Chuq Von Rospach is a Silicon Valley veteran doing Technical Community Management and amateur photographer with a strong interest in birds, wildlife and landscapes. My goal is to explore the Western states and working to tell you the stories of the special places I've found. You can find out more on the About Page.
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Monthly Archives: June 2007
I can’t count how many times I got asked today, so I’ll say it here.
No, I am not buying an iPhone tomorrow.
It’s not that I don’t like it — I think it’s a world-changing device in a number of ways, and I’ve been waiting for it for a while. It’s that I see no reason to dive into the crowds and hype when what I currently have works fine, and I long ago gave up trying to play on the bleeding edge for Lent.
But trust me, when it’s time to upgrade my phone, my next phone will almost definitely be an iPhone.
And I’m watching all of the usual suspects say all of the usual (in many cases silly or stupid) things on both sides of the hype fence. The sheer anti-hype reaction, to me, tells me this is going to be a huge success, because it seems once again it’s almost becoming trendy to be “anti iPhone” among some of the geek-literati crowds.
Very amusing… Apple doesn’t even have to run arond trying to create hype. It generates the seed kernel, and the rest happens almost by magic. Imagine if Yahoo could do that… (grin)
well, it’s now the off-season. Time for all of us hockey geeks to take a breather, relax, and wait for something interesting to happen.
Not. they may not be playing, but it sure isn’t quiet or boring right now, is it?
Anyway, I’m starting to firm up my off-season plans. With any luck at all, here’s what you’ll see at Two for Elbowing during the offseason:
First — as previously threatened, I’m going to start my series of articles on what’s wrong with hockey. And also what’s right, because there’s a bunch of both. I won’t pretend to have all of the answers (or even all of the questions), but I do think what I have planned will be interesting and make folks think. And since (if you don’t read my personal blog) I’m leaving StrongMail friday, until I get a new job one of the things i plan on working on is my writing portfolio — and this is one big piece of that. So hopefully, you’ll find it worth reading.
Second — a project I’ve wanted to do for a long while: get my various collections online; Laurie and I own about 60 jerseys, almost a hundred pucks and probably a similar number of pins, we have about 450 volumes in our book collections (including all volumes of Trail of the Stanley Cup), and Laurie’s collection god knows how many program books, and I’ve been wanting to put some of the more historic highlights online for a while, whether it’s classic images of Peter Puck or our personal friend, Big Head Referee.
Maybe even some “can you name this poor schmuck” based on their program pictures. Wait until you see the one we found of Wayne Thomas — if I can find it again…
So hopefully hockey off-season will be anything but boring around this place…
Two for Elbowing: Keenan in Calgary:
According to press reports, Sutter took Playfair out behind the barn, and Keenan is now the head coach in Calgary.
Bad news: Calgary, CBC, TSN, and the rest are going to have to put up with Keenan’s foibles for the next 18 months (his approximate shelf-life these days).
Good News: For players and fans not in Calgary–hey, we don’t have to worry about Keenan showing up as a mid-season replacement.
Question–is Keenan the answer to the question that the Flames management is asking? Or should be asking?
It’s good to see Laurie blogging again…
Now, I’m not remotely a big fan of Mike Keenan. I think in the right situations he can be a good coach for a short period of time, and I think he’s proven that when he’s given GM style capabilities in defining players and rosters, he’s more or less a disaster (and having said that, some of his more notable ‘disasters’, such as the trade for Pronger in St. Louis, and to be honest, a number of his shakeups in Vancouver, did in fact help the team in the long-run, but at the cost of fan support and player committment. And some of his deals, such as dumping Cujo for Fuhr — well, not so).
But if there was ever a situation created for Keenan to return to the NHL, this is it. the Flames need a push over the edge before it gets blown up and rebuilt, and that means the next two years, tops. Keenan is, ultimately, a coach that knows how to take a team and turn the knob to 11 — and get a year or two out of it before it rebels and he gets fired. With Darryl Sutter as GM, I don’t think for a second we have ot worry about Keenan bullying his GM into player moves that will hurt the team. Unless, of course, the GM agrees with it.
I don’t think this will be a fun time for Iginla, Phaneuff, or Kriprusoff. Those are the three guys you can expect Keenan to lean on. But I expect Iginla to thrive, and push back on Keenan to protect the players. The other two will probably come out of this better players, but miserable…
But this may be exactly what the Flames need. And in 2-3 years, what’s left of the Flames may have a Cup whe they need to rebuild But they’re likely going to have to rebuild one way or the other, anyway.
Weird, trivial thought: when Steve gave his keynote at Macworld, it seemed — weird — to not be in the middle of the hype and chaos. The quiet of not being at Apple, of not being involved, felt funny more than anything else.
Today, with the WWDC announcements and keynotes — I actually missed the hype and chaos. I guess I’m just someone who’s going to bleed six colors long after nobody remembers why those colors matter…
As to the details; I found it to be a good, interesting keynote, one that lived up to what Apple promised, but (of course), not the hype and the rumors and all of that crap. Stock fell 3% after, but before folks bitch about the rumor sites driving down the stock, remember that those same rumors tend to drive UP the stock before, and I’ll bet the stock gains more ahead of this kind of thing than it loses when it “disappoints”.
FWIW, it didn’t disappoint me, not a bit, but then, I have a few years of practice at guessing where the rumor hype is, well, hype instead of substance. it was clear the “leak” in germany was a farce, mostly made up, I’d guess, to see how many sites they could embarass for swallowing such a load of obvious crap hook, line and sinker. And, FWIW, far too many sites and pundits that should have known better did; why sites like that get ANY linklove at all these days, I don’t know. hint to the rumor sites: point to them AFTER they prove themselves right, not before. Your reputation will thank you.
More after I have a chance to look at the keynote stream and read some of the analysis — but I am also working on some stuff for, and so it’s back to Photoshop for me for another evening, or at least parts of it.
Chuq mentioned a couple of days back that this was the first year that we were both seriously looking at downgrading our tickets to a cheaper section. Yes, this was likely the first year it was seriously discussed, rather than the usual:
"Ticket invoice arrived"
(sound of opening envelope and digging out invoice goes here)
"(sudden exhale) whew!"
"Do we want to look at moving out of the club seats?"
"Nah, I like where we’re sitting"
Repeat over the past umpteen years, and you get the idea.
A couple of things happened this past year. Because I was hospitalized and then spent a lot of time getting over multiple surgeries, I didn’t go to nearly as many games as I did in previous years. I’d have to say that the last time I missed as many games, I was busily working on my MBA and working full-time, and that was a *long* time ago. But when you don’t show up as often, you don’t get into the "well, it’s always like this". And when you’re moving slower than usual, you tend to notice amenities that aren’t up to the level they should be.
And that’s where we get to the crux of the matter. The Sharks have been running their arena as if they expect to win the Stanley Cup. A noble cause, and I’d certainly like to see Stanley come to town before I leave, but hey–there’s a problem with this. Only one team wins the Stanley Cup, and let’s face it, even the team with the best betting line at the beginning of the season still tends to have the odds against them. But, hey–if you win the Cup, people come for the hockey, and they won’t notice there’s some fraying around the edges. And if someone says the whole package isn’t worth it (we’ll get back to this in a minute), then there’s plenty more where they came from, right?
Um, no, there aren’t. Because like all the other teams who aren’t Anaheim this year, you didn’t win the Stanley Cup. You didn’t even get out of the first round. And Ganesh help ya, not only did you not get out of the second round, but the freaking Warriors appear to be on an upswing. There’s not that many people who are willing to pay the price and show up, and you’re not delivering the expected product, and you have competition from up the Bay.
Reminder: you are ultimately in the entertainment business, and people will vote with their dollars. If you don’t offer the package, people don’t come back. And if you aren’t offering the Stanley Cup, then you have to make it up elsewhere. You don’t get the free ride on Stanley until *after* you’ve won it.
And the package includes the environs. And that means the arena is clean. Do you have any idea what the reaction is, when someone has been down for the count for six weeks, to totter back into their allegedly high-end seat, and finds that the floors are sticky from the last event? I do, because I had that happen last season. Or to realize some time around January that there’s no intention to clean the glass from the layers and layers of smears and cruft that’s building up over the season? Yeah, you cleaned the glass in the post-season for the national telecasts. And then you let the cruft build up again until I’m guessing that the camera operators complained, and you cleaned them again.
Here’s the hint–that you did finally clean them indicates that they can be cleaned. That you have to be prodded indicates you’re not going to clean them unless you’re forced to.
Drinks w/o lids–yes, that’s your vendor. So, who’s in charge of making sure they don’t chronically short-order supplies? Food that arrives lukewarm–not good. Hot food shows up hot, cold food shows up cold. That’s *health* standards, people.
And spend a few bucks on the plumbing in the women’s washroom in the club section behind 127. The eternally running toilet (interrupted by random geysers–if the thing went off with any more regularity, we could have the Park Service come in and run it) has been doing its act for over ten years now. Isn’t that a bit much?
Clean the arena. That means it gets cleaned-up even if there was a concert the previous night. Even if there was a giant food-fight competition the previous night. If you want to have 300+ light-dates a year, then you need to plan for it. We both can do the math–having extra people in to clean so the floors don’t try to trap my shoes in primordial goo isn’t that expensive.
I’m going to stop this here–the non-hygiene (and it is hygiene folks–we’re talking about clean and safe, not exciting and entertaining) stuff gets handled in a bit.
But what it comes down to is this–running the arena as if you expect the Sharks will win the Stanley Cup every year will lead you to grief. Running the arena as if you expect the Sharks to stink on ice, well that’s the way to make sure you have happy customers. And happy customers return, even when the team is less than stellar.
Tom Benjamin’s NHL Weblog: Opportunity Lost:
To the surprise of absolutely no one, the TV ratings for the Stanley Cup playoffs were dismal. That the results were very nearly certain highlights a scheduling mistake the NHL made when it timed the West Coast games to maximize the national TV audience. They should have been timed to maximise the impact of a Stanley Cup in Southern California.
If the league wants to grow the game in the non-traditional markets they have to focus on the individual markets and build locally.
I agree with Tom to some degree that the scheduling sucked. I basically got to listen to the Cup final games on the drive home, and picked them up on TV sometime in the first intermission or 2nd period. No way I was getting home by 5PM. And frankly, if San Jose was in the finals and I had to make work arrangements to get there, I would, but I’d have been honked.
In Anaheim? with traffic the way it is, that’s insane. But — TV is controlled by the east coast, for the benefit of the east coast. Which is stupid, because you screw over the people who wanted to watch in the LA area by programming it too early, so you could make prime time in New york, where nobody care but the execs live.
But the bigger problem is simply systemic to sports, and you see it in the canadian numbers: TV ratings are driven based on casual fans who come in for the playoffs, and casual fans tend to only come in if they have a reason to. Since it seems 2/3 of Canada lives in Toronto, ratings live or die based on how Toronto tunes in (which is why we love calling it the Toronto Sports Network, although both it and CBC are better than they used to be), interest in playoff hockey is tied heavily to the Leafs — or a team Leafs fans are willing to adopt. Vancouver? Sure, why not. Edmonton? Calgary? hey, sure. Ottawa? hey, isn’t it almost time for the CFL?
That’s why league execs secretly wish the Stanley Cup final every year is Rangers (or Toronto)/Detroit; it’s where the eyeballs are. And those eyeballs just aren’t as willing to tune in if it’s not “their” team.
Tom Benjamin’s NHL Weblog: Popping Balloons:
Fans are disillusioned, disappointed and disenfranchised. And what else would they be at this point? The game is great. The league stinks. We want our old NHL back; fewer teams not more, owners that want to win, not bilk taxpayers, real television coverage, not something thatâ€™s on before bull riding.
Which hockey fan can possibly disagree? Wouldn’t it be nice if every hockey writer responded to expansion talk with a similar piece? Maybe if the trial balloons are promptly popped, the talking won’t be walking anytime soon.
Let’s have a show of hands here. How many of you think that the NHL ought to expand to 32 teams?
Wow, nobody…except the idiots at the NHL’s Front Offices …
Here, I’ll raise my hand. I think if handled well, expansion can work, and work well.
I talked about why talent dilution was a strawman a few years ago, so I’ll point to it instead of write it again…
If there are markets that can support a team? WHY THE HELL NOT? After all, what are fans most bitching about right now, at least, if you listen to Tom and Jes (well, if you listen to them, it seems fans are bitching about everything, because everything is broken, but.. oh, never mind).
Low TV ratings. Lack of national interest in the states. No team in Winnipeg.
More teams help all of these, except maybe the team in Winnipeg. And maybe even indirectly that, if the rumors are true. If Balsillie buys Nashville and moves it to Ontario (which I expect is likely within a few years), and then we expand, as rumored to Kansas City and Las Vegas, If another team then needs to move — that puts Winnipeg close to the top of the list.
Let’s not forget that we’re talking about the Anschutz empire, and the Bruckmiller empire (K.C. and Vegas respectively). Want to get someone within the owners group that can figure out how to promote the NHL to the US TV networks? well, that’s Bruckmiller. Want someone with experience and success at taking a so-called “second tier” sport (i.e., soccer) and really being a force behind it’s growth and expansion? That’s Anschutz. Talk about two people you could argue the league REALLY needs…
And then we’d be adding two new markets, which means better penetration into the TV markets, and less reason for the networks to see the league as regional.
Are there issues and challenges? sure? Are there other things the league needs to deal with, also? Sure. But while some folks are busy talking about how screwed up hockey is, perhaps some talk about solutions to those problems should appear, too.
Nah. Let’s just bitch… it’s easier and fun.
Seriously — I’m not hugely in favor of expansion, especially as a front-burner issue, but, well, life isn’t nearly as bad as Tom wants to portray it, and neither is expansion.
gee. I’m disagreeing with Tom and Jes. Now that’s unusual….
globeandmail.com: NHL using its head at last:
In a spirited discussion that went an hour over its scheduled time, the GMs emerged mostly on the same page, when it came to the growing problem of shots to the head that leave a player dazed, woozy and concussed.
“The consensus is, we don’t want to eliminate the physical aspect of the game, but we don’t want head-hunting either,” said Edmonton Oilers’ general manager Kevin Lowe.
Lowe is exactly right. We don’t want ringette. we don’t want rollerball, either.
this is part of what I want to talk about in the off-season (coming soon, to a rink near you!), I have some ideas and thoughts.
I also think this is a place where supplementary discipline (i.e. suspensions) plays a much larger role, so that the league can study the issue and intent and not necessarily depend on the split-second evaluation on the ice.
But what I do know is — Pronger’s whining notiwthstanding (um, I believe he now has more suspensions than Brian Marchment…), if players and teams realize the league’s serious about this, they’ll figure it out. Amazing how people can adapt when given motivation instead of empty threats.
Ya know, can you ever think of a time when Scott Stevens led with his elbow? Me, neither. Which shows, I think, that all fo this headhunting and forearm shivver and elbow to the ear crap is completely unnecessary in a physical game. It’s either lazy play, or a player who doesn’t care what happens. Telling players to respect each other is silly — they’re paid to win, and increasingly, it’s an attitude of “at any cost”. So change the cost equation so that this stuff leaves the game.