• The NHL Shift: News and notes, 6/20/2014

    NHL Network Operations

    The NHL’s mega-deal with Rogers Communications begins with the upcoming season, but all is status quo at NHL Network.

    According to league sources, NHL Network will continue to broadcast out of the TSN studios in Scarborough, Ontario. Although TSN is no longer a national rightsholder of the NHL, TSN talent such as Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie are expected to continue their insider reports on NHL Network’s programs, like “On the Fly” and “NHL Tonight.”

    There was some discussion with Rogers about taking over for TSN as the league’s partner in the NHL Network, but Rogers Sportsnet is said to be too busy with its preparations for the first season of its 12-year, $4.9 billion deal as the NHL’s sole rightsholder in Canada.

    “Just too much for Rogers to tackle this summer, which is understandable,” said a source.

    The NHL and Rogers will re-open discussions about NHL Network in 2015, but TSN could remain in its role beyond the 2014-15 season.


    Islanders Update

    In the five weeks since The Shift reported that the sale of the New York Islanders to Andrew Barroway is in the hands of Charles Wang, the Islanders’ current owner, Wang has not moved to complete a deal. However, specifics of the potential agreement have been confirmed with sources close to the seller, the buyer and the NHL:

    • Barroway is seeking to become the majority owner and purchase 80 percent of the team. “He wants decision-making authority and the ability to bring in his own people,” said a source.

    • The agreed-upon value of the club is around $400 million.

    • Wang’s advisers told Barroway’s group more than a month ago that Wang would like to complete a deal with Barroway this summer.

    • Barroway and his partners have lined up all of the necessary financing.

    • Barroway has executive personnel ready to join the team should a sale be finalized with Wang and approved by the NHL.

    NHL officials, who prompted the discussions between Wang and Barroway, would like to see a sale completed but have urged Barroway to be patient and not to push Wang into a decision — for fear that Wang could walk away from a sale. How long Barroway is willing to wait is unknown.

    As NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has stated a few times, most recently at the Stanley Cup Final, Wang has wavered over relinquishing controlling interest in the Islanders. According to one source, a part of him wants to see Islanders’ rebuilding program flourish with general manager Garth Snow at the helm.

    A deal awaits Wang’s consent. As of this morning, no one knew when, or if, it will come.


    NHL Awards Preview


    With Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban serving as the reporter on the red carpet and backstage, give credit to the producers of the 2014 NHL Awards show for not taking the enterprise too seriously.

    “It’s a hockey show for hockey fans, presented by hockey fans,” said Bob Chesterman, NHL senior vice president of programming and production. “It’s a fun few hours of celebrating the hockey season.”

    The show, which takes place Tuesday night from the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas, is produced by IMG under the helm of executive producer Steve Mayer. The live telecast from 7-9 p.m. ET will air on NBC Sports Network and CBC.

    NHL Network will have a red-carpet arrivals show before the event and a one-hour recap after it.

    For the first time in NHL Awards show history — the show began in 1983 — each of the three finalists for the Jack Adams Award (coach of the year) will be introduced by players from their teams.

    Susan Sarandon, Michael J. Fox and Whoopi Goldberg are among those taking part in taped segments for the show. Awards will be presented by current and former NHL players, along with celebrity hockey fans such as Cuba Gooding Jr, David Boreanaz and Eric Stonestreet. NBC broadcasters Mike Emrick and Ed Olczyk will announce the winner of the EA Sports’ “NHL 15” cover vote.

    This is the fifth time the show has been done in Las Vegas (second time at the Wynn) after a long run in Toronto.

    “We have found, as you’d expect, that the players and everyone involved with the show loves having it in Vegas,” Chesterman said.

     
    By the Numbers

    $24: The lowest average ticket price on the secondary market for a game this season, according to TiqIQ: Columbus at Carolina on Jan. 27.

    $1,982: The highest average ticket price on the secondary market for a game this season: Game 3 of the Kings-Rangers Stanley Cup Final at Madison Square Garden.

    1.45 million viewers:
    Average viewership for the Stanley Cup playoffs on NBC, NBCSN and CNBC. That’s the second best average for the NBC Sports Group since it got NHL broadcast rights in 2006. The 1.47 million average for the 2013 playoffs is NBC’s highest mark. (Data provided by SportsBusiness Daily’s Austin Karp).
     

    Looking Ahead

    Wednesday: Teams can begin speaking with free agents, but not sign them
    Thursday: Board of Governors meeting in New York
    June 27-28: NHL Draft in Philadelphia
    July 1: Free agent signing period begins
     
    This is the 2013-14 season finale of the NHL Shift. Thank you for reading.

    Tags: On The Ground
  • TV Timeout: What's In A Name?

    The Redskins losing their trademark protection was a featured topic for nearly every news and sports telecast last night and this morning. THE DAILY offers a sampling of different takes on the news:

    --NBC's Brian Williams: "The pressure just increased on the Washington Redskins to change their team name" ("Nightly News," NBC, 6/18).

    --CBS' Chip Reid: "The Trademark Board said its ruling will not go into effect until all appeals are exhausted. ... That means it could be years" ("Evening News," CBS, 6/18).

    --ESPN's Jim Trotter said of the Redskins, "If anything, you can see their position is strengthening and the statement that they made basically leads you to believe that in some ways they're mocking this decision. ... If there's any chance for this name to change, it's definitely going to have to come out of a financial argument more than a moral argument" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 6/18).

    --Radio host Dan Patrick: “If you're going to have something that stays there on the front page, that's going to be there on talk shows, that there is going to be change, you have to have momentum with it. It can't start, stop, start, sort of stop, sort of start again. You have to have momentum and this might be that big push, if you want it changed" (“The Dan Patrick Show,” 6/19).

    --PFT's Mike Florio: "The thing to watch at some point, is will sponsors become concerned -- both team and NFL sponsors -- to the point where they begin to distance themselves from the organization and from the league? And if that ever happens, then I think you'll see everyone start taking this far more seriously" ("PFT," NBCSN, 6/18).

    --Trademark lawyer Joel Feldman said, "This is more psychological than legal. Nothing will change tomorrow morning about the way the Washington Redskins do business. ... It will embolden the Native-Americans to show that this is an offensive term to them and it will definitely help their PR campaign" ("Olbermann," ESPN2, 6/18).

    --The S.F. Chronicle's Ann Killion said when the Redskins begin to lose merchandise revenue, then the "NFL is going to step in." Killion: "All the teams will lose money, then the NFL will go, 'Oh, we're losing money. All of sudden we're going to have a moral conscience and we're going to change the name'" ("Yahoo Sports Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 6/18).

    --ESPN's Louis Riddick, on Daniel Snyder: "When you start pushing him one way on a subject that he is very strongly opinionated about, he's going to push back equally. And he has consistently maintained his stance as far as the Redskins name, and how he views it, and how he values it and what it means to him personally, and what he thinks it means to the Washington Redskins fan base as a whole ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 6/18).

    --FS1's Jay Onrait said the ruling represents "the biggest blow to Owner Daniel Snyder's attempts to keep the Redskins nickname" ("Fox Sports Live," FS1, 6/18).

    --Trademark attorney Howard Hogan: "I would not take this as a green light to go out there and start printing fake Redskins jerseys and going out and selling them" ("CBS This Morning," CBS, 6/19).

    --CBS Sports Network’s Evan Washburn: "Nothing is going to change. It’s going to take years. It’s the approach that, 'We’re never going to change this, there’s no sort of open-mindedness to the idea'” (“Lead Off,” CBSSN, 6/18).

    --The N.Y. Daily News' Ralph Vacchiano said of Snyder, "Honestly, he's just doing it out of spite at this point. He knows that the tide of society is against him" ("Daily News Live," SNY, 6/18).

  • TV Timeout: Getting The Red Out

    ESPN legal analyst Roger Cossack said there is "no question that the Redskins will appeal the loss of their trademark protected name" but the team is "certainly in jeopardy of having that name not be protected." Cossack: "This kind of litigation is fraught with technicalities. This is stuff that is handled by statute, and when you're talking about protecting someone's property who went ahead and trademarked it a number of years ago and now a court comes ... (stating) that trademark should have never been granted because it's disparaging to Native-Americans, you can see the problems in terms of appeals and litigation." Cossack said the appeal process "could take a significantly long period of time" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 6/18).

    DIRTY BIRDS: Falcons coach Mike Smith said the most important thing about his team appearing on HBO's "Hard Knocks" this year is that "everybody is going to get an opportunity to watch us compete." Smith: "That's probably the biggest plus for us doing it." Falcons WR Roddy White said of his role on the show, "I will not be the star. This will be co-starring and about seven or eight guys are going to entertain you all for the next couple of weeks of 'Hard Knocks' and they're going to do a great job. I'm going to take a step back and let those guys have a scene and I'm just going to watch and be entertained myself" (AJC.com, 6/17).

    THE AMERICAN WAY: The N.Y. Daily News' Ralph Vacchiano said of the '14 World Cup increasing soccer's popularity in the U.S., "I think we have this conversation every four years. This is helped by being in sort of Eastern friendly times for the games that's letting people watch it. But I'm sure we had this conversation four years ago, and eight years ago" ("Daily News Live," SNY, 6/17). SNY's Chris Carlin said of the U.S. victory over Ghana, "There are not many country unifying moments anymore and that was one of them" ("Loud Mouths," SNY, 6/17). ESPN’s Mike Greenberg, on the TV ratings of the U.S.-Ghana match: “Is this soccer or is this patriotism? Did we watch like crazy on Monday because we just like getting together and watching something that is a communal, American event? Or does this really demonstrate, as a lot of people in the soccer world are hoping for and telling you, that there is really a rising tide here?” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 6/18).

    THE MOORE THE BETTER: MLB Network’s Mark DeRosa: “Kudos to (Royals GM) Dayton Moore. He’s stayed the path. ... He’s stayed the path with Ned Yost. They’ve had this vision, they’ve trusted in these young players. It’s time for these young players to step up” (“MLB Tonight,” MLB Network, 6/17).

  • SBJ/SBD's weekly NHL Wrap-Around podcast

    With the NHL season now over and the Stanley Cup once again residing in Los Angeles, staff writers Christopher Botta and Alex Silverman discuss the Finals and what they expect in the off-season during SBJ/SBD's final "NHL Wrap-Around Podcast" of the season. Among the topics:

    Thoughts on the Kings' second Stanley Cup in three years and what that means to the franchise.

    The Blues naming Chris Zimmerman as president and CEO and what challenges he faces.

    What stories they see dominating the off-season.

    And SBD ratings guru Austin Karp assesses the Stanley Cup ratings and what would be the perfect Finals matchup.

    Tags: Hockey, SBJSBD Podcast, NHL
  • TV Timeout: United We Stand

    On the heels of the U.S. defeating Ghana last night in their World Cup opener, ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike" featured a lot of soccer talk this morning. Mike Golic said, “When I was growing up, kids went into soccer who weren’t playing the other sports. It's not the case now. Some of our better athletes are staying in soccer and they do it year-round. Now coaches want you year-round in sports, that's what's happening with soccer in the academies and such.” Mike Greenberg added, "There is one reason soccer has grown enormously amongst younger people and there's no doubt about it. If you dispute this, you just don't know, and that is the popularity of the FIFA video game. Every kid plays that game” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 6/17).

    SOCCER FOR BREAKFAST: Last night's win was a featured topic on each of the major TV networks' morning shows as well, with CBS' Elaine Quijano saying, “The American faithful made their presence felt in Natal. An estimated 20,000 fans showed up in support" ("CBS This Morning," CBS, 6/17). NBC's Bill Neely: "It was a game and a victory savored throughout America" ("Today," NBC, 6/17). ABC's Robin Roberts called it a "dramatic game that had the whole nation cheering" ("GMA," ABC, 6/17).

    TAKIN' IT TO THE STREETS: ESPN2's "World Cup Tonight" addressed the ongoing protests in Brazil during the World Cup, and aired a taped segment with analyst and former U.S. women's soccer player Julie Foudy. She journeyed into the favela, or slums, to speak with Brazilians and to discover if the "joy had returned from the 'beautiful game' with that first opening match victory for Brazil." Foudy said the "anger runs so deep right now that you don’t have to search when you're walking down the streets for these people, they're coming up. They're telling their story and it's everywhere." ESPN's Bob Ley: "We have not seen the size of the demonstrations as much as we saw last summer, but those that we have seen and there is a lot of security on occasion have turned violent" ("World Cup Tonight," ESPN2, 6/17).

  • The USTA comes to Charlotte

    Lewis Sherr (left) and Gordon Smith discuss the USTA’s plans during their Charlotte visit.
    Photo by: TIFFIN WARNOCK / STAFF
    The U.S. Tennis Association’s Gordon Smith and Lewis Sherr visited SBJ/SBD headquarters in Charlotte on Monday, updating staff members on improvements at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and plans for the “new home of American tennis” in Florida.

    Smith, the organization’s executive director and chief operating officer, and Sherr, chief revenue officer, detailed the $500 million renovation plan for the National Tennis Center, home to the U.S. Open. It includes a retractable roof for Arthur Ashe Stadium and a new Louis Armstrong Stadium and Grandstand. The project is scheduled to continue through 2018.

    The new training center in Florida is part of the Lake Nona development in Orlando. It is scheduled to have more than 100 courts when it opens in 2016 and will be home to the organization’s community tennis and player development divisions. It is to cost about $50 million.

    The USTA’s managing director of corporate communications, Chris Widmaier, was also among those visiting.

    Tags: On the Ground
  • TV Timeout: Remember The Alamo

    The Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan said of the historical significance of the Spurs five NBA Championships in the last 15 years, "You go every other year to win three (titles) and then suddenly there's a gap of seven (years) and now they show up again with the same core group. I would have to say that's unprecedented. It testifies to their resilience and longevity and also the front office” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 6/16).

    ALL ROADS LEAD HOME: ESPN’s Rusty Wallace, on this past weekend's NASCAR races at Michigan Int'l Speedway: "This is really important for Chevrolet and Ford. In my opinion, this is the second most important race in the whole year, Daytona being number one. The manufacturers don’t want to lose in their backyard, they want to win." ESPN’s Ricky Craven added, "For the guys that are paying the bills, the car owners, it is very important. Take Jack Roush for example, he has 4,500 employees at Roush Industries here in Michigan" (“NASCAR Countdown,” ESPN, 6/14).

    BRAZIL'S BLACK EYE? CBS' Charlie Rose said yesterday featured "some of the worst violence" of the World Cup as protesters "fought with police near the stadium in Rio de Janeiro." CBS' Elaine Quijano: "Soccer's shining moment continues to be overshadowed by violent protests across Brazil" ("CBS This Morning," CBS, 6/16).

  • SBJ Podcast: Analyzing ESPN's role in soccer

    Staff writers John Ourand and Tripp Mickle analyze World Cup rights holder ESPN's commitment to soccer and what the network means to the sport, which is featured on the front page of this week's SportsBusiness Journal.

    Tags: ESPN, Soccer, SBJSBD Podcast
  • TV Timeout: We're Not Gonna Protest?

    ESPN's Tommy Smyth said, "Normally when you come to a World Cup, you hear all these horror stories beforehand, but when the World Cup starts to play everything goes away, everything just happens to disappear. I think in Brazil it's going to be different. I think what happens on the street is going to have an effect on what happens on the field, and I think what happens on the field is also going to have an effect on what happens on the street. If Brazil is to lose at some point, the people are going to be really, really mad at them. They've spent a lot of money to host this World Cup and a lot of people in Brazil feel -- rightly or wrongly -- that it's not money well spent and they have a lot of gripes. So if Brazil starts winning, people will forget about it. If Brazil starts losing, I'm afraid" ("Olbermann," ESPN2, 6/11).

    NO SKINS IN THE GAME? ESPN's Chris Mortensen said there has not been "much reaction from league or league executives or team executive" on the anti-Redskins TV ad. Mortensen added, "You're hearing more players speak up, but in terms of the whole issue from the league perspective (and from Redskins Owner Daniel Snyder) … there's no indication that they would change. They see this very much as a political matter and we do know these things don't go away." Mortensen said a name change is "not going to happen overnight, I don't know if it's going to happen next year" and Snyder has "no inclination whatsoever to change the team moniker" ("NFL Live," ESPN2, 6/11).

    DONALD DUCKED: CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger, on the Donald Sterling lawsuit: “I think ultimately that lawsuit will never see the light of day and he will have no legal choice but to drop it. Until that lawsuit goes away, I think that is part of an inflated market price for that franchise” (“Rome,” CBSSN, 6/11). But NBA.com’s David Aldridge said, "The Clippers are a team that a lot of free agents will be interested signing with, but not if Donald Sterling is owning the team. That’s going to be a major problem for this franchise going forward, if he’s still the owner” (“NBA Gametime,” NBA TV, 6/11).

  • 2014 SFF: Featured interview with Penguins CEO David Morehouse

    Pittsburgh Penguins president and CEO David Morehouse sat today for a special one-on-one interview to close out the 2014 Veritix Sports Facilities and Franchises Conference, and said the club's recent and hotly debated dismissal of GM Ray Shero and coach Dan Bylsma was driven not strictly by the lack of a Stanley Cup title since ’09, but by recent, repeated failures in the playoffs.

    "Management felt like we've unperformed over the last five years," Morehouse said. "It's not just not winning Stanley Cups - we know it's the hardest trophy in sports to win - but how we've lost in the playoffs the last five years...It just didn't work in the playoffs the way we thought it should with the talent we had, and we owed it to our fans to try a different way."

    Morehouse, however, did acknowledge that missteps may have been made in how the information surrounding the change was disclosed, marked by several erroneous press reports, and suggested the furor around the moves highlighted a fast-changing media landscape.

    "There is a blurring of the lines between print media, individual blogs and Twitter,” he said. “There used to be a distinction...But the people consuming the information, they don't distinguish between the three mediums.”

    The Pittsburgh native is often in the crosshairs of local media scrutiny, as Penguins owners Mario Lemeiux and Ron Burkle typically do not speak to the press. Morehouse said that strategy predates his arrival. "This has nothing to do with me," he said. "Mario had his time in the spotlight. He doesn't like to be in the spotlight now. Ron is a businessman, and has not been one to want to be in the spotlight. Frankly, I try not to do a lot of press either.”

    Morehouse boasts a unique and diverse background compared to most senior sports industry executives, previously working as a boilermaker and adviser to former President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore. But he relishes his current role. "My worst day is better than my best day as a boilermaker," he said. "But I still have a trade to fall back on. I'm still a certified welder."

    Morehouse said of Clinton, "He was the smartest person I've ever worked for. You can disagree with his politics or personal choices, but he deeply cares about the American people." And of Gore, he said, "Al was very detail oriented, you couldn't bluff anything. I had to be very prepared, because he's thinking about more than what you're telling him. I learned that I needed to do my homework."

    With the Penguins essentially maxed out on traditional revenue lines, the club under Morehouse is eagerly seeking out alternate income streams, such as a planned mixed use development across the street from Consol Energy Center on the site of the former Mellon Arena. The club is aiming to begin construction on the site early next year. "In a market the size of Pittsburgh, we have to make more money [in other ways] because we can't just raise ticket prices," Morehouse said.

    Morehouse also discussed the development and refinement of the Penguins brand, and how it differs from the Steelers, even as he expressed deep reverence for the Rooney family and the Steelers' accomplishments. "The essence of this brand is energy, drive and innovation,” he said. “We've embraced being different. The Penguins are the future of Pittsburgh, and we've built our whole business plan around it.”

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