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: July 2007
Don’t tell this to Dave Harrison of Prince George, who apparently still pines for the 1930s, and thinks women’s hockey has no place in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Women’s hockey is just a shade faster than Tai Chi but only half as interesting.
If any event is worthy of an “escape call” early in the first period, it’s women’s hockey.
As a crowd pleaser it seems to appeal only to other women who have convinced themselves that it’s entertaining, feminist promoters of lost causes, anxious sponsors who are about to lose their shirts, milquetoast males who allow their women to choose their clothes (Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche), and husbands who nod in agreement if they know what’s good for them.
No self-respecting, red-blooded, beer-drinking, Canadian male hockey fan ever takes women’s hockey seriously.
I will agree that women’s hockey is boring (to me) and it is like comparing the original Iron Chef to the watered-down American version, but the Hockey Hall of Fame is not exclusively for males, in title or in theory.
How could a serious hockey fan ever discount the impact that certain female players have had on the game and on the national consciousness?
This came up today on themailing list Laurie and I have managed for years. You can only imagine the response.
My favorite: he’s welcome to his opinion, no matter how wrong he is.
Me — I’m just sad that those kind of attitudes are not only still in existence in today’s society, but tolerated by some, and promoted as positive by others. Sad, but not surprised.
Jes, without realizing it, defines the problem wonderfully — by looking at women’s hockey in the mirror of the men’s game, and finding it wanting. This is the same reason the WNBA is considered by many a geek show — it’s not really marketed at women, but as a way for male basketball fans to waste some time waiting for the real stuff to return. (The ABL actually wasn’t afraid to market to women as a primary audience — unfortunately, it got eaten by the financial power of the NBA)
Fortunately, women generally don’t CARE what guys like Dave Harrison think; they’re not in it to get validation from some idiot male chauvinist, they’re in it because they enjoy hockey. And that, I think, is what scares guys like Harrison and makes them try to belittle women’s sports.
Fortunately, the reason anyone’s even paying attention to this is because this kind of attitude has gotten increasingly rare, or at least, the people who believe this are generally smart enough not to stand up on a soapbox and promote it quite so loudly. We’re making progress.
But it’s clear we’re not there yet.
The real good news is this: the women will keep playing hockey and enjoying it for what it is, without trying to be guys in a guys game. And that’ll continue pissing off guys like Dave Harrison… But where 15 years ago, people like Dave might have been able to influence the situation, now he’s merely a sad voice in the distance.
Oh, and jes? Women find your writing boring, too. But that’s okay, no? Different strokes and all that, right? And more important than that: women really don’t care what you think about their game, as long as they get to keep playing.
And THAT’s what matters. Not what anyone thinks about how they play.
(and me? I”m proud to have been able to support the growth of women being able to play the game and enjoy it in the small way I have. And I find their version of the game far from boring. Different from how men play — but men could learn from them, if they wanted to…)
PuckUpdate .: The Hockey Blog :: Archives Archives (weekly):
Larry Brooks is officially on my personal ‘NHL is Too Big’ bandwagon. The league is looking to expand into two more markets (the NHL as Starbucks approach to a league), but Brooks says the active roster should drop down to 20 per game (from 23), with 16 players dressed per game (down from 18). As Brooks points out, two expansion teams would bring 46 players into the NHL and it’s a safe bet they wouldn’t be 46 Joe Sakics.
No; in realty, each team would need to find the equivalent of one mid-2nd rounder to fill out the roster. During the initial expansion, you can expect the rules to be set so the teams suck early on (it’s what we do!), and guys like Brooks will declare how right they were, but over 3-5 years, the teams will be able to build decent teams and it’ll be very much a non-issue.
This argument was made when the league brought in Nashville, Columbus, Atlanta and the Wild — yet nobody today seems to be complaining that the talent is too diluted. it was made when the ducks and the Panthers came into the league. It was made when the Sharks, Senators and Lightning arrived.
heck, this argument was made when the team expanded from 6 to twelve teams.
Funny, the world hasn’t ended. More importantly, expansion in the last fifteen years has had a lot less impact on the quality of hockey than the league rule changes — the TV timeout has allowed teams to focus on the top three lines more, and the rules to cut out obstruction have brought back into the league the smaller, talented player that was being manhandled out of the league (we’ll call that the “Dennis Savard” rule), giving us better hockey than we’ve seen in a decade.
And it would make things much better for players. The Rangers traded center Matt Cullen back to Carolina to free up cap space. But if the Rangers only had three lines, he would have been a keeper, with plenty of money under the cap to keep him. Heck. They could have probably even given him a raise. Instead, the Rangers had to trade a strong player for the sake of salary, and a player who wanted to stay in New York had to leave.
Sorry, but — you want to do away with the jobs of 90 players (3 per team x 30 or 32 teams), and those guys will most likely be younger guys or journeymen, mostly making from league minimum to maybe $1.5m a year — so that we can take that money and give a few players already making a lot of money even more money? And this is good for players — how?
Well, it’s good if you are a top player who’s upset that you’re only making $6 million a year and not $8. It’s not good if you’re Mark Gandler trying to get their client money up to the limit. But benefitting players by cutting a bunch of jobs that hurt the working stiffs of the game? (because, of course, teams aren’t going to cut the roster by cutting their Joe Sakic….)
I just don’t buy it. I wonder what the elite players most likely to benefit from this cut would say. Actually, I think the contracts of Joe Thornton, Syndey Crosby and Jarome Iginla, all of whom took much less than the legal max they could have demanded, already answers that question.
ESPN – Burnside: Did Bettman tell Preds to back off Balsillie talks? – NHL:
Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie has accused NHL commissioner Gary Bettman of forcing the owner of the Nashville Predators to break off discussions about the sale of the team to Balsillie, ESPN.com has learned.
The Canadian ownership group also alleges Bettman directed Predators owner Craig Leipold to focus on closing a deal with William “Boots” Del Biaggio III, who is the front man for a group trying to bring an NHL team to Kansas City.
“We were advised by Mr. Leipold that the commissioner had found out about the existence of the negotiations and ordered him to immediately cease any further communications with us,” Balsillie’s legal representative, Richard Rodier, told ESPN.com this week.
Maybe Bettman did. Maybe he didn’t. Probably did, but not in the way Balsillie is portraying it.
In this case, I tend to side with Bettman, also. It’s no secret that Balsillie’s intending to move Nashville — no matter what the league wants — to Hamilton. it’s been clear since early on that he’s not unwilling to try the “Al Davis” gambit, either, of basically moving the team and throwing it into the courts and seeing how much money he can cost the league along the way.
So, if you’re Gary Bettman, and you’re hearing from the Board of Governors about it, OF COURSE you’re going to go to Leipold and say “hey, this guy’s not going to be approved, don’t bother”. Remember: Leipold owns the team and can sell to anyone he wants, but the buyer has to be approved by the league for the sale to finalize. If the league’s decided that’s not going to happen, the right thing to do is tell Leipold so he can stop wasting time on something that’s going to be tossed out.
The scenarios for the league to get into nasty legal fights here is just stunning. Which lawsuit do you want the league to be involved in? the one where Balsillie sues the NHL for rejecting his purchase? The one where Balsillie sues the NHL for rejecting his move to Hamilton? Or the one where Bailsillie sues the NHL for having moved the Predators ANYWAY and trying to force the NHL to accept it?
The league doesn’t need this kind of fun. And that, I think, is the message Bettman took to Nashville. And he should have. Of course, so many folks want to see Bettman as the root cause of all of the league’s real and perceived problems — but in reality, he’s the messenger for the Board of Governors, and I think it’s clear the Governors decided the Balsillie was nothing but trouble and decided he wasn’t going to be approved, no matter what. And that’s their privilege, as the owners of the league.
Many players have told ESPN.com they believe a new team in Hamilton would generate significantly more revenue than a team in Kansas City. Governors and GMs have told ESPN.com in the past year they believe a second team in Southern Ontario would be a surefire success. Phoenix Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky, still one of hockey’s most influential figures, recently said he thought a team in Hamilton would be a success.
This, of course, is actually irrelevant, and when did the players become better businessmen than the owners, anyway? or sit down and study the deal and the numbers?
Ultimately, I think Balsillie blew it here. He could have played the game, made all of the proper noises about nashville, and structured it to make sure he could break the lease — heck, given how low the average ticket price is in Nashville, he could use the “we have to run this as a business” argument, jumped the ticket prices 20% in two seasons, killed the season ticket sales and be in Hamilton in four years.
But instead, he opened up ticket sales in Hamilton before actually owning the team — and made it clear what his intentions were and what he intended to do, with or without league support. His history of solving things with lawyers is well-known. And that — ultimately, his lack of patience for playing out the end game in Nashville — is what killed his chance of owning an NHL team. At this point, he’s never going to get one, and his continuing attempts to badger the league is only going to hurt his chances further, not help them. He’s going to win the battle for the hearts of Canadians — and lose the war, which is getting a team into Southern Ontario.
I’m not surprised at this, either. That’s his style. And the league clearly doesn’t want a team in Hamilton at this point. Not only will the Leafs never go for that (and don’t minimize the power of the #1 revenue team — and revenue sharing contributor — and their ability to convince other teams to support them here), but I’m sure Buffalo wasn’t thrilled, either. If you start looking at realignment if Nashville moves to Hamilton, and how that affects team travel issues, you can easily find six or seven teams that would see Hamilton as a really bad thing; say, everyone west of St. Louis has a reason not to encourage this.
I’m wondering, in retrospect, whether the league tossed an olive branch at Balsillie and had it trampled. Remember back around the All-Star game where Bettman suddenly came out and talked about how Winnipeg was starting to look attractive to the league? I’m now wondering whether this was the start of an attempt to encourage Balsillie that if he really wanted to move a team to Canada, that the league wouldn’t get in the way of a move to Winnipeg. That would be a useful compromise position for both sides: the team moves back to Canada, but not to Southern Ontario.
Balsillie pretty clearly rejected that; he wants what he wants, and isn’t interested in what might be the interests of the rest of the league. And that’s why the league has decided that his money’s no good here. Think about it: Balsillie has never tried to work with the league to find common ground. He negotiated with Leipold in secret, he started the move to Hamilton early and without permission, he brought lawyers and threats about the possible move into the discussion, and now that he’s been frozen out, he’s playing the “let’s fight in public” game to try to make the league and Bettman look as bad as possible.
Imagine being one of the other 29 owners of an NHL team and having to work with this guy for the next ten years. Is that the kind of owner you want around? Money isn’t everything, and while the various owners aren’t necessarily friends, or even friendly competitors, there HAS to be some common ground of cooperation for the good of the league. Seen any inidication that Balsilie recognizes that (or cares) anywhere? Neither do I.
So in this case, the league is right to exclude someone like Balsillie. Hey, for all Mark Cuban rips on the NBA and the league — he’s doing it to improve the league, and he works within the league to get it done. You can’t even say Balsillie would be that cooperative.
In other words, he’s not Mark Cuban. He’s not even Charlie Finley. he’s Al Davis. And can you see any league, anywhere, at any time, willingly adding an Al Davis to their ownership group? I can’t.
We need to be realistic, unless this local ownership group can rally significant money into the deal: Nashville is done. it’s all about when and how gracefully and to where now. Balsillie’s strategy backfired, and he’s now no longer an option; I think he was offered Winnipeg and rejected it, and that ended the discussion. So now, it’s giving Nashville a fair chance to make it work, and if/when it fails it has to go somewhere. If Balsillie had played even a marginally cooperative “go through the motions” strategy, he’d have gotten his hands on the Preds, and then the league would have had a fun fight keeping them out Hamilton. By playing the game so bluntly — Balsillie played himself out of the game, and gave the league the ability to save themselves from that disaster.
So the reason Balsillie doesn’t have a team — and now, never will — is all his fault. Because he took a group of 29 guys who are all successful businessmen who didn’t get there by being bullied, and tried to bully them. And it didn’t work.
Talk about a misread on how to play this….
Welser’s group found that the most informative individuals â€“ dubbed “answer people” â€“ are also relatively taciturn, rarely participating in discussions heavily. They also tend to shy away from the “discussion artists” who dominate most threads.
Instead, these people mostly post one or two messages to a lot of different discussion threads, and tend to respond to users who do not post a lot. They also tended to avoid long discussions, jumping in when someone had a specific question, providing a useful answer and then bowing out from further talk.
Because the findings use quantitative data about posting behaviour, Welser says they could prove useful for developing automated systems that assigns high reputation to certain people within a discussion. Or, they could make it easier for a search engine to find messages that are most likely to be useful, based on the user.
This will come as no surprise to anyone who’s run online communities for any length of time.
I am, however, interested to see some objective data that indicates that my belief that catering to the loudest members (my “squeaky wheels”) isn’t what makes for better communities. Or even quieter ones. Not that I’m still bitter over all of those fights about how to set “reply-to” on mailing lists or anything.
Nope. Not me.
(long story, won’t bore you)
But seriously, it’s nice to see people making headway in the quest to find ways to identify key users; although honestly, this sounds a lot like Pagerank for people….
Mike Chen’s Hockey Blog: Hit the head, get a penalty:
I’ve often wondered why the NHLPA doesn’t do more to actually protect the physical health constituency. Sure, they do things like try to drive up salaries and pensions and stuff like that, but what about actual on-ice health concerns? Visors, dirty hits, hits to the head — the PA seems content to allow its players police themselves on these issues rather than looking at the big picture. The problem is that almost every hockey observer, from former players to longtime media members, have remarked on the degeneration of on-ice respect between players. Is it an old-school mentality or is the membership just too proud to acknowledge the dangers of these issues — especially concussions?
This is going to sound like a snide answer, maybe, but it really isn’t: the NHLPA doesn’t do more here because the players don’t want it to.
Talk to enough players, or read their inteviews, and chat with team doctors and team officials, and this one is easy to understand. The Players Association sets its agenda based on the priorities of its members, and the members are players, not doctors. The players are heavily indoctrinated into, for better or worse, the macho “we’re hockey players, tape an aspirin to it” mentality. There’s a strong indoctrination that this is about player choice, and when given a choice, players will almost always choose performance over safety and playing over not playing.
There’s a strong underlying attitude that players are skilled enough to avoid the injurious hit, or that they can shake it off and play through it.
The fight over protecting the head is the same fight we’ve seen over visors (protecting the eyes), and 20 years ago, helmets and goalie masks. Visors are finally getting over the hump in terms of acceptance — I think over a third of the league now wears them, even on such “only girly guys wear visor” teams like the Blackhawks. We’re getting to that point where visors will hit the “what were we thinking?” idea that helmets have finally hit.
Heads are a few years behind that, but I think there’s growing awareness that hits to the head need to be dealt with. It’s a surprisingly complex problem, as well, with lots of bad answers that won’t help the game. Solutions are, however, being sought now. About damn time.
But — we have to remember that the PA is the player’s representation, not its nanny. It does what the players tell it to, not what it SHOULD do. That’s because the players set the agenda for the PA, not the team doctors — so it all comes down to convincing the players to make it a priority. And that’s happening, slowly. And, unfortunately, it’s being done mostly through watching peers take hits and not recover from them, it seems. (oh, and don’t underestimate the power of the hockey wife in this discussion. They’ve probably done more to encourage visor usage than all fo the team doctors combined…)
NHL Hockey Opinion – Head-ing for trouble – Alan Adams – sportsnet.ca:
Why do NHLers keep trucking when either their time is up or the next hit they take might cause permanent damage?
Well, think about it. These guys have known only hockey since they first graduated from double runners — age 8? age 12? Younger, maybe? In any case — that little black piece of rubber has been the center of their life for 20 and more years.
How easy do you think you could walk away from that? Pretty much the only thing you’ve known since you remember? The thing you dreamed about your entire life?
Yeah, it’s easy to say it’s over.
And these guys are trained to beat the odds, to be able to compete to victory. They simply believe it’s all about working a little harder, and they can do it. If the words “quit” or “defeat” were in their vocabulary, we wouldn’t be talking about them in the first place.
That’s the rub here: you’re asking people who’ve spent their entire life beating the odds and refusing to quit or give up why it’s so hard to admit it’s time to quit, to give up. Some, in fact, can — but anyone who’s spent any significant time involved in competitive sports doesn’t need to ask this question.
And if there’s another reason, if that’s not enough. I’m friends with someone who’s friends with a number of hockey players, and we had that discussion while watching Bryan Marchment play during his last year in San Jose. I was silly enough to ask if he thought Bryan might retire in the off-season.
he just laughed, and looked at me — “where else is he going to make $4 million a year?”
And I mean, be honest. Even if WE had spent time in the league and made a few million dollars — how easy would it be to leave a million dollars on the table, or even league minimum? Especially if you know the alternative is a “real” job, closer to 5 digits instead of 7. If someone wants to pay you $800K or $1.5mm to play — do you think you could walk away?
Competiive people — and NHLers are by definition competitive and believe they can win and succeed — will compete. Especially since their entire life has been built around competing and succeeding since the days when girls were icky….
It’s another reason to really appreciate Brett Hull. He DID realize it was time, and he DID leave a bunch of money on the table.
Hey, Roenick is done. He needs to retire while he has his dignity intact. But, you know? Given the kind of competitor he is, I can understand why he believes he still has another kick at the can.
it’s what he is, and what got him there.
(hat tip: kukla)
This second, independent experiment reinforced my conviction that:
Although mailing lists and newsgroups provide valuable support, a large percentage of questioners don’t get the information they ask for.
Many users have inadequate background knowledge, a condition that cannot be addressed on the mailing list and that leads to frustration for both the questioners and those trying to help them.
Mailing lists could be better integrated with the more formal documentation sources offered by projects, such as Frequently Asked Questions lists and wikis.
Users need better search tools and ways to find relevant documentation, so they don’t depend so much on questions on mailing lists.
This matches, pretty much perfectly, my experiences when running lists.apple.com and more or less overseeing the developer discussions at Apple.
For a technical mailing list to succeed, it needs a couple of things: it needs a good admin who can (and will) sort out the personalities and keep things focussed and on topic — and be aware that some of their best technical contributors might be the least patient with the newbies, and try to manage the messes that will occur.
it needs the technical people with a willingness and ability to help. And once again, an admin who can differentiate between a willingness to help and an ability to, and to get the mis-information off the list or corrected as needed.
And it needs a good, solid knowledgebase. whether it’s a faq, a wiki, or some other form, it not only needs it, I think that the list needs someone responsible for feeding it. whether that’s an admin, or whether it’s a writer that has a part-time responsibility to sift a list and turn it into KBase articles, someone has to. the contributors won’t, and shouldn’t — their time is better used creating more content, not polishing up their writing (if they would in the first place). The admin might do that, but the hand of a good writer does wonders here.
And that kbase needs a killer search engine, dedicated to the content. one lesson I learned during that time was that while getting the data spidered in Google is a great way to drive new blood onto the lists, a good dedicated search engine is needed, also, and preferably one that lets you both search across all lists on the site, and focus on just one list. And be aware that not all search engines search well against primarily technical geekery like code fragments, because some algorithms see it as noise and exclude it (ditto numbering and stuff. you need to test the engines to see how well they work in your content world…)