Hello again to everyone. First off, I want to thank all who participated in our crowd-sourcing article on how Blues fans are coping with no hockey. As it turned out, we highlighted only three fans, but we got feedback from fans as far away as Australia, from all over the U.S. and of course the St. Louis area. It never ceases to amaze me how widespread Blues fandom is: I saw it all over the U.S. and Canada during Blues road games. Blues fans seem to pop up everywhere. Thanks again, and let's get at the questions. . . .
Thx. Appreciate it. Hats off to the NHL for setting up these video conferences. The format, as you know, included Roman Josi of Nashville and Jonathan Toews of Chicago. The Blues captain clearly stole the show with his tales of home life with the triplets. It also provided a rare glimpse at a hockey player's life away from the rink.
All signs certainly point to just what you're saying, but the league doesn't have to be in any rush to reach a decision. It sounds like they could be willing to go into July, August and even September to conclude this season. So why make a decision now?
That would solve the problem of creating ideal ice conditions at rinks during the summer, wouldn't it?
Unless you have a rink in your backyard _ and have a way to keep it refrigerated _ you're out of luck in terms of on-ice work. So that's not happening. It looks like most if not all of the NHL players either had home workout equipment (weights, stationary bikes, treadmills, etc.) to begin with or have purchased such equipment since shelter-in-place, self-quarantine _ whatever you want to call it _ began nearly 3 weeks ago for the NHL. In a video chat with Joe Vitale, Colton Parayko said he has taken up yoga and takes 10 to 20 mile bike rides regularly. Blue players have received both general and personalized instructions from their training staff on a workout regimen. I'm you can do stick-handling drills in your back yard or even indoors with tennis balls, etc.
The problem with this is no fans. The NHL needs the ticket revenue very much in terms of its overall economic model. The league is much more dependent on revenue from ticket sales, concessions, etc., then the NFL, NBA or MLB. I've heard estimates that if the season were canceled where it currently stands with no conclusion to the regular season and no playoffs, it would lose about $1 billion in revenue or 20 percent of its annual revenue pie. Among other things, that could result in a lower salary cap when the 2020-21 season begins. The players have a 50-50 share of revenue, so they don't want that. And the players, the coaches, the front office _ I'm sure everyone _ would rather have these games played in front of fans even without the $$$ considerations.
This came to a head right before I came on the hockey beat 3 years ago. My understanding is that the Blues wanted a KC farm team. But Lamar Hunt Jr. _ of the KC Chiefs Hunt family _ and who owns the Kansas City Mavericks ECHL team, would've had to play a fee to the ECHL to get out of that league and pay a fee to join the AHL. It was more money than he was willing to shell out for minor-league hockey.
I think your scouts have a good point. One of the benefits of playing a heavy, physical style like the Blues is that over the course of a long series you can wear down the other team. A prime example last year was the Western Conference Final against San Jose. I don't think the Sharks have been the same since. So I don't think a shorter series favors the Blues. Also, I wonder if it might take the Blues a while to build up to what not only is a physical style but also a structured style of play after a long layoff. As opposed to a team with a more free-wheeling style where _ and I oversimplify here _ the coach says, 'OK boys, go out and skate.'
Yes, I've been to all the rinks, although there are some that I've been to only once so far. There are good fan atmospheres in a lot of places. . . In no particular order, starting west and working east,.Vancouver, Calgary, Colorado, Vegas, Winnipeg, Minnesota Nashville, Chicago, Tampa, Montreal. They're all fun places to watch a game. If I'm giving short shrift to the East it's because those are the rinks I have been to less frequently. The Vegas pregame experience is fun _ like a mini-Vegas show on the Strip. Montreal, obviously, is a more traditional atmosphere. (They don't need a pregame sword fight on the ice to get them fired up). I guess my least favorite atmosphere was the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for an Islanders game last season. Extremely cold, even by hockey rink standards, press box was a makeshift area in the stands, and access to the locker room areas from the press box was far from ideal. Ottawa's Canadian Tire Centre is down on the list in large part because the arena is located way out in the burbs, and with the team so bad the fan support isn't great which obviously hurts the game-day atmosphere. The same could be said about the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., home of the Florida Panhters. Remote location, and less-than-ideal fan support.
As a teen-ager in St. Louis, we were all struck with Blues fever as the expansion team went to the Cup Final in three consecutive seasons as it began play. Went to games in the nosebleed section at the Arena with friends. Played street hockey in South City. But then as I got busy with my sportswriting career that changed. When you cover a beat _ for me, first Mizzou and then the NFL/Rams _ it's all-encompassing. So the time I spent following hockey waned dramatically. (Plus, you get married, have 3 kids and start attending and in some cases coaching all kinds of youth sports.) It was mid_ to late-August in 2017 when I found out I was switching to hockey, so I didn't have much time to prepare for the switch. I was actually sending out credential requests to cover early-season NFL games in places like Kansas City, Indianapolis and Chicago the day I learned hockey was in my future. So you just jump in and get at it, and ask a lot of questions. To everyone. It was a steep learning curve. Three years in, I know just enough to be dangerous. It's a fun game, a fast game, and covering a Stanley Cup champion was the experience of a lifetime.
Yes, I get all this. That's why the only scenario that might work would involve pushing back the start of the playoffs until late July. And quite honestly, that might not be enough. If I had to bet, I'd say the season's cancelled. But the NHL doesn't have to make a decision this week or this month. Maybe not even next month.
Not really. He seems to be doing well. I texted him over the weekend and he said he's doing much better.
Trust me, Bettman, the players and basically everyone associated with the league wants to re-start the season for financial reasons if nothing else. But would only do so if they were convinced it would be a safe, healthy environment for players, fans, coaches, etc. But if the NHL is back that means the NBA probably is back as well. So there would be more competition than just baseball.
I'd be a liar if I said I felt sorry for the guy. I do feel sorry for the construction workers, however. Sounds like it's a crowded construction site. Don't kid yourself, this stadium is as much a monument to Kroenke's ego and desire to be regarded as not just another NFL billionaire owner, as anything else.
Our parent company announced yesterday that there will be either pay reductions or furloughs in the third quarter (not sure if this is third quarter of the calendar year or third quarter of the company's fiscal year _ if different.) But have no other details at this point.
At this point, I think the answer to that is no.
Obviously we're dealing with a lot of unknown at this point. Not just the sports community, but the governmental community and the medical community. But if that's the case, and without a cure in terms of a vaccine, etc., at this point, sure, the start of the 2020-21 seasons could be at risk.
Interesting question. I haven't heard of any players saying they've watched it during the coronavirus shutdown.