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

The NHL Shift

LOS ANGELES — News and notes from four days at the Stanley Cup Final …

There will be a World Cup of Hockey in August and September of 2016. It will be sanctioned by the NHL and NHL Players’ Association, which will divide a possible $100 million in revenue from the tournament. The event does not need to be sanctioned by the International Ice Hockey Federation. Chris Johnston of Sportsnet has reported that the entire 2016 World Cup of Hockey will take place in and around Toronto. Based on Chris’s reputation, his report is as good as gold. Expect an announcement close to the start of the 2014-15 season.

NHL Wrap-Around Podcast:
Christopher Botta and Alex Silverman discuss the week's hockey news before the start of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals

Expansion: Seattle is not happening, at least not in this decade. There’s no arena and the people who want to build an arena there want an NBA team first. I’d like to see Quebec City become a reality. Canada deserves another franchise and Quebec City has an arena and fan base and is a beautiful place. But I believe we’re a few years from serious discussions about a return there.

NHL COO John Collins before Game 1, on the blessing of a Los Angeles-New York Stanley Cup Final: “It’s the entertainment capital of the world against the media capital of the world. It’s the top two markets in the U.S. It’s two very good hockey markets trending into great hockey markets. If you want to know why this is good for hockey, try to get a look at who’s in the suites tonight.”

Of all the variations of “Go Kings Go” signs fans have posted in front of homes, businesses and facilities throughout Los Angeles and surrounding neighborhoods, the best was the marquee in front of a Methodist church. “It reads, “God Saves Souls, Quick Saves Goals.”

Stick Tap: To the Kings’ Twitter feed, @LAKings, which just keep getting better — not just with the comedy, but with content.

Islanders Sale Update (or Non-Update)

In on- and off-the-record discussions with high-level NHL executives who would know, the unanimous feedback was that an Islanders sale from Charles Wang to Andrew Barroway or anyone else is not close. In a one-on-one interview, Commissioner Gary Bettman made that clear with The Shift. When asked if a sale announcement was being delayed until the completion of the Stanley Cup Final, Bettman said “Absolutely not. There isn’t anything to announce.”

In his formal press conference on Wednesday, Bettman added of Wang, “He is continuing to consider his options and decide what he wants to do. I don’t think he’s reached a firm conclusion yet as to whether or not he wants to sell, sell it all, sell a piece. Until he does, none of us will know what the ownership situation will be. He’s not under any pressure to do it. I think on an emotional level he’s trying to come to grips with what he wants to do, particularly with the impending move to Brooklyn.”

By the Numbers

28: New York-area newspaper writers — representing a total of eight newspapers — who traveled to Los Angeles to cover Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.

5: Celebrities in Gary Bettman’s suite for Game 1: actors Jon Hamm, Ellen Page, Catherine Keener, Kate Bosworth and film director Spike Jonze. Among other stars at the game: Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Will Ferrell, Larry David, broadcaster/Kings season-ticket holder Al Michaels and bassist Flea and drummer Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

10,000: Estimated attendance at New York’s Bryant Park, which was packed to capacity for a viewing party of Game 1.

4.78 million:
Total viewership on NBC for Game 1. The game was No. 1 across broadcast and cable television with viewers between 18 and 49 years old. The game also drew 2.46 million on CBC in Canada.

7.1: The local rating in Los Angeles for Game 1, up from a 4.2 when the Kings faced the Devils in Game 1 of the finals in 2012, proof that the fan base is growing in Los Angeles, a vital market for the NHL. (The game earned a 10.1 in New York — the best-ever rating for the NHL on NBC/NBCSN in that market.)

And Finally …

We’ll have more coverage from the Stanley Cup Final — including a look inside the Kings’ executive staff’s preparations for Game 1, along with news on NHL financials and event plans — in SportsBusiness Journal on Monday.

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