you who didn’t see it yesterday, I put maps up of the American Hockey League, and Central Hockey League, created with Google Maps. They are in the sidebar to the right, and I have more planned. While they are there just as much to make my own travel heavy life easier, other people may find them useful as well. Get out and see some hockey.

Map of the IHL


Pens vs. Caps: Final Thoughts

I had a great time at the game, even though I wasn’t in my favorite seat location at a game. I have some final thoughts on the game, most of which I’m sure other people have already thought of:

How bad must you be if you are the backup goalie for the Caps, and you aren’t being put in after Kolzig lets in four goals on eight shots, or even five on fifteen? Brent Johnson, backup to the stars.

I realize Brashear and Laraque are not going to fight every night, but come on, there was checking and bad blood, and neither one was close to the action.

Sidney Crosby was in a box seat with Mario Lemeiux. We saw him on the jumbotron.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Alexander Ovechkin is a completely one dimensional player. His lack of defense will cost the Caps in the end, and it makes him look lazy. I don’t expect the guy to be out there killing penalties or anything, but when the puck comes near him, and he doesn’t even reach for it, because it’s going the wrong direction, you have to wonder what is going through his mind. Sure, he forechecks a little, but he certainly doesn’t backcheck. I did see him skate backwards a few times tonight, but it must have felt as strange to him as it looked to me. And I’m not the only one. The players were chipping the puck around him with confidence, knowing he wasn’t going to do anything about it. No wonder Penguins fans feel like they were juked when AO won rookie of the year.

It was my last time, most likely, taking in a game at Mellon Arena. It was kind of sad to realize as we were leaving the game. Versus showed the artist sketches of the new arena, and it looks like just about every other arena out there. Boring.

So, that’s a game. Hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did. But I kind of doubt it.

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Shootout, originally uploaded by Tapeleg.

Free Hockey

Free Hockey, originally uploaded by Tapeleg.

We are going to overtime. Only the suckers have left the building.

Your Only Caps Fans in Attendance

Your Only Caps Fans in Attendance, originally uploaded by Tapeleg.