Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Today In NHL History - 2004 NHL Lockout Begins

On September 16th in 2004, Commissioner Gary Bettman announced that the 2004-2005 season would not proceed as scheduled owing to a deadlock in Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. What would have been the NHL's 88th offering was officially canceled on February 16, 2005. The dispute was ultimately resolved on July 22, 2005.
At the heart of the 310 day 2004 NHL Lockout was an owner proposed mechanism to link league revenues to player salaries in an attempt to lower the alleged 76% of gross revenues attributed to player costs and $273 million in collective owner losses during the 2002-2003 season. NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow disputed these financial findings and refused to allow a cap to be applied against player salaries.

In the end, a cap was born and a season lost marking the first time since 1919 without a Stanley Cup champion. Though the 1992 NHLPA strike and 1994 NHL Lockout disrupted play, never before had a North American major sports league lost an entire season to such strife. Among the side effects of the stalled season was a temporary global redistribution of NHL talent and a unique lottery system for the 2005 NHL Entry Draft to direct Sidney Crosby and others to deserving teams.

That's today in NHL history.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Today In NHL History - Richard Brodeur

On September 15th in 1952, Richard Brodeur was born in Longueuil, Quebec. Stopping pucks for 16 seasons in the WHA (Nordiques: 7) and NHL (Islanders: 1, Canucks: 7.5, Whalers: .5), the pint-sized netminder won the Avco World Trophy with Quebec (1977) and led Vancouver to the Stanley Cup Finals (1982).

Skating seven seasons in the WHA before returning to the team that took him 97th overall in the 1972 Entry Draft, Brodeur found himself on the Islanders bench behind Billy Smith and Chico Resch. The next year he was traded to the Canucks and his NHL legend was born.

Trimming his regular season 3.35 GAA to a stingy 2.70 in the 1982 playoffs, King Richard forged an unlikely path through the Flames, Kings, and Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Canucks Cinderella story ended, however, when he met his former team in the third of their four year dynasty.

Winning club MVP honors for three years ('81, '82, '85) before being traded to Hartford for Steve Weeks in 1988 and subsequently retiring from the game, Brodeur remains a West Coast hockey hero .

Today Richard resides in Vancouver playing with the Canucks Alumni team, teaching toddlers and teens his trade at King Richard Brodeur's Hockey School, supporting local charities through the Richard Brodeur Celebrity Golf Classic, and painting local landscapes and childhood hockey scenes that may be found on display at Diskin Galleries.

Richard Brodeur. Once a Canuck. Always a King.

That's today in NHL history.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Today In NHL History - Anson Carter Snubs Canucks

On September 13th in 2006, Anson Carter rejected a one year $1.7 million offer from the Vancouver Canucks to skate with future Art Ross winning twins Henrik (2010) and Daniel Sedin (2011) on the 'Brothers Line', electing instead to sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets for one year at $2.5 million.

Having led the team in goals (33) and earned the club's Most Exciting Player award (2006), Carter was confident he had a home in Vancouver and allegedly demanded a three year contract worth $9 million. The signings of the Sedins, Roberto Luongo and Willie Mitchell, however, depleted the club's resources for Carter.

The top line vacancy was eventually awarded to Alex Burrows who thrived with the Sedins and succeeded Anson as the Canucks Most Exciting Player for three consecutive seasons (2008, 2009, 2010).

Carter's tenure with Columbus lasted 54 games (27 pts) before being traded to the Carolina Hurricanes for a 2008 5th round pick (Tomas Kubalik). Carter collected just one point in his 10 games with Carolina, skating only 64 games in what would be his final NHL season. Despite earning an invite to the Edmonton Oilers training camp the following season, the right winger failed to crack the roster.

And like that, he's gone.

Anson Carter's ten season NHL career spanning eight different teams (Capitals, Bruins, Oilers, Rangers, Kings, Canucks, Blue Jackets, Hurricanes) was over at the age of 32. One can only wonder what might have been if Carter had renewed with the Canucks and skated with the Sedins as they entered their prime playing days. I wonder if player agent Pat Brisson overplayed his hand advising Anson to chase market value when a hometown discount would have been far richer.

That's today in NHL history.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Today In NHL History - Heatley Trade (OTT-SJS)

On September 12th in 2009, the Ottawa Senators shipped a disgruntled Dany Heatley and a 5th round pick in the 2010 Draft (Isaac MacLeod) to the San Jose Sharks for Jonathon Cheechoo, Milan Michalek and a 2nd round pick (Kent Simpson).

The two-time 50 goal scorer (2006, 2007) and Calder winning (2002) winger publicly demanded a trade three months earlier, a mere two years into his six year $45m deal with the club, handcuffing GM Bryan Murray into settling for less than market value for his prized possession.

The washed-up Rocket Richard winner (2006) Cheechoo mustered a measly 14 points in 61 games for the Sens and was bought out of the final year of his contract which would have paid $3.5m in 2010-2011. Heatley, meanwhile, enjoyed a 10 point improvement over his prior season skating with 1997 first rounders Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.

The tide of the trade finally turned in 2012 when Michalek outpointed (60pts v 53pts) and outscored (35G v 24G) Heatley at almost half the cap hit ($4.3m v $7.5m) to lead the Senators in scoring. Heatley posted his 2012 numbers for the Minnesota Wild, his third team in four years, after the Sharks swapped the winger for Martin Havlat on July 3, 2011.

That's today in NHL history.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

History of NHL Contraction

Since the league's inception in 1917, NHL expansion has welcomed 36 clubs to its hockey family. Of those teams, thirteen have relocated to a new city, eleven have changed their team name while remaining in the same city, and six have folded owing to financial failure. 

The chart below shows NHL contraction by year and team name.

Year       Folded Team Name
1918 Montreal Wanderers
1935 St. Louis Eagles^
1936 Philadelphia Quakers^
1946 Brooklyn Americans^^*
1947 Montreal Maroons
1978 Cleveland Barons**^

* Team was victim of NHL Renaming
^ Team was victim of NHL Relocation

The footnotes above show, chronologically, the renaming and/or relocation of contracted teams prior to their demise.  The number of NHL teams and regular season games played by year may be found here.


The first team to fold was the Montreal Wanderers.  Formed in 1903 prior to joining the NHL in 1917, the Wanderers skated in only four NHL games (winning only one) before their home rink Montreal Arena burned down on January 2, 1918 ending their existence.

17 years passed before another club contracted. Born as the Ottawa Senators in 1883 and joining the NHL in 1917, the cash-strapped Senators relocated to St. Louis in 1934 as the St. Louis Eagles, folding after one season owing to poor divisional alignment and travel costs.



The next year the Philadelphia Quakers collapsed. Relocating after five seasons as the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Quakers set a record for the NHL's worst win percentage suspending operations after one season before contracting five years later in 1936.



Skating one season in 1919 as the Quebec Bulldogs, the club relocated as the Hamilton Tigers playing five years before becoming the New York Americans in 1925, which was renamed the Brooklyn Americans in their final season in 1942 before folding in 1946.

Erected in 1924 to satisfy Montreal's anglophone hockey fans after losing the Wanderers in 1918, the Montreal Maroons fell victim to the Great Depression, playing their final game in 1938 and ultimately contracted in 1947 after several unsuccessful attempts to move.

Starting out as the California Seals in 1967, the club was renamed the Oakland Seals then the California Golden Seals before relocating as the Cleveland Barons, the franchise skated for two seasons in Cleveland before merging into the Minnesota North Stars in 1978.

Today's NHL frowns upon contracting and relocating teams. Despite financial difficulties plaguing several franchises over the years, the league elects to keep clubs in their current location whenever possible.

The NHL's recent actions in Phoenix supports this narrative, resuscitating the Coyotes for four years amidst enormous losses before finding new ownership which was subsequently approved by the Glendale counsel, averting almost certain relocation to Seattle or Quebec.

Since the NHL expanded beyond its Original Six 1967, only nine teams have relocated and just one has contracted (Cleveland Barons). Time will tell if contraction strikes again or if the NHL's 30 team structure is sustainable and instead NHL expansion is on the horizon.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

History Of NHL Team Renaming

Typically reserved for NHL expansion and NHL relocation, seven cities (Toronto, Detroit, New York, Oakland, Chicago, Anaheim, Phoenix) have assigned eleven new names for their NHL team absent a move, since the league's inaugural season in 1917.

The chart below shows each instance of a renaming absent expansion or relocation, sorted by year, old team name and new team name.

Year       Old Team Name New Team Name
1918 Toronto Blueshirts Toronto Arenas
1919 Toronto Arenas Toronto St. Patricks
1927 Toronto St. Patricks Toronto Maple Leafs
1930 Detroit Cougars Detroit Falcons
1932 Detroit Falcons Detroit Red Wings
1941 New York Americans Brooklyn Americans
1967 California Seals Oakland Seals
1970 Oakland Seals California Golden Seals
1986 Chicago Black Hawks Chicago Blackhawks
2006 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim       Anaheim Ducks
2014 Phoenix Coyotes Arizona Coyotes

The most recent team renaming came in June 2014 as part of a last ditch effort to avoid relocation and keep the Coyotes in Phoenix under new ownership after years of financial distress and league ownership.  

Of the eleven newly named teams, five have won the Stanley Cup under their new namesake (Toronto St. Patricks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks) including one in the inaugural year of their name change (Anaheim Ducks 2007), one relocated (California Golden Seals to Cleveland Barons), and two fell prey to NHL contraction (Brooklyn Americans, Cleveland Barons).

Here's hoping the desert dogs enjoy more success on and off the ice with their new name. They're due some good fortune in the Sonoran.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

History of NHL Relocation

Since the league's inaugural season in 1917, the NHL has presided over the relocation of thirteen teams, four prior to the cementing of the Original Six in 1942 and the remaining seven clubs commencing in the mid-1970s.

The chart below shows each instance of the relocation of a NHL team, sorted by year, old team name and new team name.

Year       Old Team Name New Team Name
1920 Quebec Bulldogs Hamilton Tigers
1925 Hamilton Tigers New York Americans*#
1930 Pittsburgh Pirates Philadelphia Quakers#
1934 Ottawa Senators St. Louis Eagles#
1976        California Golden Seals        Cleveland Barons#
1976 Kansas City Scouts Colorado Rockies
1980 Atlanta Flames Calgary Flames
1982 Colorado Rockies New Jersey Devils
1993 Minnesota North Stars Dallas Stars
1995 Quebec Nordiques       Colorado Avalanche
1996 Winnipeg Jets Phoenix Coyotes*
1997 Hartford Whalers       Carolina Hurricanes
2011 Atlanta Thrashers Winnipeg Jets

* Team was victim of NHL Renaming
# Team was victim of NHL Contraction


As indicated by the footnotes above, several teams have endured change in the form of renaming and contraction. The number of NHL teams and regular season games played by year may be found here.

Seven active NHL teams are a product of relocation (Calgary Flames, New Jersey Devils, Dallas Stars, Colorado Avalanche, Phoenix Coyotes, Carolina Hurricanes, Winnipeg Jets).  The current record for the most relocations by a single NHL team is two, held jointly by the Quebec Bulldogs (Hamilton Tigers, New York Americans) and Kansas City Scouts (Colorado Rockies, New Jersey Devils). Only twice has a relocated club carried their team name to the new town (Flames, Stars).

The most recent NHL team relocation saw Atlanta lose their second team in 31 years (Flames 1980, Thrashers 2011) and Winnipeg land their second club in 32 years (Jets 1979, Jets 2011). The next change of address in the NHL is scheduled for 2015-2016 NHL season when the New York Islanders move a mere 27 miles west from Uniondale to Brooklyn.

Earlier this week the Glendale counsel voted 4-3 to keep the Coyotes for five more years, narrowly averting a relocation of the club to Seattle or Quebec City.  While the NHL prefers expansion over relocation owing to the spectacular fees for owners, the continued financial struggles of several Sun Belt squads may yield more relocation in the years to come.