Self-Promote: Please Buy The Hockey News This Fortnight

This above pictured edition of The Hockey News – the October 31st edition – features a story from yours truly on the effort it took to broadcast Game 6 of the 1980 Stanley Cup Final on CBS. It was an honor to be featured in the same pages I subscribed to myself for so many years. Special thanks to Jason Kay, Adam Proteau, and all the good folk at THN for the opportunity.


NHL Network To Air Docu-Series About U-16 Team Coached By Pat LaFontaine

NEW YORK (October 25, 2011) – NHL Network™ and now feature a weekly series titled Making of a Royal, which provides an unprecedented look behind the scenes at the Long Island Royals – an Under-16 AAA hockey team that happens to be coached by Hockey Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine.


Making of a Royal, presented by McDonald’s, is distributed as a weekly vignette that rolls out every Monday on NHL Network’s NHL Live™ and NHL on the Fly™. The series also lives on and is accompanied with a blog written by LaFontaine and occasional guest bloggers. The weekly installments will come together in two NHL Network specials. The first is scheduled to air February 19 as part of the network’s “Hockey Day in America” coverage with another on April 8 chronicling the Royals’ season-long journey.


Former New York Islander Steve Webb serves as an assistant coach for the Royals, whose roster includes LaFontaine’s son, Daniel. In LaFontaine’s first blog entry, he discusses the difference between being a dad and being a coach, as well as his son’s affinity for Coach Webb.


“With this series, I hope to show the hard work and dedication it takes to make it to the next level as a hockey player,” said Pat LaFontaine, who skated for the Islanders, Sabres and Rangers in a 15-year NHL career. “We have a lot of talented players on this team who also happen to be great kids. Getting behind the bench to coach this team is a thrill.”


McDonald’s, the world’s leading food service provider, is the presenting sponsor for Making of a Royal. As part of this partnership, the players will wear McDonald’s patches on their jerseys for the remainder of the season.


“We are proud to sponsor this program as part of our ongoing commitment to support grassroots programs that encourage active lifestyles in local communities around the world,” said John Lewicki, Head of McDonald’s Global Alliance Marketing.


This weekend, the Royals head to the Beantown Classic, one of the premiere and most scouted series of elite hockey showcases in North America. Since the tournament’s founding, the Beantown Classic has seen over 500 graduates play professional or NCAA Division I Ice Hockey.

NBC Sports Makes It Official in Connecticut

Stamford, Conn. – October 25, 2011 – Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced the NBC Sports Group will be the fourth company to take advantage of the “First Five” economic development program. NBCUniversal’s NBC Sports Group will consolidate much of its northeast operations, including its existing Connecticut workforce, at new studios and offices in the former Clairol factory in Stamford. The project, slated to start in September 2012, will create 450 jobs and allow room for the company to grow in the future.


“This is a terrific project for the city and state, and one that I am proud to support as the fourth ‘First Five.’ The companies that are participating in this economic development program are job producers, and NBCUniversal has been doing that since it first arrived in Connecticut,” said Governor Malloy. “Stamford has been home to NBCUniversal television production since 2008 when it retrofitted the Rich Forum Theatre in downtown to create the Stamford Media Center. As Mayor of Stamford at the time, I was supportive of the city and state assistance for the project because I understood its potential. I am strongly supportive of this expansion in Stamford because we continue to see the positive impact in the local economy and on the workforce.”


The 32-acre site will house office space for NBC Sports, NBC Olympics, NBC Sports Digital, VERSUS (to be renamed the NBC Sports Network on January 2), and the Comcast Sports Management Group, which oversees the NBC Sports Group’s 14 regional networks. The NBC Sports Group will also use the site to construct numerous state-of-the-art studios to house the company’s growing need for studio content.


“This new campus is about bringing people together to maximize production, creativity and efficient teamwork. We are creating one 32-acre unique location that allows us to build numerous state-of-the-art studios, house more than 450 employees, and prepare for anticipated future growth,” said Mark Lazarus, Chairman, NBC Sports Group. “However, this initiative would not have been possible without the financial support of Governor Malloy’s ‘First Five’ program and the local support provided by Mayor Pavia, who we look forward to working with for many years to come.”


Also, as part of its 10-year partnership with the NHL, the NBC Sports Group will build a state-of-the-art studio for NHL Network that will house most of the network’s personnel and will create additional jobs in Connecticut that are not included in the 450.


“This collaboration with the NBC Sports Group, including the construction of our new NHL Network studio in Stamford, will give our fans unprecedented year-round access to the game,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “NBC has been a great partner and has played a significant role in our strong growth over the past five years. We look forward to building on our relationship.”


In support of the NBC Sports Group’s capital investment and the commitment to retain and create full-time jobs in Connecticut, the state will provide a $20 million loan through the Department of Economic and Community Development, which administers “First Five.”


The “First Five” program is designed to attract large-scale business development projects by augmenting and combining the state’s best incentive and tax credit programs for the first five companies that create 200 new jobs within two years, or invest $25 million and create 200 new jobs within five years.


The first three companies to take part in the “First Five” program — CIGNA, TicketNetwork, and ESPN — were announced over the summer.


“The new NBC Sports Group presents a tremendous opportunity to build and develop this sector of Connecticut’s economy,” said Catherine Smith, commissioner of DECD. “The state is increasingly seen as a great home to television, film and digital media and this project – in terms of jobs and infrastructure – will help us create the needed critical mass that can successfully attract new industry players to Connecticut and the greater Stamford area. We thank NBC for making this large investment here in Connecticut.”

GameCenter Live Makes Hockey a Truly Personal Experience

Sports are meant to be a special, shared experience between a community of like-minded (or sometimes opposing-minded) believers in a team, or just in a sport itself. Typically you watch the games with family members or friends, or you head to a bar. Or you’ll head to the stadium/arena itself to get yourself closer to the whole experience. Sports typically begs for viewing in groups, and some would argue it was meant to be that way.

So what happens if you invent a product that’s the complete opposite of that?

That’s what the NHL’s Game Center Live and GCL app seem to positing. They’re taking what is typically a communal experience and individualizing it. It’s hard to gather at a lap top to watch a game. the iPad app, which you have to use headphones to even listen to, almost demands individuals to be viewing by themselves. Myself, I’ve tried to include my family in GameCenter Live (largely because the cable company wouldn’t let us have it for free despite offering us terrible service, thanks Verizon) but we just can’t sustain viewing on a smaller screen as we can on the ol’ HD TV.

Is it ideal? Perhaps not in some situations. But for the hockey fanatics among us – and I assume if you’re reading this website, you are – Game Center Live, and especially the iPad and PlayStation 3 version – are perfect. Those of us who have to write about the game have one stop access to everything we need to know about it. From detailed stats and 3D shot charts that provide highlights, to both home and away feeds of each game (though the CBC feeds need to be a little more available, as they do in Center Ice) that are automatically in high, if not HD, close to it quality on the iPad screen. If you like hockey more than anyone else in your household does by a wide margin, then Game Center Live is probably for you, considering your family likely doesn’t want you hogging the TV with a Winnipeg-Carolina game on Center Ice while there’s something on.

There have been a few technically flaws. There have been a couple of nights when GCL is completely unavailable on the iPad for seemingly no apparent reason. The music played during commercial breaks is abhorrent, and you are unable to view much intermission programming, including CBC’s Coach’s Corner and The NHL On TSN panel. But these are largely minor complaints for a service that allows your spoiled writer to watch pretty much any non-nationally televised hockey game whenever and wherever I want, all while providing much of the news and stats that provides.

Game Center Live is the perfect supplement to the diehard hockey fan. The one who thinks there’s not enough on NHL Network or VERSUS and just wants to watch that lone Sunday or Monday night game when there’s nothing else on. If you love hockey enough to visit Puck the Media on a daily basis, I can heartily endorse it for you. If you’re a more casual fan, having Center Ice on retainer might be more your speed. But for the fan who makes hockey personal already, Game Center Live simply ups the ante.