Buckle up: We are in for a ride

Last week I posted my assessment of Geoff Baker’s article from 2/13 about the potential of Seattle landing an NHL team. Since then, Geoff followed up with an additional article 2/20 with some information on a Seattle delegation headed up to Vancouver to learn more about the business of hockey and take in a game. For the Steve-Ballmer-3most part, it was nothing new and information we expected was going on behind the scenes.

…but on Friday, while a guest on a Vancouver sports radio show, Baker revealed that the 3 potential ownership groups of a Seattle NHL franchise are 1) Bartozek/Lanza 2) Don Levin and 3) Steve Ballmer. The Ballmer news is huge and could be very positive for the prospects of landing a hockey team in Seattle for 2015-16 Season. If Ballmer is the man, it should greatly simplify the non NHL complexities of the deal. Specifically, agreement with ArenaCo (Hansen/Ballmer) and the City of Seattle (Amending the MOU). Obviously, Ballmer and ArenaCo will come to terms and the City of Seattle should not be AS concerned about changing the MOU to have an NBA/NHL option.

The entire radio interview is here. The segment starts around the 22 Minute mark and goes about 14 minutes. It is worth a listen. At one point Baker implies that the MOU would need a major re-write in order to allow an NHL first scenario. Baker and I spared over this on twitter a while back and I still believe this should be a minor addendum. Fortunately, King County Executive Dow Constantine thinks the same way I do so frankly I think Baker is wrong in that regard. I am also surprised to hear Levin’s name pop into the equation based on the differences of opinion Hansen and Levin had a while back.

I am trying not to get excited here as there still is only one source for this specific information and Ballmer has never expressed interest in an NHL franchise before now. I am proceeding with caution here but still excited at the prospects of Ballmer owning the NHL team. Now that the Olympics are over, I think it is possible that we might get an official statement out of the NHL or from one or all of the named ownership groups. I would expect Ballmer to confirm or deny this rumor in the next couple days.

Hang in there but keep in mind we should gain some idea how this will land in the next 4 months.

Same as it ever was….

By now you have probably heard about the article posted in the Seattle Times last week about NHL Deputy Commissioner, Bill Daly saying Seattle would be a “good hockey market”. While there were a few nuggets of 2012+NHL+Entry+Draft+Rounds+2+7+lyfx4JlSpv9lnew speculation in there, we have heard a lot of it before. First, we know the NHL likes Seattle so the Bill Daly quote in the article isn’t exactly new info. Here are some of the quotes that we have heard from League and team officers over the last 12 months:

“The research that I have seen tells me that it would be a very strong hockey market. …Obviously if there were a team in Seattle it would create a decent rivalry with their northern neighbor, namely Vancouver.” –Gary Bettman, NHL commissioner (April 7th 2013)

“But I think it’s safe to say we’re very intrigued by the Pacific Northwest generally. Going forward I would expect that to the extent expansion comes into the picture or relocation is needed, I’m sure the Pacific Northwest is going to get serious consideration.” –Bill Daly, NHL Deputy Commissioner (July 24th 2013)

“With the [new] arena in Seattle, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put hockey back into the Seattle/Portland marketplace and we have to make a commitment to that.” – Tim Leiweke, Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment CEO (October 29th 2013)

The timing makes a lot of sense for 2 reasons:

  1. Ramping Window: Expansion teams need as much ramp as possible to get ready for their inaugural season. Training Facilities, Scouting staff and front offices need to get rolling ASAP if 2015-16 Season is the target.
  2. PR Timeline: The NHL needed to get through their two big Regular Season showcase events (Stadium Series & Winter Classic). Post Olympics and a lull in sports between the Super Bowl and March Madness provides a perfect announcement window. The only other windows I see could be right before the Stanley Cup Playoffs or right before the NHL draft in late June.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the news but I don’t think it is as big as it sounds. That or I don’t want the fans of Seattle to get burned again. Seattle will be a great NHL market someday and I hope it starts in 2015 but let’s move forward with some tempered enthusiasm.

NHL Attendance Report: January 2013

January was a tough month to analyze but there were some positives for the NHL reported attendance. First off, comparing January 2014 to 2013 is not really possible as we came out of the lockout last year and had opening night in January last year and the condensed schedule generated a little more buzz and excitement than your normal January NHL game. We also had 4 outdoor games in January this year which makes the comparison even more challenge. I attempt to navigate the numbers with these nuances in mind. Most numbers and graphs exclude outdoor games.

Here is a summary grid of the how the reported attendance shakes out:


If you exclude the Outdoor games, attendance is down a bit for the month of January. If you peel back the onion a little bit, the two biggest arenas (Chicago & Montreal) in the league had two less game each compared to January of 2012 which could explain some of the 1.9 % dip after you exclude the outdoor games.

Here is how each team has fared compared to the 2011-12 Season (the lockout shortened season of 2013 is not a good comparison).


If you look at it by a team by team basis, January had 8 teams that had an increase & 8 teams that had a decrease in attendance compared to 2012. As you can see, the Coyotes continue their big gains in January and are now the biggest increase across the league.



January was up only slightly from 2012 and most of their season games were made in the prior 3 months. Haters be warned that with no remaining home games in February, the Coyotes will have their biggest average attendance for February in 5 years. Roughly a 15% increase compared to the prior two seasons.



The recovery in Dallas appears to have taken a step back in January with a drop of 4% compared to January 2012. This could be some weather issues keeping fans at home or it could be a short blip in their recovery. They are still up 15% from 2011-12 season.



Florida is definitely struggling at the gate. This is due to a perfect storm of ownership changes & struggles on the ice. Although Phoenix is turning around with new owners this year, Florida’s ownership change was several months later and didn’t allow the new owners to drive a lot of change this season. Similar to Dallas, I would expect a turnaround next season.

Any requests?



Per reader request, here is Tampa Bay’s Dashboard. The Lightning are flat compared to 2011-12 season but January was a big month up 6% compared to 2012. Also cool to see that they have averaged over 18K in each month this season.


The greatest hockey event in Seattle: Hockey Challenge 2014

Once again I have the honor of playing in the Ronald McDonald House Hockey Challenge. This is an annual event put on by the Seattle Thunderbirds and the Ronald McDonald House of Western Washington and 1063679_100150506978_990452666_nAlaska. If you don’t know what the Ronald McDonald House is all about, you should. The Seattle Ronald McDonald House is a home-away-from-home for 700 families each year while their seriously ill child receives medical treatment at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Some families stay for nights, some for months. The House is a warm, supportive and safe place during a very difficult time. Over the years I’ve met with families and discussed their stories and I can tell you it is one amazing charity that has a real impact on people’s lives.

The purpose of the Hockey Challenge is to raise money from the RMHC. This is one of the greatest hockey events we have in the area and I would like to get this great community involved. I am willing to match up to $1,000 of whatever is contributed in the next two weeks. As a bonus, if I can get over 100 donors, I will be putting in an additional $500. If I can get 100 people to put in just $10, I will match $1,500. Let’s make it happen.

The Hockey Challenge is held on February 22nd at ShoWare Arena in conjunction with the Seattle Thunderbirds home game against Kamloops. After the Thunderbirds game, a group of all-stars will take the ice for a fun game between local celebrities, former Thunderbirds and some former NHLs. I will be one of the pylons in the all-star game watching the former NHLs skate circles around me.

Please help me out by contributing here:


Just $10 dollars will go a long way