Monday, June 22, 2015

Selling Phil

All this talk of where the Toronto Maple Leafs may ship forward Phil Kessel to is growing somewhat tiresome.  I think the best thing about this whole ordeal is that the Maple Leafs are allegedly asking for a whole lot to come back in a deal.  That is their prerogative and that's fine.  It's their business, they can do whatever they want or ask for whatever they want for the players that they have on the block.

I don't necessarily like Kessel, he may not be "the guy" that can carry a franchise, but I will acknowledge his talent and I may agree with the asking price that the Leafs are looking for.

Kessel has been the victim of a brutal hockey market, something that new team President, Brendan Shanahan vows on changing and that begins and ends with the treatment of his players in the media.  I don't think there is any better indication about how powerful the relentless media people can be, dealing both in a player's concentration and defining what a player's value could be on the market.

The Toronto media comes across like a nagging spouse.  The quality of their questioning is one thing, one gawd awful steaming pile of horseshit, mostly, but relentless and we all know how exhausted a nagging spouse can be, thanks to the glorious age of television (right?).  After a number of years of that, you're bound to fall out of love and your heart is just not in it.

I think Kessel's talent is still there, but he needs to find the love of the game again and it isn't going to be in Toronto.

Here in lies the second problem... his value.  At 27 years old, Kessel still has time to put up some serious numbers in his career, but his greatest advertisers, the Toronto sports media, are constantly selling a lemon.  You can't tell me that, despite his overall skill, you don't have some General Managers with ample cap space underneath the ceiling, aren't looking at what is being said on a regular basis and getting cold feet about making a real offer.

The price tag on the scoring winger has to be high for the Maple Leafs, they are going to be trading away a 40-goal scorer and I think that it is a certain possibility, given he heads to a team that has decent service down the middle or a defenseman that can spring him on the rush.

At some point before the beginning of the regular season, there is going to be a team that has enough space under the ceiling, wants to break up with a large contract of their own and feels that they could settle on a guy like Kessel and both teams, the Leafs and their potential suitor, each come away making sacrifices and no one is truly happy in the end.  Except for Kessel, maybe.

If the media is going to be the advertising agency for Kessel, especially since they are big fans of the team, they may want to start selling this player, instead of trying to give him away for free on Kijiji.

Some would say that he's a motivated mover, who has scored 37 goals in a season (twice!) and has speed to burn.  I may shy away about how testy he has been with the local hacks or how irritable he can get with a bunch of cameras in his face after a sizable loss to a non-playoff team, but that's just me.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I Want Expansion and I Don't Care Where

Personally, the thought of more teams playing in the +NHL has me awfully excited.  I think the game would benefit from not just one more team, but two, and that stems more from the long debate about the fairness of the schedule.  On top of that, I think there is a great deal of talent outside of the NHL, which could keep the game exciting and interesting for those who watch it on a regular basis.

All of that is great and all, but the real debate, which baffles me to a point, is where these expansion teams should be.  The viewing public has their pitchforks and torches out, clamoring on and on about why the league shouldn't move here or have a team there or allow expansion anywhere, like it greatly impacts their day-to-day life, bank account or sex life.  I'm thinking, what the hell is that all about?

Why does some Joe Schmoe in Winnipeg complain bitterly that an investor wants to put money into his favourite league, possibly lose his own money in the investment, putting a team in Las Vegas?  Why must this same Joe Schmoe argue that there should be a team in Quebec City or another team in Toronto?  Is he going to go to these games on a regular basis?  Will he profit from a team in Canada, rather than in the USA?  Is this guy less likely to tune into a Jets game, just because it is being played in Vegas, rather than Quebec?  I believe the answer to all of these questions is a resounding no.

Not only is this debate frustrating on the ears, when you pass by it in public, two guys sitting at a table in a pub, agreeing with each other incessantly about how terrible it is to have an NHL game played in front of only a few thousand people in Glendale, Arizona, it's even worse that our beloved media outlets, the +TSN and +Sportsnet broadcasts give voice to these nut jobs, as if it matters to the general viewing public.  Thanks to our general entertainers, we have to sit through an intense social media debate, facilitated to generate controversy, which equals ratings, which leads to a bigger revenue stream.  How sad.

Obviously, there is no money in trying to educate the general public on the benefits of just the expansion of any major sports league.  The dollars and cents are not coming from the kids that are still being educated in school, they are coming from the people who are out of school, not willing to learn anymore, because they don't have to.

The NHL has seen value in keeping the Coyotes in Arizona, that's a fact.  Okay, that's where that point ends, right?  I guess not.  It isn't enough that all the guys with all the money, the owners, are supporting the movement, watching dollars go down the drain on a franchise that struggles to break even.  My question would be, does this negatively impact the game itself?  Will there be one less team in the league, because of this?  No, not likely.  If the Coyotes are in dire straits, the league will make sure it moves to a destination that could give that owner a better shot at making money.

Ask me why I care again?  The profit or losses of an NHL owner are not my concern.

I watch hockey, because of the game itself.  There are some elements to today's game, where money does play a part, I won't argue that.  Salary cap numbers and salaries walk hand in hand, but those numbers have an impact on the team that I cheer for and allow me to form an educated opinion about my team.

In terms of salary cap talk, there are cap ceiling teams and there are budget teams, and yes, certain markets dictate the amount of money each team has to spend.  The Coyotes, for example, have been a budget team under the control of the NHL for the longest time, but the +Ottawa Senators, in hockey mad Canada, are also considered to be somewhat of a budget team.  At the end of the day, it isn't the amount of money that a team spends, it's how the money that they spend is spent, building the team, assessing the talent and hiring the people to manage and run the team on a hockey level.

The +Edmonton Oilers have been an in-between team at a spending level, but their poor management has seen them piss away talent and failed to win games on a regular basis.  People still flock to their games and the team earns money to spend on poor hockey decisions... again, not my problem.  I don't cheer for them, rather, I love it, because my team is a division rival.

I want hockey to be the best it can be and the game has improved by leaps and bounds, thanks in small part to expansion to non-traditional markets.  When kids in California are highlighting some of the draft years, you have to believe that expansion into California has done wonders for the game itself, taking athletic talent away from other sports, more dominant in those areas of the US and transplanting it into our beloved game.

How likely is it that a place like Las Vegas gives the league some of its own young talent in 10-to-15 years time?  Probably less likely, but that shouldn't dissuade any potential investor in the league to choose a rich, gambling city to put his footprint on.

Nevertheless, even if a team in Nevada fails outright, no one comes to the game and money hemorrhages out of the franchise, the league itself will get cozy with the idea that it has another source of overall revenue and band-aid the situation by tapping the shoulders of those investors that either want to keep the team in a losing market or move it to another location that has all kinds of potential to succeed or fail.

Again, it's not my money... why should I care?  There, I feel better now.