Nation Radio – July 14, 2012

While the UFA "frenzy" remains a sort of tepid, apathetic singles dance, in the distance one can hear the rumble of thunder that signifies the impending battle between the league and the NHLPA. Gary Bettman has already fired a few shots over the bow of Donald Fehr and company, so it looks like the CBA talks are going to be…contentious at the very least.

For now, we’ll continue to ignore the whole "there might be another lock-out" thing and keep on talking trades and stats. This week, Allan invited number crunchers and hockey writers from around the league including Benjamin Wendorf, James Mirtle and Corey Pronman to help with our denial.

This is Nation Radio.

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Part 1

First up is Ben Wendorf, the editor of SBN’s Artic Ice Hockey and a contributor to Ben talked about the Jets 2012 draft performance as well as the club’s free agent signings and development camp.

Part 2

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Hockey Prospectus’ prospect specialist Corey Pronman joined LT to discuss the Oilers top-10 prospects as well as draft strategy.

Part 3

Globe and Mail’s Leafs writer James Mirtle is guest number 3. He and Allan go over Toronto’s swap of Luke Schenn for James Van Reimsdyk and whether the ex-Flyer will play center for the Leafs or not. Shane Doan, free agency and NHLPA negotiations are also discussed.

Part 4

Eric T. Of Broadstreet Hockey and NHLNumbers has recently published a number of fascinating articles on the impact of neutral zone play, particularly zone entries. He and Allan go over his studies and what they might mean for hockey analysis and strategy.

Part 5

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Finally, Rob Vollman of Hockey Abstract and FlamesNation stopped in to talk about advanced stats and measuring player usage.

Part 6

We wrap things up with Allan’s thoughts on a variety of topics.


Full show.

Finally, we want to remind prospective sponsors that Nation Radio still has some limited advertising packages available. For more information, please contact Kent Wilson ([email protected]).

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  • Wax Man Riley

    Okay, so I am being particular. . .

    Yes, there is an NHL player named Eric Fehr, but I believe that you may have meant to say that there were shots fired over the bow of Donald Fehr, head of the NHLPA.

    As a fan of NHL hockey, I do hope that the two groups can get together and an interruption to the season can be avoided.

  • Wax Man Riley

    If there’s another lockout and we lose another season, I’m done with the NHL. Billionaires and multi-millionaires squabble over who gets the biggest piece of the pie as people who struggle to pay their mortgage and raise their kids are still finding money to spend on this hobby.

    • I hear ya! Cap player salaries at 8 mil (which is still outrageous amounts of money). Lower both the revenue share of owners and players, and use that money to lower the price at the gate and in the stores.

      Owners and players seem to forget they are making their millions by constantly gauging fans at the gate and for merchandise.

      An entry level contract ($750,000) is 16 times more than what the average person makes in one year. (average salary is between 42-45grand). The average NHL player makes 2 million a season – it would take someone earning the salary of $85,000 23 years to earn that much money…

      I understand they are elite athletes, and due to the privilege we put on them, they have exorbitant salaries – but I mean, come one. Who needs to earn more than 8 million a season? And on top of that – they earn money off revenue.

      The greed has to stop – because as you say, the people paying off mortgages and supporting their kids are the ones that are ultimately going to pay the price of continued salary/revenue share increases.

      • BurningSensation

        Not to mention if they suck at their jobs they can’t get fired like the rest of us and their salary(a % anyway) is gaurenteed. I believe they also have big reitrement policy for the players as well after they hit so many games played. Ticket prices keep going up, I tell ya I’ve only been to one game and I’m a huge hockey fan but at the price of tickets, I’ll stay home and watch it on my big screen TV complete with great audio, commentators and the best veiws of every play or fight that happens. Just think if our society were like Mayan’s the Stanley Cups champions would kills themselves as sacrifices to the goods and these guys actually wanted to win stuff. My has things gone from one crazy to another.

  • Lowetide

    This was a fun show to do. Everyone brought it and gave great information. Vollman’s usage charts for all NHL teams are here:

    and the brilliant stuff Eric is talking about is available via his recent articles at NHL numbers

    Learned a lot yesterday from all of our guests. Pronman passes along a nice tidbit about the 22 and unders during his interview.

    Mirtle’s take on the NHL/NHLPA’s negotiations is spot on btw. And my sincere thanks to Kent Wilson for his help getting these guys. Top drawer!

  • BurningSensation


    I am always shocked to hear the argument that ‘players shouldn’t make more than X’. Players should make as much as they can!

    Tom Cruise can command $20m per picture because he delivers the box office goods that make studios wealthy enough to bankroll movies.

    This whole negotiation process is about how to split the ginormous revenue pie the players and owners have developed. Rookie caps, free agency, the draft, etc are all regulations on the market of players that depress their earnings, and the owners are insisting on these because doing so makes them richer.

    The price a fan pays to see the game is purely a function of demand – low demand (say for Blue Jacket tix) will lead to lower prices, high demand (Leafs tix) will lead to highe prices.

    If fans don’t like what Cruise makes per film, don’t buy a ticket for MI3!

    • BurningSensation

      Except that you’re wrong in that fans aren’t competing for tickets with other fans. They’re competing for tickets with companies that then get to write them off as expenses.

      Also, there’s a thing to be said for fairness and access to games. It’s pretty disrespectful to a fanbase, IMO, to price tickets so high that poor families can’t go see games.

      • BurningSensation

        The job of both the NHL and PA is to maximize profits, not cater to poor families.

        In someplaces that means some poor fans can’t take their families to see games (Madison Square Garden). Welcome to capitalism, the homeless guy can’t afford tickets either.

        Let’s consider as well that siding with the owners in their desire to limit how much players make doesn’t lead to lower ticket prices, it leads to greater profits for the owners.

    • See, the price of tickets are NOT a function of demand, at least the way the NHL teams are doing it right now.

      Take the Avalanche as a good example. They had a total bomb of a season, and ticket prices went up. Nobody filled the seats the next season, and while they did moderately well, it was still a failure. Ticket prices went up. All throughout this time, with the Avs not making the playoffs and having horrific 20 game loss streaks, ticket prices remained the same or went up. It was still $350 for seats on the glass.

      Poor families can go to games – most places have cheap $5-15 seats. Granted, if it’s something like the Saddledome, you’re sitting at the top and watching the game on a large screen TV.

      Then you have places like Toronto, where tickets are sold out for years and sitting on the glass costs you $500+, even for a horrible POS team like the Leafs.

      I agree players should try to make as much as possible, but it’s still ridiculous. I’m sure the NHLPA probably looks at leagues like the MLB and NFL, sees that star players get paid like $20M per season, and want a piece of that.

      • BurningSensation

        Tickets ARE sensitive to demand, but not perfectly so. If costs (like player salaries, arena fees, etc.) go up ticket prices might rise despite lower demand.

        You admit as well that there are ticket packages for families that are affordable, with the trade off being that they are in the nosebleeds.

        Which means we aren’t talking about families seeing games, but families seeing games in really good seats.

        They are a business, and if they can make more money by pricing their product higher – they will. And what’s more, they should.

      • BurningSensation

        I believe the Sh*ttiest seats in the Saddle Dome or Rexall are still $100+ even for standing room only. And then the billionare Owners still have the nerve to ask for tax payers money for an Arena. I’m sorry I think Kates should be on the hook for the full cost of the arena and the city should be on the hook for the cost of all the other developments and improvements around it.

  • BurningSensation

    Please stop the whining about ticket prices and players salaries/owners profits!
    1) Ticket prices are the most money that the owner can charge and still sell the product
    2) AS long as they are using legal means anyone should be allowed to make as much as they can/want!
    3) Players will earn high salaries as long as they can find 20,000 people to pay $75+ to watch them play 82 times a year.
    None of the above “owe” us anything! If you don’t like the product, don’t purchase it. Period!

  • BurningSensation

    I hate Phx. Gragnani seems like the best UFA signing so far. He didn’t have a great yr but had good stats before and is cheap. In 2004, I tried to learn Basketball. I really sucked. I thought the Kings had good depth but I guess it is like baseball, all up to maybe two or three players; not a team game generally.
    Salvador was a good signing too. Two years would’ve been better. He had better stats than Niedermayer’s Conn Smythe 2003 win. The way NYR D sucked the Jets could’ve taken a round. But in retrospect would’ve needed to add early in the year. Why didn’t we draft Zlobin?! Grigorenko too. ‘Bulin, Bure, Fedorov and Zubov could playoff play.
    Will Trouba leave college early to play? With salaries what they are injuries happen more; CFLers don’t hit as hard as NFL. So like to get as many early seasons as possible (assuming physically mature). CFL is better because more minutes of play than NFL. Is why baseball sucks to watch. If you could just watch every decent hit/out…