Archive for Business of Hockey
I had contemplated writing this post a few weeks ago when the Rangers dropped several shootouts in quick succession, but I decided to hold out for the sake of objectivity. I think after almost ten (crazy, right?) seasons of sampling the utility of the shootout, it’s time to examine whether or not it is still a viable method for determining the winners of NHL games.
When the shootout was implemented in the 2005-2006 season, I’ll be honest; I was sick of ties. They were irritating. We didn’t get any sense of closure and half the time you weren’t sure what the prevailing emotion was. Did your team play well enough to win? Were they lucky to grab a point? There was just no satisfaction to it. Running the risk of being tarred and feathered, I’ll admit: I was on board with the shootout.
Newsday is reporting that MSG Inc (spun off from Cablevision in 2010) is exploring the idea of splitting the company into two companies: MSG Sports and Entertainment and MSG Real Estate. Both companies would be publicly traded, much like the way MSG Inc. and Cablevision are publicly traded today. The goal of this split would be to unlock value in the New York Rangers and New York Knicks, while keeping the concert industry afloat.
Currently, MSG Inc includes the professional sports teams: Knicks, Rangers, New York Liberty, and the Hartford Wolf Pack; MSG Media, which includes the regional sports networks, and the real-estate concert venues (Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theatre, the Chicago Theatre and the Forum in Inglewood, California).
The proposed split would merge MSG Media and MSG sports, while spinning off the real estate.
Cam Talbot has been an interesting story since joining the Rangers in Marty Biron’s stead at the beginning of last season. An undrafted free agent who blew the lid off his ceiling and went on to have a mini-breakout season as Henrik Lundqvist’s backup. He put up tremendous numbers (12-6-1, 1.64 GAA, .941 sv%), and by virtue of his age, can become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this coming season.
Now, this puts the club in something of a pickle. He has an incredibly small sample size of games to judge his true talent level. What complicates things further is that most goalies of NHL caliber talent can put up quality numbers in a small set of games. What makes a starter is the ability to hold up that level of play over a fairly grueling 55-65 game sample. We have no idea if Talbot is up to that task, and unless something goes catastrophically wrong, we’re unlikely to find out this season. Read More→
Over the past few days, various reports have come in claiming the possible expansion into, depending on the report, anywhere from one to four (!) new markets. The consistent player in all these reports is Las Vegas, to be spearheaded by film and TV mogul, Jerry Bruckheimer. Additionally, Seattle, Quebec City, Kansas City and another Toronto franchise have been bandied about.
The chatter has also come in several different permutations. Some reports have expansion of two teams, some four, some moving two teams and expanding two teams. There is very little consistency at this point. More speculation than reality. Whether any of it comes to pass at all is completely up in the air, but let’s chew on it a little. Read More→
In the summer of 2006, I had the pleasure of experiencing my first ankle surgery shortly after Independence Day. To me, it was a waste of a summer: I couldn’t make much money as a waitress before I’d head back to college, and if you’d ever tried going to the beach on crutches, you’re brave/insane/all of the above. Above that, my room was downstairs at my parents’ place, making me a refugee on the couch for the six weeks it would take my ankle to heal.
My mother is an avid baseball fan and, as such, my new bedroom had access to a package through cable showing every baseball game for the 2006 season. In case you forgot, that’s a TON of baseball. We’re talking 162 games played by every team. I picked up an affinity for the Oakland Athletics, mostly for Rich Harden (I’ve had a thing for foxy Canadians since I was 19, apparently) and Dan Haren (my steady fantasy baseball late round pick, he never let me down). When people think A’s, they think moneyball – and this is where hockey comes in to this long narrative about my boring life nearly ten years ago.
I want to preface this article with the fact that I am not a mathematician or statistician. I’m a lawyer. In fact, they lied to us in law school and told us we wouldn’t have to do math once we were out practicing. So even if you love my ideas, I have no real skill set to design or implement them. This is purely for conceptual discussion purposes.
Ok, with that out of the way, I wanted to talk about #fancystats for a minute. It’s becoming clear that organizations around the league are starting to recognize the usefulness and momentum that these types of statistics have, evidenced by more and more front offices disclosing their emphasis on integrating them into their management processes.
However, I think we can all agree that the concepts and statistical methodologies are rudimentary at best at this point. It’s also completely understandable. Baseball has led the way in the revolution of statistical analyses, but it has a massive advantage on all other sports: each play happens in a vacuum, and at most there are 2-4 players involved in any given play. This level of isolation makes it incredibly convenient to look at individual performance within that play and assign value to it. The causal relationship between each player on the field is limited, and unlike hockey, plays happening minutes prior have very little bearing on what you are measuring.
After a week in Aruba (side note: awesome trip), I have noticed that the Rangers have not signed their RFAs yet (three filed for arbitration), and there appears to be a bit of a panic about this. It’s not a huge panic, the way there was over Derek Stepan a few years back, but there is still a sense of unease that the Rangers will have one of their RFAs poached, and that the priorities of management should be to get the kids under contract.
Unless there is a legitimate concern that an offer sheet could come (i.e.: Ryan McDonagh last year), then RFAs are never high on the priority list in the beginning of July (or end of June). The reason here is that offer sheets are incredibly rare (due to multiple reasons), so teams focus on filling the holes they can’t fill internally via the UFA market. Time is of the essence in the UFA market. Time is on their side for RFAs.
So why the wait now, that UFA signings are pretty much over?
The Rangers have a whopping five guys headed to restricted free agency, and qualifying offers are going to be handed out relatively soon. A QO is a one-year deal, and does not need to be offered or accepted. Automatic raises are given to players making less than $1 million. Players making less than $660,000 get an automatic 10% raise in their offer, and players making between $660,000 and $1 million get a 5% raise.
It’s safe to assume that all at the NHL level except Falk will receive qualifying offers. At the AHL level, I’d expect Kristo and possibly Bourque to get QOs. Stajcer, Wilson, and Missiaen will likely be let go. Beach is a wild card, I don’t think he gets one, but it wouldn’t shock me.
Just a reminder: Just because a player doesn’t receive a qualifying offer doesn’t mean the Rangers are parting ways. It just means the NHL portion of the salary is too high.
Can old dogs learn new tricks? Everyone will agree that Glen Sather’s approach to the Lundqvist, Girardi and especially Callahan contract situations over the last year adversely impacted the Rangers this season. It almost certainly cost the Rangers their captain (even if Callahan’s demands were excessive).
News of Pouliot and the Rangers having a ‘mutual interest’ in extending the talented winger’s stay in New York may be premature to draw any conclusions from, but alternatively it may be a sign that the Rangers – Sather in particular – may be learning from the trials and tribulations of the past twelve months.
The Rangers have a few major contract situations creeping up on them that could really impact the competitiveness of their roster, long term. The major contract situation is of course Marc Staal’s, who is close to being back to his best and who gives the Rangers an elite defenseman on their second pair – a rare luxury in a cap driven league. With Staal’s situation likely to be a complicated one, getting the contract situations of the likes of Pouliot, Mats Zuccarello and other core roster players resolved early will allow the Rangers to know exactly what they can or can’t afford with regard to Staal.
One of the major concerns for next year is the payroll. The Rangers have a lot of money tied into a few players, and about half of the roster will be hitting some form of free agency. Dan Girardi’s contract is done, so that hits the payroll. Martin St. Louis is on the payroll instead of Ryan Callahan, which actually saves a few dollars. But no matter which way you look at it, the Rangers have $54 million tied into 13 players. That gives the Rangers $17 million to get the other eight or nine guys under contract, assuming a $71 million cap*.
*-The cap may drop to $68 million due to the declining value of the Canadian dollar. For the sake of this exercise, we are going to stick to $71 million, as that’s what has been reported.
There are three types of players heading into the offseason: Those that are signed, those that are RFAs, and those that are UFAs. Let’s break them down.