SBD/April 16, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Study: Some NHL Teams Suffered In Production Following Olympic Participation

Canucks players were hurt statistically by the Sochi Games
NHL teams that sent a large number of players to the '14 Sochi Games "had a significant drop in performance" after the tournament, while teams that "sent few players had a slight improvement," according to a Univ. of Massachusetts study cited by Jeff Klein of the N.Y. TIMES. UMass sports economics professor Neil Longley "called the findings preliminary." But if they "hold up, they will be consistent" with a study he published in '12 that "examined NHL teams' performance in each Olympic year since the league started participating" in '98. Longley "cautioned that this season's sample size is much smaller than the one in the original study, and has yet to undergo statistical testing that controls for outside factors." But he said that this year's figures "seemed consistent" with the '12 study. The goal differential of teams that "sent seven or more players to the Olympics collectively dropped by an average of 0.33 goals a game." Of those teams, only the Canucks "failed to make the playoffs, but they were in position for a postseason berth when the Olympic break began." Meanwhile, the goal differential of teams that "sent three or fewer players to the Olympics improved by 0.09 goals a game." Only one of those teams -- the Stars -- is "headed to the playoffs" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/15). 

THRICE AS NICE: The CP's Julien Arsenault reported the Conference Board of Canada said that the economic conditions are "favourable enough to have three more" NHL franchises in the country within the next 20 years. The board Monday suggested that in "addition to Canada's seven existing NHL teams, Quebec City and Hamilton, Ont., appear to meet minimum requirements to become home to franchises in the near future." In the "longer term, another franchise could eventually find its way to the Toronto area, but a lot of money and population growth would be required for the region to support two teams" (CP, 4/14).

BETTMAN NOT CONCERNED? NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman appeared on CNBC's "Squawk Box" yesterday along with the Stanley Cup to promote tonight's start of the NHL Playoffs, but CNBC's Joe Kernen changed the direction of the conversation by noting the league "suffered a PR setback" last week when it was hit with a second concussion lawsuit. Bettman said, "The fact is a couple of plaintiffs' law firms seem to have cobbled together some lawsuits copying what went on in the NFL. We knew it was coming. We're going to aggressively defend the lawsuits because we believe there's no merit to them. If anything, we have the most proactive approach to player safety in all of sports, particularly the contact sports. I can give you a litany of the number of ways we have been a leader in player safety. But frankly, I would rather talk about the playoffs." Bettman said a "lot of the rule changes that we've talked about, particularly with the players, the players association tends to be resistant to some of the things that might take a little bit of physicality out of the game. We think the game is really good the way it is." But CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin said, "There is an entertainment value when they start hitting each other" ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 4/15).  
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