Josh Marks - Freelance Journalist

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Posts from my blog The Hockey Stop on SportsFanLive.com. I try to keep NHL commissioner Gary Bettman honest with the latest business news and opinions. Topics include everything from television contracts to the profitability of franchises to marketing star players.

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Video Game Review: NHL 2K10 vs. NHL 10

Posted by joshuamarks on September 23, 2009 at 4:07 AM Comments comments (0)

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Title: NHL 2K10

Rating: E 10+

Price: $49.99

Release Date: September 15, 2009

Publisher: 2K Sports

Developer: Visual Concepts

Platforms: Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2

 


Title: NHL 10

Rating: E 10+

Price: $59.99

Release Date: September 15, 2009

Publisher: EA Sports

Developer: EA Canada

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

 


Both games reviewed on Xbox 360

 


Ice hockey video games have come a long way since the 1979 release of "Hockey!/Soccer!" for the Magnavox Odyssey² console.


Thirty years later the video game industry "is all growns up," to borrow a quote from Vince Vaughn in "Swingers." Remember the scene when Trent and his buddies are playing "NHL 95" on the Sega Genesis? That was a big deal for a game to be featured in a major motion picture. Now, games such as "Halo 3" and "Guitar Hero" have a bigger budget then some indie films and according to market research firm NPD Group, game sales reached $21 billion in 2008.

 

Two companies have come to dominate the sports videogame market -- EA Sports and 2K Sports -- and both have rival releases on shelves in anticipation of the NHL season beginning in October. Electronic Arts has eight years on 2K in making hockey titles and it shows. "NHL 10" is quite simply not only the best hockey game ever but one of the greatest sports games period. That is to take nothing away from "NHL 2K10," which is a solid title. But "NHL 10" is superior in nearly every aspect, and while both titles are worth the purchase price, spending ten more dollars on "NHL 10" is a good investment.

 

MARKETING

 

2K Sports nabbed the greatest hockey player in the world as their cover athlete -- Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin (they also scored Kobe Bryant for "NBA 2K10"). But they didn't just slap him on the cover.

 

At the NHL Awards in Las Vegas, Ovechkin participated in a motion-capture session for the trailer. If there is an award for videogame trailers then this one should win -- the trailer magnificently captures perhaps the greatest goal ever scored -- Ovechkin's "The Goal" against Phoenix. We also get to see Ovie's controversial too-hot-to-touch stick celebration after scoring his 50th goal last season at Tampa Bay. And the tagline for the game plays on Ovie's Russian-inflected English -- "Is Party Now."

 

Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane is the cover athlete for "NHL 10." The slogan? "Is punch cab driver now."

 

Advantage: NHL 2K10

 

GAMEPLAY

 

"NHL 10" offers agile and realistic gameplay, with a helpful tutorial to adjust to the controls. A new function which works very well is the ability to pin a player to the boards on defense and kick-passing the puck along the boards and out of trouble on offense. Also, if the controls are too complicated, gamers have the ability to play with simpler pass and shoot controls and even use the original "NHL 94" controls. The in-game action feels realistic in the way the players skate, stick handle, shoot, pass and play defense.

 

The gameplay is the weakest part of "NHL 2K10." One wishes the developers spent as much time on the controls as the bells and whistles during the pre-game warmup. The playability actually took a step down from "NHL 2K9," as the players are sluggish in this version. It can be frustrating when the players skate around so slowly because it is hard to set up plays. Even Ovechkin doesn't skate fast. The deke moves aren't very effective, and tend to slow down the players even more. There are also too many penalties called for infractions like boarding and hooking, which slows the pace of the game down even more. Plus, there is too much lag time between faceoffs and sometimes the instant replays will drag on after the action ends.

 

Advantage: NHL 10

 

GRAPHICS

 

Visually both games are stunning. "NHL 2K10" enhanced their arena introductions and each venue looks spectactular with attention paid to details and vivid colors. The ice also looks amazing, with the crisp reflections of the scoreboard and the realistic wearing down of the surface as the period goes on. While the inside of the buildings look great, there isn't enough detail in the crowds or the players. The camera always keeps somewhat of a distance from the crowd and even the players on the ice.

 

This is in contrast to "NHL 10," which zooms in on the crowd and the players often, which in turn makes the game more compelling to play. The fans are drawn out realistically, for example there are even visiting team jerseys scattered throughout the stands, and the crowd cheers at the appropriate time. And the details on the players down to the stubble on their chins is amazingly realistic, making the instant replays a joy to watch.

 

Advantage: NHL 10

 

SOUND AND MUSIC

 

Veteran commentators Gary Thorne and Bill Clement provide insightful analysis and play-by-play coverage for "NHL 10," while San Jose Sharks commentators Drew Remenda and Randy Hahn are the voices again for "NHL 2K10." Remenda and Hahn do an excellent job with the material they are given. And that is the problem. Their commentary is too generic and repetitive, which after a while gets to be annoying. And sometimes they will send it rink side to John Shrader where he will say something like "I just finished talking with the coach of the Washington Capitals and he wants to see more forechecking" or some other generic statement.

 

On the other hand, Thorne and Clement are a pleasure to listen to, as they provide historical context to a rivalry, pepper in some color commentary about the host city, or talk about a player's stats from last year. In other words, it is way more specific to each team, each player and even each matchup.

 

The music soundtrack is good in both games, with the usual pop punk and hard rock suspects. An odd selection in "NHL 2K10" however is the inclusion of hip-hop song "Superstar" by Lupe Fiasco and Matthew Santos. It is perhaps more appropriate in a soccer or basketball game. The "NHL 10" standout is "Know Your Enemy" by Green Day.

 

Advantage: NHL 10




Obama honors Penguins

Posted by joshuamarks on September 15, 2009 at 2:34 AM Comments comments (0)

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President Obama welcomed the 2009 Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins to the White House on Thursday for a special ceremony honoring the team.

 

The players gathered in front of a digital camera-snapping audience inside the East Room (the event was moved inside to due to inclement weather) as the president and head coach Dan Bylsma entered the room.

 

Pennsylvania dignitaries in attendance included Senators Bob Casey and Arlen Specter; and Representatives Mike Doyle, Jason Altmire, Chris Carney, Tim Murphy and Glenn Thompson.

 

Also joining the ceremony was Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, a Pittsburgh native; Penguins owner Mario Lemieux; and the first black player in the NHL, Willie O'Ree.

 

The president congratulated Sidney Crosby on becoming the youngest captain to win a Stanley Cup and acknowledged Evgeni Malkin as the third youngest player to win the Conn Smythe trophy as playoffs MVP.

 

"There is something special about the Stanley Cup other than it just being really big," said Obama as he looked to his left at the famous trophy on display. "Winning this trophy takes a whole new level of sacrifice. It takes a group of players who can persevere through injuries and pain and setbacks and seven game series. Above all, it takes a team that is willing to stick together because nobody wins the Stanley Cup on their own."

 

The president then tied in his theme of volunteerism and service to the summer journey the Pens took the Stanley Cup on as a thank you to the fans. The comments were especially poignant given that the next day was the eighth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. For the first time since the attacks, Obama officially declared September 11th as "National Day of Service and Remembrance" to honor the victims of the attack by uniting the country in shared sacrifice through volunteer activities.

 

"This is a team that understands that being a champion doesn't end when you step off the ice. Service is a way of life for these players back in Pittsburgh," said Obama.

 

The president went on to thank the Penguins players and O'Ree for earlier in the day putting on a hockey clinic for the kids at Fort Dupont Ice Rink in Southeast Washington, D.C. The players and O'Ree also taught the children about the importance of staying in school and living a healthy and active lifestyle.

 

The mostly African-American kids from Fort Dupont joined the ceremony at the White House.

 

Crosby and Bylsma presented Obama a Pens jersey with his name and the number 44 on the back. The team and the president then posed for pictures with the Stanley Cup.


Kings fans brave fire, heat for Hockey Fest

Posted by joshuamarks on August 31, 2009 at 9:52 PM Comments comments (0)


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Wildfires and record heat couldn't keep playoff-hungry Los Angeles Kings fans from Hockey Fest at L.A. Live this past weekend.

 

The Kings organization and many fans feel this is the year the team will reap the benefits of three painful rebuilding years guided by General Manager Dean Lombardi. The franchise wanted to build on this excitement by hosting three days of music, street hockey, discussion panels, autograph signings and more festivities.

 

"We feel this is the year. The time is now," said Chris Crotty, manager of fan development for the Kings. "Once last season ended with our core of young players, everyone from the team to operations to the business side said we?re going to make the playoffs this year."

 

The event kicked off Friday evening at Nokia Theatre with an acoustic performance from former Live frontman Eddie Kowalczyk, followed by two action-packed days.

 

Thousands of Kings fans came downtown from all over the L.A. Basin for the festival. And while the air conditioning was blasting inside the event deck tent and Nokia, outside the barometer was pushing 100 degrees and ashes from the nearby wildfires were falling on downtown streets.

 

"I think this year they will definitely make the playoffs. It's a good young team that has been playing together for a while," said loyal Kings fan Vicki Gale. She trekked downtown from Simi Valley with her mother, sister and new nephew to partake in the festivities.

 

Perhaps the most interesting and controversial panel in the speaker series was "Tough as Nails: The Enforcers" with tough guys Stu Grimson and Brad Norton explaining the role of the enforcer in the National Hockey League.

 

One Kings fan, a school teacher, asked how he can tell his kids that fighting is part of the game but at the same time teach them that fighting is not how to solve problems and they shouldn't do it themselves. Grimson explained that sometimes physical intimidation is part of the game and that gaining a physical edge in hockey is no different than beaning a batter in baseball or giving an extra shove in football. In other words, sometimes you need to stand up for your teammates if they are getting pushed around.

 



The Greenest NHL Arenas

Posted by joshuamarks on August 20, 2009 at 10:30 PM Comments comments (1)


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Many NHL franchises and sports venues are getting on board the green bandwagon by taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint.

 

This trend encompasses all of professsional sports, as The New York Times noted in a recent article titled "Getting Sports Events to Go Green," which focused mostly on Major League Baseball's efforts to green the game. For example, the Boston Red Sox use solar panels to heat water at Fenway Park.

 

So what has hockey done to lessen waste and pollution when thousands of fans pack arenas across North America? One initiative is called NHL Green -- a partnership between the league and GreenLife with technical guidance from the National Resources Defense Council. The NHL will use this alliance to develop a league "Green Plan." But what are individual teams doing right now to reduce their carbon footprint?

 

Here are the greenest NHL arenas based on factors such as easy access to public transportation, energy efficiency, eco-friendly construction materials, recycling options and other environmentally friendly aspects.

 

Arena: Consol Energy Center

Team: Pittsburgh Penguins

City: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Neighborhood: Downtown

The Stanley Cup champs are moving into a shiny new venue after waddling in the decrepit Mellon Arena -- the oldest and lowest capacity arena in the NHL. And what an arena it will be! The Consol Energy Center will not only help the Penguins in Pittsburgh, but the real penguins in the rapidly melting polar ice caps. When the arena opens for the 2010-11 season it aims to be the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certified NHL arena. The Consol Energy Center will feature a gigantic glass atrium facing downtown that will bring in more natural light, lots of green space around the building, environmentally friendly paints, alternative energy sources and locally purchased construction materials. Plus easy access to public transportation allows fans to take the subway or bus to the game instead of driving.

 

Arena: General Motors Place

Team: Vancouver Canucks

City: Vancouver, Canada

Neighborhood: Downtown

Vancouver aims to be the greenest host city ever when the 21st Winter Olympic Games head to British Columbia in February, 2010. In June of 2006 the Vancouver Organizing Committee and the International Ice Hockey Federation announced that the hockey games would be played on NHL-sized rinks so there would be no environmental impact by expanding the ice size at GM Place (to be called Canada Hockey Place for the Olympics) and UBC Thunderbird Arena. GM Place is serviced by the SkyTrain "Stadium-Chinatown" station. SkyTrain is Vancouver's elevated rapid transit system.

 

Arena: Madison Square Garden

Team: New York Rangers

City: New York City, New York

Neighborhood: Chelsea

It's hard not to be green when garden is in your name and you are situated atop the busiest train station in North America -- Penn Station. Thus, "the world's most famous arena" makes the list for being so damn accessible without a car.

 

Arena: Pepsi Center

Team: Colorado Avalanche

City: Denver, Colorado

Neighborhood: Downtown

The Pepsi Center is not only retrofitting their building to make it more environmentally friendly, but also is taking the initiative to educate visitors about the importance of energy conservation. The arena teamed with Xcel Energy to launch a website with tips on how Colorado residents and businesses can save money and energy by going green. The Pepsi Center also features the Power Zone where kids and adults alike can play interactive trivia games, learn about wind and solar power, and more. The venue has also installed solar panels and designated hybrid-only parking spaces and a no-idling zone. The Pepsi Center is serviced by bus and Denver's light rail system. The closest station is Pepsi Center/Elitch Gardens on the C and E lines.

 

Arena: Philips Arena

Team: Atlanta Thrashers

City: Atlanta, Georgia

Neighborhood: Downtown

The 2008 Atlanta tornado outbreak caused minor exterior damage to the Philips Arena. Since then it has been only good news. The arena not only survived the tornado but is thriving -- Pollstar recently named Philips Arena the No. 1 U.S. venue for the first half of 2009 and earlier this year the arena became the first existing NBA or NHL arena to achieve LEED certification. The arena is also served by mass transit. The Philips Arena/CNN Center subway stop is an easy walk to the venue.

 

Arena: Staples Center

Team: Los Angeles Kings

City: Los Angeles, California

Neighborhood: Downtown

The Staples Center makes the list simply for trying to get car-centric Angelenos out of their leased luxury SUVs and onto the subway to see a game. The L.A. Metro recently released the above video advertisement to encourage fans to take the Blue Line light rail to the Staples Center. The Kings offer ticket discounts to metro riders and the venue provides secure bike racks. Other green initiatives include a dynamic recycling program, low-energy lighting, green cleaning chemicals, waterfree urinals and 1,727 solar panels installed on its rooftop.

 

Arena: TD Garden

Team: Boston Bruins

City: Boston, Massachusetts

Neighborhood: Downtown North section

The future just got brighter for Boston and the planet because TD Garden recently installed an energy-saving LED lighting system that will light up the arena's exterior at night. According to the website GreenSportsVenues.com: "The project provides a 60% decrease in kilowatt consumption over the previous equipment." The lighting system also automatically shuts off at 2 a.m. to save energy. The lighting changes colors depending on the team playing, so for example when the Bruins hit the ice the color will be yellow. And to celebrate a victory the lights can even do the wave with special effects.

 

Arena: Verizon Center

Team: Washington Capitals

City: Washington, D.C.

Neighborhood: Gallery Place/Chinatown

The "Phone Booth" has turned Gallery Place/Chinatown into the hottest neighborhood in the nation's capital while doing its part to cool down the planet. When former Caps owner Abe Pollin decided to replace the U.S. Air Arena in Landover, Maryland he significantly reduced the carbon footprint by locating the new arena above the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro Station -- making the arena easily accessible via subway for fans in the Virginia and Maryland suburbs. The Verizon Center was also the first indoor venue to install a high-definition LED scoreboard. Light-emitting diodes are significantly more energy efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs.

 

Honorable Mentions:

 

Honda Center -- Anaheim Ducks

Large recycling program and locally grown produce used in restaurant.

 

Air Canada Centre -- Toronto Maple Leafs

Located next to Union Station so easy access to public transit.

 

Bell Centre -- Montreal Canadians

Located in the heart of downtown, the arena provides easy access to public transit.

 

Xcel Energy Center -- Minnesota Wild

Recycling program, green cleaning products, low-energy lighting, low-flow water in restrooms, bike racks and bus vouchers for employees, education zone display with info on renewable and alternative energy.

 

Prudential Center -- New Jersey Devils

The newest arena in the NHL is also one of the most accessible via public transit -- the facility is located two blocks from Newark Penn Station.

 


LA Times disses Ducks, Kings

Posted by joshuamarks on August 20, 2009 at 10:28 PM Comments comments (0)


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The Los Angeles Times launched their redesigned website today and overall it is a big improvement with easier navigation, simpler layout and more interactivity.

 

But where are the two local NHL teams in the top navigation bar? The Ducks and Kings get no love from the new homepage. Instead it lists the Lakers, Dodgers, Angels, USC and UCLA. Even the lowly Clippers get linkage.

 

This egregious omission will hopefully be fixed soon or there will be many Ducks and Kings fans starting to question the Times' commitment to covering hockey.

 

Online managing editor Meredith Artley and editor Russ Stanton had this say about the new look:

 

"Our work is not done. We approached this redesign as another step in the evolution of the Los Angeles Times, as a building block for more things to come."

 

It would be nice if the Ducks and Kings were a part of this evolution.

 

To request that the Ducks and Kings be added to the top navigation bar of the homepage, e-mail L.A. Times readers' representative Jamie Gold at [email protected]


Retired Roenick To NBC Booth?

Posted by joshuamarks on August 11, 2009 at 2:07 AM Comments comments (0)


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So what's next for Jeremy Roenick now that he has retired after 20 seasons in the National Hockey League?

 

The outspoken star is one of the boldest and candid personalities in the league and he is exactly the type of controversial figure that the conservative NHL establishment needs in the NBC broadcast booth to shake things up and draw in more viewers.

 

The current NBC commentating team of Ed Olczyk, Pierre McGuire, Mike Milbury, Darren Pang and Mike Emrick do a fine job. However, they are Canadian dry and don't really bring much color to their commentary.

 

Enter Roenick. This guy is Denis Leary on skates. Don Cherry without the anti-European rants and tacky suits. His mouth may get him in trouble sometimes but he would be a breath of fresh air in the staid broadcast booth.

 

So he does bring some baggage, but his ability to stir controversy could translate to more viewers tuning in. Perhaps his most famous outburst was during the 2004-2005 lockout when he went after fans who called NHL players spoiled. Roenick had some choice words for these fans and told them they shouldn't attend games or watch the NHL on TV anymore.

 

OK. Not exactly what you would want to hear from a national broadcast announcer. But Roenick has cleaned up his act. He has been a hockey analyst for Canada's TSN since 2007 and co-hosted The Best Damn Sports Show on Fox Sports Net.

 

And who wouldn't want to see Roenick interview Alex Ovechkin or Sean Avery? On second thought, NBC probably wouldn't allow the Avery interview to take place. But you get the point -- the NHL needs more charismatic personalities in the broadcast booth to lure viewers.


Ex-BC Junior Hockey Player Vaults into Baseball Majors

Posted by joshuamarks on August 5, 2009 at 9:46 PM Comments comments (0)


Michael Jordan, Deion Sanders, Bo Jackson, Nyjer Morgan. Nyjer Morgan? Well, the Washington Nationals outfielder is not exactly a multiple-sports professional athlete but he did play major junior hockey in Canada before committing himself completely to his baseball career.

 

The 29-year-old San Francisco native is an unlikely hockey fan. The Bay Area was not exactly a hockey hotbed when Morgan was growing up there. The California Golden Seals had folded and the San Jose Sharks had a while before the team skated into the Cow Palace. Plus, hockey generally isn't the No. 1 sport of choice for African-American kids.

 

Morgan became enamored with hockey as a seven-year-old when he watched the Winter Olympics in Calgary on TV. He soon laced up his skates, grabbed a stick and started on the road to becoming a player with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League. He played for one season in 1999-2000 before turning his full attention toward baseball.

 

Morgan made his MLB debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2007, but he never lost his passion for ice hockey. He skated with the Penguins during a spring practice session (video interview below) and is excited to be playing baseball in the same city as Alex Ovechkin.

 

Just as the Pens celebrated their Stanley Cup victory at PNC Park with Morgan and the Pirates, as a Caps fan I hope Morgan will get a chance to rock the red while he participates in a championship party for the Capitals at Nationals Park.


NHL scores in ESPN's team rankings

Posted by joshuamarks on July 24, 2009 at 8:20 PM Comments comments (0)


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The National Hockey League lags behind baseball, football and basketball when it comes to television ratings and national attention, however, when it comes to ESPN The Magazine's seventh annual Ultimate Standings, the fastest sport in the world simply dominates.

 

Many hockey fans will be pleasantly surprised as they read the latest issue of "The Mag," which hit newsstands on July 13. That's because five of the top 10 teams are from the NHL out of 122 professional franchises ranked from the NHL, MLB, NFL and NBA.

 

The teams are ranked based on eight major categories -- wins vs. ticket prices, fan relations, ownership, stadium experience, players, coaching and championships won or soon to be won.

 

The Carolina Hurricanes (2), Detroit Red Wings (4), Washington Capitals (6), Pittsburgh Penguins (8) and St. Louis Blues (10) are the five teams in the top 10. The Anaheim Ducks are ranked 11th.

 

There are only two NHL teams in the bottom 10 -- the New York Islanders (115) and the Toronto Maple Leafs (120).

 

The Islanders should be able to reverse their fortunes by recently signing No. 1 draft pick John Tavares to a 3-year deal and starting construction soon on their new arena, dubbed "The Lighthouse Project."

 

As for long-suffering Leafs fans? Maybe new president and GM Brian Burke can help bring the team back to its glory days just like he brought a Stanley Cup to Anaheim as GM of the Ducks.

 

Getting to the playoffs would be a nice start. While the Leafs haven't won a Stanley Cup in 41 plus years, it's been four years since they skated into the postseason.


The New Cold War: NHL vs. KHL

Posted by joshuamarks on July 24, 2009 at 8:16 PM Comments comments (0)


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Could the rivalry between North America's National Hockey League and Russia's Kontinental Hockey League escalate into hockey's new cold war?


That remains to be seen. For now, to many observers the KHL is the equivalent of Major League Soccer -- a growing organization able to nab a star player once in a while such as the L.A. Galaxy's David Beckham but no legitimate threat to the powerhouse leagues in Europe who have the money, history and fanbase to attract the world's top players.

 

Still, with the report today that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told local sports newspaper Sovietsky Sport that he hopes the KHL expands into central and western Europe, the budding league is certainly giving notice to the executives at NHL headquarters in New York City.

 

After all, the league is only two years old and seems to have no shortage of rubles to snatch big-name talent from the NHL. With the Kremlin behind the league and Gazprom -- the world's largest extractor of natural gas in the world and the largest Russian company -- as its biggest benefactor, the KHL has already nabbed Jaromir Jagr and is making a play for another Czech -- Jiri Hudler.

 

However, the fate of Hudler is still up in the air because the NHL is arguing that even though he signed with Moscow Dynamo of the KHL, his election to file for salary arbitration obligates him to play for the Detroit Red Wings. A hearing is set for July 30 in Toronto. Also, the KHL experienced a tragic setback last year when New York Rangers' first-round draft pick Alexei Cherepanov died after an Avangard Omsk game.

 

But back to Putin's comments. He said the KHL should expand beyond the Former Soviet Union (currently teams are in Russia, Belarus, Latvia and Kazakhstan) and "become a pan-European league" with clubs in Sweden, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Switzerland possibly joining.

 

If this expansion takes place, the KHL could become a formidable foe to the NHL in terms of the top talent, particularly from Russia and the rest of Europe. Perhaps that is one reason why the NHL is taking a stand in the Hudler case. It is one thing when veteran players like Jagr and Sergei Federov defect to the KHL, but a player in his prime such as Hudler?

 

For hockey fans such as myself who have enjoyed the renaissance the NHL has enjoyed of late thanks to the many skilled players from Russia, Sweden, the Czech Republic and other European and Former Soviet Union countries, I hope the NHL does everything in its power to retain these players who favor finesse over fighting.

 

Otherwise, no offense to Don Cherry, but without Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin and Henrik Zetterberg and players of their ilk the NHL will regress back to the boring North American style of the past.

 

A new cold war on ice? Not yet. But the Kontinental Hockey League has proven it is here to stay.


Plot thickens in Coyotes saga

Posted by joshuamarks on July 12, 2009 at 6:40 PM Comments comments (0)


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New developments over the weekend have added more intrigue to the soap opera starring the Phoenix Coyotes.


Not only is a new group planning an offer for the bankrupt franchise, but the team's head coach, minority owner and creditor Wayne Gretzky has been dragged into the legal battle being waged over the Coyotes' future in Arizona.


The group of Canadians and Americans would keep the team in Phoenix -- satisfying the NHL's desire not to relocate the franchise. The league opposes the initial $212.5 million bid by Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie because he stated he would move the team to Hamilton, Ontario. Instead, commissioner Gary Bettman is backing a $148 million bid by Chicago Bulls and White Sox owner (and part-time Arizona resident) Jerry Reinsdorf, who plans on keeping the team in The Grand Canyon State.

 

The news regarding The Great One involves the City of Glendale requesting the tax records of the former Edmonton Oilers and L.A. Kings star because they believe as a creditor owed $9.3 million that Gretzky is being overpaid and thus Glendale would like to strike him as a creditor.

 

Gretzky's lawyers argue that his financial privacy is protected as a California resident and that his income tax returns aren't relevant to the sale of the Coyotes.

 

Despite the Coyotes not being profitable since they moved from Winnipeg to Phoenix in 1996, I believe the franchise should stay in Arizona.

 

Phoenix is the 12th-largest metropolitan area in the United States with over four million residents and has proven itself capable of supporting other professional franchises that have in turn become profitable. The Diamondbacks, Cardinals and Suns all operate in the green. Of course, winning the World Series (2001) and going to the Super Bowl (2009) helps.

 

One week ago Coyotes fans started an online petition to support keeping the team in Phoenix. So far, 446 people have signed the petition with a goal of 1,000 signatures. The petition includes a letter to bankruptcy court Judge. Redfield T. Baum pleading for him to approve the sale to Reinsdorf. Here is an excerpt:

 

"Throughout this bankruptcy case, you have heard from the Creditors, the Debtors, the current Owner, the Stalking Horse Bidder and the National Hockey League. There is one group you have not heard from directly, though you have mentioned us several times during the court proceedings: the fans in Phoenix. We too are investors in this team; we invest not only our money on tickets but our time, our energy, our heart and our soul. Under the guidance of General Manager Don Maloney, the team has started the effort of rebuilding. We believe that our team is on the verge of something great. To lose them now after all we?ve endured and have to watch them succeed in front of a new fan base would simply be devastating."

 

If Phoenix fans keep making their collective voices heard loud and clear, the Coyotes will stay in Phoenix where they belong.



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