Cap Trick

I threw something out on twitter last night that I didn’t want to get lost in the wash.

3 hockey games tonight. One ends in regulation, one in OT, and one in the shootout. It’s a Gary Bettman Hat Trick.

There you go.

Where Were the Three Devils Players?

The Devils dressed only 15 skaters for today’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins (which resulted in a 3-1 loss, to the surprise of absolutely no one). But where were those players? AOL News has brings us the shocking (SHOCKING) truth:

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I’m sure the names were changed to protect the innocent. Because the Devils would never mismanage the salary cap, right?

Oh, and if Lou Lamoriello had gotten his way, and his original cap circumventing Kovalchuk contract had gone through, the Devils should have been able to dress 16 players for the game (right?).

Meg had the best line about the Devils today:

“Sure, the legs feed the wolf, but you have to have enough wolves to feed.”

Ah yes, the wolf pack of fifteen. Just a few more, but with less cutting of the hand, eh?



Season Opens Tonight, So Get Primed… And Pumped

The season starts tonight, and where it matters, in Colorado, the Avalanche take on the Chicago Blackhawks at the Pepsi Center to get the season started right. I don’t know who the Avs pay off to get great match-ups on opening night, but I like it.

If you need get squared away for the start of the season, or if you just want to get psyched up for tonight’s game, and the 2010-11 season, you should listen to a few solid podcasts (that I was involved with, of course:-) ).

First up, Jay Vean of The Avs Hockey Podcast and I did a preseason podcast this week that gets you up to date with what happened in the offseason, and what to expect in the months ahead. A great opening night primer, which you can find here. Also, I’m going to be doing more with the Avs Hockey Podcast this season. Jay was gracious enough to invite me to be a bigger part of his show, and it’s going to be a fun season. If you don’t listen to it already, and you’re and Avalanche fan, you are missing out. The iTunes page can be found here.

Over on The Rink, my main podcast, I posted a Avalanche roundtable podcast. After the first day of training camp, I got together with Justin of The Avalanche Guild, Ryan and Jonathan of The Burgundy Blog, and Angelique from the Colorado Avalanche Prospects blog, all hosted by James Kyle. We talked a lot about what we saw, and how we think the Avs will do this year based on what we saw. You can find it here.

I’ll probably be watching the later half of the game after work, most likely in a bar in downtown Chicago (Stocks and Blondes seems like the most likely). I’ll be the guy in the Avs jersey, possibly getting the crap kicked out of him. But it’s the start of the hockey season, so at least I’ll be smiling.

Avs vs. Blues Preseason: Minor League Tryout

Hockey. Is. Back.

Well, sort of.

While we have all been pining for the NHL to return to our TVs and arenas, the people lucky enough to be near CHL teams have been watching hockey, as their season has already started. The rest of us have been doing unspeakable things to watch hockey this week. For me, that meant getting up at 7AM for training camp. And watching a game in St. Louis.

I like the arena in St. Louis. I hadn’t been to Scottrade since it was the Savvis. But more important, it was time to pay outrageous money for a game that was closer to the minors than the NHL. Honestly, paying over $70 for upper deck tickets to a game where the third line of an NHL team is the first line for the night is not outrageous, it’s thievery. With the arena less than half full (maybe a third? Maybe?), lowering prices for preseason games could garner the NHL a few more fans in the seats, but could also bring in some new fans as well. But this isn’t the way of the NHL.

And yet it was the first hockey of the season, so I was happy to be there.

Photos!

(click anything to make it bigger)

Warmups:

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The excitement for the fans was centered around the first game of Jaroslav Halak as a Blue:

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Game on:

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Talking over the penalty kill (which looked decent):

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Halak played the entire game, while Trevor Cann subbed in for Peter Budaj. It’s the preseason, so what do you want?

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It wouldn’t be a minor league game without a fight.

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Some people still wanted to go:

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A few ejections later, the Avalanche won. Or the Lake Erie Monsters won. You know. Preseason. Don’t write too much into it.

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Season Previews, Twitter Style: 30 Teams in 1 Day

If you could chart the how long a post has to be for it to fall under the tl/dr (too long / didn’t read) banner over the years, it would probably take a serious downward slope over the last year or so. I know that I don’t have enough time to read as many hockey blogs as I would like, and there are more and more hockey blogs every day (I’m not going to get into a ‘back in the old days’ rant, but I think I may have to some day soon, for my own sake). It’s probably part of the reason Twitter is so popular, with short little blasts that can sometimes get the point across (minus the tone).

On top of that, everyone is doing a season preview. And how many season previews do we need? When the twenty players (and three healthy scratches) hit the ice, most previews will have gone out the door. Much like the best laid plans, they have nothing to do with reality when the puck drops.

So how many previews do you need?

One more, of course.

This is a pocket sized preview of all thirty teams, in 140 characters each. Every one a twitter sized nugget in one place. I presume that I don’t have to tell you how twitter nomenclature works, or what a hashtag is. Thirty team previews, everything you need to know, all in one place. Enjoy.

Atlantic

New Jersey Devils – One guy won’t make all the difference, but it certainly will help. Lots of questions in goal now, the old get older. #1stRoundExitAgain #Lou

New York Islanders – Like Battlestar Galactica, they tell you there is a plan, but it never seems to form. A new building won’t solve everything. #IsDiPietroBack

New York Rangers – The circus is in town. Cap management by way of The Office, there isn’t a player they won’t overpay. #AveryIs… #ReddenToMinors #Torts

Philadelphia Flyers – Did this team get better in the offseason? Did they have to? Goalies won’t get any respect, but are trying to earn it. #ProngerLikesPucks

Pittsburgh Penguins -When you can get guys to take a pay cut to play with Crosby, you will have success. Rotating supporting cast for the big guys. #Flower

Northeast

Boston Bruins – A huge monkey on their back, it will loom the entire season. Thomas will be back to checking guys while Chara won’t. Potential. #Seguin

Buffalo Sabres – One day, this team will return to glory. This doesn’t look like the year. What will it take to kick them in the pants? #MillerTime #Defense?

Montreal Canadiens – Nice to see the Habs have a goalie. What else to they have? Some character, not much excitement. #GeorgeLaraqueMustHaveBeenTheProblem #Right

Ottawa Senators – The Senators would have an easier time winning the Grey Cup. This team can’t buy luck, or trade for a goalie. #SpezzaDrama

Toronto Maple Leafs – It’s truculence and Phaneuf vs. reality. Who will win? Putting my money on reality. Remade team in a classic Burke image, may just make P/O

Southeast

Atlanta Thrashers – This isn’t your Thrashers of old. A legitimate shot at the playoffs with this roster, but they will be battling a Cup hangover. #KovyWho?

Carolina Hurricanes – I don’t know. Probably out of the playoffs again. How many Staals can you fit on one team? Cam Ward will have to carry the team #2staals1cup

Florida Panthers – You can’t even sit in the cheap seats. There’s been a lot of talk of remaking the team, and Tallon may do it, but it will take more time.

Tampa Bay Lightning – A very improved team. Yzerman has done his job, now lets see what the coach can do. TBL got what they needed. #DanEliisProblems #ShutYoMouth?

Washington Capitals – Goalies have a lot to prove. Of course they will make the playoffs. But to go deep? Maybe. Defense is decent, but offense is sizzling.

Central
Chicago Blackhawks – Wouldn’t it be nice if the Blackhawks made a legit push for the Cup? Yeah, and if puppies would learn to take out the trash. #NotGonnaHappen

Columbus Blue Jackets – Will the real Steve Mason please stand up? Many good elements, and a new coaching staff that needs to make them play as a team #CoachHinote?

Detroit Red Wings – If they can stay healthy, they will be a dangerous team. But they aren’t getting any younger, and ‘certain players’ are still hanging around

Nashville Predators – What will it take for this team to stop being average? No team needs a top three draft pick more. #BetterCaptain

St. Louis Blues – I know there are NHL players on this team, but I just can’t name any. Goalie issues solved?

Northwest

Calgary Flames – Hey guys, were getting the band back together, but the bass player sucks, and the drummer is bad in the locker room. #PhaneufWasTheIssue

Colorado Avalanche – The song remains the same. It’s almost the Kings model, but less activity. Proof of youth, or another high draft pick? #ConsistancyNeeded

Edmonton Oilers – Oilers should miss the playoffs again. They need to, so they can get a few more good players. Re-Khab could be an issue. #OKCOilers #AHLTeam

Minnesota Wild – I’m sorry, did I fall asleep? I know they did something, but I don’t know what. Reduced ticket prices? #ItsLikeTheyDontCare

Vancouver Canucks – A few free agency moves will make up for FA losses. But the issues are larger than a few people. Everything starts with Bobby Lou. #Twins

Pacific

Anaheim Ducks – Selanne’s back, Kariya isn’t, and nothing else changed. But man, they are raring to go. Still a solid core, but what will be different? #Meh

Dallas Stars – Seriously, how could they have done nothing? The minors are pilfered already, and they are no better in goal. #DefenseWasTheProblem #StillIs

Los Angeles Kings – Losing out on KovalBucks could have been the best thing for them. The future is bright & experience is what this team needs. #TheFutureIsNow

Phoenix Coyotes – Will someone just buy this team? They can build on last season, didn’t need many more pieces. A few cheap forwards away from good things.

San Jose Sharks – How do you spell revenge? S-H-A-R-K-S. Offer sheet and Niemi will teach those ‘Hawks. Will goalie changes be enough? #SharksJumped

That does it. If you have twitter previews, I would love to see them. Throw them in the comments.

Labor Day and the Work of Hockey Bloggers

I’ve been on a nostalgia kick lately for the hockey blogosphere of old. This isn’t to say that the current version is bad, but there are things I miss about the way things were, before blog networks and twitter (blog killer).

I was pruning my links in my blogroll, taking out some of the dead links and adding a few others, and clicked over to James Mirtle’s Big Blog Listing from several years ago. It was a list of blogs, big and small that Mirtle had compiled to point out other hockey blogs all over the blogosphere. Other attempts were made, including this gigantic list of links from the old Japer’s Rink site, but most of these lists went away pretty quickly. Even my own attempt to help promote new hockey blogs and podcasts didn’t gain much traction, and over half of the blogs listed have faded away, less than a year into their life.

What’s striking about these lists is how many blogs are no longer around. I’d say about a third of the blogs on Mirtle’s list are still in existence, with some of those moving on to join SB Nation and other blog networks. Hockey blogging is sometimes it’s own reward, but sometimes, that reward isn’t enough. And sometimes, life just gets in the way.

If I were to shut down Jerseys and Hockey Love, something I think about from time to time (let’s be honest, I don’t have the time to dedicate to this blog that I would like), after a brief period of time, no one would miss it. Not in the way many of us still pine for Jes Golbez’s Hockey Rants, or sidearm delivery.There are many solid hockey blogs out there to take up any slack I show on a regular basis.

The point is, it’s labor day today, and there are many hockey bloggers and podcasters out there that do this for free. They enhance our hockey lives by caring and devoting time to their craft. Most of them will never get paid for their work, and many will give up at some point when life gets in the way.

Take a minute to thank them for their work. Do something that takes a little effort on your part to tell them you appreciate what they do. Something a little more personal than a blanket follow friday mention, or a link. Sometimes, all it takes to make someone feel appreciated and to stay with it is to post a comment, or a tweet.

Hockey blogging and podcasting, much like pimpin’, ain’t easy.

That’s all. Enjoy your labor day.

Tomorrow, thirty twitter-sized team previews in one post. Oh yes, it will be done.

Thin Air: Notes from the SLC

I don’t have enough depth of insight to post a full write-up of everything I’m thinking today about hockey, but there is enough going on in my head to warrant a notes post. Just some quick thoughts for the day:

Kovalchuk

- Remember when everyone said that this was better than the LeBron situation? If American sports fans cared as much about hockey as you or I, they would probably be laughing at us right now. Is this as bad a LeBron? Sure, but from a different angle. Even without a special, the Kovalchuk camp has done plenty that looks bad to fans of 29 other teams. That’s just business, though, with negotiations and gamesmanship designed to benefit the player. We wait (and now, we wait even longer).

- Lopping off two years and two million dollars from one of the silliest contracts ever submitted – one that so obviously tried to subvert the salary cap – seems like the smallest gesture the Devils could have made. The cap increase from the old contract to the new contract is only 666,000 dollars per year. Thanks for nothing, Lou.

- I know the default position is to be angry with the league, but if it takes one or two days to approve (or dismiss) a fifteen year contract that could have far reaching implications beyond the current CBA, so be it. Instant gratification is wonderful on twitter, but when it comes time to negotiate the next CBA, how the league handles this contract specifically will be used as evidence. This isn’t just about one player anymore.

- Besides, Kovalchuk will get his money. Maybe not every single dollar he thinks he should, and his escrow hit will be enough to easily fund a solid 4th line, but he will get paid. It just shouldn’t cost the Devils nothing against the cap. Signing a star player to a big contract is supposed to have implications to your roster. That’s part of the point of the cap.

The Interwebz Have Gone Crazy:

- Twitter made me look up two things today. The first was what QFT meant (Thanks, @bzarcher), and the other was who Paul Bissonnette is. I don’t really care about this whole BizNasty thing, and nothing would make me happier than to see this all be one big joke. Sure, it’s fun and all that, but in the end, it’s just going to end in tears. And unless he gets his hand slapped, it has nothing to do with hockey. And since he plays in Phoenix, that’s a given.

- The other thing Twitter made me do this week was read Deadspin. I’m not the target audience of Deadspin (I like hockey, don’t care about the other big three sports, and think public figures should be allowed private lives), but they seemed to have the most information on the Mike Wise fake twitter news situation. Wise’s point was that people will pick up just about any report online and run with it. It was not only done better elsewhere (I don’t remember where I saw the hockey blogger who announced that he was making a fake trade tweet, then posted the tweet, and people still picked up on it), but it shouldn’t have been made by a ‘reputable’ source (or at least one hired by a mainstream source). Wise cost himself some credibility, but from what I know about him, he seems more like a sports personality than a reporter, ala Jim Rome. Credibility doesn’t sound like the number one thing he trades on. Unsurprisingly, Wise was suspended by the paper for a month, which seems about right. Will that be the end of it? Oh, hell no.

- If you didn’t know, newspapers and other mainstream media outlets have ethics policies, and they are usually posted on the website of the media outlet. For example, here is the ethics policy for the Denver Post. And if you don’t think this applies to online media such as blogging, this section addresses that specifically. This doesn’t mean that media outlets actually follow these policies, but it does allow them to point to the accountability that independent bloggers are generally accused of lacking. Would you consider adopting and following an ethics policy? It’s a good question, considering how anonymous rumor sites and other outlets that don’t always adhere to the truth are scorned by most of the blogosphere.

- In the interests of unity and fairness, Ian Mendes of Sportsnet.ca posted his thoughts about bloggers being issued press credentials. Even if you are sick of this debate, you should read it. It takes on both sides of the aisle, and is one of the most honest looks at how each side views the other I’ve seen. (I saw this from both Kukla’s Korner and Greg Wyshynski’s twitter feed).

- See that? That’s called an attribution. If you blog, you should do it. Most hockey blogs don’t have sources that didn’t come down the series of tubes we call the internet. My blog and my podcast would be nothing without the hard work done by other people, who gather the news, do the reporting, and do the real work. It would be nothing without other people, and when I use something from them, this is how I show where it came from. Being first doesn’t mean as much as being smart. Attribute where things came from.

Odds and Ends

Khabibulin – Today on XM Home Ice was the first time I heard any mention of Nikolai Khabibulin possibly having travel issues with his DUI conviction. Chances are, no matter what happens in his appeal, the conviction will not be overturned. If I were a judge, I would be pissed that the ruling was challenged after what is essentially the lightest sentence possible being handed down. But Canada is not a fan of having DUI offenders allowed into their country. Look up what a Queen’s Pardon is. Things aren’t going to be easy for the Khabibulin. If this sticks, he earned it.

NHLPA – I know the news of Donald Fehr possibly becoming the NHLPA Executive Director strikes fear into the hearts of hockey fans who are still battling the nightmare of the last work stoppage, but it’s time to relax for a moment. It’s been so long since a real leadership in the NHLPA was around, fans (the hardcore who actually care) don’t remember what it looks like. The ‘partnership’ that was enjoyed by the Player’s Union and even more so by the NHL was nothing more than a face saving tactic. It diffused the anger of the fans, and brought them back with less fury and less of a target to blame for the lockout. This was the most one-sided partnership in history. The players can’t afford to roll over in the next CBA as much as they did in this one. The Fehr nomination is a step in the right direction for the NHLPA to start acting like a negotiation body again. It is a negotiation. Nothing goes 100% in anyone’s favor, but the last CBA sure leaned heavily.

Blatant Self Promotion :

If you made it this far, allow me to tell you about a few things. I set up a ‘support’ page over at The Rink Podcast. I’m not asking you for money, but instead a small amount of time. Please, take a look, and thanks. I’m starting to get the next season in order, and get some guests lined up.

I have been spending too much time on twitter. But if you want to follow me, you are more than welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

Press Creds: A Few More Thoughts

You wouldn’t think there would be any more to say about press credentials than I said yesterday, but here we go.

- Press credentials are the badge of honor that says you are a successful blogger. This isn’t to say that they are not useful, or to downplay their importance for some, but that they are another indicator that a blogger has ‘made it.’ whatever that means. When I started this blog (get off my lawn, you kids!), my indicator of success was being linked to. I got a ton of links for my writing at the time, and as new blogs would start, they would put me in their short blogrolls. A few people even said they started their blog in part because of my blog. That’s as flattering as it gets, and it told me that I was doing something right.

That changed when AOL Fanhouse came about. You knew who the top tier bloggers of the time were, but now they were in one place, and they were getting paid to do it. They weren’t getting paid much, but it was more than most other blogger were getting. And suddenly what success looked like was a little different. Not long after came Puck Daddy, and then SB Nation. There was money out there, and people wanted it. There were invites out there, and people wanted in. The bar had shifted again.

Press credentials are another shift. There were a ton of bloggers and podcasters who were at the 2010 Draft. It’s great to see them there, and some of them did great work with their newfound access. But it isn’t everything. And it shouldn’t be treated that way.

- I guess I should say what I would want for myself. I don’t really want a seat in the press box. Maybe once for the experience (and if it worked out or I really liked it, then do it again), but overall, for now, it doesn’t sound that appealing. I would like to be able to pick up the phone and call an organization for an answer to a question or a statement. I would love to be able to talk to someone at a team and get a helpful voice on the other end, or simply some clarification. That doesn’t have to mean locker room access, or a seat in the press box. But it does mean being recognized as some sort of media outlet.

I am considering applying for press credentials for the 2011 NHL Draft for The Rink Podcast. I’m actually less interested in talking to the draftees and hockey personnel than I am talking to the people in the stands. A press pass means I could bring my recording equipment in, and not get hassled talking to the fans for the show. Also, a press pass gives people some idea that what you are doing is legitimate.

- Eric McErlain, the man who wrote the guidelines for the Washington Capitals on issuing credentials to bloggers, weighs in. This is must read, but this is the takeaway for me:

In the meantime, I do have a message for independent bloggers who have been watching this episode with growing alarm. At the end of the day, your credibility is based on the trust you build with your readers everyday, not whether or not you have a laminated plastic badge hanging around your neck. If you follow your passion and develop an audience, there will come a time when the powers that be have little choice but to let you inside the gate, if that’s what you really want.

Please note that little bit at the end. Press credentials aren’t something that are for everyone. And you should consider if you really want them or not before going after them. Really think about what you would do with them. Not having a press pass for every game doesn’t make you any less of a writer, and it doesn’t mean less people will read you. Just like the Jim Rome show, have a take. Or in more blogger friendly terms, have a voice and use it. Then see where that leads you.

- I had a few questions on twitter yesterday for the bloggers out there, and I would love to get some responses. Have you called your local hockey team and asked what their policy for giving credentials are? And I mean, have you yourself picked up the phone and made contact? And are you proud enough of the work you have done to submit it for consideration? Because you are going to have to do that at some point. Like it or not, and no matter if you feel like a review is going to be about controlling the message, someone at a team is going to take a look at your work and make a decision. Are you happy enough with your work to say it’s ready?

- What happens next? Well, we sit back and wait. The credential issue is in the hands of others for now (some of whom are on the bloggers side). In the meantime, write your ass off, develop a voice and a style, and don’t worry about your site meter. Do all the things that will make your work shine, instead of taking shortcuts for short term gains. And don’t sweat the credentials. Just go create something excellent with these wonderful tools we have at our disposal.

There, I said it.

Bloggers and the Press Box: All Of This Has Happened Before…

To quote a song from Consolidated, “Well, well, well, here we go go again.”

This blog is just past four years old, and for the life of Jerseys and Hockey Love, the issue of credentials for hockey bloggers has been kicked around and debated to the point of becoming stale. I started before there were big blog networks, before Fanhouse, before Puck Daddy, before Sports Blog Nation, and the Washington Capitals were just starting to allow bloggers into the press box. Not that this is a feather in my cap or anything, it’s just my personal point of reference.

Chances are, I don’t have to tell you about Eric McErlain and the excellent work he has done for other bloggers to help them get into the press box. If you haven’t read his draft of blogger guidelines for getting credentials, you really should. Read them, and then take another look at the date of that post. August, 2006. Four years ago, the fight for credibility was being fought by people who deserved to be there, and for people who would come later. And the fight continues.

Greg Wyshynski talked about a conference call that happened this week about the media and bloggers getting access to the locker rooms of teams who don’t credential bloggers. The gist of the issue, from Puck Daddy:

Yet several prominent NHL franchises, including the New York Rangers and Edmonton Oilers, have strict “no blogger” policies in their arenas. They don’t see them as working journalists, and they certainly don’t see a need for them to have access to cramped locker rooms after the game.

On Monday, these teams emphatically voiced those concerns during an annual preseason conference call between NHL executives and team media-relations directors. Their issue: If my team doesn’t credential bloggers in its home arena, why should bloggers haves access to my team’s locker room on the road?

Well, it is a good question. If the credentials are issued from the home team, then yes, I feel like a visiting team should respect the home team’s decisions in these matters. It seems simple enough. When any media is critical of a team, they should just realize that not every voice out there is going to be on your side. If an MSM reporter doesn’t write in a way the team wants to be represented, they don’t lose their credentials. As a professional courtesy, the same behavior that is displayed towards professional journalists should be extended to bloggers who are credentialed. If a blogger is expected to behave professionally when granted the privilege of press credentials, then they should be treated like a professional as well.
But not every blogger should be granted full access to teams. Hockey blogs are too often treated like they are a genre, and not a medium. The complaints range from not being journalistic enough (I’m proud not to be a journalist) to being too classless. But a quick tour shows that blogs vary in their voices and styles, and all it is easy to see the differences (as long as you are willing to make the effort or have an open mind). My blog isn’t like your blog, and even network blogs are different from one another (take a tour of the SB Nation blogs, and you will see what I mean). I don’t look or act like Deadspin, and I’m damn proud of that fact.
Being established and building a voice, style and reputation should count for something. You shouldn’t be asking for credentials if your blog is under six months old (and I’d even take that to a year). Teams know that the local newspaper isn’t going away overnight (mostly), and that if a beat writer leaves, the paper will have someone there soon to cover the job. Blogs come and go, and you can’t guarantee that one will last longer than half a season these days (I’ll save that rant for another day). It isn’t the job of the team to subsidize a blog with credentials (here, have a press pass and make something of yourself, kid). It isn’t easy to keep a blog going with little support, but establishing yourself should come before the credentials.
The journalism complaint is the one I hear the most, that blogs are mostly opinion, and not suitable for being granted credentials. In reality, the business of sports writing is merging the opinion side of things into the beat writing / straight reporting side. Look at the changes that have happened to newspapers, and the jobs their beat reporters have added to their workload. Do you know of many beat reporters that don’t contribute to a blog of some sort? And how much of that blogging is straight reporting? Opinion has been added to the job of beat reporter, and they still have the journalism aspect to satisfy (and usually do). As for straight opinion, newspaper columnists have had access to teams for years. I don’t know anyone who would say that Woody Paige is a reporter, but he can access teams as needed. He is a columnist, and he makes his bread and butter on his opinions about sports. But access isn’t a problem for him.
If I have a single issue with hockey blogs (and I do have a few, but I’m trying to keep it in context here), it’s a lack of editorial review. I mean this from a spelling and grammar standpoint, as well as for content. There is a lot of content out there that doesn’t get a second look before the publish button is pushed. Editorial keeps writing on target and quality high, and it helps address the issue of accountability. Editorial does not mean the mainstreaming of a blog, it doesn’t mean censorship, and it doesn’t mean stifling someone’s voice. For some reason, editing has gone away (hell, even rewriting has gone away), and it’s a bigger issue than most blogger recognize.
Cutting off all access to all blogs doesn’t solve the problem, though. When teams keep blogs at arms length, blogs start to get louder and more critical of the treatment. Blogs continue to cover the coverage, and produce speculation that may or may not be close to reality. When blogs are cut off, they aren’t able to report on the facts. They aren’t able to base their opinions on anything but the coverage they get (or lack of coverage). And as you could imagine, teams don’t appreciate that, and look at blogs with disdain again. The cycle continues. This part of the equation sits in the hands of the teams. They would also be charged with policing the credentials that are handed out, but the benefits should be obvious to them.
Here in Colorado, we have to contend with the closed media network of the Avalanche. The Avs are broadcast on their own cable station, Altitude. They control every aspect of how the team is covered there. Outside of that, Denver suffers from having only one newspaper, and one prominent hockey voice at that newspaper. Regardless of my feelings toward that coverage, not having a second newspaper in a city the size of Denver is an issue. Not having enough voices to challenge each other makes the lack of coverage even more complacent.
So should bloggers be allowed access to the teams? And really, should ‘new media outlets’ be allowed access (since podcasters are in on this as well). I think they should, but much like player contracts, clear guidelines should be set by each club, and maybe even reviewed by an outside party to make sure they are somewhat in the spirit of a free press, and not trying to control the media. Eric McErlain’s guidelines are a great place to start. From there, something can be built.
There’s a lot of discussion on this today. If you aren’t tired of it by now, you can see the various points of view from around the web from Justin at the Goalie Guild, Justin Bourne, Kevin DeLury, and more from Puck Daddy. I’m sure there is more out there, and I’m curious about what you think. This is just my opinion. What’s yours?

Update: Something I’ve thought about in the past, and was just talking about on Twitter, was that so many bloggers want into the NHL press box, but have no experience in a press box. If you were coming up in the ranks of broadcasting (or even an NHL team in just about any position, from player to coach, and refs as well), you would be cutting your teeth in the minors. Minor league teams need every bit of exposure they can garner. They have an appreciation for their fans that doesn’t scale to the NHL level. I realize that not every blogger can do this, but if I were in charge of handing out media credentials to bloggers, I would suggest spending a long weekend with a minor league affiliate, and see what that blogger produced. It isn’t cheap, it isn’t easy, but that’s how it goes. A guitar doesn’t come with a business plan, and neither does a blog. Sometimes, you have to work hard and make sacrifices along the way. Ask some of the professional hockey writers who are nice enough to give us some time. They can tell you.

Gary Bettman’s Mixed Bag

It isn’t often that I sympathize with Gary Bettman. Much of the jeers and boos he receives are well earned, and his tendency to spin news and issues to the point of insanity wear thin on those who are subjected to his interviews and press conferences. I’m not his biggest fan, but he’s the guy with the job, and I respect the job.

Today, though, I do have to say, he did get something right that the pundits immediately decried. Via Kukla’s Korner (with regards to the hundreds of tweets I saw the statement from as well):

Gary Bettman made a statement today at the World Hockey Summit in regards to how hockey fans feel about NHL participation in the Olympics.

via Scott Burnside tweet,

Bettman says fans’ response to NHL participation in Olympics is a “mixed bag”. Not sure we buy that.

(double blockquote across the sky!)

I would like to be one of the few that says, yes, for me, the Olympics are a mixed bag. And frankly, I would be happy not having the NHL in the Games.

We like to bask in the afterglow of something as fun, successful, and glorious as these last Olympic Games turned out to be for fans in North America. And since the North American fan is the one with the loudest voice, as well as the money and support that keeps the NHL going, they are going to get the most attention. Had the gold medal game not been between Canada and the USA, there may be a different tune being sung by some.

And while the Olympics are a great stage for some of the best players – eventually, after a few games, when they start playing like a team – there is the other alternative, the World Cup.

At the moment, the World Cup is dead, but just like killing off a popular comic book character, the dead tend to rise again. There is nothing to stop the NHL from resurrecting it, aside from a lot of hard work to make it happen. But considering the revenues that could be had – and everything these days are about the revenue – the NHL should give it some serious thought.

The only disadvantage that the World Cup has is that it isn’t the Olympics. It isn’t as sexy as the Olympics. It has a cheesy trophy, and is virtually meaningless. Meaning, though, is built. It’s built though the games, though the fans, and the players themselves.

Some of the advantages of the World Cup:

  • You can play it in the off season. No compressed NHL schedule.
  • Real training camp. Players can learn to play with one another, instead of just jamming their skill set together.
  • No break. If you aren’t playing in the Olympic break, you are either healing, or restarting your season, and maybe loosing momentum.
  • You can play on the world stage. Games can be held anywhere.
  • Revenue goes to the NHL.
  • No jumping through the IOC hoops and abiding by their stupid rules that make no sense to professional athletes.
  • You don’t have to wait for curling to finish to watch some hockey (imagine that, there are other sports)

There are disadvantages to not playing in the Olympics, certainly, but do they outweigh holding the World Cup? I’m not really sure. My feeling is no, not if you have a viable alternative.
The problem with Gary Bettman in all of this is that he has a tendency to speak too often for the fans. The knee-jerk reaction is that he is wrong as soon as he opens his mouth. I don’t feel he represents me as a fan, nor should he. His job is to represent the NHL, and the owners. But overall, the NHL probably has more data on the fans and their needs and wants than the rest of us. They don’t always apply it in a smart way, and they tend to spin that data in ways that fit their needs and wants, but the data is there. We, the bloggers and the tweeters, feel we have a handle on the metrics of the hockey fan, but we only have a certain demographic, those that are online, and just like the Commissioner, we promote the ones that tend to support our individual point of view.
Gary Bettman doesn’t represent me, but neither do the thousands of online pundits that feel like they have inside knowledge of what the fans want. For once, I have to side with Bettman on this one. It is a mixed bag, and there are many points of view. Just ask the 2005-06 Ottawa Senators. I won’t try to speak for them, though You’ll just have to ask.