NHL economics 101
Brian Wawryshyn and Tom Benjamin at the very informative Canucks Corner blog are on a roll detailing some of the financial issues swirling around the league.

Tom discusses some of the questionable non-hockey business decisions made by Los Angeles Kings owner Philip Anschutz and new Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk. To be honest, this just adds to the uneasy feeling many fans have that the owners are not being honest and upfront with the financial numbers from their respective clubs.

A second post from Tom details the Forbes annual NHL economics report. Many of the NHL teams disputed the numbers from last year's report, and more teams will dispute the numbers from this year as well. I will post more on this Forbes issue soon.

Add to both news roundups the article: NHL adamant that NHLPA privately accepts league's financial statements - CP.

Both sides are now arguing about whether the NHLPA admitted the [$300 million in losses last year a.k.a. the Unified Report of Operations] figure the NHL cited was correct.

An independant auditor needs to be brought in to examine the URO figures. Both sides should agree that the decision made will be final. Right now the negotiations seem to consist of "They are lying about the numbers" and "No we aren't". Agree to the numbers and get on with it, the clock is ticking.

PS - Saying [if I may paraphrase] 'there is no chance in hell of a salary cap' is also not the best of positions to take if you are serious about coming to an agreement.


NHL unplugged - the outdoor Heritage NHL classic
Jose Theodore in the outdoors Heritage Classic
The NHL will play its first regular season outdoors game in the history of the league tommorow. The Montreal Canadiens and the Edmonton Oilers will play at Commonwealth Stadium where the predicted temperature should be 14 [F] degrees. Snow or wind could dramatically effect playing conditions, although clear skies are forecast for the game.

55,000+ fans are expected to attend both the NHL Heritage alumni game at 2PM [PT] and the Montreal vs. Edmonton game at 4PM [PT]. While there is no live television coverage on basic cable, ESPN classic will air a repeat of the games Saturday, Nov 29 at 2 PM [PT]. On Center Ice the Mega Star alumni Game will be shown at 1:30 pm [PT] on Channel 742 and the Heritage Classic at 4:00 pm [PT] on the same channel.

All systems go - TSN

Heritage Classic central - ESPN

On October 06, 2001 the University of Michigan tied Michigan State 2-2 during the first outdoor "Cold War". 72,027 University of Michigan fans were in attendance. Even though it was at Spartan stadium in East Lansing, who would root for Michigan State?


Shark Notes - News roundup
Miikka Kiprusoff traded to Calgary
- Miikka Kiprusoff was traded to Calgary for a conditional 2005 draft pick [2nd or 3rd round]. The injury to Flames netminder Roman Turek may turn out to be more serious than originally thought. Miikka will share time with Jamie McLennan under the watchful eye of Calgary coach Darryl Sutter.

Flames acquire goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff from San Jose - Calgary Flames press release

- Owen Nolan returned to face his old team as the Maple Leafs skated to a 2-2 tie with San Jose. The Toronto game was the first sellout of the season at the HP Pavilion.

Nolan back in Sharkville for reunion - Toronto Star

Nolan returns home - San Jose Mercury

- Former Toronto Maple Leaf and current Shark Alyn McCauley made some interesting comments to the National Post about coaching. "I can tell you that there is really no comparison in the amount of instruction and advice that I've gotten... It's been much more positive here than it was in Toronto. The only real advice I got as a Leaf was to put up more points, offensively." - Alyn McCauley

No coaching while a Leaf: McCauley - National Post

- Unfortunately Hayley Wickenheiser left HC Salamat, the Finnish men's team she joined last year. Playing far away from her family, relations with her coach, and getting "little to no" ice time on the 4th line were mentioned as reasons for her departure.

Hayley: No regrets - Calgary Sun

- 2004 NHL allstar voting is underway, Patrick Marleau, Evgeni Nabokov, and Vincent Damphousse are on the ballot. Write-in votes for Al Iafrate will probably not be accepted.

- Notes: In addition to the Kiprusoff trade to Calgary, Christian Ehrhoff was called up on Friday while Jim Fahey was was assigned to the Cleveland Barons. The Penguins and the Flames are interested in Todd Harvey according to Bruce Garrioch [Ottawa Sun]. Harvey has 6 goals and 1 assist in 13 games with the Barons this year.


Sharks wage 3rd period comeback only to remain winless at home
Keith Tkachuk

Chris Pronger

San Jose waged a thrilling 3 goal comeback in the third period only to lose to the Blues in overtime.

Petr Cajanek scored the game winner on a feed from Demitra with 14.8 seconds left. The Sharks are 0-3-3-1 on home ice.

Scott Hannan with the puck Davison Mayers fight closeup
traffic in the crease plus a  diving goalie Evgeni Nabokov stick save
Preissing Davison Mayers fight

OT goal sequence:
Sharks Blues overtime
Goalie down
Blues celebrate win

[Thanks to Chris for the tickets.]


Shark Dollars
Two articles yesterday in the SJ Mercury discussed the attendance issue in SJ: Sharks payroll cuts offset empty seats, and Empty tank part of NHL's woes.

The first article explains how the cost cutting measures were more than enough to cover for the loss in ticket sales. How reassuring.

The second article puts the Sharks situation in context with the rest of the league.

Both of these articles are informative, but I am still waiting for a more relevant analysis that examines whether concessions, parking, tv contracts, city payments, naming rights, etc were included in the previous rumors that the team was losing 8-10 million a year. Many fans have also expressed concern that costs from other non-hockey ventures may also be added in without any notification.

These loss "figures" were not explicitly mentioned, but repeatedly hinted at as the reason for yearly ticket price increases.

With the rash of recent corporate scandals, the IPO scandal, and the current mutual fund scandal, Bay Area fans are wary of accepting financials on faith. I respect the new owners wanting to run a profitable franchise, but as the Los Angeles Kings showed last year, full disclosure is the best way to come clean with the fans.

If such a disclosure was forthcoming, I would nominate hockey fan and local financial guru Rob Black to examine the numbers.

Rob would tell it like it is AND ask managment to trade for a scoring winger.


NHL Notes
- Iron Mike Keenan fired in Florida, Trouble in Paradise. My firsthand investigative reporting uncovered that he was not vacationing in Coco Beach after receiving the news. It is hard to imagine paradise having 80% humidity.

- Kyle McLaren tells ESPN that the Sharks are starting to click.

- Reverse curse, or Maple Leaf bias? 2548 Sports Illustrated covers without a single Toronto Maple Leaf.

- Joe and Gavin Maloof, owners of the Sacramento Kings, are interested in buying the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.

- Hockey's Future releases their list of the top 100 NHL prospects. Milan Michalek, out with a knee injury, ranks #14. Sharks prospects Steve Bernier [62] and Brad Boyes [94] also make the list.

- Future #1 overall draft pick Alexander Ovechkin already has an official website. Here is an informative bio of Alexander from Russian Prospects [nice player photographs].


Lower attendance could equal 13 million in lost revenue
Interesting article in the Oakland Tribune by Ken Silman, Fewer fans costs Sharks $13.2M.

San Jose is averaging 15,069 in attendance through 5 games at home this season [14551, 14441, 14362, 14807, 17167], but the cost cutting measures undertaken last year are having a larger impact on revenues than most expected.

A permanent link to the Oakland Tribune Sharks section has been added to the right.


Damphousse named new captain of the San Jose Sharks
Vincent Damphousse

Vincent Damphousse was named captain of the San Jose Sharks after Mike Ricci held the position for the first 10 games. Damphousse was assistant captain and captain of the Montreal Canadiens from 1996-1999, and will wear the "C" in San Jose until Nov 21st.

Damphousse currently has 0 goals and 5 assists in 10 games.