Yearly Archives: 2001

At the Quarter Pole

(posted to sharks on the 20th of november, but due to our vacation, I’m just now catching up…)

The first quarter of the season it over, so it’s time to take a look at
where things stand around the league. What better foil than to look at my
pre-season predictions, and see how they’re shaping up?

>Powerhouses:
>
>detroit: Everyone who thought last year was bowman’s last run, raise
> your hand. I sure did. But — he felt the wings had a bit left in
> them, with some minor tweaking. that tweaking was: god help us,
> Dominik Hasek.

Um, duh. Al Strachan could have called this one. He probably did, too.

>dallas: Of the teams in the west, Dallas is most screwed by bowman and
> the Leafs. Another aging diva of a team, I honestly expected them to
> start the rebuilding, and half-expected Belfour to be dumped off on
> the Blues (see below). Instead, they reloaded for another shot. I
> don’t see them getting past the Wings, I think they’re more
> susceptible to injury problems, and I think despite that, they’re
> the best team in the west not based in detroit.

How the mighty doth fall. The Stars simply look old. The Stars look like
they miss Brett Hull. The stars look like they wish Coach Hitchcock would
fall off a bridge; Hitch, however, is too smart to walk on bridges.

Right now, this team looks ugly-bad, in 8th in the west. Way below what this
team ought to be. But also be aware that the Stars have done this “bad
chemistry we hate our coach he sucks” dance before, and when playoff time
comes, they’re in the hunt. So don’t’ read too much into it — yet. But
enjoy it. I am.

>san jose: I’ve got issues with rating San jose this high; but I have
> issues not doing it, too. a number of sharks have to prove
> themselves this year; the defensive depth could be a problem, but I
> look at the teams, and I just don’t see a team that deserves a
> higher ranking. Defensive injuries could decimate this team, nabokov
> could turn into a pumpkin, and a key injury to Selanne or Nolan (or
> another long suspension) could hurt this team. I just don’t think it
> will. time for the sharks to take the next step up from a building
> team to a contender.

The “selanne chemistry” issue is a factor. Defensive depth is a factor.
Nabokov didn’t turn into a pumkin. The team is playing pretty good, overall,
and Jillson is a great find. Fifth in the west isn’t bad; and this team
should improve as the team goes along. They have a legitimate chance to end
up third seed in ranking, not just third based on divisions.

>colorado: I would have ranked them third, until forsberg went on
> vacation. That hurt. But don’t pretend this team’s in trouble.

Okay, go ahead and pretend the team’s in trouble. As of today, Colorado’s
out of the playoffs. This team is showing depth problems up front; without
forsberg, they no longer have two legitimate scoring lines, and teams simply
gang up on them. Beyond that, they just aren’t playing good hockey much fo
the time.

>St. Louis: The blues were pretty close to a top-caliber team.
> Unfortunately, the one missing piece was goaltending.

> Um, well, Brent Johnson. Is he really the answer? I don’t know.

He seems to be at least half the answer — but once again, out of seemingly
nowhere, Freddie Brathwaite is stepping in and shoving a team up on his
shoulders. He and Johnson are splitting time, and both are carrying this
team as far as they can. (why is it nobody, including me, believe in
Brathwaite, despite his ability to keep doing this?)

Goaltending is the least of the Blue’s problems right now, mired in 7th in
the west and basically not playing well. Doug weight isn’t the answer, yet.
But like Dallas, it’s a long season, and if/when this team pulls it
together, they could make life interesting come playoff time. Then again,
haven’t we heard the comment “a team that has Keith Tkachuk on it has
chemistry problems” before?

>The Doormats:
>
>At the other end of the spectrum, you have – the guys who know they’re
>out of the playoffs, and they’re still in training camp.
>
>minnesota: the second year of an expansion team is rarely pretty.

They’re not doing badly — compared to expectation. Given their record is
almost as good as Colorado’s, they ought to be thrilled. Colorado ought to
be ashamed. They actually have a chance at the playoffs, now. But don’t
expect that to continue.

>columbus: and columbus.

Yeah. Next.

>chicago: at least the expansion teams have an excuse to suck. Chicago
> fans took one look at this roster and declared the season over

Well, lookie here. Chicago is making a statement. Whod’a thought? Not me.

My opinion, though, is pretty simple: if they’re still doing this in
january, I’ll still believe it. Right now, I think this is just a nefarious
plan by the hawks to really piss off their fans by showing signs of
not-sucking for a while before sinking. I don’t think the Hawks will sustain
this. If they prove me wrong, great. I wouldn’t put money on it.

>anaheim: Steve Shields upgrades the goaltending, and the Ducks

Still really suck. And — gee, well Steve couldn’t keep the starting job,
either. Guigere took it away. The Ducks suck. The only thing saving them
from complete mediocrity is the fact that they aren’t the worst team in
southern california. Barely.

>calgary: the smallest of the canadian teams, it tries, it struggles, it
> falls short.

My, oh my. Never question whether miracles happen. The Flames don’t suck.
Seriously don’t suck. Really don’t suck. And unlike the Hawks, it ain’t
smoke and mirrors. Roman Turek got out of St. Louis, found his confidence
and turned into a goaltender (will he fail in the playoffs again? Who knows?
It won’t matter for a while, and that’s good for all involved — turek’s in
a perfect position here). And with good goaltending behind them, the Flames
have turned it up and started burning people.

This team looks for real to me, folks. I don’t think they’ll fade.

>The Rest:
>
>So you have five teams in the playoffs, and five playing because the schedule
tells them to. that leaves: the other five.

>los angeles: I think LA is the best of the rest

Oops. Oh, my. What happens when your goaltender turns into a pumpkin? You
turn into this year’s Kings. Potvin was run out of Vancouver for being
unable to stop pucks, ended up in LA and played his heart out. And this
year, well, he’s Felix Potvin again. Time for the “old yeller” treatment
here, folks, but be gentle.

Oh, wait. The alternative in LA is Jamie Storr. Um, never mind, we’ll keep
broken Felix for a while, thanks.

The rest of the team looks pretty mediocre, unfortunately. But with
goaltending this bad, it’s hard to tell how much is bad hockey and how much
is “we know we’re going to lose, so why bother?” hockey…,

>vancouver: I like what the canucks are doing — except for goaltending.

Two things have turned the Canucks into a real contender.

Andy Moog is their goaltending consultant. And Dan Cloutier is a goaltender
waiting for the right time, the right place, and the right voice to listen
to. Moog has fixed many of Cloutier’s technical weaknesses, and right now,
he looks like a real goalie. More important, a confident one. It may not
last, but as long as it does, the Canucks will win a fair number of hockey
games.

Second, Trevor’s back. Beyond the ‘intrinsics’ of bringing Linden home, he
centers a solid checking line that can now reliably shut down the other
team’s top line, wins oodles of faceoffs, and works his butt off.

Suddenly, the Canucks look for real. Keep an eye on them, they should move
up the standings.

>phoenix: phoenix finally cleaned house, starting (literally) at the top.
> About bloody time, too.

About where I expected them to be, doing what I expected. 7th in the west,
not great, not terrible, not a real threat, but they don’t suck.

>edmonton: another canadian team struggling to hang on. They lost Doug
> Weight this year because they couldn’t afford to keep him.

And gee,fourth in the west. A bunch of guys (most visibly Mike Comrie) have
stepped up big time, tommy salo is proving himself to be an elite goalie
(finally — another goalie the Islanders seriously screwed up that another
team took and fixed, laughing), and the ryan smith injury hurts, no
question, but this team believes.

>nashville: I find myself feeling really, well, bored by nashville.

Nashville seems pretty bord with nashville, too. 10th in the west, not
really sucky, but always within shouting distance of it.

Right now, the division winners look like:

Detroit
San Jose
Calgary

And other playoff teams, in more or less seeding order:

Colorado
Vancouver
Edmonton
Phoenix
Dallas

>Off in the east, here’s how things look:

>new jersey: still the team to beat.

And boy, are they being beaten. Like a drum. Like a horse. Like a dog. 8th
in the east — barely. It’s not goaltending, ti’s not talent, it seems to be
(gasp) chemistry, unheard of problems in New Jersey before now.

Still, I won’t rule them figuring it out and going on a roll. They’re not
dead, by a long shot. Just sitting in a corner puking…

>Philadelphia: plans on arguing with New jersey over the east.

They’re ahead of Jersey, but don’t get sized up for rings yet, guys. 5th in
the east isn’t bragging rights.

>Ottawa: How about ottawa? I keep rooting for them, and they don’t quite
> get over the hump. Maybe this year. I’ll root for it. But something
> tells me it won’t happen. darn.

They’re ahead of both Philly and New Jersey, but I’m still not convinced.

>Washington: how about the Caps? Sure, why not? well, for one reason, my
> gut tells me it won’t happen. but they now have jagr — but is it
> the happy, score-logs jagr? or the whiny, pouting one?

Or the missing, hurt, not-performing, bad-chemistry whiny pouting one?

Four words: someone open a window.

>toronto: I’d love to root for toronto, too, but

Oh, hell. I’ll go ahead and root for Toronto. Not only are they tops in the
east, they seem to deserve it….

>Pittsburgh: they have mario back. they don’t have jagr. I like both
> changes.

At least until mario notices he’s old and creaky. Sigh. Whoops. That wasn’t
in the business plan…

>buffalo: no hasek. no peca. is the team better? I sure don’t think so.

And the sabres agree.

>carolina: they’ve got their act together enough to be decent.

And, at 6th, they’re decent.

>boston: every time this team starts stepping it up, Harry Sinden goes
> and worries about his budget. A franchise that will — guaranteed –
> always find a way to keep from getting good, and tries to not suck.
> Must be the proximity to Fenway.

Sixth in the east, playing decently, good goaltending, they don’t suck. Not
to worry, folks, they have plenty of time to screw it up.

>NY Islanders: you add peca, yashin and osgood. hey, they might not suck.

Hey! they don’t suck! amazing what good goaltending and leadership (Peca)
does for you. And what I said about Turek goes for Osgood, too.

>florida: can we bring back the rats? Just to make it interesting?

Sorry, even rats won’t make this interesting.

>NY Rangers: Okay, you tell me. Theo fleury coming back from rehab. eric
> lindros coming back from injury. Mike richter has finished getting
> old, and starting to grow barnacles. I’d call Messier old, but if he
> read it, he’s track me down and hurt me.

Okay, never mind. I’ll call Messier old, because the way he’s skating this
year, he couldn’t catch me. But Lindros is coming around (and staying
healthy), fleury is coming along (and staying straight)), and the
reclamation projects are working — better than Richter’s knees are. But
Blackburn is okay.

However, this is still a house of cards. If they pull it off, it’s a
miracle. I wouldn’t bet on it, but I might (quietly) root for some of these
guys. Especially Theo.

>montreal: sigh. I’m hopeful montreal is on the right track. I’m not
> ready to expect it.

Montreal — what little of the team we actually see skating — is definitely
on the right track. Too bad they can’t keep anyone healthy. The arena
announcer just went on the IR when he sneezed and broke his nose on the
microphone during a power play. They don’t need goaltending, they need an
exorcist.

>Atlanta: expansion team. see columbus.
>
>tampa bay: and finally — will tampa or chicago finish lower in the
> standings?

Hey, cut them some slack. Tampa’s ahead of buffalo. Would I bet that to be
true in March? Nope. But it’s safe to bet that tampa will finish below
chicago. Even when chicago’s plummet hits, it won’t be THAT bad.

The Atlanta Thrashees

This note’s not going to be very coherent, but that’s okay, it’s about the
Atlanta game. It fits.

Congratulations on Adam Graves, who got his silver plated stick (the 9th the
Sharks have paid for — and you wonder why we need revenue sharing?), his
crystal plaque (does Jim Gregory do anything but hand out pieces of glass?
His job: give out all those things Bettman doesn’t want to hand to
people…), a very, um, Niemanesque portrait that I”m sure will sell well on
ebay (maybe), a huge magnum of very nice wine, and a hearty “thank you, go
back to work” from Greg Jamison. Graves’ wife also got a bit of a surprise,
too — Marchment came up during the ceremony and hugged Graves. His stick,
however, took off and missed her face by maybe six inches, much to Mush’s
chagrin. I can see it now — Marchment the first player to get four minutes
for careless use of the stick during an NHL award ceremony…. (we interrupt
this ramble for an inappropriate comment about Adam Grave’s wife: whoo-hoo.
We now return you to the random rant, and I’ll go somewhere and feel
shame…)

Nine sharks have now celebrated 1000 games while in teal. For extra points,
name them. Without looking. Then, name which ones actually had been sharks
for longer than the season they celebrated the milestone….

Whatever the question is, Atlanta ought to realize that the answer is not
(and likely never has been) “Damian Rhodes”. Although to be honest, he was
the least of their problems tonight. Sort of. That first goal wasn’t soft.
It wasn’t “stay-puft marshmallow man” soft. It was “Old Yeller” soft. And
he’s willing to take 45 shots and not start swinging sticks at his so-called
defensemen.

In case you’re wondering, on the first shift of the game, Jeff Odgers tried
to put an elbow through Marchment’s face. Marchment looked carefully at both
refs, who were pointedly ignoring him, and those of us close to the ice
heard a quiet feral growl and then the pinging of the sonar, as Marchment
started shedding clothing and played “heatseeker” for Odgers. Odgers seemed
rather surprised to be jumped, and Mush won on points.

Here’s hoping Odgers isn’t seriously hurt, but he was putting no weight on
his right leg, and there were rumors of it being his knee. And his being
ready for the long jump from that last hit. That injury seemed to stun
Atlanta, and I’m not sure they ever recovered. They aren’t THAT bad a team,
honest. They really aren’t — although I wondered at times if this was a
prank, and they’d hired the san jose state team to stand in for the evening.

The Thrashers REALLY aren’t that bad. Honest. I think. The good news: ticket
prices will go down next year, because of the reduced need for showers and
laundry tonight in the Sharks locker room. If you don’t sweat, you don’t
need to wash…

What got into Hannan tonight? Especially in the third, everything he touched
fell down. Especially good (judges rated it a 6.5, except for the Slovak
judge, but we threw out the high and the low) was Kowalchuk’s triple-axel
fall to the ice, but the rumor that he and Hannan are going to the Olympics
for the pair competition are false.

And imagine this: what would have happened if the sharks WEREN’t playing a
back to back and had to travel in from Anaheim (via the reno airport, or
perhaps Cleveland), arriving about next Thursday and exhausted?

Finally, our refs tonight were Ron Cowal, who we got to know in pre-season,
and Mike Leggo, who we got to know last season. What I want to know is: what
did Lombardi do to piss off the league THIS time, that we got blessed with
these guys together? And will either one ever finish reading the rulebook?
Because anyone who refs that way ought to be told to buy a ticket if they
want to watch. There’s a small difference between “letting the boys play”
and “someone find me a mirror, I need to see if he’s still breathing”.

But then, maybe that’s what this game deserved, and my god, despite the
Graves ceremony, it was over at 10:02. And only that because, god help me,
the Refs decided to call a meaningless penalty with four miliseconds left in
the game, after having ignored the game up until then… Game time:
something like 2 hours and 20 minutes. I’ll take it…

Onward to Vancouver, who could use a guy like Rhodes in goal right now…

The Bubble Bursts

There has been a Rathje sighting. Unfortunately, it was in Vancouver, where he’s working out and waiting for the deal that seems nowhere to be found. Dean Lombardi has come out and said things are at an impasse.

If so, it could be a long wait. If (as a semi-educated guess by me) is close to true, and the two sides are about $500K apart for this season, it could be 20 games before the pay lost to missing games overtakes the money he’s holding out for. If they’re demanding more, or if they’re demanding a multi-year deal, it could be longer. But assuming it’s only half a million dollars (well, “only”…), I bet about game 15, Rathje might get itchy about settling. Or maybe not.

The track record of the Sharks says that the deal on the table is reasonable. That implies that Rathje, or his agent, aren’t. If I knew Mike Rathje, I’d tell him to stuff a sock in his agent’s mouth, fly to San Jose, and sit down with Lombardi without his financial weasel, um, advisor. And see what happens. Because sitting in Vancouver and waiting for this deal isn’t doing any good, and as far as I can tell, rathje’s agent is the one causing this problem, not the Sharks.

More on the possible sale of the Sharks:

Rumors about the possible sale of the Sharks circulate. I’ve speculated on this a bit, but thinking about it more, I have another angle, which makes it even less than it seemed. The Gunds aren’t getting any younger. Perhaps the easiest explanation for this is “estate planning”, trying to set things up so that the sharks and those holdings continue moving forward if anything happens, while also making sure they don’t get nailed by the government in taxes. Most of the Gund holdings are private and closely held. This could well be nothing more than an attempt to re-arrange their finances and equity in a way to make things easier to pass along and keep intact in an estate. Let’s hope that odesn’t happen for many years, but estate planning is something you can’t wait until the last minute on….

Is Korky moving on?

Rumor surfaced today of Korolyuk to Ottawa for Chris Phillips (one must guess, as part of a package, I’m not sure I can convince myself it’s a value trade straight up). The big question for me is — what’s the ulterior motive here?

Perhaps the rumor is straight up, and it’s really being discussed. I don’t believe it for a minute. Here’s why — it seems to have leaked out of the Sharks side of the trade, and the Sharks never, ever leak. Or more correctly, they just don’t leak stuff by accident. So if this really did come out of San Jose, why?

Could it be — the team’s kinda struggling, and the sharks are floating the trade rumor to point out that if they don’t get it together, management’s going to make some changes? (and hint: it ain’t the coach going….).

Could it be — Mike Rathje, the lone NHL holdout now that Kaberle has traded, who’s agent has gotten into a bit of a pissing match with Dean Lombardi? It just so happens that f the Sharks bring in Chris Phillips, the need to sign Rathje any time soon goes way, way down, and the Sharks have made it painfully clear they’re willing to let Rat sit (and rot) until his agent gets a clue and comes to terms?

Could it be — since Korky has evidently asked for a trade, they’ve floated the rumor to let him know they’re working on it? And maybe they even are? Might make the guy feel a little better, and that can’t hurt his game. Korky was showcased in the Hawks game, and frankly, didn’t exactly help his stock around the league.

Could it be something else? Sure. The one thing I’ve learned about Lombardi is that whatever you expect to happen, he’ll do something else. And when he does, you’ll usually look at it and say “duh, I never thought of that….” — and it makes sense, unlike most of what Mike Milbury does…

It looks to me like the time has come for the sharks and korolyuk to shake hands and head off in different directions. Chris Phillips would be nice, as part of a package (he is, IMHO, worth more than Korky is in return, but we have to be careful not to overpay) — unless you think Rathje is going to sign soon. If he does, we have a numbers-game problem on the blueline (even if rathje DOESN’T sign, we have that problem, given the way Jilllson is playing…).

It seems to me the Sharks are playing mind-games with Rathje here. More power to them. Rathje needs to quit waiting for miracles, look at the Kaberle contract, and split the difference and get into uniform. Will he?

We’ll see. Lombardi is clearly not going to cave any time soon, and he’s made it clear he’s not going to make it easy for Rat to sit back and wait for concessions. Let’s hope it doesn’t last much longer; make no mistake, the Sharks are a better team with Rat on it than without him; but Rat is not the kind of player that gets huge bucks. Why? No offense, and a quiet but not imposing physical presence. The kind of defenseman rathje is can make an NHL team, but it isn’t the kind of defenseman that generates the big bucks. His agent evidently doesn’t realize that. He better figure it out fast.

The bubble is bursting — pro sports in america heading for a fall.

Something unprecedented is happening in pro sports in america. Prices are falling. For the first time in basically forever, the average ticket price in the NBA dropped — 2.3 percent. Not an individual team, but the entire league. Due to dropping revenues and special clauses in the CBA, NBA players are finding out that 10% of their salary is being deducted from their contracts (remind me to read the fine print on my next paycheck…)

Over in football-land, advertising is exceptionally soft. Rumors are that Monday Night Football, which is having decent viewership numbers, is going to lose as much as $200 million this year (it’s a $650 million a year contract), and the rest of the NFL broadcasts are hurting too. Rumors are circulating that after the season, the networks are going to the NFL to discuss these contracts (read, they’re going to demand cuts in the numbers).

In baseball, as soon as the Diamondbacks win the world series (I’m not pro-diamonbacks, but I know better than to bet against Schilling and the Unit), the CBA expires, and there’s a good chance all hell will break loose. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll find a way to avoid a strike, a lockout, a major fight with the players — but heck, they’ve never done it before, and the Germans have outlawed miracles….

All over the sports landscape viewer numbers are down, advertising revenue is imploding, and the golden eggs have this funny smell to them.

The huge bubble known as pro sports is starting to burst, folks. After adding what seems to be 300 cable sports channels, where there are six hockey games, five basketball games, eight baseball games and every college and NFL game in the universe available free or by Pay Per View, the sports leagues have found out something: that you can have too much sports on TV. The market is beyond saturated.

They’re also finding out that you can’t keep raising ticket prices and other prices infinitely, either. The NBA got hit first here, because, frankly, they marketed around Bird and Johnson and Jordan, and they all retired and the NBA found the new kids simply weren’t marketable — the downside of personality marketing, and something minor league teams could have told them long ago (market the team, not the people. Or do both, but give fans a hook to the city, not a player who’ll be in Cleveland when he signs that next contract…). Baseball is seeing playoff tickets go unsold, and not because of September 11th. Because fans looked at the prices, and said “TV’s good enough”. And the question in baseball is not “do we contract”, but “by how many teams, and who?”. Baseball IS going to fold franchises, the only questions are how fast, which ones, and what kind of stink the union will make about it. Montreal is history; tampa is probably history, and I sure wouldn’t be at all surprised if a couple of other teams join them before this is all finished. If not 2002, then 2003. But if it waits until 2003, I’d bet on there not being any baseball in 2002, either. Scary thought, no?

And in Los Angeles, the 2nd market in the country is still telling the NFL they like having all their football on the boob tube. And the NFL is freaking, because if other cities figure that out, wh’s paying for the new stadiums and the seats in them?

The reality is, pro sports have seen massive increases in revenue in the last 20 years; in many cases, the last decade. Now we get to watch how the leagues, teams and players deal with a gravy train where the wheel has fallen off, and the fans are saying “no, thanks”. Will players realize endless raises and outrageous salaries for journeymen are over? Will it be easy? Or tough? Bet on tough.

What’s this mean for hockey? Of the four major sports, Hockey may be the best set to deal with this, although why may not be obvious. Here is why I think Hockey will weather the storm: First, Bettman has a clue, and has seen this coming for a while. Those of you who hate Bettman, get over it. Without him, this league would have been in horrible trouble long ago, and the Oilers and Coyotes would have been sold and moved by now, and canadian hockey would be in even worse shape, effectively dead. Second, hockey never got addicted to the great teat of TV revenue. It tried — it should now count its blessing that it never hooked up to this the way the NFL and Baseball did. Third, the NFL doesn’t have to worry about a new CBA until 2004. It’s going to be a bit painful getting there (just ask the Oiler owners, who just had a cash call made — but that was misunderstood and overblown by much of the press, it’s not as big a deal as all that); but by 2004, the NFL TV contract wars will be fought, the baseball contraction wars will be fought (we hope, If they’re still fighting, baseball will be dead…), and the NHL can simply point to what’s happened to all of the other leagues and say “see? Let’s talk”.

Baseball’s going to have it worst (as usual) because of a combination of being first to renegotiating a CBA after the bubble bursts, having a tradional hostile relationship with the union (which always wins!), and worst, having an ownership group that can’t agree on the shape of a baseball, much less key strategic issues like revenue sharing or fiscale stability. The union doesn’t have to work hard to win labor fights, they just sit back and let the owners shoot at each other until everyone is wounded, and then step in and plant a flag. Until the baseball owners figure that out and fix their own house, baseball’s in deep trouble. I’m not holding my breath.

Hockey has its issues — but ownership seems to be more or less on the same page, without being stuck in the “league offices uber alles” mentality of the NBA, or the “TV money uber alles” mentality of the NFL. This gives them flexibility, but also the strength of building consensus, something Bettman does better than pretty much everyone (selig talks a good talk, Bettman delivers. Stern and Tagliabue issue edicts).

The good news for fans is — prices are going to stop going up; maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but the peak is here. Teams may try pricing to delay the inevitable, but the ones that do will likely regret it. Players may try to pretend it’s not happening — but when teams start folding, it’ll get their attention. And unlike baseball, I think hockey players are sharp enough to learn from the disasters of other sports (and, in general, I think hockey players are more reasonable than other sports….)

The bad news: it’s not going to be fun. Even in hockey, where TV revenues aren’t huge, advertising hits (boards, programs, broadcast, naming rights, etc) are going to hurt. You’re likely to see more and more advertising layers (on the ice, on the uniforms, in the broadcasts) to try to make up the difference. The real answer, however, is to get the cost of the sport down to an acceptable, manageble level — and that is going to mean lower prices, but also reduced supply. That means fewer games on TV, folks.

It might also mean dead franchises, or moved ones. Canadian teams are far from safe. And there will be unhappiness during the transition. But for pro sports to survive, they have to realize that it’s going to happen whether they like it or not, and simply deal with it. Hockey has the opportunity to come out of it least hurt, and most able to build on what they have; if they’re reasonable and intelligent about it. Fortunately, I think hockey has the leadership to do it.

The last ten years, pro sports have all be climbing the hold mountain of cash. What they didn’t realize was that it’s a roller coaster, and the other side of that hill is about to arrive. Fasten your belts, and put down that coke.

The bubble has already burst in the NBA, and it’s only going to get worse. All hell is about to break loose in the NFL, because TV revenue is going to go down drastically, whether the NFL wants it to or not. And in baseball, god, I don’t want to think about it. They have everything but the four horseman throwing out the first pitch — and they have trouble not screwing it up in the good times.

Think the dot-com bubble collapse was bad? Stay tuned. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.