This new, regular feature on NHLNumbers will share interesting stats-related posts from around the web almost every day.
Welcome to edition number seven of the rebooted Number Chains. In this space you will be able to find the best analytical hockey writing from around the internet on a close-to-daily basis. Subject matter will include statistical evaluation, financial analysis, contractual issues, and (sometimes) closely-related tangential works. If you have something you would like to submit for a future edition (your writing or that of someone else) feel free to send it to me via Twitter @JoshL1220 or leave a comment.
Yesterday Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy fame asked if NHL fans would cancel their season tickets even if the league played games this year. He points out one big difference between this lockout and the lost year of 2004-05:
But there will (sic) some, like these Hurricanes fans, that don’t come back. The deeper the lockout goes, the more fans will leave. It’s not going to be through some petition or pledge drive or Twitter hash-tagged boycott. It’s going to be dedicated fans who evaluate their finances, think about how this League had punched them in the stomach and spit in their hair twice in seven years, and then reallocate their entertainment expenditures to cover life’s more pertinent costs.
The biggest difference between 2005 and 2012, to that end: One glance at Facebook, one search on Twitter, and they’ll know they’re not alone. That’s comforting and empowering to fans, and should scare the feces out of the National Hockey League.
I know that one way or the other I will still be around, but I would have a hard time being critical of anyone chosing to spend their money elsewhere. The NHL Lockout is obviously not on par with the civil unrest in the Middle East or the Occupy protests, but we’ve seen the power of social media in organizing and documenting those protests. Protests springing up via Facebook or Twitter in response to the NHL once they finally get back to work wouldn’t be the most shocking response to the lockout.
After the jump more national writing about hockey in Houston, more lockout news, some statistical work from around The Nation, and Carolina Hurricanes point projections.
* Adam Proteau discussed the ramifications of potentially cancelling the Winter Classic at The Hockey News.
I’m not trying to convince you one cancelled game is in and of itself more heinous than the hundreds of regular-season contests already kiboshed in this latest lockout travesty that has become standard operating procedure for the league’s owners. However, there’s something exceedingly nauseating about both the symbolism and ramifications on the ground that would come with the cancellation of this marquee event.
To begin with, there’s the undeniable fact the Winter Classic has, in just half a decade, become one of the league’s hottest properties. For many, the outdoor showdown carries more cachet than the All-Star Game. The WC is also linked to HBO’s “24/7” behind-the scenes series, another recent and successful innovation. NBC, the U.S. network that broadcasts the game, has been very pleased with the ratings it receives from the New Year’s Day event.
But all the momentum the NHL has built with this product will be balled up and pitched into the trash the moment they mothball it. It doesn’t matter whether the league offers to re-stage this year’s game in the same city whenever it comes to its senses and ends this labor farce; the bitter residue of cancelling this particular WC, in this particular season, will linger for quite some time.
Breaking News: The NHL sucks at public relations.
* Corey Sznajder posted his 2012-13 season point predictions for the Carolina Hurricanes. Spoiler alert: the Staal forward brothers are good.
*Jesse Spector comes pretty close to convincing me to go to a Houston Aeros game by discussing the development of Charlie Coyle and Mikael Granlund. That November 11th game at home against the Texas Stars looks pretty appealing right about now.
* Cam Charron told The Leafs Nation that Matt Frattin is probably just a replacement level player. As Cam explains:
He could be an NHL player. I wouldn’t ever bother with him in a top-six, and you could do a whole lot worse than him on the fourth line (Colton Orr, for instance). I think there’s a bit of a disconnect between people’s expectations of Frattin and what Frattin can actually do. Really, what can he do that any free agent winger can’t? Those are the things you need to look at. Sure, if you look at him in a vaccuum, you could say “he’s really good at this, this and this” but so are a lot of players. It’s the marginal improvements that are important, and Frattin hasn’t shown much of those at this level. If he had, he’d be doing a lot better.
Poor Colton Orr.
* Some hack did projections for the Vancouver Canucks depth forwards for Canucks Army. This time the link to his work is correct.
* Last but not least Dan Oldfield of CBC Sports compares the current labor negotiations to Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. He offers some discouraging words:
In The Art of War, Sun Tzu warns, “Never surround the village.” What that means is that you must give your opponent an option other than fighting. In other words, an honourable way out.
Unfortunately, Gary Bettman and the owners missed that chapter.
Getting the players back to the table while maintaining the momentum towards a 50-50 revenue split will mean that someone has to come up with a way of addressing the core issue of honouring existing player contracts. It won’t be done with other players’ money.
In a perverse way, the NHL and the NHLPA both view time as an ally. Perhaps the other side may soften up if they hold out long enough. And that may be fine in the short term.
But it’s a risky strategy that gets even riskier the longer it goes on. It means both sides are digging in ever more deeply. It means they’re not focusing on solutions, but on their own perception of each other’s weaknesses. It means they’re expecting the other to fold first.
Enjoy your NHL-less weekend.