Nicholas J. Cotsonika
- Nicholas J. Cotsonika at Puck Daddy1 day ago
Exactly 10 years after the lockout of 2004-05 began, the news broke that NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly would receive the Lester Patrick Trophy for “outstanding service to hockey in the United States.”
In a way, that’s appropriate.
Daly helped lead the NHL in labor negotiations with the NHL Players’ Association in 2004-05, when the league sacrificed an entire season to secure the salary cap, and again in 2012-13, when the league lost almost half of another season to tighten the system.
We know the negative. Here is the positive spin: The NHL created an economic system that helped non-traditional markets in the United States – and may lead to teams in places like Seattle and Las Vegas in the near future. (The Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg in 2011. The Phoenix Coyotes almost moved, but they stayed in Glendale, Ariz., and are now called the Arizona Coyotes – thanks largely to Daly’s efforts and the latest CBA.)
- Nicholas J. Cotsonika at Yahoo Sports1 day ago
About halfway through last season, the Los Angeles Kings started posting statistics internally. Not traditional stats like goals, assists, points and plus-minus ratings. So-called “advanced” stats. Coach Darryl Sutter and his assistants – John Stevens and Davis Payne – explained them to the players.
“They’re like, ‘This is what we look at after a game,’ ” said winger Justin Williams. “ ‘It’s not the be-all, tell-all, but it says where we are.’ ”
Not everyone absorbed the specifics. Even Williams, a darling of the analytics community for his outstanding possession numbers, said he couldn’t remember exactly what the stats were. (He thought they were Corsi and Fenwick but wasn’t sure.) The coaches soon stopped posting the stats, and the talk faded.
But the larger point was this: The Kings value puck possession. They use analytics as one of their tools to evaluate players and design strategies, whether the players understand that or not. They judge the process with a long-term view; they don’t just judge short-term results.
- Nicholas J. Cotsonika at Yahoo Sports6 days ago
In the gym and on the ice, the kid would let The Kid go first. Nathan MacKinnon would watch Sidney Crosby start whatever exercise or drill they were doing. He would study his technique. He would study his intensity. And then he would try to match them.
But on the hill, it was a race to the top.
“I’m sure he’d say it, too,” MacKinnon said, smiling. “I’d beat him pretty bad running up the hill. That’s something where I’d push him. On the track or running up hills, I’m pretty quick, I guess. He gets pretty fired up. He’s got these short, wide legs, and I’ve got these long legs.”
“He uses that as an excuse sometimes.”
For so long, MacKinnon has followed Crosby. He grew up in the same place (Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia). He attended the same school (Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault, Minn.). He went in the same spot in the NHL draft (No. 1 overall), going to the Colorado Avalanche in 2013 after Crosby went to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2005.
Now he shares the same trainer (Andy O’Brien).
- Nicholas J. Cotsonika at Yahoo Sports7 days ago
NEW YORK — The first rule of the captaincy is like the first rule of Fight Club. You do not talk about it.
If you want to be an NHL captain, you can say so, because it’s such an honor. But you stop there. You say it’s up to management and the coaches. You say lots of your teammates are deserving. You say you don’t need a letter to lead. You fit the profile.
The more you talk about your qualifications, the less some might think you’re qualified.
But P.K. Subban speaks up and puts himself out front. It can make him controversial. It can make him great. He wants to captain the Montreal Canadiens, and though he says all the right things that other candidates say, he isn’t afraid to make his case, either.
And he has a compelling case.
“Obviously if I was given the captaincy, it would be something I would want,” said Subban during Media Day at NHL headquarters on Tuesday. “But at the same time, it would have to be something you deserve. People want a lot of things. But it’s, ‘Do you deserve it?’
“My definition of a captain could be different than everybody else’s. Everybody has their own opinion on what a captain is.”
- Nicholas J. Cotsonika at Yahoo Sports12 days ago
PITTSBURGH — The man hired to put the Pittsburgh Penguins over the top began his career Down Under.
Mike Johnston was 22. He had studied to be a phys ed teacher, but jobs were scarce. He had played in Austria and Switzerland with Brandon University, a school in Manitoba, so he figured he would phone the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association and get addresses for teams overseas. Why not follow up and see if he could play some pro hockey?
A woman took his request, put him on hold and gave him a couple addresses. There was one problem.
“I don’t want Australia,” Johnston told her. “I want Austria.”
“Oh, Austria .”
She put him on hold again and returned with what he wanted. But he took the Australian addresses, anyway. He didn’t know Aussies played hockey.
Out went the letters. Back came a response. A six-team pro league was forming in Australia, and a guy there was building a program and rink. It was April, but because summer in North America is winter there, the season was about to start.
The signings came at $100 million per hour. With five days to court free agents, discuss contract parameters and line up deals, NHL general managers burst through the doors when the market opened at noon on Tuesday. They spent about a half-billion bucks by 5 p.m. ET.
Some deals made you shake your head, as usual. The Washington Capitals gave $40.25 million over seven years to defenseman Matt Niskanen, the biggest deal of the day, and $27.5 million over five years to defenseman Brooks Orpik, the craziest deal of the day. The Florida Panthers gave $27.5 million over five years to center Dave Bolland. The Calgary Flames gave $8.7 million over three years to defenseman Deryk Engelland. Yikes.
But some bigger prizes took smaller deals than expected. Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff accepted only a one-year, $4 million deal from the Pittsburgh Penguins. Defenseman Dan Boyle took a two-year, $9 million deal with the New York Rangers. Winger Thomas Vanek took a three-year, $19.5 million deal with the Minnesota Wild. Center Paul Stastny took a four-year, $28 million deal with the St. Louis Blues. Each could have received more term or more dollars elsewhere.
Free agency ain’t what it used to be. There was a time when it was known for big teams and big dollars and big names – like that summer when the Detroit Red Wings traded for Dominik Hasek, signed Luc Robitaille and later signed Brett Hull, too, bloating their payroll to around $65 million.
That was 13 years ago.
Today there is a new system and another dynamic. Teams tend to lock up their best players, so stars rarely make it to the open market. No one can spend more than $69 million because of the salary cap, but everyone must spend at least $51 million because of the salary floor. A few teams are strapped because the cap figure came in a little lower than expected for 2014-15, but many have millions to throw at a few free agents when the market opens at noon Tuesday.
The NHL is more competitive than ever before. Free agency is more competitive than ever before. On a league-wide financial level, the owners are protected because they can’t spend more than 50 percent of revenues. If they overspend, they get back money held out of the players’ checks in escrow. But within the planned economy, more teams are involved in the bidding wars. The free agents have more options.
- Nicholas J. Cotsonika at Puck Daddy2 mths ago
PHILADELPHIA – Will Joe Thornton captain the San Jose Sharks next season?
“What would happen if nobody wore a letter on our team this year – not a single guy?” asked Sharks coach Todd McLellan on Saturday morning, throwing out the idea at the NHL draft. “What if nobody wore a letter? We’d still be the San Jose Sharks, and we’d have a leadership group.
“What would happen? If we didn’t have a ‘C’ or an ‘A’ on our team, what would happen?”
Well, what would happen?
“I don’t know,” McLellan said with a shrug.
The Sharks might want to find out.
Since the Sharks became the fourth team in NHL history to blow a 3-0 lead and lose a seven-game series, falling to the Los Angeles Kings in the first round and adding to their history of playoff failures, general manager Doug Wilson has made strong statements about a “rebuild.” He has openly asked whether some veterans would want to be a part of it – veterans like Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.
Wilson also has talked about the Sharks’ culture. He has said some players told him in exit interviews that they felt like co-workers more than teammates.
PHILADELPHIA — Dale Tallon said he couldn’t sleep. The general manager of the Florida Panthers had two enticing offers for the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL draft. Should he trade it to the Vancouver Canucks, who had been after it for weeks? To the Philadelphia Flyers?
By noon Friday, Tallon and his staff decided the offers weren’t enticing enough. A little after 7 p.m. ET, just before the Panthers were about to make their selection, the Flyers tried one more time to pull off a blockbuster before their booing, cheering fans at Wells Fargo Center.
“We thought about it,” Tallon said, “and then called them back and said no.”
So the Panthers made Aaron Ekblad the first defenseman to go No. 1 overall since 2006, and the rest of the top five went about as expected. The Buffalo Sabres, who had planned to drop back if the Panthers traded their pick, took center Sam Reinhart. The Edmonton Oilers took center Leon Draisaitl. The Calgary Flames took center Sam Bennett. The New York Islanders took winger Michael Dal Colle.
NEW YORK — The numbers will boggle the mind. After a banner season for the NHL – a record six outdoor games, a record 93 playoff games – the league and the players’ association are about to settle on a final 2013-14 revenue figure and the 2014-15 salary cap.
Expect the revenue figure to hit about $3.7 billion, a record. Expect the salary cap to be announced before the first round of the draft Friday and land in the high $60-million range to the low $70-million range, perhaps a record.
Expect the Chicago Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to receive contract extensions with eight-figure average salaries, and expect free agents to make a lot more than they seem to be worth once the market opens July 1.
Expect to hear a lot about the lockout, too.
Didn’t the NHL just have another lockout in 2013-13? Isn’t the league destined for another?
Just know the business is booming and the system is working largely as the owners wanted, and if not for the lockout and the changes to the labor agreement, the money flying around would be even worse (for the owners) or better (for the players).