2012 Champions: Stat-Nerding the First Quarter of the Season

Pic borrowed from the CHL
After fifteen games, your Missouri Mavericks are a mere point out of first place in the Turner Division of the CHL.  That almost guarantees them a spot in the wacky CHL playoffs, and I think a first and second round bye, and a free Blizzard at Dairy Queen.  But, that's not important right now.  Of course, the season is a marathon instead of a sprint and all of that hot garbage, but it doesn't hurt that 80% of the league makes it to the playoffs...

Either way, the first half of the season has been very good to the Mavericks.  At 8-5-2 and with 18 points they have gotten off to the fastest start in franchise history (2009-10: 6-8-1, and 2010-2011: 7-6-2).  There are many factors contributing to the Mavericks success, and it all starts with the offseason acquisitions.

Here are a few bullets to think about:
How did the Mavericks get off to this decent start, well:

*C-Bass Thinel leads the team, and the league, in scoring with 24 points (6-18=24).  In fairness, Evansville's Todd Robinson has 23 points while playing two fewer games, but Thinel is clearly better than him since this is a KC hockey blog and not an Evansville hockey blog.  Although Robinson has one more assist than C-Bass, pushing our man to second overall in that category.  

*The Mavs are 7-3-1 when Thinel has a point.  They are 1-3 when he does not have a point (he had a shootout goal in the one win).

*Fellow forward Dale Mahovsky leads the team, and is in a six-way tie for third in the league, with nine goals.  Both Mahovsky and Thinel are on the positive side of plus/minus at this point, although nowhere near the league leaders.  First-year Mavs Ed McGrane and JS Dickson round out the top four scorers on the team.

*Mahovsky has the best shooting percentage on the team with nine goals on 38 shots (.237%).  McGrane has the most shots with 52, but only five goals (.096%).  Ryan Jardine has 22 shots, but only one goal (.045%), but is only the second worst among forwards (Lachlan MacIntosh, zero goals on ten shots).

*MacIntosh doesn't do much stat-wise (three points/assists, +1, two PIM in eleven games), but must pull his weight on the penalty kill to be starting so often.

*Ryan Jardine is off to a slow start.  He suffered a minor injury, he has five points (1-4=5), and has only played ten games so far.  He has not yet seen any time at the AHL level.  He had 54 points in 66 games a year ago.

*Record in games Jardine has played: 5-4-1.  Record in games Jardine has not played: 3-1-1.

*Does that mean anything?  Probably not yet...

*(Also, there is some guy named Cotton Yellow Horn playing for Allen that I never noticed before!  HOLY CRAP, name of the year candidate!)

*Vern Cooper has six points in eleven games, and is a +5.  Hopefully he is just warming up.

*The Mavs are tied for seventh in the league in goals for with 48.  They had 213 total last season.  One-fourth of that is about 53 goals, which means they are actually regressing in the goal department.  They had 200 total in 2009-10, which means they are ahead of schedule.

*In reality, the Mavs had 44 goals after the first fifteen games in 2009-10, and 41 goals after the first fifteen games in 2010-11.

*8 goals in the last five games (1-3-1).  40 goals in the first ten games (7-2-1).

*The average scoring has not translated well for the powerplay.  The Mavs are twelfth in the league at 17% on the PP.  Twelve goals on 70 opportunities.

*The Mavs have never had a good PP under head coach Scott Hillman.

*The Mavs did not actively seek to improve last year's league stingiest defense, and they have only given up 43 goals.  Last year they gave up 173 all season.  They appear to be just behind schedule in this department.

*The Mavs are fifth in total penalty minutes at this point in the season.  

*The Mavs are tied with one other team for the most players in the top twenty in penalty minutes with three.  Those three (Dave Pszenyczny, Mike Wakita, and Carlyle Lewis) total 136 of the team's 305 total penalty minutes.

*They are fourth on the penalty kill at 82.6%, giving up twelve goals.  At least they are pushing even on special teams.

*The Mavs have had one of the better PKs since last season.

*Only one active defenseman has a negative plus minus:  Pszenyczny with a -1.

*As advertised, Charlie Effinger is getting the majority of the starts (10).  Gerry Festa is not (5 starts).

*Eff-bomb is 6-3-1, the OTL being a shootout loss.  Festa is 2-2-1.  Neither have a shut out.

*Effinger has a 2.49 GAA (the league leader has a 2.15), and a .934 save percentage (the league leader has .939%).  Festa is serviceable with a 2.99 GAA and .901 SV%.  That is still better than Laredo and Rapid City's starters.

*The Mavs have won as many as six in a row (remember when they were undefeated?).  All of those were on the road.

*The Mavs were on a five game "non-win" streak until the other night, gaining one point during that time.  Three of those loses came at home, and make up the three game home losing streak the Mavs have currently. 

*The Mavs are 1-3-1 at home, as opposed to 7-2-1 on the road.

*The Mavs outscored their opponents 24-9 during the six game winning streak to start the season.  The Mavs were outscored 21-10 during their five game "non win" streak.

*Hillman thinks the Kansas-Mizzou rivalry is overrated.  Hmm... I respectfully disagree.

*Through five games, the IEC has the third best average attendance with 5,711.  That's over 98% capacity.  Good job everyone!

*The Chicago Wolves are fourth in the Midwest Division of the Western Conference after eighteen games played.  Needless to say, they are pretty average and do not have any glaring weaknesses or needs.  That can be a good thing for the stability of the Mavs, if you're into that kind of thing.

Bottom line, the Mavericks are 8-5-1 and in third, and the key players have remained relatively healthy (expect for Jardine for a few games).  Last season they really got it going mid-season, and then iced it at the end of the season to get into the playoffs.  If this team can stay away from being so streak-y, they should remain at the top of the standings.  This has to be the most talented team in the three years of the Mavs existence, but they don't play games on stat sheets.

What say you?  Have you been out to the IEC yet this year?  Watched online?  What have you seen?  Comments and opinions are welcome.

If you aren't already, you should be reading Brian McGannon's Mavs Insider.  Brian does a wonderful job gathering great insight from all of your favorite Mavs players, coaches, etc.  Basically anything you wanted to know about what Mavs personnel are saying about anything and everything.  Good stuff.  Read it!  

Also, be sure to read Mavericks Weekly every Monday on the Mavs' site for all of the weekly updates and upcoming events in Mavs World.

Of course, you can always follow your favorite CHL team at their official site and at the CHL's official site.  Also, there is info on the KC Star's site, and every now and then on the Pitch's site.

Last But Not Least: Have You Chosen a Favorite Yet?

Before we get to the fifth and final NHL team for Kansas Citians, let us first look at a few that did not make the cut but still hold some connection to Kansas City.

Honorable Mention: Other teams to enjoy because of some KC connection

Vancouver Canucks
The Missouri Mavericks are the CHL affiliate of the ‘Nucks AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves.  Also, the Blades acted as their IHL affiliate in 2000-2001.

Chicago Blackhawks
Location, I guess.  If you don’t like the Blues, then there are fewer cities than Chicago that dislike St. Louis more. 

New York Islanders
Because, you know, all of that stuff that happened recently, and junk.

San Jose Sharks
Blades affiliate from 1991-1996.

New Jersey Devils
Kansas City Scouts begat the Colorado Rockies, whom then begat thrice time Holy Grail coveters the New Jersey Devils.

Now, on to your (potential) favorite team (maybe)!


(It's hard to type how that would be phonetically yelled without writing in IPA)

Village West Best Potential Award:  Player that brings the most to the team

Defenseman Keith Yandle, only because Jason LaBarbera and Mike Smith are the Coyotes goaltenders.  Yandle is not specifically known for his defense, but he is a +12 overall coming into the season.  On offense, Yandle will have to do a lot to duplicate his 48-assist output of a year ago.  The Coyotes added a scoring option this year in Raffi Torres, but other than Shane Doan and the usual cast of characters, Yandle does not have many options to pass to in the offensive zone.  That being said, he will need to prove his worth this year.  And who knows, I could be totally wrong.  He could bring absolutely nothing.  I offer you this picture as a token of my forgiveness.

Sorry Harrison Mooney, this is only racially insensitive if this is as well. 

Union Station Biggest Burden Award: Player with least upside and carries a big financial burden

Daymond Langkow.  $4.5MM this year for a player who played four games last season.  And, he only had 30 points the season prior to that.  It’s tough to lure players to an unorganized franchise without over-spending (*cough* Royals *cough*), but GM Don Maloney could have gone after a few mid-range free agents without worrying about Langkow’s bloated salary and questionable production.

Eric Hosmer/ 2004 2008 2012 Royals Hope Award: Reason for Optimism

No ownership prospects.  Poor goalie situation.  Less depth than previous years.  It’s hard to pull anything positive out of this organization.  But, if you look at what head coach Dave Tippett has done with this team after the LEGEND Wayne Gretzky resigned before the 2009 season, there is reason to believe Tippett will bring out the best in his players.  He has gone 93-51-20 in two seasons at the helm, losing in the first round of the playoffs each season.  The team had not been to the playoffs since the 2001-02 season.  Give this guy some players and stability and let’s see what happens!

Katie Horner Scared-Sh!tless Award:  Reason to Worry

There is no way to know where this franchise will be when next season starts.  It feels like the Thrashers sale/purchase/move all happened within about a week, setting precedence for any future relocation.  This franchise could be in a new city by the end of the night after the last game of the season.

Buck O’Neil Positive Attitude Award:  Reason to cheer them

This.  A million times this:

Also, the 4,000,000,000-to-1 shot they could end up in KC in the next three years.  Those are the best odds we have!

Oh, and the partially censored Paul Bissonnette twitteraccount.  Follow it, with extreme prejudice.

Mark Funkhouser Memorial Trophy:  Reason to Hate Them

Simply put, if you have a hang-up about “non-traditional” hockey markets.  Which means you probably don’t like Kansas City hockey.  So, go away.

Worlds of Fun Ride that Best Describes the Franchise:  Zambezi Zinger

Wait, that’s not there anymore.  Oh... actually, it’s been relocated.  Huh, never mind then.

Number of Floating, Disembodied Jack Harry Heads:

Four out of five

Look, would Jack care about this team?  No.  Are the Phoenix Coyotes, with all of the baggage and lack of real history (most of it left in Winnipeg), what Sly James would call the “right situation?”  No.  But, as a Kansas City hockey fan, can’t you feel for the Coyotes just a little?  I mean, as an NHL fan all I can say is “screw them” and “screw Bettman” for allowing this Glendale/ lack of ownership thing to drag out, but think of those fans in the city.  No, I’m not trying to pull at your heartstrings like Greg Wyshinski (because seriously, screw that.  Where are the sad kid photos in Atlanta, Greg?  Where are the sad kid Kansas City Scouts photos?  So you are saying, if a team is financially inept it’s wrong to move them because people will be upset about it?  And underreported, what does that mean?  Now media outlets have to interview children about their thoughts on relocation?  I bet if their team moves they might be upset.  It sucks, but, I mean, I get it what you are trying to do, but, ya know, yeah...), but I’m want to relate this to the feelings of a city that doesn’t have an NHL team and the constant claim by much of the hockey world that KC is not a hockey town.  The Phoenix metropolitan area is better for having a professional hockey team.  It would be unfortunate for the NHL to have them move.  But, like Mizzou moving away from historic rivalries in the Big 12, the sun will come up tomorrow, we will run faster, stretch out our arms further... And selfishly, maybe that means a hockey team in KC (but I wouldn’t count on it).

The next best thing would be the Mizzou-Kansas Border War hockey game at the IEC January 20th, 2012.  Buy tickets to this if you enjoy hockey.  You will not be disappointed.

So, what is my process in selecting the teams that I did?  Well, here you go.

Lack of Notoriety:
I did not want to suggest Kansas Citians follow any traditional powerhouses because they have their followers.  We here in the Midwest can feel left out sometimes, so why not support one of the many franchises that struggle to market themselves.  Yes, the Blues are fairly established in the region, but they have never won the Cup.  That brings me to my next criterion.

Lack of Success:
If I have not already pounded this into everyone’s head, Kansas City has not won a major sports championship (sorry Sporting KC Wizards and the Blades) since the mid-1980’s.  That’s troubling.  If you go by the “top four” mantra of major professional American sports (football, baseball, hockey, and basketball), Kansas City has had franchises at the highest level of all of these sports since the 1950’s.  The Chiefs have two AFL championships, and one NFL championship.  The Royals have one MLB championship, and the A’s had zero.  The Scouts and Kings combined for zero NHL and NBA championships, respectively. 
Chiefs: 48 seasons in KC
Royals: 43 seasons in KC
Athletics: 12 seasons in KC
Kings: 13 seasons mostly in KC
Scouts: 2 seasons in KC

118 professional major sports seasons in the history of Kansas City, and two major championships.  Sorry to go off on a tangent, and I'm not saying anything that we don't already know, but do you see why Kansas Citians can identify with these Cup-less franchises?

Hope for the future:
The Royals have hope year in and year out.  That is our nightmare as Royals fans.  Every now and then, we poke our heads out from the last place hole, and say “well, there are some solid guys in the minors that will change things!”  And sometimes they do for a season, and then go to the east coast.
These five NHL teams are meant to have some kind of hope to build on in the coming future.

KC Connection:
Well documented: the Kings are owned by AEG, and thus we see them play exhibition games every now and then.  It’s proximity with the Blues.  The other clubs have been mentioned in relocation, but we all know they aren’t going to be relocated here.  But, couldn’t you totally see yourself supporting those clubs if they came to KC for some odd reason?  No?  Then you must be waiting for the “right situation.”

The Jack Harry thing:
It really has nothing to do with anything.  Jack Harry just exists, and it’s hard to not acknowledge that fact.  Also, it is a vessel to further compare the franchise to other sports in our fair city.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving, and impending Christmas music on the radio.

NHL to Coyotes: "We Need to Start Seeing Other People"

Toronto Star: NHL set to unload or move Coyotes

SB Nation Arizona: Phoenix Coyotes Clock Ticking, NHL To Sell Or Move Team

We have heard all of this before.  We have heard all of this before, with the condition that the Coyotes would move to Quebec.  The league has set deadlines in the past, only to own the franchise for yet another full season.

I won't rehash the details of why the NHL might be tired of the Coyotes, or why the Coyotes are struggling at the gate this season.  Those articles above do a decent job of laying out all of the details.  And whether this "source on condition of anonymity" is for real or not, it makes sense why the NHL wants to settle the Coyotes mess. 

The reality is that relocation is bad for the NHL.  Instability among American markets take away from what Gary Bettman has tried to do as commissioner, which is to expand the footprint of the league and the sport.  Florida, Atlanta, Anaheim, Nashville, Dallas, and Raleigh; All cities gaining franchises under his watch.  Losing large cities like Atlanta takes a large American market away from the NHL, which, let's face it, have the potential to bring in more $$$ than a moderately-sized Canadian market.  Not popularity, not attendance, but straight cash, homey.

But, in today's world, Kansas City will not see an expansion franchise.  Some argue the league is already too bloated.  People always talk about relocation, so the recent increase in talk over the past few years is not a good justification for saying things might happen (look at this blog for example).  Things might happen, or they might not.  Who would have thought the Coyotes would have lasted this long?  Who would have thought the Atlanta to Winnipeg deal would have been done as fast as you can say Ondrej Pavelec?  But, the fact remains that relocation is the only way Kansas City will get a hockey team within the next ten years (maybe more).

Will the Coyotes franchise come to Kansas City?  No, there is a better chance Tyler Palko throws for 400 yards and 5 TDs against the Patriots next Monday than the Coyotes coming to Kansas City.  Does the Coyotes potential move represent the best possibility for Kansas City to get a club in the next five years?  Yes, and here is why.

Whatever you want to believe, Kansas City is currently near the top of the list as a relocation candidate.  That just does not mean much.  Other cities like Quebec, Seattle, and Las Vegas all provide a viable option for an NHL ownership group, but all need new "NHL" arenas (yes, so does Winnipeg, but still).  Plus, putting a team in Vegas is kind of like putting an XFL team there.  It's cool that the sport is in Vegas, but does it really matter?  Also, The Sprint Center is not getting any newer, and the NHL and people with the prospective of getting involved with the NHL know that.  The downtown arena will only be a showpiece for so long until it needs to have something sustain it.  Look at Kemper.  There is no reason to keep the arena if you can build a better one that also only has concerts, circuses, and monster truck rallies.  Also, you hear a lot about franchises like the Devils with financial problems, or the Blue Jackets with attendance issues, or the Stars with both plus ownership issues.  Why would the league be willing to move these franchises if they have not been willing to budge on the Coyotes for years, and had the Thrashers-Jets whisked away from them by an ownership group on a mission.  Those franchises are not going anywhere unless some random group like True North appears out of nowhere and packs up the franchise in Mayflower Moving trucks.

So, it is not so much the Coyotes relocating is an optimistic thing for Kansas Citians, it's just the most realistic option at this point (which is sad).  Realism, the truth, and Kansas City hockey fans do not mix.

This news is not positive, but it is not meant to be.  As Luc Robitaille and Tim Leiweke and Sly James have all driven into the Kansas City hockey fan's collective mind is that neither the City nor AEG will help bring a team here.  But, who will is an ownership group we haven't even met yet.  An owner that hasn't graced our 10pm news reports yet.  An owner Kansas City deserves, but not the owner we need right now.  A silent guardian, a watchful protector.  Probably not Jim Balsillie!

Number Four In Our Five Part Series on Daydreaming

I deeply apologize for the delay in the NHL pick-o-rama.  Other matters have needed tending.  I promise to get the fifth and final option up very soon.  I know we KC hockey fans are all very patient people, so I hope to have your understanding.

Now, onto the fourth franchise Kansas Citians can most identify with, and thus cheer for: the Nash...dahhhhh raspberries!

Wonderful surprises await after the jump.
Umm...they look like a good group...and junk

Village West Best Potential Award:  Player that brings the most to the team

Pekka Rinne.  Period.  This guy isnuts.  He is like their Zack Greinke (if anyone remembers what having a #1 starter was like). Without him, the Predators are not a force in the playoffs, and they may not even be worth talking about in the Central Division.  He was a Vezina Trophy finalist in 2010-11, and is only 28.  Looking at the longevity of goalies in the league nowadays (e.g. Khabibulin, Tim Thomas, etc.) he presumably has many good to great years to come.  Without hyperbole or equivocation, he is the most exciting and important player for the Nashville Predators.  And he will be with the organization for many years to come.  $7MM per year is a bargain for this guy.

Union Station Biggest Burden Award: Player with least upside and carries a big financial burden

Look, I know Nashville loves him or whatever, but David Legwand.  It’s disappointing to think that he is consistently one of the team’s top scorers year in and year out while only scoring about forty points per season over the past four years.  Yes, he’s a great leader and has a decent physical presence for an offensive guy, but at a $4.5MM cap hit per year through 2014, the Predators must eventually wonder if he is holding anyone back.  No, their farm isn’t terribly deep (more on this later), but that seems like a pretty penny for a veteran leader when you already have large contract veterans like Martin Erat, Shea Weber, and Ryan Suter on the team.

If you don’t like that choice, then Mike Fisher, because why not.

Eric Hosmer/ 2004 2008 2012 Royals Hope Award: Reason for Optimism

The defensive core and goaltending.  The only problem is locking up solid D-men Shea Weber AND Ryan Suter long term.  Other than Weber and Suter, the lineup is full of decent stay-at-home defensemen.  Last season, the Preds were fifteenth in the league in shots against per game (they were twenty-fourth in shots for per game).  They were also eighth in goal differential at +19, and fifth on the PK.

Rinne and backup Anders Lindback were third collectively with 2.32 goals per game.

Those are very real numbers, folks.

Katie Horner Scared-Sh!tless Award:  Reason to Worry

They are not deep.  As in, prospects.  This past draft they took a goalie with their first selection (coming in the second round).  So, I guess they got much deeper there.  One beacon of hope is nineteen-year-old 2010 first round pick Austin Watson, currently playing for the Peterborough Petes of the OHL.  Watson has a scoring touch in juniors, but really has not had much of a chance with the big league club.  Sure, Blake Geoffrion and Zack Stortini can make their presences felt now, but they need to get a group of forwardsin to the mix if they want to move forward. 

Some young defenders like Jonathon Blum and Roman Josi are getting a chance now.  And highly touted former first rounder Ryan Ellis is surprisingly at the AHL affiliate in Milwaukee, but he is only one man!

Buck O’Neil Positive Attitude Award:  Reason to cheer them

Mark Funkhouser Memorial Trophy:  Reason to Hate Them

Haha Remember this guy?!  Boots Del Biaggio, the man with an interest in owning a NHL franchise in KC, who then bought a piece of the Predators franchise a few years back, and everybody flipped and thought he was working on the inside to bring the Preds to KC.  Annnd then he was tried on fraud charges and is now serving a 97-month prison term.  I don’t think Kansas Citians should necessarily hate the Predators for Del Biaggio getting hopes up about the Predators moving to KC.  No, we could certainly hate them for this instead:

Worlds of Fun Ride that Best Describes the Franchise: Viking Voyager

You free-fall in a "log" raft about 40 feet down a flume.  Sounds like a blast, right?  It's the first thing I want to ride when going to WOF.  But, is it ever really that fun?  Sadly, no.  Such is the Nashville Predators franchise.  You see a lot of Lost in Conference Quarterfinals when looking at the team season by season.  That's great they go to the playoffs often, but it must be tough to get too excited for a team that always loses in said playoffs.
Also, the Preds are always randomly brought up in relocation talks, so that cannot feel too good.  Don't get me wrong, it's not like anyone is talking about tearing down the Viking Voyager.  It's just that not even enough water splashes on you to justify riding it in the summer time.  It sucks to walk allll the way around the park in the middle of July just to get to the Monsoon or something.

Also, because they have Scandinavian players.  Elephant in the room acknowledged.

Rinne: En pelkää mitään!
Laasko: paitsi Canucks...
Lindback: Hej, vad som sägs?

There's a little Swedish-Finnish humor for you.  Laugh it up, that's as good as it gets.
Number of Floating, Disembodied Jack Harry Heads:

Three out of five

Nashville is not a natural hockey town, much like Kansas City, so it's hard to say that Jack would care much about them.  The Nashville media seems to marginally respect them, but that may be a result of them being the only other game in town along with the Titans.  The national media certainly does not pay much attention, given the fact their playoff series with the Anaheim Ducks last season was not picked up by NBC Sports.  Heaven forbid the national media ignore a team near the middle of the country!  I have never heard of such a thing...
Also, what did I just say above about going to the playoffs and losing?  What local franchise does that on a pretty regular basis?  It starts with a C and ends in a DERP.

Mavericks Home Opener Spoiled by Thunder (not Earthquake)

Via KC Star

Although I was unable to make it out to IEC tonight for the Mavericks home opener, I have heard reports that it was sold out and ROCKIN'!

That's the good news.  The bad news is the Mavs fell to the Wichita Thunder in a shootout for their first loss on the season.  This snaps a six game win streak to begin the year.  There are some nice video highlights if you hop on over to the Mavs site.

The Mavericks have yet to lose a game in regulation, and are the best team in the CHL at 6-0-1.  Thinel remains the points leader in the CHL with four goals and nine assists through seven games this season.  Pretty dang impressive.

The team returns home again on November 11th against the Tulsa Oilers.

Also, start reading the Mavericks Insider, if you are not reading it yet.  It is featured in the News section of the Mavericks main site.  It shows game previews, player interviews, and other tidbits that every Mavs fan will ever want to know.  It gets more in-depth than a hockey blogger can ever hope to go, so, check it out.

Time Warner to Kansas City Hockey Fans: Out of Sight, Out of Mind

For lack of another/better choice, many people in the area (including your humble writer) are subject to the random channel switching and rate hikes of Time Warner Cable.  Ugh.  It is still not cool what they did to the Travel Channel.  And how many people had problems with their cable boxes over the summer when TWC did a system "update" that crashed the older hardware?  Anyway, those problems aside, there is an issue that directly addresses sports fans in the city.  Most notably, hockey fans.
Time Warner's problems with other sports-specific networks are well documented, but I cannot find any reason why Kansas Citians who pay for the cable provider's digital package cannot watch the NHL Network.  The NHL Network is a premium channel for some reason, even though Time Warner shows NBA TV with no NBA team within hundreds of miles of their KC customers (also, there is no NBA at the moment, if you haven't noticed).  Each season, the NHL Network has done its best to broadcast multiple games featuring a decent balance of teams.  This gives locals a chance to watch more live hockey games, making the sport that much more visible in the area.  Without this access, the only option is to watch games on NBC and Versus (soon to be NBC Sports Network).  The game selection is not as diverse on NBC/Versus, but you probably love it if you are a fan of a team in the Northeast or Detroit.  The point being, not showing the NHL Network significantly reduces the visibility and exposure of the NHL to Kansas City.  One would think the NHL (or AEG) would have something to say about this if they cared about hockey in Kansas City (I know they don't, but let's pretend for a second that they should).

But, maybe that is being too nit-picky.  I mean, the channel is offered, but just at an additional cost.  Well, that still does not answer why the channel was available last season for a period of time.  Speaking of reduced access to channels, Time Warner has revoked our CBS College Sports Network privileges.  This is a network that carries many collegiate hockey tournament games, along with some early Frozen Four games.  Oh, not to mention regular season matches.  Tonight featured one between Yale and Cornell's hockey programs, but you had to pay if you wanted to watch it. 

Just two weeks ago I watched the Saginaw Valley State versus Ashland Division II football game on CBS College Sports.  Now, the channel is gone.  Well, not gone, but out of my price range because I refuse to pay additional fees for a channel that I had TWO WEEKS AGO AND FOR THE ENTIRE PAST YEAR!  Oh, and also the year before that.  Heaven forbid ESPNU carry any NCAA hockey games this season, because there goes another channel.

So why now?  Why is that channel gone as we enter the chill of late fall, when our only sports options in a few months will be hockey and college basketball?  It's disappointing, and frustrating.

The point of all of this is how can the city expect to gain interest in the game of hockey if it is not a visible part of the population's viewing options.  Does it make sense for a cable provider to carry the MLB Network and NBA Network, but force their customers to pay extra for the NHL?  There is no excuse for two of the major sports to have available networks, while the NHL's network costs extra.  I wholeheartedly agree with pucKChaser that the game needs to grow at a grassroots level here, but how is it possible to get people interested in a sport they can hardly watch?  Yes, NBC is doing a better job of showing more games against different teams this season than they have in the past, and no, TWC has not taken away Versus (yet), but hockey viewing options continue to be limited in this city.  Not only are community rinks closing, but televised hockey is at a premium.

But, KC hockey fans, let's not play the victim, because that's lame.  My suggestion would be to stream your favorite NHL team online through sites like Ilemi or First Row Sports.  You can feel kind of like a rebel while watching hockey at the same time.  It's a two-foot putt!
But, for you law abiders, watch NBC/Versus's hockey coverage.  The Blues will be on FSN more once the football season ends.  Watch them, and if you aren't a fan, cheer for their demise.  If you get ESPNU, watch NCAA hockey.  Hockey is hockey.  Go to a Mavs game.  Hell, go ice skating this winter.  Or learn to play hockey.  Or write a hockey blog.  Do something!

On NHL Network tonight:
Wish I could have watched that
On NBA TV tonight:
Well, it's better than this
After seeing that, let's hope this is for real!