The NHL and NBC/Versus have announced a 10 year broadcast and media rights agreement, valued at approximately $2 billion or roughly $200 million per year, a sharp increase from the $77.5 million arrangement currently in place.
On a short-term basis the deal, essentially a 150% per-year increase, is a good one for the NHL, which you may remember did even not have a US television deal in place coming out of the lockout.Â Only six years later, an arrangement of this value represents a major coup for both Gary Bettman and the NHL as a whole. However ...
"Put a candle in the window,
'cause I feel I've got to move.
Though I'm going, going,
I'll be coming home soon.
Long as I can see the light."
- John Fogerty
A day after seeing their playoffs hopes dashed by a combination of a shootout loss to Washington and a Sabres win over the Lightning, the Maple Leafs find themselves in New Jersey for their second-last game of the season, and final game on the road.
Although the excitement and momentum of an impressive second half run has been somewhat dampened by inevitability, the Leafs still have much to play for.
Not only is there a chance to overtake Carolina and further impact Boston's draft position, there remains also opportunity for players to impress coaches and management with an eye toward establishing/cementing roles for next season.
It's Friday! As if that weren't reason enough to smile, the Leafs begin the day only 3 points back of a playoff berth.
While the odds remain slim that they will make it into the postseason, the win-or-bust push has certainly ratcheted up the excitement level in Toronto. And isn't that what it's all about?
With that in mind, here are ten things to feel great about this morning:
Update: Dave Morrison on what the Leafs like about Brenner's game - "Strong game, physical, goes to net. Able to score the garbage type goals."
The Toronto Maple Leafs have signedÂ 6'2", 190 pound forward Tyler Brenner, of the NCAA's Rochester Institute of Technology (Tigers, Division I), to a two-year conract.
From Andy Strickland: "Brenner considered five NHL offers including Anaheim and Boston ... The Ontario native gets $810,000 in salary, $90,000 in a signing bonus, plus regular bonuses. He'll make $67,500 in the AHL."
With RIT's season coming to a close, the Leafs moved quickly to sign Brenner, who played a pivotal role in the Tigers' finish at the top of the AtlanticÂ Hockey Association standings. [more…]
In 1892, English poet Sir Henry John Newbolt wrote VitaÃ¯ Lampada (They Pass On The Torch of Life), a lyric about a soldier learning the tenets of bravery and courage -- of stoicism -- through the practise of sport.
There's a breathless hush in the Close to-night
Ten to make and the match to win
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play, and the last man in.
And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat.
Or the selfish hope of a season's fame,
But his captain's hand on his shoulder smote
"Play up! Play up! And play the game!"
Fresh off a well-earned, win-or-bust victory in Carolina last night, the Maple Leafs face yet another must-win scenario this evening as they pay a visit to the lowly Florida Panthers.
In what will be a bit of a blast from the past, Jean-Sebastien Giguere will get his first start in the Toronto goal since February 12th, while James Reimer, having started 13 games in a row and 25 of 35 since January 1st, receives a much-deserved night off.
After last night's loss to Tampa Bay, you could probably use some good news this morning.
A report out of Minnesota has noted the Leafs have signed prospect Jake Gardiner -- the key acquisition in the Francois Beauchemin trade -- to an entry-level contract, following the University of Wisonson's elimination from the WCHA playoffs earlier this weekend.
While contract details are not yet available, The Toronto Star's Damian Cox speculated on Twitter this morning that the ELC is most likely set to kick in for the start of the 2011-12 season, meaning Gardiner would have to sign an Amateur Tryout (ATO) contract in order to play out the rest of this season with the Marlies.
In what was easily their biggest game of the season, the Toronto Maple Leafs pulled off a seemingly-improbable home iceÂ victory over their hated rivals -- and nemeses -- the Buffalo Sabres.
Thursday's loss to Philadelphia magnified the pressure on the Maple Leafs; simply, a loss to the Sabres tonight, whom the Leafs are chasing for the 8th and final playoff spot, would essentially put an end to Toronto's faint hopes for a long-awaited return to the playoffs.Â Compounding matters, the Sabres were walking into ACC having compiled a 4-1-1 record through six games of a road trip, and a 7-1-1 record in their previous nine visits to Toronto.
In short, this game was destined from the outset to be anything but easy for the Leafs.
DIGR: Defense-Independent Goalie Rating
Goaltenders are generally analyzed and rated using save percentage as a key indicator of performance.Â One of the common issues that crops up when using save percentage as an analytic metric is comparing one goaltender against another. Varying degrees of the quality of defense from team-to-team, and the distribution of shots faced by each goaltender, create a large margin of error for goaltender-to-goaltender comparisons.
Michael E. Shuckers, of St. Lawrence University and Statistical Sports Consulting, has done some fascinating research into ways in which these issues can be resolved so that save percentage can be a more effective comparative statistic.Â What he devised, and subsequently presented at the conference, was the concept of DIGR (Defense-Independent Goalie Rating).
At the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston, MA (fellow bloggers, I highly recommend you check it out next year), I had an opportunity to attend a panel discussion regarding "The Decision" -- whereby the NBA's LeBron James and Chris Bosh decided to team up to join Dwayne Wade in Miami -- and its impacts on other areas of the sporting world.
Moderated by Michael Wilbon of ESPN, the panelists included former NBA player and current Celtics' colour commentator Donny Marshall, San Antonio Spurs' GM R.C. Buford, NBA and NFL agent Mark Bartelstein, and Toronto Maple Leafs' GM Brian Burke.
Earlier this afternoon, Justin Fisher (co-host of the Steve Dangle show) tweeted the rather impressive stat-lines of a few Leafs' prospects.
For those not on Twitter, I've included in this update the prospects Justin mentioned -- along with a few others -- after the jump.
Players currently in the professional ranks (AHL, ECHL) are not included in this listing.