Numbers and news from the NHL: The 2013-14 season recap edition
0-for-3: There were three new ownership groups in the league this season, and all three of their teams failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs. For Phoenix (led by George Gosbee and Anthony LeBlanc), New Jersey (Josh Harris and David Blitzer) and Florida (Vincent Viola), there’s always next season.
SBJ Podcast: As the NHL playoffs prepared to launch, hockey writer Christopher Botta and staff writer Alex Silverman discussed the latest hockey news.
3: Gracious gestures on the final weekend of the regular season. The Vancouver Canucks came back onto the ice to shake the hand of Edmonton winger Ryan Smyth, who had just played his last game. The Los Angeles Kings had a brief ceremony to honor Teemu Selanne, a member of the rival Ducks who is retiring after the playoffs. And, after Selanne played his last regular-season game in Anaheim, he invited opposing Colorado Avalanche goaltender J.S. Giguere (a former Duck who is expected to retire after this season) to take a lap around the ice with him and salute the fans. Hockey can be a nasty sport, but moments like these reinforce the notion that it also can be one of the classiest.
$192,000: The value of items the Ottawa Senators gave away in the stands and via social media on Fan Appreciation Night. Prizes included a Dodge truck worth $40,000, 1,500 gift cards from various club sponsors, concession stand food, and dinners at Chek Point restaurants.
21,758,902: The NHL’s total attendance this season, breaking the previous single-season high set in 2008-09. That total includes the combined 376,837 who attended the six outdoor games this season.
22,201: The largest announced crowd for a regular-season game (not played in a stadium): Colorado at Chicago on Dec. 27.
7,401: The smallest announced crowd: Nashville at Phoenix on Halloween.
7: The number of teams with ongoing sellout streaks of 100 or more regular-season and playoff games as the postseason began: Toronto (446 games), Montreal (401), Pittsburgh (327), Chicago (267), Boston (206), Los Angeles (108) and the New York Rangers (103).
Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning owner: The Lightning played to 97 percent capacity this season and finished third in the Eastern Conference after failing to make the playoffs last year. Vinik’s $5 million investment in a new scoreboard for the Tampa Bay Times Forum in 2012 continues to draw raves, he donates $50,000 to veterans’ causes on the day of every home game, and he personally participates in team promotions, like teaching a Hockey 101 class to new fans. You couldn’t ask for more from a small-market owner.
The Rangerstown Hockey House Photo by: REBECCA TAYLOR / MSG PHOTOS
New York Rangers: The Rangers have taken a 9,500-square-foot building adjacent to Madison Square Garden that formerly housed a Borders book store and converted it into a fan zone and space for MSG Network’s postseason pregame shows. The Rangerstown Hockey House features Q&A sessions with Rangers alumni, an autograph signing station and an accuracy shooting contest.
New Jersey Devils: A multiyear sponsorship with PartyPoker signed jointly in January with the NBA 76ers (also owned by Devils owners Harris and Blitzer) drew national media attention for being the first online gaming sponsorships for U.S. major league sports teams. But make no mistake: Since New Jersey is the only state with gaming regulations and a major league franchise, this was a deal with the Devils. It also, according to a source, is valued around what other teams get for arena naming-rights deals.
Liam McHugh, NBC Sports Group: It can’t be easy wrangling studio analysts as diverse in style and temperament as Mike Milbury, Keith Jones and Jeremy Roenick, but McHugh does it with poise, intelligence and a sense of humor. He seems destined for a bigger role beyond hockey at NBC.
Colorado Avalanche: “Why Not Us?” was the team’s marketing slogan this season, and it sure set the tone for a franchise turnaround. Team President Josh Kroenke appointed Avs legend Joe Sakic as executive vice president of hockey operations, Sakic hired goaltending great Patrick Roy as head coach, and Colorado went from the NHL’s 29th-place team last season to a division-winner this year. Average attendance increased a league-best 5.5 percent, up to 16,296 fans per game, and likely will increase further next year. The buzz is back in Denver.
Bill Daly and John Collins, NHL: A rich Canadian media-rights deal. A new single-season high for attendance. Six sold-out stadium games, including more than 104,000 fans at Michigan Stadium for the Winter Classic. A strong Olympic tournament, with increased access in Sochi for NHL Network and NHL.com, along with the production of the “NHL Revealed” documentary. Commissioner Gary Bettman is ultimately in charge, but it was also a very good year for Daly, the deputy commissioner, and Collins, the league’s chief operating officer.