Bettman Made Another League Feasible

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman set the price tag for admission into his exclusive club: $500 million big ones. Aside from another blatant example of taking professional sports away from the “common fan” (a topic that merits a separate article), his expensive price has had the opposite effect of what the league intends.

The NHL (and you can include the other professional big shots, the NFL, the NBA, and MLB, they are just as bad if not worse) by setting this price and all its other conditions of admission is saying that only the purest, the richest, the most well-bred of investors is worthy to join us. And only the two cities that were the most fanatical about joining, Las Vegas and Quebec City were willing to bite the expensive bullet.

Quebec City’s reaction is understandable. Ever since their old NHL team, the Quebec Nordiques left in 1995, Quebec has wanted its team back. There was never any problem with fan base, just the arena and ownership. Quebec was one of the mainstays of the old WHA.

Las Vegas is more debatable. They have never had any of the four professional sports leagues place a team in their city and at least for now, the prospect of doing it seems a fascinating novelty.

But most (wise) investors looked closely before they leapt. $500 million is quite a jump in price from the $80 million it took to enter the league during the last expansion in the late 1990s, especially to join a league that is probably ranked fourth among the “big four” professional sports leagues in the United States and only has one franchise (ironically the Canadian based Toronto Maple Leafs) listed in the top twenty richest, professional sports franchises.

Some potential investors like the Hunt family in Kansas City publicly backed off. An ex-NHL owner, Peter Pocklington denounced the expensive price.

When looked at closely, it is a highly questionable policy. If these applicants are going to be your new partners, why do you want to burden them with an excessive entry fee? And especially with the NHL, throughout Bettman’s reign as Commissioner, many of his existing franchises have been chronically losing money. An excessive entry fee increases the possibility for an unsuccessful franchise to function.

You won’t have any problem with Quebec City. Quebec City with a proper NHL arena and owner is a sure-fire winner. But Las Vegas is the type of franchise so often favored by Bettman in an attempt to get a rich American televison contract: An attempt to spread the game of hockey by introducing it into markets where it has no roots. One would think that the NHL has had enough Atlantas, Phoenixes, and Floridas. An excessive entry fee might be the lighted match that would eventually ruin a Las Vegas franchise.

But if new investors really want to operate a professional hockey team, it might be better to join together, scrap an expensive entry fee, and start their own league. Put the $500 million to something useful like player and management salaries and new arenas.

That’s what happened in the early 1970s when the WHA was formed. Owners who found they could not buy their way into the NHL set up their own league and while nobody wants a return to the “war years”, Gary Bettman’s excessive price makes the possibility of starting a new league feasible.

Furthermore, conditions are better for starting a new hockey league now than they were in 1972. Back then, most WHA teams played in small, old, run-down arenas, but that would not be the case if a new league made its franchise choices wisely. Back then only Cleveland (a disaster of a franchise) and Edmonton (which built its existing arena for its WHA team) played in modern arenas.

The best franchise choices for a new league would be Quebec, Hartford, Toronto, Hamilton, Saskatoon, Portland, Kansas City, Houston, Oklahoma City, and Milwaukee. Most of these cities have roots in hockey and all of them have arenas that seat at least 15,000. With proper ownership and investment, franchises with at least a half-decent arena and a fan base with roots in hockey have at least a 50% chance of survival. And except for a second Toronto team, none of them would be based in an existing NHL market.

One of the first things the WHA did was that its owners pooled their resources to pay the NHL’s second biggest star, Bobby Hull, to join the Winnipeg Jets. This gave the league instant credibility. They also prized Canadian franchises because they realized that Canadian fans were the ones most responsible for the league’s survival. At one time, there was even a Canadian division. The NHL should remember that.

There are other advantages. The new Toronto and Hamilton franchises would not have to pay any compensation to the Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres for infringing on their territory. Any new innovations and any reduction in ticket prices would be welcomed by “common” fans who can scarcely afford tickets or even sports merchandise and who are fed up with the arrogance of the “big four” leagues.

Most of all, the new league could wait for a merger, just like the WHA and AFL did. It may have taken longer to get into the NHL and NFL, but in the end, it was probably cheaper.

Interview with Borna Rendulić!

Retrieved from: Photo used with permission.

We recently caught up with Colorado Avalanche forward Borna Rendulić! For the readers that aren’t familiar with him, he’s the first Croatian born NHL player ever (Joel Prpic played in the NHL and the Croatian national team, but was born in Canada.). He’s played all over Europe before crossing the pond to join the Avalanche organization. Rendulić was able to play 26 games in the AHL and 11 games in the NHL before suffering an injury. Even though that’s a tough way to end your season, he’s been working hard in the gym to be better than ever. Make sure to follow him on Twitter @bornarendulic. Make sure to follow us on Twitter @hkyblogger and “like” us on Facebook here: So without further to do, here’s our chat with Borna Rendulić!

As per usual, we are in bold.

Croatia isn’t the biggest hockey market in the world, generally known more for soccer. How did you end up playing hockey with most of the country crazy about soccer?
Although I was and still crazy about soccer, I started with hockey almost by coincidence. When I was a 6-year old, I went with my preschool group to skating a course and one of the Medvescak coaches saw me skating. He liked my style and called me to join a hockey team. I said yes and the rest is history haha, I mean, that’s how I started with hockey, although I trained in soccer, basketball and handball as well in my childhood.

How often do you get noticed in the streets of Zagreb?
I don’t get noticed in the streets of Zagreb very often. But it happens from time to time. I only get noticed very often in Zagreb when I come for a hockey game.

What is it like to be the first player born and raised in Croatia to play in the NHL? Do you feel that there is a certain amount of pressure knowing that you represent Croatia whenever you step on the ice?
Well it’s a really big thing, definitely a dream come true and absolutely a huge accomplishment for me. Of course, there’s a lot of pressure that comes with it. You know the proverb from Spiderman, “With great power comes the great responsibility” haha. So yeah, the pressure is always here, but I’m trying to give my best to represent Croatia the best as I can.

What was your first game in the NHL like? Take us through it, the butterflies and the excitement.
My first NHL game was pure excitement and enjoyment. However, it’s impossible to describe all the feelings and emotions with words. There is a big mess in your head, you are fascinated by the crowd and everything, but you are still 100% concentrated on the game and every shift you take. You want to give your best while you are in awe, so yeah, it’s really hard to explain everything that’s happening out there. I hope I managed to give you at least a bit of the atmosphere.

Where is the puck from your first ever goal? Is it something you show off to your friends, or is it something you put away as a keepsake?
The puck from my first goal is in my home. It has a special place in my room with all the other medals and awards I won during my career. That is one of the things that I put away as a keepsake more than I show it off. I don’t like to brag so these types of things are something I keep for myself.

What’s the best part of your game?
I believe the best part of my game is my shot, especially my slapshot. Also I’m a winger with a big frame, and I am always being told that I posses a promising combination of size and scoring ability. I think I’m an intelligent player, good in corners, who likes to play offensive, but smart. I am tactically very good and I have a finisher’s instinct both in strength and skill to power my way to the net. I have a good technique and tendency for finesse and attractive game.

What’s something you need to work on?
On the other hand, I often look passive off the puck and I could up my intensity and sharpness. Furthermore, I need to fine-tune all aspects of my play. I have to place special focus on skating and adding grit, in addition to improving my defense and realization skills. That are some things I definitely need to work on.

So the next part is more of a rapid fire section, it’s a get to know you. You ready?
You’ve played hockey all over Europe and now in North America, how many languages can you speak fluently?

I speak Croatian natively, Finnish and English fluently. I think my English is the best of all three languages I speak, and my friends often tease me that I speak Finnish and English better than Croatian haha. I also understand Serbian, Bosnian and Montenegrin because these languages are very similar to Croatian.

Who did you idolize growing up?
When I was growing up I idolized Wayne Gretzky, but I also liked Mario Lemieux and Joe Sakic. They are the best of all time but at the same time, they were one of the few players I had heard of since we couldn’t have watched any hockey in Croatia. However, I later started to like Ovechkin when he came up and got to the NHL. I idolized him during the most of my career so I can say he was and is my idol.

There’s a lot of pranksters in hockey, who’s the biggest prankster in the locker room and what’s the best story you have?

Well all the guys in the locker room are cool and funny. We have a lot of pranksters, and when I first came to Colorado I instantly liked Berra, Briere and Hejda. But I don’t want to single out anybody, I love them all, they are all kings! I have a lot of stories haha, don’t know if I could say some to you and what story would be best for you haha.

Who’s the roomie on the road?
My roomie on the road is Dennis Everberg and we get along quite well.

What’s fun to do in Zagreb?
There’s a lot of fun things to do in Zagreb, although not as much as the US. But Zagreb has a lot of sights, wonderful parks and promenades. The clubbing is ok and everyone can find something for themselves. It’s not such big city, but it’s beautiful and is definitely one of the best places to visit when in Croatia, together with Dubrovnik. Zagreb has lots of restaurants, bars, wine bars and tourist attraction that can leave anyone breathless.

Final questions:
Advice for aspiring hockey players?

I think the best advice for aspiring hockey players is just to believe in themselves and to work and train their asses off. That’s the best combination for success.

Who should we interview next?
If you want some interesting hockey stories from Croatia, you should interview Ivan Sijan.

This is a terrible pun, but I just have to ask this, how often do people ask if you’re “Borna” ready and on a scale of 1 to 10 how annoying is it?
People ask me many things and thus they ask how ready I am. But it’s not a problem to me to answer any questions, so I don’t find that question annoying at all. So the answer is 0.

Thank you for your time.

New Teams Means New Alignment For The NHL

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman’s expansion terms ($500 million including a $10 million application fee of which $8 million is refundable) have scared away many would-be applicants.

During the last NHL expansion in 1997 which cost $80 million, there were 11 applicants including three separate Houston entries, from which four cities, Nashville, Atlanta, Minnesota, and Columbus were selected.

The only cities that are willing to cough up the excessive entry fee for the latest expansion are Quebec City and Lss Vegas and if that is only who applies, it will be a slap in the face for Bettman and the NHL who were flushed with long-time rumors and stories that there were an abundance of investors dying to get into the NHL.

It would serve them right if their greedy terms only engender a “get-what-we-can” response instead of an abundant harvest of applicants. Quebec and three western cities paying a total of $2 billion were the NHL’s ideal. Now it may be two and no more.

Regardless of how many cities apply (if any at all now), even only two new teams added will mean NHL realignment.

32 teams are a symmetrical number for professional sports leagues, which only the NFL so far has reached. It means a 2-conference, 8-division-of-4-teams alignment, which also means an easy-to-understand playoff structure.

It is also an alignment that makes it easy for a league to expand in the future with each division able to accommodate five, even six teams for a total of a 48 team league. Currently there are approximately 60 major markets in the United States and Canada so such an expanded league could be easily created.

Since Bettman’s excessive expansion terms may have caused serious second thoughts about joining the NHL, for the purpose of this article, it will only be assumed that Quebec and Las Vegas will submit credible bids which will still leave the NHL in an unbalanced state.  With that in mind, here’s how a future NHL might look:

                                               Eastern Conference

1                                     2                                3                                   4

Quebec       New York Rangers             Toronto                  Washington
Montreal      New York Islanders            Buffalo                   Carolina
Ottawa        New Jersey                         Detroit                    Florida
Boston        Philadelphia                        Pittsburgh              Tampa Bay

Western Conference

1                                    2                              3                                   4

Columbus              Vancouver                San Jose                 St. Louis
Chicago                  Edmonton                Las Vegas               Phoenix
Nashville                Calgary                     Los Angeles           Dallas
Minnesota              Winnipeg                  Anaheim                 Colorado

Thanks to the NHL’s greed, Columbus (which does not have the clout of Detroit) will have to be shifted back to the Western Conference until some future expansion to western cities will allow it to return east.

For now, this has to be assumed how the future NHL will look. The crucial date is August 10. Then NHL will know who are “the men from the boys”, that is if there are any men who are rich enough and fanatical enough to want to join them.

NHL Must Reduce Or Refund Entry Fees To Quebec and Las Vegas

It is a loss of face. It is a deserved nemesis to uncontrolled naked greed, but if it is not done, it is an act of business blindness. The NHL has to reduce or refund the excessive $500 million entry fee they want to charge Quebec City and Las Vegas to join the league.

It is obviously not a policy the NHL wants to do. Bettman and the NHL owners had whipped themselves into a greedy frenzy about the possibility of getting as much as a quick $2 billion in expansion fee money which they would not have to share with the NHL Players Association, by accepting four new expansion teams.

As early as a year ago, there were published reports in almost all sports media and websites that Toronto and Seattle, along with Quebec City and Las Vegas were “done deals” for a possible NHL Centenary expansion in 2017, along with bids from many other hockey hungry cities like Hamilton, Portland, Milwaukee, Houston, Oklahoma City, etc.

Instead the excessive greed of the NHL threw cold water on the whole expansion process. In the end, after handing out applications for 16 bids, only the two most committed and fanatical cities, Quebec and Las Vegas agreed to go through the whole expansion process. Even the “done deals” of Toronto and Seattle backed off. The NHL was hoping to get Quebec and three western cities for expansion, realignment and balanced conferences. Now they have to settle for what they can get, realignment, and unbalanced conferences.

The truth is that the business world took one look at the expensive entry fee to join the NHL and said, “Much as we would like to join you, we’re not suckers. Go your own way. (Or ‘Go to hell’, the impolite phrase.)”

Bettman and the NHL can continue to go along their greedy path and collect the $1 billion from Las Vegas and Quebec, but if they do, it will be a long time before the NHL can expand again. The business world has flatly stated that unless they are obsessed or fanatical like Quebec and Las Vegas, they will not pay what they consider an excessive entry fee. This message should also be taken seriously by the NFL, the NBA, and MLB.

Bettman and the NHL owners can pretend to ignore this blunt statement but since only two bidders emerged, it proved that there are not many rich people out there who are obsessed enough and fanatical enough to want to join the NHL. In fact the excessive $500 million fee should make any would-be major professional hockey team owners to seriously consider banding together and start their own league, like the WHA in the 1970s. Money spent on excessive $500 million entry and “consideration” fees can be better spent on building or upgrading arenas and player salaries.

Bettman and the NHL have painted themselves into a corner. They can take the money now and pray that “obsessed, fanatical” expansion owners will appear in the not-to-distant future, so that they can get richer and “balance up” the NHL which is unlikely; or scale down their demands on Quebec and Las Vegas to meet the true market value of an NHL franchise.

Charging an excessive entry fee is not a smart policy in any case. If these new applicants are supposed to be your new partners for the long-term future, why do you want to burden them with an excessive entry fee? And particularly in Las Vegas’s case, an expansion city like so many chosen during Bettman’s time as Commissioner, a city with no hockey roots, chosen because it makes hockey seem like “America’s game” and therefore entitles the NHL to get American television contracts like the NFL, the NBA, and MLB, an excessive expansion fee could cause the franchise to take a nose-dive if the expected fan support does not materialize. One would think the NHL has had enough money-losing franchises like Phoenix, Atlanta, and Florida and will create expansion conditions suitable for making a profit.

So it would be smart business to reduce or refund some of the $500 million burden on Quebec and Las Vegas  to the true market value in a way that involves the least amount of loss of face and shame. Else it seems like it will be for a long time that the NHL will remain “unbalanced” because it cannot find expansion owners/suckers who want to join such an “exclusive” league.

Where Are They Now Part 2!

We originally did a Part 1 which you can find here: After posting on Reddit (, we’ve decided to do a Part 2. Yeah we know the post was a long time ago, but at least it’s here right? Make sure to keep on requesting and if we have enough requests, we’ll do a Part 3! Make sure to check us out on Twitter @hkyblogger and on Facebook here:

Taro Tsujimoto
I have been searching for him for hours, and I can’t find anything for him. Sorry guys… Kidding! He’s an imaginary player created by Punch Imlach who got frustrated in the 1974 NHL Entry Draft. Tsujimoto was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres and everyone believed it! All the major news outlets picked it up. No information could be found on him. Well it’s cause he didn’t exist! But if he did exist, he would have been 61 now. So where is he now? Still imaginary!

Sergei Zubov
Sergei Zubov, the He retired in 2010 after a season in the KHL, and was a coach for SKA St. Petersburg for the 2011-2012 KHL Season. After that he and had joined the St. Louis Blues front office as a consultant, while doing double duty with CSKA Moscow as an Assistant Coach. However, he seems to have chosen to leave his St. Louis Blues role before the 2013 KHL season. After the 2013-2014 season, he returned to SKA St. Petersburg as an assistant coach while helping out with National Team duties as an assistant coach as well. So where is Sergei Zubov? Well he’s keeping busy with KHL and National Team duties!

Owen Nolan
Owen Nolan played 18 years for the Nordiques, Sharks, Leafs, Coyotes, Flames, Wild, and the ZSC Lions before retiring. So where is he now? He’s now running two restaurants called Britannia Arms; one in downtown San Jose and one in Almaden, CA. Nolan also hosts a and hosts several TV shows. He’s now an avid fisher and hunter and you can catch his show Sportsman 360 TV on NBC Sports Outdoors on Wednesdays at 3:30.

Editor’s note: If you’re a hockey player or aspiring hockey player, training is key. So if you want to get bigger, get faster, make sure to check out our friends over at Hockey Training. Who knows? They could be the extra boost that you need.

Seattle Joins NHL Chokers, Hamilton and Houston

Last year it was reported in the media and on many websites that Seattle, Quebec City, Toronto, and Las Vegas were “done deals” for NHL expansion, said to occur in 2017, the centenary of the NHL. But after the NHL’s official announcement for bidders to start submitting their proposals, even Commissioner Gary Bettman admitted that Seattle was not ready.

The NHL has had some interest in fostering a Seattle franchise for a few years now. It was said that they would partner Quebec to round off the league to a symmetrical 32 teams. But now it looks like Las Vegas will be Quebec’s partner instead and Seattle will be left out in the cold for this session of expansion.

It is all because Seattle has not resolved its arena problem (and the excessive entry fee), one of three conditions, Gary Bettman and the NHL have publicly stated as mandatory before any expansion bid will be considered. In contrast, both Quebec and Las Vegas have been building modern arenas in anticipation of NHL expansion.

Seattle’s arena problem is said to be also further tangled up with what league a potential builder/owner wants to be in. It is alleged that Seattle really wants to get back into the NBA and that getting an NHL team is just icing on the cake. It is alleged that legal documents would have to be changed so that an arena that will be built for the NHL first instead of the NBA has to be resolved.

So unlike Quebec and Las Vegas, no shovels are in the ground and nothing has been clarified. One of the expansion leaders has been caught with its pants down, despite the NHL’s attempts to bend over backwards to secure its admission to the league.

This is not the first time a potential NHL expansion leader has managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. In the early 1990s, Hamilton, Ontario was a front-runner for an NHL team. They had even built a modern arena which had been used successfully for the 1987 Canada Cup which Canada won on its second international epic goal scored by Mario Lemieux, assisted by Wayne Gretzky. During that final game, a camera even caught a sign begging the NHL to give Hamilton a team.

So when NHL expansion was announced it seemed that Hamilton was a sure thing. But the bidder, Tim Donut, made the mistake of questioning the NHL’s terms when the NHL (like all the arrogant “big four” professional sports leagues) expected mindless acceptance. Tampa Bay got a team and Hamilton’s franchise slipped into the hands of the Ottawa bidder. Hamilton has been on the outside looking in ever since.

During the last expansion process in 1997, eleven bidders, including three separate bids from Houston, Texas made a pitch for one of four teams. There is no doubt that the NHL wanted Houston in. It was the largest city in the United States without professional hockey. It was ultra-rich with extensive media and potential corporate sponsors, and there was a natural rivalry of Houston with Dallas and possibly with Phoenix, Colorado, and St. Louis.

But somehow despite three bids and all the favoritism the NHL could show, Houston fumbled away its chances and NHL franchises went to Nashville, Minnesota, Atlanta, and Columbus. Houston joined Hamilton as a city that somehow lost an NHL franchise that seemed signed, sealed and delivered.

They say things happen in threes and Seattle is looking more and more like the city that will join Hamilton and Houston as a failed NHL expansion favorite, because it cannot resolve its arena problem.

This is a shame because unlike many of the doubtful cities that the NHL has chosen or accepted during Gary Bettman’s tenure like Atlanta, Florida, Columbus, and Phoenix, Seattle has deep roots in hockey and would have no problem with an enthusiastic fan-base.

In fact, Seattle is one of the few American cities where it can be truly said what took you so long to join the NHL. Seattle in fact was the first American city to win the Stanley Cup and was competing for another one in 1919 against Montreal when the great influenza epidemic halted the Stanley Cup finals, the only time in NHL history. Seattle has deep roots in Canadian hockey, icing a CHL team that competes for Canada’s national junior championship, the Memorial Cup. They would have a natural rivalry with Vancouver, San Jose, Los Angeles, and Anaheim, and possibly with Edmonton and Calgary too.

Canadians look at the doubtful cities the NHL has accepted during Bettman’s regime that have no past experience with hockey and complain bitterly that they are ignored when the NHL expands. They cannot make that claim against Seattle.

But with all this going for it, Seattle’s position of NHL expansion favorite is gone for now and in peril for the future. And given the rarity in which professional sports leagues have been expanding of late, it may be a long time before it does join the NHL.

Why the Trade Package Acquired for Phil Kessel Has More Value Than Advertised

When past top 5 goal scorer, Phil Kessel, was traded away on July 1st, it came to no surprise by fans. With Brendan Shanahan making it clear to the fans, he wanted to eliminate all aspects of the Burke-Nonis era and proved this by sending the whole coaching staff packing along with many scouts and other front office worked. It was clear at the draft that this franchise was no longer bent on acquiring players with “pugnacity” in Burkes words, but instead immense skill and hockey IQ, and just days after, traded their most skillful player. Phil Kessel was the player holding them back from acquiring a top 5 pick in every draft and is skillful enough to keep them a mediocre team for years. The front office realized that he must go so that they may rebuild properly through the draft and restock their farm system with as much high-end talent as possible. Many believed that the package the leafs would get would include former #8th overall pick defensman Derrick Pouliot and were frustrated when it came out that Pouliot would remain a Penguin. Although the Leafs did not acquire their best prospect, that does not mean they did not stockpile very high-end useful talent. In Kasperi Kapanen, you get yet another highly skilled RW with very similiar aspects to Kessel, and very different ones as well. Kapanen has a very quick release with an accurate shot that leaves goalies looking over their shoulders, with above average speed and over 0.5 points a game in the Finnish league and 5 points in 6 playoff games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton after 2 points in 4 regular season games. He is a playoff performer that needs another half year to year to bulk up and further develop his 2 way game, but with already better numbers on the North American ice surface, there shouldn’t be too much worry that he further develops into an offensive top 6 winger. In the defence prospect, Scott Harrington, people see a peaked performer who’s best days are behind him in the world juniors. WRONG. He has never been a point producing defenseman during any part of his career, but provides an old school, hard-nosed, scrappy shutdown defender the leafs have been looking for. He is not big for a shutdown defender, but rarely makes mistakes with the puck and can play against teams top lines. With a shortened season last year due to injury, he only managed to play 48 games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton amassing 12 points. Some would see this as minuscule but when you look at his +/- rating of 19, it shows that Harrington is a defender that will do all the little things right. A character guy in having an A on his jersey for Team Canada at the world juniors, Leafs fan should be glad they acquired Harrington and stop focusing on not acquiring Pouliot. In Nick Spaling they have an asset to flip at the draft for picks. An economic deal of 1 more year at 2.2 million, and 27 points in all 82 games next year with a decent size body and the ability to play both wing or centre, never mind his negative corsi on possession that everyone is now looking at, someone will give the leafs a decent draft pick (most likely 3rd) at the trade deadline for this role player. Add a probable late 1st round draft pick along with a third, and you have yourself a top six offensive winger, a top 4-top 6 shutdown defenseman to log big minutes, an asset to flip for a mid-round draft pick, a 1st rounder which gives this talent thirsty franchise another good chance for a solid NHL player, and a 3rd to sweeten the pot. What the leafs gave up in Tyler Biggs and Tim Erixon are purely for contract purposes, and it is understandable that Pittsburgh needs the 2nd round pick back after giving the leafs their 1st and 3rd. Leafs fans, get ready for an exhilerating few years where we can analyze how this trade turns out for Toronto.

Simon Woodgate