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The NHL Shift: Numbers and notes, 11/15/2013

A look at the past week in the NHL and a glimpse at the week ahead.


“2 to 12”: That, according to a source, is new Sabres President of Hockey Operations Pat LaFontaine’s time frame, in terms of weeks, to hire the team’s next general manager. LaFontaine, the popular former Sabres player, was hired by owner Terry Pegula in a shake-up Wednesday that included the firing of GM Darcy Regier. LaFontaine, whose only team front office experience had been a six-week stay as an adviser to New York Islanders owner Charles Wang in 2006, is expected to be methodical in his approach. His first step will be asking for permission from other teams to interview their executives on his list of candidates. Why a maximum of 12 weeks? The two-week Olympic break begins Feb. 9, so 12 weeks gives the new general manager time to settle into the position before the NHL trade deadline on March 5.

15: The number of franchises (from the league’s total of 30) that have played to 100 capacity six weeks into the 2013-14 regular season, through last night’s games. Maxing out tickets in the realigned Eastern Conference are Montreal, Detroit, Philadelphia, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Washington, Boston and the New York Rangers. In the West: Chicago, Calgary, Vancouver, Los Angeles, San Jose, Minnesota and Winnipeg.

12 – 15 – 20 – 100: Those are some of the positive business metrics for the surging Phoenix Coyotes, who are off to a 13-4-3 start on the ice in the first season under the new ownership of George Gosbee, Anthony LeBlanc and their partners. The Coyotes signed a 12-year broadcast rights agreement this week with Fox Sports Arizona, on the heels of reaching a 15-year concessions deal with Levy Restaurants. According to LeBlanc, the team’s co-owner, president and CEO, ticket sales are up 20 percent, and suite sales are up almost 100 percent. “We’re also tracking towards having the best year in Coyotes history in corporate sponsorships,” LeBlanc said. “Now, of course we started from a lower number, but it’s going great.”

8,620: The weight, in pounds, of the Minnesota Wild’s new Zamboni once it is filled with 277 gallons of water for ice-resurfacing. The Zamboni, unveiled this week, will be wrapped in advertising by Toyota, the club’s official automotive partner. Officially known as a Model 546, it’s the first new Zamboni purchased by the Wild since the club debuted with the Excel Energy Center in 2000.

8: Start time for the first originally scheduled prime-time regular-season NHL game on NBC since NBC Sports re-acquired NHL rights in 2006. The Coors Light Stadium Series game from Soldier Field on Saturday, March 1, between the Blackhawks and Penguins was moved this week to NBC from NBC Sports Network, with game time set for 8 p.m. ET. (The 2011 Winter Classic aired in prime time on NBC, but that was after the game was postponed because of rain from its originally scheduled afternoon start.)


MONDAY: Expect details on the NHL’s upcoming “24-7”-style access show to be divulged. The program, which will run on NBCSN and CBC, will spotlight players from their participation in the Coors Light Stadium Series through the Olympics (SportsBusiness Journal, Sept. 9-15).
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