Stuff That May Be Worth Watching For at the Development Camp Televised By NHL Net

TORONTO (August 6, 2010) – The National Hockey League today revealed the various potential rule changes, rink modifications and strategic innovations that will be tested during the 2010 NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp fueled by G Series August 18-19.

The camp, which will comprise four on-ice sessions over two days at the Toronto Maple Leafs practice facility (400 Kipling Avenue, Etobicoke, ON), will feature more than 30 of the top prospects eligible for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Participating players will be announced next week.

“I think everyone involved with the NHL thinks that our game is in really good shape,” said Brendan Shanahan, NHL Vice President of Hockey and Business Development. “I think that this is just a way of being progressive and keeping ourselves well informed of not just the fact that things work but why they work. Most companies or industries have research and development and that’s exactly what this is: it’s studying our own product.”

Two veteran NHL coaches — Ken Hitchcock and Dave King — will take part in the Camp and will be challenging the prospects with strategies which emphasize offensive play and creating scoring chances.

“We’re very fortunate to have coaches of the caliber of Ken Hitchcock and Dave King working with these talented young players,” Shanahan said. “Ken and Dave are two men who never turn off their hockey brains. They’re always thinking of ways to make the game better and to approach game strategy from different and innovative angles.”

Media wishing to attend should email Jennifer Raimondi ( to apply for accreditation. Media are advised that there will be limited working space at the facility. There will be a media briefing following each session scrimmage. Session agendas are below:

Wednesday August 18 (all times ET; subject to change)

10:00 a.m. – Noon

Hybrid icing rule;

No line change for team committing an offside;

Crease reset rule;

Face-off variation (face-off controlled by whistle in place of traditional puck drop);

Overtime: three minutes of 4-on-4; three minutes of 3-on-3; three minutes of 2-on- 2 followed by shootout (5 players per team).

2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Bigger crease;

Verification goal line (additional line situated behind the goal line);

Wider blue lines;

Line changes zone in front of each bench;

Face-off variations (infringement results in the offending player moving back further, three face-off dots down the middle of the ice);

No icing the puck while shorthanded;

OT – three minutes of 4-on-4; three minutes of 3-on-3; three minutes of 2-on-2 with long line changes; followed by three shooters per team shootout (if tied after three shots then players who have shot previously can shoot again).

Thursday August 19 (all times ET; subject to change)

9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

No touch icing;

Team that commits an offside infraction cannot make a line change and face-off is in offending team zone;

Face-off variation: after a face-off violation, opposition center may choose his face-off opponent;

Second referee located off the playing surface;

Delayed penalty rule

No icing the puck while shorthanded;

OT – 4-on-4 (with long line change) followed by a shootout with five players.

1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Variations of special teams play;

OT – 4-on-4 (with long line change).


The Suitor Tutor, Part 3: All The Rest

With the NHL nearing a new TV contact, a multi-part series, “The Suitor Tutor”, takes a look at the potential bidders for NHL hockey.

The Suitor (#1): FOX, and likely it’s corporate cable siblings FSN and FX.

The Numbers: In 1994, the NHL was on the rise and used that rise to win itself a big money, national network TV deal.  FOX, which had only launched a half-decade earlier and drunk with power after  outbidding competing CBS for the NFL, proceeded to also outbid competing CBS for the NHL with a 5-year, $155 million contract.  One would hope the NHL can get more money than that this time around but … we’ll believe it when I see it.

The Ratings

Regular Season

1995 2.0
1996 2.1
1997 1.9
1998 1.4
1999 1.4

All-Star Game

1996 4.1*
1997 2.8*
1998 2.7
1999 2.2

*-Aired in primetime

Stanley Cup Final

1995 3.4
1996 3.6
1997 4.0
1998 3.3
1999 3.4

(Source: Andrew’s Dallas Stars Page)

The Story: FOX did the best job comprehensively covering NHL hockey that the league has ever seen from a network in 1998.  With an Olympic break in between, FOX aired 11 consecutive weeks of regional hockey action, airing up to 6 games in a regional window from January through April.  In 1999, they cut the regional games in half, though still aired 11 straight weeks of games.

The problem – aside from slipping ratings – was that the network could never catch a break when it came to the Stanley Cup Final.  They would air three of the four games they had rights to cover once, two twice, and one twice.  FOX only aired a total of nine Final telecasts in five year.  For comparison, NBC has aired 21 Stanley Cup games in five years, and ABC aired 22 in it’s five years.  Part of that is just luck and part of it is not having the rights to all seven games of the Final.

That is something FOX wanted to rectify in the next contract.  However, the NHL completely dicked over FOX in a story you can read here.  Network and league have been sour on the national level ever since.

The Verdict: If you get a decent offer and exposure from FOX, with FX thrown in, take it.  FOX’s media empire is able to promote anything, even hockey for awhile.  But I don’t see where the NHL could fit in.

The Suitor: CBS and its sports partner in crime of late, Turner

The Numbers: As was mentioned earlier, CBS was outbid by FOX in 1994, and the network hasn’t aired NHL hockey on a regular basis since the early 70’s.  Neither TNT nor TBS have ever aired NHL hockey.

The Story: The NHL would practically match Turner Sports with the ESPN empire, giving them rights to the MLB postseason, NBA postseason and the NCAA Tournament (occasionally the championship game) in addition to the NHL and likely the Stanley Cup Final.  CBS has some room in it’s schedule after NFL season, but it would have to work hockey around college hoops.

However, one wonders if there’s really enough interest in the NHL for any bidders beyond VERSUS/NBC and ESPN/ABC.  We shall see.

The Verdict: Again, by all means take the money if it’s the right deal.  But until further notice, just not the right fit, in my opinion.