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Volume 24 No. 158

Leagues and Governing Bodies

The NHL this year has "found itself in a rare place" -- a "happy place," according to Michael Farber of SI. The magazine's most recent cover features the header, "Why The NHL's Hot And The NBA's Hot," which follows its famous '94 cover with the header, "Why The NHL's Hot And The NBA's Not." But the '94 cover and story "were aimed less at the NHL than at the NBA." Farber writes these are "good times" for the NHL. The Stanley Cup Playoffs "have been riveting" and the revenue stream "is flowing." The NHL last month "scored an off-ice hat trick" at the '14 Sports Business Awards when it was chosen League of the Year, Commissioner Gary Bettman was named Exec of the Year and the Jan. 1 Winter Classic was selected as event of the year. Now the league is "in the midst of a white-knuckle, big-market series" between the Kings and Rangers. A second Stanley Cup in three years is not "going to weave the Kings into the fabric of Southern California," but hockey has "found a niche in the L.A. market" as surely as it has in N.Y. Kings C Jarret Stoll said, "I think hockey's in a great place. Best I've seen it. ... The hockey's better. The ratings. The revenues. The attendance. And this year's playoffs have been incredible." The NHL's "hotness today stands on its own." But until "hell freezes over and everyone has to skate to the mini-mart, hockey will be that other sport, even if the NHL has grander aspirations." Kings President of Business Operations Luc Robitaille said, "That's the big difference now: Everything is big. It used to be everything was small. When we had an All-Star Game, we thought, keep it small. Now it's big events, outdoor games, HBO 24/7. Everyone's figured out, including the players, that this way they'll be making more money" (SI, 6/16 issue).

In N.Y., Juliet Macur writes FIFA President Sepp Blatter “does not seem to realize, or care, that as the face of global soccer, he is also the face of the corruption in his sport.” Nor does he “seem to realize how the sport’s reputation suffers from his actions, and inaction.” Although Blatter has “never personally been accused of corruption, he appears to have gone out of his way to ignore that soccer is rife with shady dealings.” Macur: "How many investigations and scandals need to happen before the sport does something to kick Blatter out the door?” (N.Y. TIMES, 6/13).

AT LONG LAST: USA TODAY’s Jeff Gluck notes to say a Sprint Cup Series championship for Dale Earnhardt Jr. “would be good for NASCAR is stating the obvious.” But if there is ever a year for Earnhardt to win his first Cup title, NASCAR “needs this to be it.” With many fans “still skeptical about the new playoff format, an Earnhardt championship would give it instant popularity no matter how he pulls it off.” Complaints about the format would be “immediately dismissed by most of the general public” and the majority of fans would be “so pleased with the result that how it occurred would be irrelevant” (USA TODAY, 6/13).

ENJOY YOUR YOUTH: In Phoenix, Dan Bickley notes attendance and profit margins “indicate that MLB is healthier than ever.” But baseball has a “blind spot.” The “primary audience is old and older.” The game is “losing relevance among a generation of kids,” and participation among African-Americans “is shrinking.” Bickley: “America's youth does not hold baseball in the same reverence as we did. The loss of romanticism will eventually take its toll” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 6/13).

NEED FOR DEVELOPMENT: Lions President Tom Lewand on Thursday said of the possibility of the NFL having a developmental league, “It hasn’t reached a level where it’s a serious topic right now; it’s not a front-burner issue for us. But, could it happen? Yeah. Could you do it in a Grapefruit League-type, Cactus League-type way where you have six or eight teams in Arizona and six or eight teams in Florida -- one or the other -- and have a small league? Yeah, you could do that." He added, "It hasn’t developed to a level where we’ve talked about it at the league meetings” (DETROIT NEWS, 6/13).