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Showing posts from August, 2007

Local Yokels can Party Heartily

At long last, it's official - the Nashville Post is reporting that the David Freeman-led group of local investors (plus Boots Del Biaggio) has reached a binding agreement to purchase the Nashville Predators from Craig Leipold, and will soon submit that agreement to the NHL head office.  While it is likely that there isn't enough time for the NHL's due diligence to complete prior to the next Board of Governors meeting on Sept. 18, it appears that an up-or-down vote could be held by fax at a to-be-determined date afterwards.  For now, though, Predators fans can let it all hang out this weekend:     Is that Ek on the right? The next major milestone in this process will come shortly after Nashville's mayoral election on Sept. 11.  Whoever wins the election will take office ten days later,  and you can expect them to get up to speed quickly on the proposed changes to the Sommet Center lease that require immediate attention.  By the way, I missed this pi

Friday Follies

This weekend marks the end of the long, mostly-hockeyless summer.  Starting next week, we can look forward to hockey training camps opening, competition for roster spots, and previews for the coming NHL season.  So before you head out for a few days of grilling, sunshine, and college football, I wanted to share a few quick thoughts:   The Vancouver Canucks unveiled their new NHL jerseys earlier this week, and I have to say I like them.  At least it doesn't seem like a layout that's been designed to appeal to the 12 year-old skatepunk crowd. The Southeast Division, which boasted the smallest gap (27 points) between top & bottom last year, could perhaps get even tighter this fall.  Florida has added Tomas Vokoun, and Washington a number of solid additions, while the three teams above them have largely stood still. For a flashback to the dawn of the David Poile's days as an NHL general manager, head over to Dump

The NHL's Top Solo Goal Scorers

Just as most great rock songs have a solo in the middle, wherein the lead guitarist soaks up the spotlight and lets his creativity take over the stage, so to do the best goal-scorers of the National Hockey League on occasion, when they force a turnover or pick up a loose puck and bury a huge shot after an outstanding individual effort. So which NHL stars punched home the most goals without the help of a playmaking teammate? Last year, some 364 unassisted goals were scored out of 7,082, leaving solo tallies at about 5% of the overall total. Of those 364, 262 were scored at Even Strength, 31 on the Power Play, and 71 were Shorthanded. Notably, for Jordan Staal of the Pittsburgh Penguins , all four of his solo scores came on the penalty kill - the true sign of an effective and dangerous shorthanded specialist. The following is a list of the leading unassisted goal scorers from last season, along with their overall total, and percentage of total goals that were unassisted. Top Solo

Who Scores Alone?

So sayeth the Muse, " it takes two to make a thing go right." In the NHL, that translates to elite scorers who rely upon particular playmakers to set them up. Which elite snipers are most reliant on particular linemates? Let's take a look inside the numbers from the 2006-7 NHL regular season. The following is a list of those prominent goal scorers (anyone with 20 or more goals last season) in order of their reliance on a particular teammate for the 1st assist on their goals. In other words, what portion of their total goals came directly after a specific teammate played the puck? May I have the envelope please... Top 30 Goal-Scorers Ranked by Reliance Scorer Goals Top 1st Assist Man Assists Pct Daniel Sedin, VAN 36 Henrik Sedin, VAN 20 55.6% Slava Kozlov, ATL 28 Marian Hossa, ATL 15 53.6% Jason Pominville, BUF 34 Daniel Briere, BUF 17 50.0% Chris Kunitz, ANA 25 Teemu Selanne, ANA 12 48.0% Milan Michalek, SJS 26 Joe Thornton, SJS 1

Hockey in Hollywood? Game On!

Yes, Rudy over at Battle of California may be retching over the thought of The Love Guru , a film currently in production that stars Mike Myers as a... well, who cares what Myers is going to do. The important thing for Rudy is that reviled nipple-exposer Justin Timberlake will play an antagonistic role as a Los Angeles Kings player who has an affair with the wife of a Toronto Maple Leaf. Scandalous! First of all, we should all be glad that at the least this film will get the NHL more mainstream media exposure than the last Stanley Cup final, but secondly, Rudy should be happy to see a King included so prominently. Seriously, when was the last time the L.A. Kings mattered in the NHL? 1993 ? Sorry to sound harsh, but Kings fans should swallow their pride and enjoy the spotlight. Besides, look at the talent involved in this cinematic endeavor, and ask yourself: what could possibly go wrong?

Sullivan's Second Surgery

Steve Sullivan , the Nashville Predators' most dynamic scoring threat the last two seasons, is projected to be out for another three months after having a second operation on his back today, as reported by the Tennessean's John Glennon .   Earlier it had been reported that he might not be ready for the start of hockey training camp, but this latest news deals a blow to the Predators early-season efforts, and really puts the pressure on younger players like Martin Erat and Alexander Radulov to carry the offensive load until Sully returns to action.  Given the improving competition within the Central Division, the Predators need every point they can muster during the first half.

The Nashville Post digs deep

Richard Lawson of the Nashville Post has just published what is by far the most thorough analysis yet of the proposed lease changes that David Freeman's ownership group has submitted to the Nashville city government.  It's well worth a read this weekend.   One of the more interesting tidbits in Lawson's analysis is that much of the money that the city pays to cover the Sommet Center's operating loss comes from a fund fed from hotel occupancy taxes (i.e. tourist dollars as opposed to local residents).  There has been considerable debate about whether a new Convention Center is needed downtown, and if the Freeman group took over responsibility for the operating profit/loss, that could well free up those tax dollars to be used in that direction.   Kudos to Lawson for an outstanding piece - it features plenty of fodder for those in favor of and opposed to any further adjustments to the lease, and lays it all out on the table in the process.

Binding Agreement for Preds Sale coming soon

This morning's Nashville City Paper is reporting that the binding agreement between the David Freeman group and Craig Leipold will be submitted to the NHL either today, or more likely, on Monday.  If the NHL owners aren't prepared to vote on the sale during their September meeting, they can have a followup vote by fax when the time is right.   Also, the Tennessean reports this morning that the Nashville Chamber of Commerce has unilaterally passed a resolution supporting the local group's proposal to change the Sommet Center lease.  Nashville will have a new mayor on September 21, and both candidates have been in communication with the ownership group to prepare them for quick action once they take office.

The Tennessean finally sees the other side

Having posted a number of different stories on the same subject since last Thursday, the Tennessean finally produced a somewhat balanced look at David Freeman's proposed changes to the Sommet Center lease, which are critical to the group's chances of buying the Predators. The meat of the piece is right here: Freeman said his group is seeking three significant changes from the status quo: • About $3 million from the city that would be used to help minimize past losses. • Full responsibility for incentives to improve the financial performance of the arena. • A guarantee from the city of an average 14,000 in paid attendance per game each season so the club does not lose its substantial NHL revenue-sharing rights, in exchange for eliminating any right for the team to ever leave Nashville. For those who believe Freeman is trying to spring some kind of last-minute, moneymaking scheme on the city, it's worth noting that his group — and not the city — has insisted on includi

Following up on the techie issue (non-hockey)

A few days back I asked for feedback regarding making the Windows XP-to-Vista leap, and I think I've made the right choice in putting the copy of Vista Ultimate I received up on eBay . Check out this thread over at Slashdot , in which the editor-in-chief of PC Magazine throws in the cards and gives up on the new Microsoft OS. If a devoted PC guy such as he is considering a move to Linux, that's certainly going to give me pause about using Vista at home! And to think we waited so long for such a big flop...

Time for THIS local hack to take a whack

Yesterday, I blasted the Tennessean for their take on the Sommet Center lease negotiations between the David Freeman-led ownership group and the city of Nashville. In the interest of fairness, I need to make a correction to that article, and offer a sincere apology to the Tennessean on one particular point. The portion I'm referring to read as follows: The biggest oversight in the Tennessean's report is the omission of a critical part of the propsal: that in exchange for management fees from the city, the owners would take over the risk of operating loss at the Sommet Center. Upon a further review of the city's analysis, however, it does appear that this factor is taken into consideration regarding the increased Management Fee that would be paid by Metro under this proposal. The PDF of the city's analysis is pretty grainy (it looks like a fax that was then scanned in), but a footnote appears to read "Base Mgt Fee based on 2006 GEC audit, $6.5 Base Mgt Fee

Local hacks take a whack

Thanks to a miserable hatchet job at the Tennessean , Predators fans are left with another round of caterwauling from critics who want to see the team relocated either to Kansas City or Southern Ontario. Thursday afternoon, the Tennessean broke a "news update" that the prospective ownership group was negotiating changes to the Sommet Center lease that could have Nashville taxpayers paying " $5 million more per year to keep the Predators in Nashville," and "the buyers tried to keep the details from the public." Friday morning the paper came out with a further article which revised the $5 million figure down to $3 million, and included PDF's of the proposal (obtained via a public records request) and two emails, each addressed to the mayoral campaigns of Karl Dean and Bob Clement (obtained by the paper, but how?). The implication was twofold: first, that the local group was seeking deeper subsidy from the city, and secondly,

The Predictive Power of PythagenPuck

Last season I made use of the PythagenPuck formula as outlined by Alan Ryder of to make some (fortunately) successful predictions back in November that the Ottawa Senators weren't anywhere near as bad as their sub-.500 record at the time indicated, and that the Boston Bruins weren't exactly the playoff-caliber team they appeared to be according to the standings.  The basic idea was that by looking at the ratio between each team's Goals For and Goals Against totals, you get a good idea of where their actual Winning Percentage will end up.  The presumption there is that a team's overall ability to score and prevent goals is more constant than the bounces and breaks that can decide individual game results, and over the course of 82 games the "luck" will even out to a large extent. This summer, I thought I'd revisit that analysis, to answer a few questions. 1.  Did I just get lucky, or is PythagenPuck actually a

Sullivan's back still a pain in the...

Steve Sullivan is still recuperating from offseason back surgery up in Vancouver, and in this morning's Tennessean John Glennon reports that "he might not be at 100 percent when training camp begins Sept. 13", although the team is confident that he'll be ready at some point soon.   The Predators need to give Sullivan all the time he needs to fully recover, regardless of time missed in hockey training camp, or even some games in the early weeks of the regular season.  His back injury this year and groin trouble in 2006 left the Preds without one of their most potent offensive weapons during the last two playoffs, both of which resulted in disappointing first-round losses to the San Jose Sharks.  Given the issues around this team in terms of attendance and financial performance, making a deeper postseason run is critical to the long-term success of the team.   At this stage of his career, it's not imperative for him to go through training camp,

Patronizing the Predators Supporters

As a followup to yesterday's list of downtown businesses that have committed to purchasing Nashville Predators tickets , I've compiled a publicly accessible map over at Google Maps that people can use if they wish to send their business to those places that support the team. Be sure to let the management know you appreciate what they're doing!

Support those who support the Preds

I've received an update from the Our Team coalition, which is reporting that major progress is being made with selling tickets in the Nashville business community, particularly those restaurants and bars in the downtown area that clearly benefit from 40+ nights of hockey fans coming into downtown. The following list of businesses have committed to buying Nashville Predators tickets for the upcoming campaign, and thus should earn the support of Predators fans as well. Be sure to show these establishments that you appreciate what they're doing! Downtown merchants with Predators season tickets (as of 8/14/2007) Bailey's Big River Grille Decades Demos' Steak and Spaghetti House Dixieland Delights Full Moon Saloon Hot Diggity Dogs Jack's Bar-B-Que* Layla's Bluegrass Inn Legends Corner* Legends Gifts Nashville Crossroads* Nashville Limited Piranha's Bar & Grill Rippy's Robert's Western World Second Fiddle* The Stage* The Wheel Tootsie's Orc

Technical advice from the Peanut Gallery

Hey, it's mid-August, so I think I can sneak in one non-hockey related post:   Today I've got a quick question for you - I've received a copy of Windows Vista Ultimate, and have the option of going ahead and installing it on my home PC (which should have the horsepower to handle it*), or just putting the thing up on eBay and wait until a couple Service Packs come out to be sure it's robust and secure before making the migration from XP.   What do you think?  Does anybody out there have positive or negative experiences with the XP-to-Vista transition to share?   *My current PC is a 3GHz Pentium IV, with 1GB RAM, a good, but three year-old video card (ATI Radeon 8500, I think), plenty of HD space and a DVD-ROM.  Software-wise, I've already got Office XP.

Preds fans should give thanks to...

Pursuant to this morning's story from the Nashville City Paper that revealed the names of the Predators prospective ownership group, Richard Lawson over at the Nashville Post has done his digging and casts some more light on Joel Dobberpuhl.  Apparently he's an investment manager with Jetstream Capital, based in suburban Franklin, Tennessee where he runs a hedge fund. The kicker in all of this?  According to their latest SEC filing , guess what the 3rd-largest holding is in Jetstream's $835 million portfolio?   What for it...                   Try Research in Motion , Jim Balsillie's pride and joy.  Yup, that's right - the success of RIM plays a small part in giving the locals enough dough to defeat Balsillie's bid and keep the Predators in Nashville.  Oh, sweet irony...

Predators ownership team is revealed

Hot off the presses of the Nashville City Paper , the five previously unknown members of the local group purchasing the Nashville Predators have been identified. The drum roll, please... Thomas Ciggaran, Chairman of the Board of Healthways, a health insurance firm headquartered in Nashville. Chris Ciggaran, son of Thomas and Senior VP of Human Resources and Organizational Development at Healthways. Joel & Holly* Dobberpuhl -Joel is a local investment manager (couldn't find anything further on him right away). DeWitt & John Thompson of Thompson Machinery . De is President of this local firm which sells and services equipment for the construction and power industries. Not surprising at all to see the Healthways involvement, as health care is a big player on the Nashville business scene, but I couldn't tell you much about the final three members of this list. Looking at the profile on the Thompson Machinery website, it looks like they've bee

These are truly the dog days...

What a week - it's hit 100 degrees just about every day down here in Tennessee, and with not much hockey news to write about it's high time to reflect on some of the great highlights from this spring's playoffs. Once the Stanley Cup gets trotted out, it's easy to lose sight of some of the great playoff performances from the earlier rounds, particulary by the likes of Marty Turco and Roberto Luongo. Anyways, roll the clip, and just pretend it's winter. Just think, only seven more weeks until the Kings and Ducks drop the puck in Jolly Old England!

More light shed on new Preds ownership

The Nashville Post has a nice profile piece up on David Freeman, the leader of the local group currently in the process of buying the Nashville Predators.  A few juicy tidbits of information:   He's the co-author of " The Medical Waste Handbook ."   He made his fortune after selling his medical waste hauling business.   While not a big hockey fan yet, he is familiar with the "Miracle On Ice", so that's a start.   All in all, it's an interesting portrait of a guy who so far comes off as soft-spoken and genuinely interested in building the Predators into a Nashville institution.   In related news, Freeman appeared on a local sports show in Nashville Tuesday night and supposedly said that while the local investors can buy out "Boots" Del Biaggio if he gets the opportunity to become a majority owner elsewhere in the NHL, the terms of their agreement do not allow Del Biaggio to buy out the local members.  I can't fin

What Would Mongo Do?

In yet another story to add to the "boy it's good the NHL doesn't have these kinds of issues" pile, we have the curious case of Pacman Jones, professional ruffian who receives his paychecks from the NFL's Tennessee Titans, but has been suspended for the entire upcoming season for a series of brushes with the law. Obviously, Jones needed a guiding influence to help set him on the right path. "Mongo like making it rain!" With his young career in jeopardy and his only hope of returning to the field in 2007 hanging on his good behavior and sound judgment, Jones decided to follow in the footsteps of Alex Karras , the Detroit Lions defensive lineman (and later actor) who, when suspended for the 1963 season, donned the tights and squared off against the likes of Dick The Bruiser. Can you imagine what the reaction would have been like if Todd Bertuzzi had done such a thing during his suspension? It makes you wonder who else from the world of hockey woul

Rebound Shooters of Renown

Following up on yesterday's piece covering team-by-team Rebounds Shots taken and given up, it's time to see which individual players dominated in front of the net. Here are your top shooters in terms of Rebound Shots taken in the 2006-7 season. A rebound shot is here defined as a shot taken within 5 seconds of another shot, without any intervening event such as a faceoff. Click to enlarge Interestingly, the diminuitive Martin St. Louis leads the pack, due in part to his gifted teammates like Brad Richards and Vincent Lecavalier, and the endurance that lets him play over 24 minutes per game, tops among all NHL forwards. One interesting note is how Tomas Holmstrom comes in among the league leaders, but on a team-by-team basis, Detroit gets the fewest rebound opportunities as a percentage of their overall shots. And for MikeP who wondered yesterday where Ryan Smyth compared to Dustin Penner (the once and future crease-crashers for Edmonton), Smyth garnered only 14 reboun

Banging home the rebounds

Despite the misgivings around NHL data that were discussed here yesterday , we'll press ahead with our analysis with the understanding that the quality of our data is sometimes compromised, so we have be careful about the judgments made from any conclusions. Since rebounds were the topic on the goaltending side, one thing we can look at is how often rebounds led to immediate follow-up shots. For the purpose of this study, the definition of a rebound shot is a shot which occurs within 5 seconds of another shot, with no other intervening events (i.e. a stoppage and faceoff). Yes, 5 seconds is longer than you typically think it takes someone to whack a loose puck in the crease, but for these purposes, I'm leaving room for a shot, rebound out into the slot, and enough time for a single pass & shoot. The goalie's rebound (and the defense's failure to clear it) is just as costly in that situation as if a dribbler was left hanging free for a "Johnny on the spot&qu

Rebounds: The missing NHL stat

The addition of Real Time Super Stats (RTSS) by the NHL several years ago brought a new depth of information available for in-game analysis. During telecasts we see some of this information used (mostly the level of Hits by each team), but in terms of serious analysis, there's not very much we can do with Hits, Giveaways, and Takeaways because of two serious drawbacks. First of all, as has been pointed ou t in numerous forums, the quality of the data being recorded (particularly when it comes to the location and type of Shots taken) is less than you'd expect from what is supposed to be the world's greatest hockey league. For many statistics, the level of activity found in a game has more to do with where the game is played (in front of which official scorers), rather than the players on the ice. Secondly, however, there seems to me a fundamental gap in the design of these stats that would still hamper their utility even if accuracy wasn't an issue. Let's take

Operation Slapshot Tees Up for Tocchet

Now that New Jersey state trooper James Harney has received a five-year sentence for his role in the Operation Slapshot gambling ring, what's the over/under on Rick Tocchet's upcoming sentence? Sorry, couldn't resist that one. But perhaps more importantly, did the police consider giving these guys a cut of the action for their rather obvious choice of a codeword to describe this investigation?

Plenty of reasons to love hockey

This morning I wanted to point you over to one of my favorite blog finds of the summer, Interchangeable Parts , which has run a series of articles on why they love hockey. It's a great bunch of pieces that highlight just how great the long grind of the regular season truly is, and it's worth taking a few minutes to go through. One of the great issues I have with the MSM sports culture is the overriding attitude that the regular season doesn't matter, and only playoff championships hold any meaning. We hear that opinion nearly every day either on sports radio, in opinion columns, or even from the athletes themselves. When they say it, it's almost like a pass-phrase that they know they have to repeat in order to demonstrate their commitment to winning it all for the fans. Anyways, head on over to IP and reflect for a moment on observations that touch on different aspects of the game we all share, such as: 5-on-3 Penalty Kills Giveaways that make you go “Huh?”

Enough with Kansas City, already...

One of the angles repeated throughout the online hockey community in the wake of the Letter of Intent signed yesterday in Nashville is that with Boots Del Biaggio on board, it's only a matter of time before the local boys sell out to him and the franchise relocates to Kansas City, since Del Biaggio has a deal in place with Anschutz Entertainment Group to bring an NHL team there. Check out this line from this morning's Tennessean . It almost looks like a throwaway detail at the end of the article, but if true, should quash most of that talk: Assuming the bid of the local group is approved by the NHL, Del Biaggio will divest his interests in San Jose. He also will cut his ties with AEG, but Del Biaggio said he'll continue to push for a hockey team in Kansas City. Will that finally get the hockey media off the "Preds are moving" track?

Local Boys + Boots = New Preds Ownership

This afternoon there was a press conference at the Sommet Center for the announcement of a Letter of Intent (including a $10 million deposit) which has now been signed between current Predators owner Craig Leipold and the (mostly) local ownership headed up by entrepreneur David Freeman, to sell the team for $193 million. The big news today is the revealing of the "out of town" money which bolstered the financial package being put together. As it turns out, the mystery outsider is none other than "Boots" Del Biaggio, who had put his own bid in for the Predators previously, but instead becomes a partner with a small group of Nashville investors. Major kudos to the folks at the Nashville Post, who anticipated just this scenario working out over three weeks ago . So here's a quick recap of the presser: Craig Leipold kicked things off by emphasizing that throughout this process that kicked off in May, Nashville had the chance to keep the Pre