Stan's Java Jive: 3/11/21
ESPN & NHL reach tv mega-deal; Wild climbing up the standings; Red Wings in pivotal game vs. Tampa tonight
HEADLINE: TWO GREAT QUOTES ON THE NHL'S NEW ESPN DEAL
THE JIVE: 1. Commissioner Gary Bettman: "This is a win-win-win!" 2. Nicklas J. Cotsonka of NHL.com: "As the late Walter Gretzky once told his son, 'Skate to where the puck is going, not where it's been.'" (These two sterling comments allude to the JJ just below.)
HEADLINE: WHICH NETWORK WILL FOLLOW ESPN?
THE JIVE: Of course, NBC could come back and retain the other half of the package and pick up the other three Cups. But there are challengers; namely
Fox and a longer shot, CBS. (Stay tuned.)
HEADLINE: NHL AND ESPN CLINCH DEAL
THE JIVE: This is a landmark deal for Bettman, Inc. leaving it room for a second U.S. tv pact and greater revenue than ever.
The Walt Disney Company, ESPN and the National Hockey League have reached a historic and innovative seven-year television, streaming and media rights deal, taking the new partnership from the beginning of the 2021-22 season through the 2027-28 season.
It is highlighted by:
Exclusive coverage of the Stanley Cup Final on ABC in four of the seven years of the agreement
The return of live NHL action to ESPN networks with 25 exclusive national regular-season games on ABC or ESPN
75 national regular-season games per season produced by ESPN that will stream exclusively on both ESPN+ and Hulu
Half of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on ABC and ESPN each season.
"This partnership of the world's top hockey league and the platforms of The Walt Disney Company is a big win for our fans and our game," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said.
Under the new agreement, the NHL's Stanley Cup Final in four of the seven years of the deal - beginning with the 2021-22 season.
Additionally, in each season of the agreement, ESPN and ABC will have live, exclusive coverage of one Conference Final series and half of all First Round and Second Round games from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Throughout the regular season, 25 games from the NHL schedule will be carried live, exclusively on ABC or ESPN.
HEADLINE: THE NEW STARS ARE CALLED THE WILD
THE JIVE: Forget Vegas, the Bolts, yeah even those loose Leafs; the team to focus on is in St. Paul. Bill Guerin's Wild has the goods. What's more they proved in the past two games, beating the sleepy Knights, 2-0, and last night, 4-3. No longer Vezina-worthy Marc-Andre Fleury was out-goaled by 24-year-old third-stringer, Kaapo Kahkonen. This Finnish flash was supposed to be learning his trade in the AHL; except KK gets an AA with his eighth straight win. Kaapo is still thanking Joel Ericsson Ek who delivered two goals. (It's quite a feat when Kahkonen and Ek can outshine whiz-bang Calder Trophy favorite, the ultra-skilled Kirill Kaprizov.)
HEADLINE: WHO'S BETTER -- VEGAS OR MINNY?
THE JIVE: In its valuable Annual, The Hockey News ranked Vegas as the NHL's third best team. Meanwhile, Minnesota was buried in 23d place by the eminent journalist Michael Russo. But Magnificent Mike also quoted Wild coach Dean Evason -- fast becoming coach-of-the-year -- with this gem: "Why not us?" YEAH-YEAH-YEAH. Dean's Delights (15-8-1) have almost caught Peter DeBoer's naughty Knights (16-6-1). Minny's goaltending now is better and g.m. Guerin's roster is younger and faster than Kelly McCrimmon's. (Hey, what we have here is a nifty one-two tandem, a la Leafs-Jets.)
HEADLINE: REDEMPTION TIME FOR LEAFS
THE JIVE: Leafs fans, predictably, got all huffy-miffy over my calling Winnipeg, Canada's new best team. One Sheldon Keefe loyalist when so far as to send me a chart proving how Matthews, Ltd. dominated the Jets on Tuesday night. Frankly, I couldn't tell whether the abstract he sent was a failed Picasso or a Rorschach Test. Either way, the test for the Royal Blue and White will be on the ice tonight. A victory over Peg will be redemption. Another loss will erase the rainbow that enveloped Mitch Marner in Edmonton. Also to be tested -- as always -- is Fred (Himself) Andersen. The Holy Moley Goalie must once and for all demonstrate that he'll be up for the playoffs and not, as always eh! (Consider how my Number One Seer, Gus Vic, puts it: "We have to wonder how the Leafs will perform against the horses of the league should they exit north.")
HEADLINE: WINGS IN A GAME TO WATCH
THE JIVE: There's a hopeful feeling in the Motor City these days and it's all about how well the Red Wings played the Champs the other night. Losing 4-3 to the Bolts was a "victory" of sorts. My man in Michigan, Henri Kolb, waxed ecstatic over captain Dylan Larkin's return and the super-duper effort of Thomas Greiss-Is-Nice in goal. "Larkin really had his wheels," enthuses Kolb. "He was the best player on the ice. The question tonight is whether the Wings carry the momentum into the second game of the Bolts set?" It could be done if Detroit's power play -- a goal in five straight games -- continues along with new names excelling. One goodie is New Haven product Adam Erne, a PP ace. (The challenge: Tampa is on a nine-game point streak.)
HEADLINE: SABRES FANS EXTEND BEYOND WESTERN NEW YORK
THE JIVE: The Jewel City of Buffalo is such a fine, upstanding hockey town that fans on both sides of the border would like the Sabres to win just a game. Y'know, for old time's sake. The Swords had some fine moments against both the Islanders and Flyers. Why they even got a point out of Philly. With half a season to go, is any kind of revival in the works? I put this query to Gus Vic who turned thumbs-down. "The team is so fragile and has so little room for error that it's hard to see them reversing the negative trend until the misery ends in May." (It's even more difficult now minus injured Jack Eichel.)
HEADLINE: UPDATE ON ARTEMI PANARIN
THE JIVE: After his Blueshirts lost to the Penguins on Tuesday night, New York's coach David Quinn was asked about his "leave of absence" center otherwise known as "The Bread Man." The coach replied that there might be an update on Wednesday.
Sure enough, The Man showed up at practice for his first workout with the Blueshirts since taking his leave. "When he's going to play, we don't know," says Quinn. The Rangers know that their ace needs practice. The high command also knows that with half-a-season remaining Panarin could ignite a hot streak that -- long-shot, of course, -- just could lift them into the playoffs. (Hey, you never know!)
HEADLINE: THE HOCKEY NEWS' STEVE ELLIS ON TARGET
THE JIVE: One ice journalist I'm liking more and more is THN's Steve Ellis.
Exhibit A is his latest piece about the sagging Patrik Laine. Exhibit B. is about the equally sagging Carter Hart. Eager Ellis points out that Laine is heading for a personal career low -- how about zero points in six games-- although John Tortorellia is giving him plenty of ice time. "Laine is not trending in the right direction," writes Ellis. Neither are the Blue Jackets, writes me. As for the Flyers supposed ace goalie Hart, Solid Steve notes that coach Alain Vigneault has pulled the 22-year-old stopper three times while back-up Brian Elliott (7-2-0) keeps bailing out the Broad Streeters.
Torts on Laine: "I'd like to see him go north more." (Me on Laine: Yeah, north to play for Toronto.) Vigneault on Hart: "He'll learn from this." (Me on Hart: Yeah, he'll learn that Elliott is better.)
* OILERS ARE EYEING BUFFALO'S STAAL: Eric Staal is vegetating in Sabreland. Okay, Ken Holland, make Kevyn Adams an offer he can't refuse and you got him.
* BOSTON AND WINNIPEG WANT TO MAKE TRADES: I'm all for it in what everyone believes is a "Buyer's Market." Add Tampa Bay to that list. The Bolts wanna repeat. The Bruins are desperate for scorers.
* SHARKS, KANE -- WHAT? Mike Johnston of Sportsnet hints that the Sharks are considering voiding Evander Kane's contract. My reaction: Hmmmmmmmmm!
TRIVIA CORNER: Why did Chicago Stadium organist, Al Melgard, get reprimanded by NHL President Clarence Campbell?
GREAT QUOTE FROM THE PAST; "He's complex, confusing, misunderstood, unclear in every way but one. He's a brilliant coach."
Hall of Fame goalie Ken Dryden on the winningest coach, Scotty Bowman.
ANSWER TO TRIVIA CORNER:
The Chicago Stadium organist infuriated NHL President Clarence Campbell as Al Melgard played "Three Blind Mice" when the referee and linesmen skated on to the ice. Campbell had once been an NHL referee.