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SBD/June 13, 2013/Leagues and Governing BodiesPrint All
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in his news conference before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final “didn’t give firm answers to any of the league’s pressing questions other than to say the schedule will be issued later than usual because of the unresolved issues,” according to Kevin McGran of the TORONTO STAR. The league also “allowed that the future of the Phoenix Coyotes could affect realignment.” Bettman said, “We’re getting to the point where decisions have to be made. I haven’t set a deadline, but time is getting shorter.” It is likely the NHL “will want some kind of resolution" by the next BOG meeting on June 27. A decision on NHL player participation in the ’14 Sochi Olympics also “is taking longer than expected.” The IOC “keeps a tight hold on its properties," but Olympics and NHL TV rightsholder NBC is "helping the sides find common ground.” Bettman said, “We continue to work at it. I think the parties have been in close contact in recent days. We hope to get together and get it hammered out in the near future” (TORONTO STAR, 6/13). Bettman said that the league is “in discussion with the players' union about reviving a World Cup and scheduling more European games but emphasized the Olympic issue was at the top of the international agenda.” He said, "We're in discussion with the players association working on [a] time table for international competition. The first step is figuring out what we are doing with the Olympics, we are going to take a look at world championship participation and we are very much committed to bringing back a World Cup and doing it on a regular basis" (REUTERS, 6/12).
OTHER ISSUES: Bettman said that the 48-game, lockout-shortened season “played to 97 percent capacity during the regular season, and more than 100 percent capacity during the playoffs.” ESPN.com’s Scott Burnside reported NHL revenues are “projecting higher than a straight percentage of the games played during the truncated season that began Jan. 19.” Bettman: “We played 58 percent of our season but we did better than 58 percent of our revenues, we believe. It’s not done yet, and there’s still some more revenues to be generated over the next couple of weeks. But we believe we did better than a strict percentage would have you think" (ESPN.com, 6/12). In Chicago, Mark Potash notes TV ratings are “strong across the board.” Bettman said of fans, ‘‘We thank them for that. The good news (is) we have a long-term agreement, up to a decade of labor peace” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/13). Bettman also suggested that concussions, on a “per-game basis, are down ‘slightly’ year over year and they anticipate league revenues to do well.” The GLOBE & MAIL’s Eric Duhatschek notes Bettman “dropped one other interesting tidbit of information -- the NHL has settled on the names of the new divisions under the agreed-upon realignment plan, along with the new playoff format.” But Bettman said that he would “wait until after the Stanley Cup final to unveil their choices” (GLOBE & MAIL, 6/13).
END JUSTIFIES THE MEANS? In Vancouver, Cam Cole writes maybe a “few of the sellout streaks around the league had to be artificially inflated, maybe the claims of boffo crowds leaguewide didn't exactly correspond to what met the naked eye in some buildings.” Cole writes, “Maybe no one really missed the Winter Classic or the all-star game except for the markets involved. Maybe HBO's 24/7 series, like the New Year's Day outdoor game it promotes, will simply carry over to next season and the ticked-off corporate partners will be pacified and no one will be any the worse for wear. And maybe Gary Bettman was betting on all of the above.” Still, it is “difficult to look back now on those four-plus months … without feeling that it was all choreographed, and we were all played like stringed instruments.” But the league has “bounced back pretty much exactly as it was pre-lockout, albeit with some temporary downgrades” (VANCOUVER SUN, 6/13).
In the wake of the recent NSA surveillance controversy, all NFL teams that have their playbooks on iPads have "gone to great lengths to make sure their iPads don't get hacked," according to Alex Marvez of FOXSPORTS.com. They also have "safety nets put into place in case one gets lost or ... in the wrong hands." Fourteen NFL teams "converted to iPads exclusively for their playbooks" during the '12 season and three others are using them "to augment game preparation." The Chiefs and Jaguars are "two of the latest franchises to place their playbooks on iPads for the first time this offseason." A Chiefs spokesperson said, "Our security is very strong. The iPads will be managed by a mobile device management console along with multifactor level security." Marvez noted if a player "loses an iPad ... the team can wipe it clean remotely." The team also can "wipe it clean after three unsuccessful attempts to enter a password." Teams have also "placed 'time bombs' in iPads that erase all material at a set deadline like immediately prior to kickoff." STATS Sports Solutions Group GM John Pollard "acknowledges the possibility of an NFL cyberspace breach still exists but believes the odds of that happening are far lower than in mainstream forms of internet transactions by both private companies and the government" (FOXSPORTS.com, 6/12).
MLB yesterday formally announced the Dodgers and D'Backs will begin the '14 season with a two-game series in Sydney, Australia. CBS Sports Network's Doug Gottlieb speculated that there "has to be some sort of marketing" reason to play there. Gottlieb: "I don’t really get growing the game to Australia.” CBS Sports Net's Allie LaForce noted the country is “not even a place where we generate a lot of Major League Baseball players,” as there have been just 28 Australian natives to play in the league. She added, “I don’t see a lot of Major League Baseball fans watching that game, making sure they tune in to the big game in Australia” (“Lead Off,” CBSSN, 6/12).
CALLING ALL STARS: In West Palm Beach, D'Angelo & Skolnick note there has not been an NBA All-Star Game held in South Florida since '90, but league officials said that it "is not due to any disdain for the area." NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver said, "We would love to bring the All-Star Game back to Miami. It’s a function of hotel availability, convention center, arena and other things. If there’s an ongoing discussion, we would love to be there.” D'Angelo & Skolnick write, "Since the Heat have not pushed for the event, don’t expect Miami to host any time soon" (PALMBEACHPOST.com, 6/11).
CROSSING THE POND: ESPNW's Jane McManus wrote of the NFL possibly expanding to London, "The idea of exporting a most uniquely American sport is intriguing despite the logistical nightmares." Looking past the "howls of red-blooded American sports fans, the NFL in Europe makes sense." The sport has "saturated the U.S. market." The NFL "wants a few things, and between a London franchise and an 18-game season, moving a team overseas is probably easier on the players physically" (ESPNW.com, 6/12).
WE'LL SEE HOW IT GOES: New York is the only state yet to pass legislature approving MMA, and Bloomberg TV’s Rachel Crane during an interview asked UFC President Dana White, “Do you wish we were sitting in Madison Square Garden right now?” White: “For me personally to be sitting in Madison Square Garden, holding an event, yes it’s a personal milestone achievement that we’ve accomplished in the sport.” But he added, “We don’t have to be in New York. We’re doing just fine without New York and we’re putting on fights. We don’t have to get New York" ("Money Moves," Bloomberg TV, 6/12).