Archive for May, 2009

Stanley Cup Final Prediction

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

Well here we go yet again, this time for all the marbles, three men and a coin all find themselves confronted with a mysterious bit of deja-vu. My apologies for this being posted after Detroit’s Game 1 victory, but I assure you that nothing has been changed at all, sorry but a 12 hour time difference gets in the way sometimes…


Going 1-1, upping his point total to 9, which is far below his Monkey-esque run in 2008 is last year’s undisputed Champion, Jeff…

Jeff Says: So, the third round is over and again i was wrong on another one. Carolina really crapped out. Pittsburg played pretty solid, i will admit, hard to stop both Malkin and Crosby and they were both on fire. So no worries Carolina, you played well, and had a good run. Same to Chicago, who had to face Detroit which is a daunting task at all times. They played with heart and put forth a good effort. Detroit is just to deep, and simply to good.

Also going 1-1 to bring it’s total to 11 is an inanimate object, the Chinese Reminbi.

Going 2-0, with an extra point for predicting the length of Detroit’s victory, giving him four out of six picks (with two extra points) is Troy, who is short on words this time.

Troy Says: Hey bud, I’m in.

Seriously, that’s all he had to say…

And going 2-0, with another point for Detroit’s victory, is this blog’s namesake. This brings his total up to 11, tying him with a piece of foreign currency.

Glen Says: After the best second round in recent memory, we get treated to perhaps the most anti-climactic Conference finals we could have asked for. Neither series was ever in doubt, as last year’s finalists truly proved to be a cut above their competition dominating the next big things and the team of destiny. That being said, both Chicago and Carolina should be incredibly happy for their deep runs, and both teams should be ready to do some serious damage next season.

We have decided to add to the predictions by including guesses for MVP and favourite moment of these wild playoffs.

STANLEY CUP FINALS

Detroit Red Wings vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Jeff Says: So here we go, Pittsburgh vs Detroit part 2

This will be a good series. Pittsburgh is older and more mature. At this point in time their best two players are the best two players in the playoffs so Detroit is going to have to step up. Fleury is playing super well and the team seems to be rolling. Detroit is battling injuries so if Pittsburgh is smart they will capitalize early on this. Those players will be back eventually, so they need to win, and they need to win now.

Detroit can muster up some talent as they are deep so by no means is it going to be easy for Pitt to win, but I think they can steal a game in Detroit for sure, if not both. However, having said that, it is Detroit we are talking about and I do believe they will emerge victorious again. I think this will be a harder fought series then last year so that means a game 7 could be very likely. I think the most interesting thing about this series is the Hossa situation. It would be funny to see him lose with Detroit after having switched after losing with Pittsburgh, :) not that i wish any ill will towards Hossa as he is very good. Just would be humourous. I do believe he will get his ring though.

Prediction: Detroit wins in 7

Troy Says: My pick…

Prediction: Pittsburgh in 7.

Coin Says: Detroit in 7.

Glen Says: Here we go again! I for one am very excited to see the two teams that were unquestionably the best of the Spring go head-to-head. Everyone keeps saying that this is youth vs. experience, but that was so last year (or even last round with Chicago). The Penguins are a fundamentally different team this year.

Oddly they have been able to add by subtraction. No matter how you look at it losing Whitney, Roberts, Malone, and Hossa in exchange for Satan, Fedetenko, Guerin, and Kunitz is a loss. However, somehow the Pens are a better team than they were last year. Both Crosby and Malkin are on an absolute tear, playing with a purpose. Also add to the fact that the Penguins wingers are going well (namely the four that I mentioned), and most importantly, they are being much better coached than they were last year.

That being said, the Pens can not exactly claim to be the heavy favourites here. Despite injuries to Lidstrom, and the disappearance of Pavel Datsyuk, the Wings are still rolling along. Henrik Zetterberg continues to be the best two way player in the league, Johan Franzen is still a clutch performer, and roll players like Clearly and Helm are contributing and then some. The Red Wings very clearly have the best organization in the league, and possibly all of professional sports, but the time has come for the best two players in the world to assume their place in hockey history, by slaying the big red dragon.

Prediction: Pittsburgh in 6.

CONN SMYTHE PREDICTION

Jeff Says: As for MVP I think that Crosby will get it, even if they lose. No player on Detroit has been dominant. Very good yes, I think Cleary or Osgood have the best shot really. But I think that regardless, if Crosby has a great series he gets it. Maybe even Malkin. They have just been to good to not get it. Unless a player on Detroit absolutely steps up and dominates this next series (I am looking at you Franzen or Cleary) then a Pittsburgh player is getting it.

Glen Says: I hate to agree with you Jeffrey, but Crosby is my prediction for this. He was at the start of the playoffs, and he has been simply dominant these playoffs. That being said, Malkin has been no slouch, and is somehow underrated for reasons that I don’t fully understand. They are able to do so well because of one-another. Even if they don’t play together, one of them are going to draw the oppositions best checkers (i.e. Zetterberg and Lidstrom) and the better one plays, the more room the other gets. If it were possible to have it be a tie, I think that it should be given out, but this isn’t soccer, so I’m going to go with the Kid.

FAVOURITE PLAYOFF MOMENT

Jeff Says: As for my favourite memories….I can’t help but get chill from when Lebron hit that winning 3 pointer with 1 second left…..oops, wrong sport……umm…..I think my fondest memories will simply be the second round which had 4 series almost go to game 7 having 3 of them do that. I think that was the best hockey I have seen in a while. With the Crosby/Ovie hat trick night being absolutely amazing and Carolina’s 90 second miracle also being near the top. It has bee a great playoff run for the NHL. I still just wish St.Louis could have won at least one game :) lol.

That’s about it…..I would once again like to thank Glen for inviting me to do this, even though I have had a challenging time predicting it this year after my near perfect run last year.

Troy Says: I’ll go with the 90 seconds for Carolina against Jersey.

Glen Says: Damn, they stole my two choices…but I think that I am going to go with Game 2 of the Pittsburgh/Washington series. The three best players in the world on the same ice at the same time, is going to be special no matter what, but when you have two of them put on what was arguably the best game of either of their lives, both getting hat tricks is something special. To have that game get followed up with Evgeni Malkin absolutely taking over, showing that he deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as those two was pretty great as well.

But my favourite moment will be Crosby hoisting the Cup, can’t wait for it!!!

Until next time,

G

Stuff I’m Reading and Writing

Friday, May 29th, 2009

This is certainly an interesting time to be in this country right here, and right now. What with the 20th Anniversary of a certain incident at a certain square that may or may not have involved a lot of tanks coming up. Couple that with sabre-rattling in North Korea, rapid development all over the place, and of course those pesky people in the Himalayas that always want human rights, Asia seems to be the place to be right now, and the bloggosphere is keeping it well documented. While I may have been slack at posting on this (and my other) blog, there is no shortage of information out there about Asia. Here are some of my recent favourites that I have read:

Someone I know quite well in real life, Elvina, makes a great post Identity Crisis, which talks all about the challenges of being a Chinese-American while living in China. Needless to say, it’s full of all sorts of problems that we may not have expected to begin with.

In that post, Elvina mentions friends complex’s having over-zealous guards. Well if you read that friend, Don’s, post you will see just how intense the guards can be there. He talks of having a church gathering at his place, and havint the guards come it to see if there were any Chinese people there. This may seem like a strange question, but it has some deep seeded questions about freedom and “foreigner rules” in China. Check out Just Checking Who is Home… on The Arizona Anachronism for more info on that one.

Keeping with people I know, my friend Ryan, also known as thehumanaught, a B-List celebrity in the English language China blogging community, makes a great post about Living Without Trust, where he talks about how difficult it is to find trust in this country. A few months ago, his dog was killed as a result of dog food that went bad, and his new dog got sick, only to have the doctor run a series of expensive tests, when a simple internet search showed that it was nothing to worry about. A frightening read that makes you appreciate some of the wonders of the West.

As I have mentioned a few times, I am also writing for a blog (ran by the same Ryan as above), called Lost Lao Wai. Earlier this week, I read a fanatastic post about a Chinese family and their dirty little secret, liking Japanese food. This is very topical, given the outcry that has came out surrounding the new fim, Nanjing, Nanjing! Read Itadakimasu! by Quincy on Lost Lao Wai.

Now of course, not everythign great is writen by myself, or my friends, there is a lot of other stuff out there. Michael Rines, at the New York Times, did an excellent article called “To Protect an Ancient City, China Moves to Raze It“, about the destruction of Kashgar’s ancient city. China is starting the demolition of 2/3 of the ancient city, in order to improve it for tourists. As a recent tourist of the region, I am a little torn on that one. On one hand, I hate to see something with so much character destroyed, but on the other hand, I would hate for people to continue living in such sub-standard living. Also, I deeply dislike the thought of having a culture and region get turned into an attraction, but yet I just went there and loved every minute of it…

In an equally debatable post on a vastly different topic, John Pomfret of the Washington Post, makes a great blog entry about the PRC and their strange relationship with everyone’s favourite Hermit Kingdom titled “Why China Won’t Do More With North Korea“. It raises some very interesting perspectives that I certainly had not thought about. It examines China’s economic, cultural, and geo-political interests in keeping the Korean Penninsula divided, and it really is a fascinating read that could serve to explain some of the complexities of the Korean issue.

Lastly, I should mention that I have continued to post on Lost Lao Wai, which you can see all of here. Some of these may end up reposted here, but I would encourage people to read them where they are, as the comments are part of the fun (especially for The Bargaining Debate).

Anyway, with that I should be off. I hope that you take the time to enjoy the posts I have highlighted for you, since this is certainly an interesting time to be in this strange, strange continent.

Safe Journeys,

G

Fun With Wolfram Alpha

Monday, May 25th, 2009

My apologies for not being the best, and certainly not the most diverse blogger of late. But it turns out that running a second blog, posting for another one, the Great Firewall of China, and you know, real life, are rather large drains on a person.

Another reason for my detachment from this bit of space has been my newest distraction, a wonderful website called Wolfram Alpha. This website if part of a very ambitious project to make the sum of human knowledge immediately computable. Sort of like Wikipedia for the math geek, which makes it very clearly in my territory.

This site has dozens of features, all you have to do is type in any of their many types of inputs, including (but certainly not limited to) measurements, musical notes, geography, colours, anagrams, dietary reference, and of course good old fashion mathematical functions.

After putting in some different inputs I learned the following things about myself:

-My height, 5′10″, is approximately equal to 0.97 fathoms, the length of DNA strands of the human genome, and the distance that light can travel in 5.9 nanoseconds.

-My birthday, December 30, 1982, is day number 2 455 334 on the Julian Calendar, it had 9 hours and 18 minutes of daylight in New York, and is 9643 days ago…I know, I don’t look a day over 8000, but that’s besides the point.

- Currently AIG has a stock value of $1.70 while Freddie Mac has one of $0.79. In the past five years they have had a return of -97.64% and -98.64%, respectively. Economic, what now?

- Swine Flu has 12 107 cases with 87 deaths worldwide

-My first name is ranked 502nd in the United States, with most people who share my name in their 40s and 50s, also there are an estimated 93 538 people who share the name in the US. Making my name 1 out of 2502. Not quite making me the 1 in a million that I had hoped.

-My last name, by contrast, would be ranked 191st if used as a first name, with 267 546 people in the US expected to have that as a first name. That’s right my last name is almost three times more common as a first name than my own first name. Can’t say that I’m the slightest bit surprised by that fact.

- In world rankings, Canada is ranked 2nd in land mass, 36th in population, 224th in population density, 136th in population growth, 8th in life expentancy, 23rd in median age, 9th in GDP, and the top three languages are English, French, and Plautdietsch. I have no idea what that third one is.

-Toronto (the closest major city to my hometown) and Suzhou (where I’m living now) are 11 460 km apart, with Toronto having an elevation of 85m higher.

-The title of this blog, is sadly not a recognized word, when I entered glen_______ into the crossword feature, I got no recognizable words.

- When asked “How many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man?”, it said “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind (according to Bob Dylan)”. Hard to argue with that one.

- However, it does not know the answer to “How do they get the caramel in the Caramilk bar?” or “Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?”. I guess the developers need to word on that one.

While they need to get to work on answering those last two questions, there is still a lot of fun to be had, and a lot of useless junk to learn. Go ahead and give it a try!

Until next time,

G

Another Quick Note About China Net

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

Greetings all,

A little over a month ago, I made a post notifying people about YouTube being blocked (note: it still is). Well it turns out, as of this morning blogger and blogspot have been blocked as well.

You may be asking yourself, “How are you posting then?”, and if you weren’t, then, surely you need to do a bit of thinking. Well after ranting about it on twitter my friend Ryan (aka thehumanaught) turned me onto a service called Hotspot Shield. For those of you who don’t know what it is, it is a VPN (Virtual Private Network) which are designed to both keep your network secure, but also to circumvent any firewalls, including the most comprehensive in the world, The Great Firewall of China, which periodically bans like (like YouTube and blogger, and all sorts of other fun stuff).

Hotspot Shield is a free service, and so far, so good. I can access my blog (obviously) and other sites which were previously blocked. It is a free service, so it occasionally throws up ads as either pop-ups or at the top of a window, but it is far from disruptive. If that bothers you too much, there are several more that you can find and pay for.

Either way, I would highly recommend you make use of one of these services….which I realize, that if you are in China then you can’t access such a thing, but it could be coming back on later. This is especially important given that a few weeks from now is a certain anniversary of a certain event at a certain square, where nothing important happened…

So expect further delays for anyone trying to access any amount of truth within this interesting nation.

Safe journeys,

G

For further info on The Great Firewall, check out Wired magazine excellent article on the subject.

3rd Round Playoff Predictions

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

Well it’s getting down to the wire. While the playoffs are technically half over, the field has been reduced to a quarter of it’s original size. After perhaps the best second round in recent memory, the next round has all sorts of potential as well. Our experts put their money where their mouth is trying to predict the next round…


Finishing a shocking 1-3 (after going nearly perfect last year) bringing his point total to 8 is Jeff...

Jeff Says: So that round went rather poorly for me. But at least all series were close and not complete blowouts. I thought Boston had it in them but clearly Carolina is playing really well and have a lot of heart and momentum. Vancouver/chicago could have gone either way. I thought Luongo would have stood out and stolen some games for them. Chicago is playing well. Detroit won a competitive series, something they have not had to do in a while. And Washington came just short. Ovie did everything he could, but in the end depth was probably an issue. So yah, did not do to well. Been a tough year to call them.

Anyways, onto round 3!

Going 2-2, with an extra point for correctly predicting Carolina’s seven game thriller is Troy…

Troy Says: It’s that time again where I make a complete ass of myself. But hey…I was perfect in the eastern conference!.

Going 3-1, with one extra point (also for Carolina) is yours truly, the 8 points currently puts him in a tie with Jeff…

Glen Says: Seriously that may have been the best second round ever. We have a shocker of an upset, an upset that almost happened, a coming of age, and well, Crosby-Ovechkin. What more could you ask for really? I’m rather for excited for a youth vs. experience match-up out West, and a brotherly showdown in the East this round…

Going 4-0, and gaining 2 extra points for correctly predicting the Carolina and Detroit series lengths is the Coin…it has a total of 10 points now, putting it in the lead…yes, we are all rather embarrassed.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

#4. Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #6 Carolina Hurricanes

Jeff Says: This is a tough one to call. It is going to be a very good series. Both teams some in riding game 7 highs and i like the match-up between the brothers Staal. I think Eric will enjoy a bit more of a favourable match-up now that he doesn’t have to hang out with Chara every shift. So he will be quite the factor in this series. Crosby is playing like an MVP and will win the Con Smyth if they win the cup for sure. This round Pittsburgh has to face a better goaltender then they did against Washington so that is going to give them issue. Carolina gets to play a less physcial team or well less overbearing team size wise so they will be able to play with speed and skills right along with pittsburgh.

Prediction: Carolina wins in 6 (or 7 since they really like these game 7’s)

Troy Says: Last year the Penguins steamrolled their way into the finals, never going deeper than 5 games in any series until they finally met up with the big red freight train. This year though the Pens are even better. Better offense, better goaltending, better defense, and more experience. I think this experience will serve them well in this series. We must not forget though that Carolina is a very experienced team as well. I tend not to think of them as an elite team but they know how to win in the playoffs. Cam Ward is now 4-0 in game 7s and although he is still very young, he’s very experienced in the NHL playoffs and that can go a very long way. In my opinion though Pittsburgh’s offense will put them over the top in this once. Also, when the game is on the line there is no one better right now than Crosby. He raises his game and puts his team on his shoulders. Just ask Alexander Ovechkin and the rest of the Washington Capitals. I don’t think this is going to be an easy series for Pittsburgh though. Carolina is always a tough team in the playoffs (just ask my Montreal Canadiens) and they never go away easily.

Prediction: Pittsburgh in 6.

Glen Says: Well, I had the Pens penciled in as champions at the start of the playoffs, and I don’t plan on changing it now. These guys are good, really, really good. They made two very good teams in Philly and Washington crumble, and on paper they should have an easier time this round than before. That being said, there is no team that has opened more eyes that the Hurricanes. Both Eric Staal and Cam Ward have upped their Olympic stock a great deal, and Eric Cole is looking like one of the best deadline (re) acquisitions ever. But, Fleury is no slouch, and well, there is that simple matter of Mr. Crosby. Sid has been unreal, notching 12 goals in the first 2 rounds (the record for most in a single playoff is 19), and he seems to have taken last years finals loss, and his early season slump personally. Make no mistake about it, this man is on a mission, and no team of destiny is going to stop that.

Prediction: Pittsburgh in 6.

Coin Says: Carolina in 5 (EDITOR’S NOTE:…ballsy…)

WESTERN CONFERENCE

#2. Detroit Red Wings vs. #4 Chicago Blackhawks

Jeff Says: Both teams come in after hard fought series’. Chicago is young and super talented and their goalie is playing well. Detroit comes in, well, as Detroit. Super skilled offensively and defensively and Osgood is good enough to keep them in any game. This is a tough series to call, or not as I have maintained all along that Detroit is going to win the cup again…as usual. So yeah, although the series could be exciting, I see no way Detroit loses after surviving Anaheim, a team that probably would have gone to the cup and won had they beat Detroit. I do wish however that Anaheim would have won because it would have been great seeing former London Knights alumni playing each other. And it would have been simply a very entertaining series overall. Plus a Anaheim/Pittsburgh series would be a great one. Well any of the combinations would be great.

Detroit wins in 6

Overall, I’m calling it, Detroit vs Carolina for the cup and Detroit winnnig in 5.

Troy Says: Although I’m not a huge Red Wings fan, I must say that there is a piece of me that thinks it’s nice to see an Original Six matchup this deep into the playoffs. This should be a very series and to this point I have been thoroughly impressed with the fortitude of Chicago’s young talent. Having said that though, so far in the playoffs the Black Hawks have played Calgary and Vancouver, two teams which have struggled big time with putting pucks in the net. The Detroit Red Wings do not have this problem. The Wings have one of the best offenses in the league and Chicago has yet to face a team with this type of talent. So far Chicago’s young stars have been great at scoring goals but in this series they’re going to have to be great at stopping goals. Detroit’s only weakness in this series will be their goaltending. Fortunately for the Wings though their offense is so good that on most nights their goaltending only has to be good – not great- for them to win. This series makes me think a little bit of the Cup Finals last year between Detroit and Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh was a great team but young and inexperienced and Detroit picked them apart. (We all know that series had no business going 6 games). I think Detroit will do the thing this year to Chicago.

Prediction: Detroit in 5.

Glen Says: With a look at the offense from top to bottom, we may just have the most exciting and explosive series since, well…Pittsburgh-Washington. If that was the battle between the two best pure talents in the league, then this is going to be a match up between the two best duos that the game has to offer, as Zetterberg and Datsyuk take on the challengers in Kane and Toews. Chicago has done a fantastic job of coming back in games that they had no business winning, and have really impressed me with their perseverance, as they are playing well beyond their years. While it is one thing to continually come back against second tier teams like Vancouver and Calgary, it is another thing to do it against the mighty Red Wings. This is a team that knows how to play well at both ends of the ice, and I just don’t see the Hawks being able to come back against a team like this. If you take away those emotional come from behind wins, the Hawks lose a lot of momentum and steam. As much as I know that the league would love a Chicago-Pittsburgh final, I think that we’re going to end up with a rematch from last year’s main event.

Prediction: Detroit in 5.

Coin Says: Detroit in 6.

But I guess we shall have to see…

Until next time,

G

Signs You Like in an Expat Encave

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

And here we have yet another LLW repost, you can see the original (And the multitude of comments) here….enjoy!
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“You know how every major city in the West has a China town? Well, I live in the opposite of that”

Yes, I hate to say it, but I am a resident of one of the many laowai ghettos that exist in the major cities all around China. Whenever my family or friends from home ask me about where I am living, I often have to answer with the above statement.

While I make many efforts to go and explore “Real China” as often as I can, I notice far too often that my friends and colleagues appear to be completely ignorant of their surroundings, and consider going to Starbucks to order their double-mocha-latte-something-or-other in English to be a genuine part of their Chinese experience. To assist these people (or anyone else in their situation) I have devised a surefire 25 point checklist to tell if you are not living in a section of “Real” China.

You might be in an Expat Enclave if:

  1. You give your fork back to get chopsticks
  2. You have no place to sate your craving for squid, starfish, or scorpion
  3. You have no desire to take a picture of any of the signs
  4. You have heard it pronounced “Nee Hey-oh”
  5. The Budweiser costs the same as Tsingtao
  6. There are more ads for Chinese Language schools than English ones
  7. Those Nike shoes, are actually Nike shoes
  8. The parks have 5 soccer games going on but only 1 Tai Chi group
  9. You start to ask Chinese people to take their picture
  10. You enjoy the coffee
  11. The toilets are inside the buildings
  12. You ask someone where the nearest bus stop is and they hail a taxi
  13. A sport other than ping-pong is playing on the TV (exception: Houston Rockets games)
  14. You get less than 5 strangers staring at you when you walk down the street (double if you have blonde hair and/or black skin)
  15. It’s safe to cross the street
  16. You start to wonder where everyone is spitting, since it’s clearly not on the sidewalk
  17. You wonder the same for using the toilet
  18. The pirated DVDs work
  19. You hear “I’ll just have a pee jew” said a to a waiter on more than one occasion
  20. The locals can speak more than one European language
  21. There are multiple restaurants that sell good Western food (or Indian, or Thai, or….)
  22. The “No Smoking” Signs are frequently posted and adhered to
  23. The babies are only showing one pair of their cheeks
  24. Everybody knows your name
  25. None of the above seems strange to you

So if much of the above list applies to you, please, do yourself a favour and branch out, because you’re probably missing out on a heck of a lot of this great country.

The NHL in Hamilton

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

It seems like this comes up every year, doesn’t it?

CEO of Research in Motion, Jim Balsillie, is in the middle of making his third attempt to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes and move them to Hamilton, Ontario. This after failed attempts to do the same for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators in 2006 and 2007 respectively. However, this time it seems a little bit more serious. Everyone knows that the Coyotes are hemorrhaging money, and that the NHL had to assume control over them in the fall (despite having denied it for months) and despite this, Balsillie is willing to put up $212.5 million dollars to purchase the team and move them to Hamilton, which he insists is a viable hockey market.

To put it simply. I don’t get it. I don’t understand why Balsillie offered so much money for an NHL team, especially for one with as much debt as the Coyotes. And more importantly, I don’t get why the NHL is being so difficult here. Here we have an enthusiastic owner, who wants to take a team that is losing money, and have them make money, in this economy no less.

I don’t get why the NHL is standing so tough on defending the Coyotes, insisting that the NHL can be viable in that market. I mean, they have had 13 years now to make money, and they still haven’t. Surely, at some point, someone has got to pull the plug, right?

The most interesting twist in this has been the apparent desire for someone else to move the Atlanta Thrashers to Hamilton as well, but apparently the mayor of Hamilton is only in talks with Balsillie. Atlanta, and Phoenix, coupled with Nashville, make an interesting trio of teams on the brink of bankruptcy (or in it with Phoenix, depending on who you ask) that may just end up being sold and/or relocated.

All three of these teams have came to be during the Gary Bettman days at the front of the front office. He saw the expansion into Atlanta and Nashville, and was a key part in the relocation of the Jets to Phoenix. From 1991 to 2000 the NHL saw a huge change in its landscape with nine franchises added and four relocations, let’s have a look at them all, shall we?

San Jose: Strong fan support, even when their team was pretty bad in its early years.
Ottawa: Incredibly strong fan support, even this year when their team was very bad. Almost moved to Houston in late 90s, but have benefited from the new NHL.
Tampa Bay: After a brief love affair with the team in the early 90s, fan support dwindled. Won the Cup in 2004, nobody cared.
Dallas (from Minnesota): Consistently high attendance, very successful, despite everyone thinking that they wouldn’t be. Probably the reason that the NHL became so convinced that they could succeed in non-traditional markets.
Anaheim: Have high attendance since their 2007 Stanley Cup victory, but horrible attendance and apathy before then.
Florida: It all went downhill for them once they weren’t allowed to throw rats on the ice.
Colorado (from Quebec): Usually high attendance suffered a set back this year due to poor on ice results.
Phoenix (from Winnipeg): Losing money all over the place.
Carolina (from Hartford): Have gone from toast of the town to afterthought and back again so many times its hard to keep track. Averaged less than 89% attendance three seasons removed from the Stanley Cup, certainly not a good thing.
Nashville: Have never made money. Had low attendance, even when they were among the best teams in the league a few years ago.
Atlanta: Only team to have less than 80% attendance this past season.
Minnesota: Have been among the league leaders in attendance since they came into the league, despite inconsistent results.
Columbus: Have been near the bottom of the NHL’s attendance, but have never had a playoff team until this season.

Now there are some obvious successes in there namely Colorado, Ottawa, and Minnesota, which should really surprise nobody. However, of the southern teams, the only ones which can be declared a true success are San Jose and Dallas. Carolina, and Anaheim are in between, and the jury is still out on Columbus, but the others have to be seen as failures. Atlanta’s attendance is horrible, the Predators fans are non-existent, and really, who thought that two NHL teams in Florida was a good idea?

I’ll tell you who: Gary Bettman’s pride.

He has visions of the NHL being a first rate league like the NBA and NFL, but the point remains that it is an afterthought in the United States, especially in the south. People get more passionate about a sport if they can play it, and really, how can someone in Miami or Atlanta skate on a pond and pretend that they are Sydney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin? It simply doesn’t work that way. The mechanics of the game make it impossible. You need ice to play hockey, and you need cold weather to have ice in your backyard. Sure people can play road hockey or go to a rink, but it is really not the same. Compare this to the fact that anyone, can pick up a ball and start bouncing it at any time. As much as I love hockey, it’s just something that people en masse in the South are going to get into, it’s harder for them to identify with.

Now I am not one of those traditionalists who says that the NHL should not be anywhere in the south, it obviously has it’s places (i.e. San Jose, Dallas, even Los Angeles) but the fact remains that it is not working in a lot of places, and that puts the NHL in jeopardy of losing more money than it can afford to lose.

The other factor in Bettman’s pride is that he simply does not want to admit to making a mistake. He received a lot of flak for moving the Jets to Phoenix, and so much of his image, and legacy, is tied up to that franchise succeeding. The Jets had a loyal fan base, and while they struggled financially in the old NHL, they could easily succeed in the new one, just like Edmonton and Ottawa are doing now.

Lastly, there is the image thing. There seems to be an important part of the league’s image to have teams in certain large markets, like somehow not being in them makes your league appear “second rate”. There is also concern that the NHL will look bush league if the lights on Madison Square Garden read “Tonight Rangers vs. Hamilton”, although how that looks any less professional that Nashville or Columbus is a bit beyond me. What the NHL needs to realize, is that it’s ok to retread from big name markets if they are not making any money. In the 90s the NFL moves two teams out of Los Angeles, and one out of Houston (the 2nd and 4th largest cities in the US), and they maintain one in Green Bay (the 261st largest) and they are doing just fine. Meanwhile, the NBA has moved a team from Charlotte to New Orleans (19 to 62) and from Seattle to Oklahoma (24 to 31) and they are doing just fine (all figures come from the source of all knowledge).

My point being, that image is nothing, results are everything. The NFL, North America’s most successful sports league does not have a team in Los Angeles, because it simply did not make any money, yet they are doing fine. I think that the NHL can do just fine without a team in Phoenix, Nashville, or Atlanta (the 5th, 25th, and 33rd largest cities in the US), especially if they are all losing money.

Gary, please, it is time for you to swallow your pride and get that team out of Glendale, if you really don’t want to move them to Hamilton, consider places like Kansas, Portland, or even Winnipeg. And besides, it’s not like anyone in Phoenix would notice.

Until next time,

G