Decoding Rex Ryan's Hockey Loyalties

Via
If you watched Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals last night between the Kings and the Devils, well, then, you better clean yourself up because you saw one nasty deke put on by Anze Kopitar of the Kings to win the game in overtime.  Of course, you also saw the always more important head coach of the New York Jets and foot quality control inspector Rex Ryan supporting his New Jersey Devils....err...not his, but....basically he was wearing a Devils sweater.
He was also seen supporting the Devils during their second round series clinching victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.  Wait, the Flyers?  That sounds familiar, and very troubling...

Yes, indeed, oddly enough, Rex wore a Flyers jersey two years ago at a Hurricanes-Panthers game in Raleigh of all places.  WHAT IS THIS MAN THINKING YOU CAN'T DO THAT!!!!
Oh, but even at that particular game Rex's loyalties were tested.  As the video below shows, the 'Canes cheerleaders (or whatever) surprise Rex with a Carolina sweater to wear (NSFW Rex Ryan flab. You've been warned).
So, now we have this wonderful picture of Rex in a 'Canes sweater, and his new favorite southernmost team.  Who says hockey can't work in the South?  But, what is his angle?  He is trolling hockey fan bases?  Does he have a favorite team?  DOES HE EVEN LIKE HOCKEY?!?!?!
The answers to those question and more are "maybe."  As we see, our next Rex sighting comes about a month after the Carolina incident at Madison Square Garden as he dons a Rangers jersey in a 4-3 win over the Blues. 
 He just looks so damn happy, it's incredible.  So smug, doesn't he know he can't do this to hockey fans.  We must know who he supports, if anyone.  If you will take notice, not only does Rex purchase a jersey for the game he attends, but he goes all out and gets a hat if the situation calls for it.  That's some pretty hardcore casual fandom.  But, wait, did I say Blues?  I sure did.
Here is Rex supporting the St. Louis Blues this season during their magical(ish) run this season under Ken Hitchcock (a Rex Ryan type of coach).  Unfortunately, a logical explanation stands in the way of wild accusation and rumor-mongering.
Ryan, whose Jets advanced to the AFC East Championship game in 2009 and '10, was in St. Louis visiting his brother Jim Ryan and his family. 
Jim, who has lived here for 19 years, is a Blues' season-ticket holder and has been a part-time radio talk-show host on KFNS (590 AM). Though the Ryans are part of a famous football family – Buddy Ryan is their dad – they were goaltenderse growing up.
That's too bad.  It's much more fun to call out his lack of decisiveness and all of that other bull crap.  He can't just be a hockey fan DAMMIT.

So, in the spirit of calling him a sell out, here he is wearing an Islanders jersey while dropping a ceremonial first puck in late 2010.
Ooo-la-la Show those hips for me, baby. You model that sweater like a champ.
What a vile human being with no direction in life.  Why can't he just support ONE TEAM?!?!  We ALL are better than him, that's for sure....

Ah, but, let's go back to the other night.  Here, in an interview he did with CBC while at the game, he admits to his love for the Maple Leafs:
His reason for rooting on the Devils: "Living here in Jersey, you know, support the Devils, they're right down the road.  They're a good team and things."  They certainly are, and junk.  So, that explains the Jersey-love.

In that video he also admits that his "team," if you will, is the Toronto Maple Leafs, and states his disappointment with their inability to make the playoffs this season.  You will also find him stating his love for the Leafs here too, as well as his fondness for Dave "The Hammer" Schultz, which may explain his Flyers jersey.

Rex and his brother Wolfman Rob were born in Oklahoma, but lived with their mother in Toronto for a time after their parents' divorce.  This does wonders to explain the Toronto loyalties, and it's too bad for the hockey world Rex never went on to hockey stardom.  Just for the record, I cannot find any photographic proof of his love of the Leafs.  One theory states that he does not buy jerseys of teams he supports because of some voodoo curse, but that's not likely (combined Stanley Cup wins of the teams he has been photographed wearing jerseys since the date he wore them: zero.  Think about that...).

In all, it's safe to say Rex is a fan of the NHL, and hockey in general.  It's just too bad he will probably get fired after failing to meet impossible expectations and have to coach the Bengals or some crappy team next year.  I still have hope we will see him wearing an early 2000s Buffalo Sabres get-up before too long, though.

Now let's forget this whole thing ever happened.

Stanley Cup Finals: Why Should Kansas Citians Care?

Hey, Kansas Citian!  Yeah, you!  The Stanley Cup Finals between the Los Angeles Kings and the New Jersey Devils start tonight.  Well, it's going on right now, but whatever.  Do you need a reason to watch the series?  Yes?  Okay then, how about a few Kansas City connections to get you warmed to these teams and maybe find a rooting interest.

New Jersey – Formerly the KC Scouts (1974-76), moved to Denver as the Rockies, then moved to their current home in Newark in 1982.  They have three Cup victories in five attempts (95, 00, and 03)

Los Angeles – Played an exhibition game at the Sprint Center the past three years.  The Sprint Center is owned and operated by the ownership group of the Kings, AEG.  They have zero Cup victories in one attempt (with Gretzky!).

Why you should really care: it's hockey, and once this series ends, it's the painful offseason (and the Royals will be hard to watch for the next four months, trust me).

This is as deep as it gets for a KC for primer fans, so.... yeah.

Might I also take this time to remind you of the Puck-O-Rama series that ran early this season where we helped you fine KC hockey fans without a team find the perfect KC-esque team to follow.  What were those choices again?

Florida Panthers – Southeast Division Champs, lost to Devils in first round
St. Louis Blues – Central Division Champs, lost in second round to Kings
Nashville Predators – Second place in Central Division, lost in second round to Coyotes
Phoenix Coyotes – Pacific Division Champs, lost in conference finals to Kings
Los Angeles Kings – it escapes me at the moment...

The 2012-13 Heels of Hockey: The Desert Dawgz

RKO! RKO! RKO!
The Corporation, the nWo, Evolution, the Phoenix Coyotes...all great wrestling heel factions.  What's that, "The Coyotes", you ask?  Oh yes, and let me tell you, they really hate "you people" and flee close matches with their collective tails between their legs (pun intended).


Remember last season when everyone rooted for the Boston Bruins to beat the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup Finals (we did this, people, and we have to live with our decisions)?  Just to see that "flopper" Ryan Kesler, that "douche" Alex Burrows, those "creepy twins" the Sedins, and "weird gaze dude" Roberto Luongo get their comeuppance.  (Plus, head coach Alain Vingneault speaks something called "French."  That can't be good.)  Then, through this season, the 'Nucks were arguably the heels of hockey...until they lost in the Finals and in the first round this year.  No longer perceived as a threat, we now have a new enemy, someone else to form a feud against the John Cenas and Rey Mysterios of the world.  The Phoenix Coyotes.  Learn why after the jump.
As Quisp at McSorley's Stick explains, after the Coyotes players' almost comical reactions to the officiating (among other things) in the Western Conference Finals against the Kings, the "'Yotes mentality" brings with it an unfortunate side effect of breeding craziness among its followers:
I think what we’re seeing here is a window into the Coyotes’ actual team psychology. They have been feeding for so long on the fact that they have been on the verge of bankruptcy, legal troubles, one foot out the door to other cities, playing in empty arenas — using all of that as a rallying cry — that their sense of persecution has become an ingrained and defining part of their collective identity. “Everyone is out to get us” — in its various iterations — has been their team motto, and they’ve used it to their advantage, until now. And their psychotic reaction to actually losing is the flip side of believing their own internal narrative.
The Coyotes have no owner; they are orphans looking to exact revenge on society for bad things that happened in their lives.  They also do not have a very large fan base (in comparison to the rest of the NHL).  No one cares about them (their implication, not mine), they have no direction, and their actions reflect that mentality.  So, the sensible thing to do is to compare them to wrestling heels, the only people in the world that reflect the same emotional instability (other than super villains, but some may argue they are not real people). 



What does it take to be an effective heel in the WWE, TNA, professional wrestling et al.?
1. Be a douche to others.
2. Whine about shit.
3. Call out the audience using the phrase "you people," or implying it's you against everyone else.
4. Be good so you can back up your talk.
5. Be a little crazy, and say things that don't make sense or call out "the establishment."
6. Attack officials, administrators, or anyone in a position of authority.
7. Attack unsuspecting opponents (typically with an intent to render them ineffective before a big match).
8. Most heels are either minorities (all the black heels as a tag team, for example) or hate minorities (making fun at Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez).  This is a fact.
9. Never, ever, under any circumstances, engage in a feud with a commentator.

The first seven apply to our subject for today (and #9 is just common sense.  An announcer wrestling, other than maybe Regal, is just stupid.).  #8 applies to the Arizona immigration law, of which the Coyotes are grouped into by default.  The point being, the Coyotes common mentality with the slighted bad guys of wrestling.  The 'Yotes don't take crap from anyone else, they play hard even when the arena is half full, and do all of this knowing that at any moment Bettman could announce the franchise's relocation to the North Pole.  But, in these playoffs, this mentality has not won over many fans, which is unfortunate, because this franchise has failed to attract more than 13,000 fans per game since they did so in 2008-09 (plus, an influx of Kings fans during crucial playoff games in your home arena does not look good on TV, especially since Kings fans don't ever travel to games).


So, let's take a look at a few of the players and see how they compare to other great heels in wrestling history.  Maybe we will all learn to hate the Coyotes even more.  Plus, you will be happy to know this information when you start seeing nWo posters at Coyotes games next season.



Shane Doan – Ah, the fearless leader, the grizzled vet seeking his first encounter with Lord Stanley's Cup.  He's less like a wrestler and more like Gunnar Stahl from "D2: The Mighty Ducks."  Such an epic douche that when he gets beaten by a girl (read: someone better than him) at the end, all of the irony is tossed out the window.
"I must break you"
He also does stuff like this on a regular basis:
With all the talk and his douchiness and the fact that he may or may not show up to work the next day due to consequences of his actions, let's call him the modern day Chris Jericho of professional hockey.

Mike Smith – He speaks like the nonsensical Iron Sheik with his "Dustin Brown should be suspended FOREVER" speech following the WCF.
“When Brown gets away with something like that after the whistle, knee-on-knee, that’s a dangerous play...If Raffi Torres gets 25 games for his hit [on Chicago forward Marian Hossa], this guy should be done forever.”
Anything else?  Oh yeah.
He dives like Dolph Ziggler, and he is damn good at it.  And, like Ziggler, he is good at his job, but his skills have not had so much air time until recently.  All he needs to do now is show-off so much it causes him to give up a goal.
Michal Rozsival – Rozsival = Kevin Nash circa the Fingerpoke of Doom
Via HF Boards
Martin Hanzal – Generic Heel Jobber #4.  He's like the Joker in a deck of ass.

Derek Morris – This guy is difficult to pinpoint.  He's not necessarily good, and he definitely sucks.  He's a clumsy, bumbling stooge when on the ice.


What's that, you say?  Derek Morris says silly nonsense when he speaks.  Well, I don't know about any of that, but here's his thoughts on the Kings series:
Today was unfortunate, the bad officiating...There’s no accountability with them, that’s the only problem. They don’t have anybody to answer to. They say that they do, but they don’t.”
Also, his dumb luck meter has far exceeded it's potential.  Now that I think about it...he kind of looks like a certain wrestler too...
He's so much like Big Show it's scary.


Raffi Torres – He's the Brock Lesnar of hockey: he just wants to kill someone and walk away like it's no biggie.  These are just some of the reasons fans want to boo him when his music hits.  
Jordan Eberle hit
Nate Prosser hit
Marian Hossa hit


BizNasty – Stat line for April 19th game against the Blackhawks (last game until suiting up for the Kings series):
0:13 ice time, 1 shift, 5 minute penalty for fighting, game misconduct for equipment violation
Also, he's entertaining to follow on Twitter.  So, Ted Dibiase Jr.?


Keith Yandle – Yandle's reaction to the officiating in the WCF and the reaction of Bret Hart during the Montréal Screwjob are uncanny.  Damn you, Earl Hebner and Vince McMahon.


Of course, Bret Hart went on to have success after that incident, but, only time well tell on Yandle.


Jason LaBarbera – Sucks and laughable.  He also does a victory dance.  He's Hornswoggle.
Ray Whitney – He's old and he has won a Cup.  Let's just call him TNA's version of Ric Flair from the team Beer Money Inc.


Even the announcers portray some of these traits.  How about color commentator Tyson Nash doing his Michael Cole impression, stating the Torres hit on Hossa was "clean", and for this tweet about the Dustin Brown hit, since deleted:
P.S.: Brown received no supplemental discipline for the hit 
Vintage Michael Cole.


That brings us to the ring leader of this operation, and the one to blame for most of this: General Manager Don Maloney, more like the Shane McMahon of the Coyotes. He created the current culture of the Coyotes, but you can't blame him for everything.  The NHL, like Vince McMahon, sit idly watching in their ivory tower, contemplating every move, and then do nothing for long periods of time. The Coyotes feel abandoned, so they lash out in unnatural ways.  It's quite sad, really.  And now the NHL wants to get rid of the 'Yotes just when they start doing well.  Nothing is ever good enough for the NHL, though, and the Coyotes fell betrayed, so they lash out, no longer seeking acceptance from so-called "normal" or "decent" society.


Let us learn from the NHL's mistake: There are no bad Coyotes, just bad owners.

New Ice Rink Coming to the Northland?

For those in the Northland, you are at least somewhat aware of Tuileries Plaza shopping district, the area featuring the gaudy glowing pylon structure off of I-29 and 45 Highway.  Well, some bad stuff happened, and it is no longer owned by the same developer.  Why should you care?  Well, because, NorthPoint Development took over and named the area The Village at Burlington Creek, promising to fill it with restaurants, office space, luxury apartments, and an ice-skating rink.  Wait, what?
Click to embiggen
I thought it sounded crazy too, but there it is right there on the sign.  And signs never lie.  Just as an aside, Line Creek Community Center and Ice Arena is just a few miles away from this location.

What does this ice-skating rink entail?  Well, your guess is as good as mine.  As the photo below indicates, the "Ice Plaza" is situated in between En Chamas restaurant and the building that holds Quiznos Subs.  This area does not appear to look very large, but perhaps large enough for a single-sheet skating rink.  Or just a rink similar to the Crown Center Ice Terrace for the winter months.  Of course, they are still in the development stages, so who knows.

Anyway, here are a few links to check out if you are interested in knowing more about the whole project and development.  Small ice terrace, single-sheet ice rink, or whatever, this rink can help inspire an interest in ice sports around the area.



Chris Hansen: Sports Franchise Predator

Earlier today, it was announced that the prospective builder of a new Seattle arena and potential NBA team owner, Chris Hansen, has laid out plans for the construction of a $490 million facility.

The agreement states construction could only begin on a new Seattle arena as soon as it is guaranteed to have at least an NBA tenant.  No NHL franchise is required to start construction on the building, though Hansen has not ruled out an attempt to lure a hard-luck franchise having problems in their current home.  KING 5 in Seattle and Seattle PI have the goods on all of the particulars, and I encourage you to peruse them at your leisure.

Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshynski compiles both stories here, but he goes light on the "geek(ing) out" this time over the prospect of an NHL team in Seattle.  Of course, as you know, a wicked shade of green jersey does not a hockey team make.  Also, remember, Vancouver and Seattle are close.  So, that's always good.

Kansas Citians will remember an arena built a few years ago that was supposed to have a professional sports tenant blah blah blah.... you know the story.

So, anyway, I'm bad at segues, so after the jump potential Seattle arena builder Chris Hansen talks to Dateline NBC's To Catch a Predator's Chris Hansen.  Because, you see, they share the same name.  Enjoy!

***
(Seattle arena extraordinaire Chris Hansen wanders around the outside of a suburban house.  The front door opens, and girl motions to him.)



Gary Bettman Decoy:Come on in!  David Stern and I are watching the Lakers game.  Oh, and I made some sweet tea!  It’s on the counter!

Seattle Chris Hansen:Alright!  I can’t wait to see Kobe hit his patented cross-over jumper!

/Dateline’s Chris Hansen walks in


Dateline Chris Hansen:Why don’t you hit my cross-over jumper?

Seattle Hansen:  Uhh....what?  Who are you?

Dateline Chris Hansen Voiceover: I’ve been doing this for so longgg, but guyyys still don’t know who I am or what I am doing.  They just see me, and, you know, act nonchalant, but I see that look in their eyyyes, like they’ve done something wronggg.  And it’s not like it’s their first rodeo, but they just haven’t gotten caught yet.  It just hasn’t set in at that point.

Dateline Hansen: Why don’t you take a seat?  Just, just take a seat, right over there.

Seattle Hansen:Okay, uh...

/sits down right over there

Dateline Hansen:What’re you doing here?

Seattle Hansen: Uh, What do you mean?  I came to see David Stern, so we could just talk.

Dateline Hansen:  Just talk, huh?  Talk about what?

Seattle Hansen:To...to talk about potential NBA franchises that might relocate to Seattle.

Dateline Hansen: Oh, so you admit you came here to see Mr. Stern?  What about Mr. Bettman?

Seattle Hansen:Well, ya know, I was in the neighborhood... Hey, what’s with all the questions?

Dateline Hansen:  Look, I’m not the one on trial herrre.  Why don’t you tell me what you really came here forrr?

Seattle Hansen: I don’t have to tell you anything!  Who the hell are you, anyway?

Dateline Hansen: That’s not imporrrtant.  What is imporrrtant are the conversations you’ve had with these two sports league commissioners concerrrning some “new arena’ in Seattle.

Seattle Hansen:  Um...okay.  What about it?

Dateline Hansen:Well, it says herrre (points to wad of papers in his hand) you want to build a new arena to lure an NBA franchise to Seattle.

Seattle Hansen: Yes, I believe that is what is best for the people of the city of Seattle.

Dateline Hansen:  Uh-huh.  And how about an NHL franchise?

Seattle Hansen:Yeah, I talked to the NHL, but I never wanted anything to do with them.  That would be wrong.  What does it matter to you?

Dateline Hansen: Look, you don’t need to lie to me, I have the press conference transcript right here.  Soo...whyyy don’t you just tellll me what you are trying to do with Commissioner Bettman?

Seattle Hansen: Lie to you?!  I don’t even know who the hell you are!!!

Dateline Hansen:Now, I already told you, it’s not imporrrtant who I am.  Here, let’s look at the transcript.  What is this about “the city and county contributing $200 million to construction of a new arena” and “only an NBA franchise is needed to begin construction” (pauses and stares at the accused for dramatic effect. Continues.) and “if no NHL team is secured, only $120 million in public money would go to the project, with the county's contribution capped at $5 million and Seattle still on the hook for up to $120 million.”

Seattle Hansen: Look buddy, I don’t want a freakin’ NHL franchise.  I don’t give a crap about the NHL, and I don’t really care if Seattle has an NHL team or not.  I want the Sonics back, and that’s it.

Dateline Chris Hansen Voiceover: This is usually the point in the interviews where these men admit they have done something, um, let’s call it, insincere, but they do not quite admit they have done something wrong.  They act as a hero for the unknowing victims.  I see it a lot in these types of investigations.

Dateline Hansen: So, you are saying you have never talked to the NHL about relocating a franchise to Seattle?

Seattle Hansen: No, I don’t mess around with that stuff, man.  If anything, I warned the NHL to stay out of Seattle.  I’ve seen some pretty messy stuff happen when a city gets tangled up with the NHL.  Heck, it happened in my sister’s hometown, man.  She lives in Atlanta, and...and...she was never the same. 

Dateline Chris Hansen Voiceover:  The funny thing about this reasoning was – when we investigated further into Mr. Hansen’s record – he doesn’t even have a sister, let alone one that lives in Atlanta.

Dateline Hansen: So, you sayyy your sisterrr saw the hearrrtbreak that came with losing an NHL franchise, and that’s whhhyyy you only want an NBA franchise instead? 

Seattle Hansen:Yeah, man, definitely.  That’s why I want to keep the NHL out of Seattle.  Believe me, by getting the NBA, I’m helping Seattleites stay away from the dangers that come along with the NHL.

Dateline Hansen:  Sooo, if I wasn’t herrre, you would just talk to David Stern, and then walk right out that door?

Seattle Hansen:Yeah.  Pretty much.

Dateline Hansen:Look, Chrrris, I’ve been doing this a long time.  I’ve seen cases just like yours, and I’m going to level with you: You arrren’t herrre to warn anyone.  We both know that, okay?  You want to take advantage of an unstable league.  What you want is an NHL franchise for yourrr own, no matter who gets hurt.

Seattle Hansen: No, man, I don’t!  No I don’t at all!  That’s a lie!

/starts sobbing

Dateline Hansen:Look, Chrrris, it’s time to come clean.  If I wasn’t here, you would have forced yourself on an unsuspecting Gary Bettman and tried to make him relocate a franchise?

Seattle Hansen: No, man. *sniffles* I just want what is best for the city. *sniffles* I am creating jobs through a great financial investment...

Dateline Hansen:Hmmm....okayyy, well, I think you should know that my name is Chrrris Hannnsennn from Dateline NBC, and we are doing a story about sports franchise predators.

/camera crew rushes into the room

 If there is anything you would like to say or ask me, now is the time.  If not, you are free to go.

Seattle Hansen: Am I going to jail or something?

Dateline Hansen: That’s not for me to decide.

Seattle Hansen: I-- I’m just gonna go.

Dateline Hansen:That is your choice.

/Seattle Chris Hansen leaves, sulking
Dateline Chris Hansen Voiceover: You know, some of these guys come in here – and it’s the same story every time – they say they are making a difference in people’s lives by keeping the NHL out of their city, when you know they would just put a franchise in a new arena if they had the chance.  And, it’s really sad, and that’s why I am here: to stop them from hurting anyone.

Former KC Blade in NHL's Western Conference Final

This is a nice litte article (I'm assuming online only) by the KC Star's Alan Burchardt previewing the NHL Conference Finals matchups and giving local connections of each team.  Under the Phoenix Coyotes, Burchardt writes:
Former Kansas City Blade Ray Whitney racked up 77 points in his second season in the Valley of the Sun. The Coyotes are his seventh NHL team.
I had to look back, and, yep, holy crap, he did play for the Blades during the 1992-93 season.  He played 46 games with 20 goals and 33 assists, so yeah, he wasn't with the Blades too long.  Whitney won the Stanley Cup as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes in 2005-06.

Also, this just in:  Ray Whitney is old.

After the jump, you will find a photo retrospective of Ray Whitney as a member of the Kansas City Blades.  It's pretty touching.  Break out the tissues!



This item is for sale on eBay.  Hurry, while supplies last.
An artist's conception of hockey in 1992

I always thought this commercial was pretty dumb, until I learned that it used actual footage.
Okay, I don't want to lie to you guys, so, this one is photoshopped.  I couldn't find any other Ray Whitney Blade photos.  Actually, this is more of an excuse to show the Blades original red jersey.  Damn that thing was sharp.  

So, yeah, that's about it.  But what a memorable 46 games!  It kind of brings a tear to your eye.

And, hey, while you are perusing the Internet and all it has to offer, jump over to the Kansas City Hockey History site and learn something, ya crazy kid.  Or, if learning about one thing is more your speed, check out the Kansas City Blades Tribute Site.  On the real, KCHH is the first site that introduced me to everything and anything Kansas City hockey history related oh so many years ago, and it is a great resource for anyone wanting to learn more about Kansas City sports history, in general.

There Are No Minor Fans in the Minor Leagues : "AAA" and "AA" Attendance Comparison Charts

The Charlestown Chiefs real dedicated fans, not
those bandwagoners at the end of the movie.  Also, whatever
happened to the multi-colored seats in arenas?
I wanted to title this post "Looking at Minors," but I didn't want to send the wrong message.  This site gets weird traffic as it is.

Anyway, after the jump you will find comparative attendance figures for the American "AAA" and "AA" hockey leagues; the AHL, ECHL, CHL, and SPHL.  "AAA" and "AA" are baseball minor-league designation terms, and that is the reason for the " " marks around those acronyms or letters or whatever.  The charts are not sortable, because really, they don't need to be sortable for you to enjoy them.  When we combine the figures, we get some really fun results.  You should stick around for that.



First, let's see the attendance numbers by league from the 2011-12 season.  Overall attendance on the left, average attendance number per game on the right:

The AHL

AHL teams play 38 home games, the most of any American minor league.  Their attendance figures will fall well short of the last place NHL team (Phoenix Coyotes: 12,420), but they should remain above the other minor leagues just based on level of competition alone.  Just look where most of these teams are based: hockey-centric areas like the Northeast, and even in Canada.  One would assume these numbers should be well above the numbers of the feeder leagues.  The league saw 6,426,934 fans overall for a 5,638 per game average.













The ECHL

The ECHL, the self proclaimed "Premier 'AA' Hockey League."  Its teams play 36 home games, and the arenas are typically slightly smaller than what you find at the AHL level.  Featuring teams from Canada, Utah, Alaska, and Stockton, CA, it is no longer just an "East Coast" league.  Much like the CHL, the ECHL fluctuates in size each season with members joining, leaving, and suspending operations often.  At 20 members this past season, it is larger than the CHL, but smaller than the AHL.  Many of these players are on the same level of those in the CHL.  The league had 3,082,764 spectators this season for a 4,282 per game average.



The CHL

The CHL, the smaller of the two "AA" leagues, and home of the Missouri Mavericks.  Merging the "new" IHL and remains of the CHL a few years ago has proven to bring some stability to the league, although, like the ECHL, the league membership does fluctuate each season.  Its teams play 33 home games, and 462 games overall as a league (258 less than the ECHL).  Overall, the league had 1,867,801 spectators attend games this season for a 4,042 per game average.



The SPHL

The SPHL (Southern Professional Hockey League), added to this list due to its number of former ECHL and CHL franchises.  This league does not have affiliations like the ECHL and CHL, and is still fairly new (began in 2004-05).  Its members play 28 home games.  This season, the league saw 704,664 spectators for a 2,796 per game average.

Now, let's look at the combined chart of all four of these leagues 73 teams' attendance figures, sorted by highest average attendance to lowest:





















Obviously, the AHL, the league with the highest attendance and higher level of competition has more teams in the top twenty than any other league.  The most surprising stat may be that the ECHL does not have a team until Ontario at #10, or that the ECHL and CHL have the same amount of clubs in the top twenty.  An encouraging thing for the SPHL is its teams interspersed with many ECHL and CHL teams.  Maybe a not-so-encouraging thing is the amount of CHL clubs towards the bottom.  And how about the former KC Blades rival in Fort Wayne?  Maybe that's an AHL town, after all.  Best thing about this chart, and a good sign for the growth of hockey: Knoxville and Huntsville of the SPHL are right there with some of the AHL bottom feeders.  You can look at the chart and infer what you want, though.  It's okay.  Really, you can.

Now, for a local perspective.  First, the Wichita Thunder had a great year on the ice and in the seats, ranking #13 on the list behind only nine AHL franchises.  Also, with over 200,000 fans, they would rank sixteenth in the AHL this season if they played in that league, possibly higher with five more home games.  Second, the Mavericks are number nineteen on a list of 73 teams, and they are only in their third year of existence in the CHL (the smaller of the two "AA" leagues).  They beat out over half of the AHL clubs (18) and almost all of the ECHL clubs (17) in average attendance.  They beat the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons in both average attendance and overall attendance in fewer games (I retweeted a good article from Kukla's Korner on my twitter page about the OKC Barons attendance issues.  Follow me!).  Last season, the Mavs saw 178,425 fans in 33 games, a 5,406 average; and in their inaugural season saw 157,935 fans in 32 games, for a 4,935 average.  The unofficial capacity for the IEC for ice hockey is 5,800, so the Mavs hit a 95.4% full capacity level this season.  The Mavs will need to sell out nearly every game next season to beat this season's total.  

Does this mean that KC can and will support an AHL club?  By no means does this chart say that, but, damn, if the Mavs played in the AHL while still playing at the IEC they would see more fans than half of the AHL just by staying 90% full all season.

Gary Bettman Announces He Hopes to Have More Announcements

Original photo via : Norm Hall
Gary Bettman and Greg Jamison just finished speaking to the press in Glendale, and, booooyyyy howdy, did they say a whole lot of nothing.  Basically, the NHL, acting as the owners of the Coyotes and not the actual organization, have decided Greg Jamison has gone from "potential mystery owner" to "super sexy for reals potential owner."  In essence, Jamison is the NHL's pick as the next owner of the Phoenix Coyotes.

Oh, but if it only were so easy.  Bettman was quick to point out that they are merely in talks right now.  That is, the major announcement being that the NHL is in exclusive talks with Jamison.  Nothing has been decided, nothing is being put in front of the Glendale city council, nothing has been given to the Goldwater Institute to read, etc.  All we have is two dudes talking about how cool they are with each other.  Which is fine...who would guess any part of this process would be quick.  It's taken three years, what's another couple weeks/months?  It should be noted, though, that the city of Glendale would like to figure out a budget for next year by July 1st.  One has to imagine the NHL will want this deal to get done – one way or the other – by then, as well, so they can make the necessary arrangements (either for relocation or handing the team over to Jamison and his group).

So, elephant in the room... what does this mean for the future of the NHL in Kansas City?  Well, if you are a Kansas City hockey fan, you already know the answer to that question.  Nothing.  It means nothing one way or the other.  There was no sense in getting any hopes up over the Coyotes possibly moving.  Sure, they could and they still can, and I have nothing saying that it wouldn't except for common sense, but you know the deal.  No owner, no team.

As a fan of the league, as a fan of the sport, the Coyotes staying in the desert is the best thing that can happen right now, and their run to the Stanley Cup Finals is the best thing that can happen for the spread of the sport and its popularity.  You don't have to cheer for them, and you don't have to agree with that assessment ($20-25 million in annual losses is not good for anyone), but Bettman cannot afford to lose another one of his "non-traditional" markets, or a major television market, to the likes of a Quebec or *gasp* Saskatoon.  No, the Phoenix saga isn't over by any means, and IF this plan falls through, the Coyotes will not be in Phoenix much longer, but this reaffirms Bettman's dedication to keeping the Coyotes in Glendale, and thus, the American hockey landscape.  That's good.  That's good whether you live in Kansas City, or Miami, or Boston, or Seattle, or wherever.  Have pride in this map, Americans, just look at all of the American born players in the Southeast and Southwest.  That's encouraging, and you can at least give Bettman credit in that he wants to grow the sport, and he's at least consistent in the way that he does it.

For the "If not the Coyotes, then who?"crowd in KC, I can only offer two words of advice:  Patience, and enjoy.  We are, arguably, the most patient fan base in the country.  The Royals haven't won anything in forever.  The Chiefs can't win (consistently, and in the playoffs).  NHL and NBA exhibition games for the past forever years.  But, that's the thing.  Enjoy the exhibition games.  Enjoy the IceBreaker Tournament.  Enjoy the Mavs.  As pucKChaser put it, 2012 may be the best year for KC hockey fans ever.  It may be the best time to be a KC hockey fan since the Blades, or maybe even before that, since the mid-1970s.

Be patient, and enjoy the opportunities we get.  If you don't agree with me, just ask Coyotes fans.

Bettman Ready to Give His Daughter Away?

Via Twitter:
I'm having a difficult time finding many sources to back this up, but this may be the first step in the process (or it might be BS).  Previous ownership (NHL) approval, city council approval, entire league approval.  Stay tuned.  More to come, I'm sure.

UPDATE
Lisa Halverstadt of AZ Central is also reporting this story via Twitter, and seems to have a better handle on it.  It sounds like Jamison and Bettman will make their intentions known soon.  Glendale probably will not get the vote to the city council by this Tuesday.  Meanwhile, the Goldwater Institute works overtime...

Puck Reviews: The Blue Line Sports Bar

Via
This is a fictional review based on actual person/ people you probably know.  Today’s review is of the Kansas City area’s only hockey bar, The Blue Line.  You can find The Blue Line in the River Market district downtown at 529 Walnut, Kansas City, MO.  And online at thebluelinekc.com

My personal opinion: It’s quaint, it has a lot of cool hockey stuff on the walls, and it shows hockey.  All you need as a hockey fan, right?  For bar food, the food is actually pretty decent.  When hockey isn’t going on, they show sports and whatnot, so it’s just another nice place to hang out downtown.  Nothing flashy, but cool to have here in town.  But don’t take it from me, check it out yourself!

Today’s reviewer: Some middle-management type bro in his late-20s from a downtown corporate office nearby going to the bar with some friends from work.  He’s totes pumped about a new hockey bar in KC!  And, don’t be offended if you think he is shouting at you, because he is, but it's not your fault.

BRO’S THOUGHTS ON THE EXTERIOR AMBIANCE – River Market, businesses nearby, etc.

Dude, I am TOTES STOKED to go to this new place tonight!  You have NO IDEA!  WORK. F-IN. BLEW. DONKEYS.  Just like your mom!  AAAAWWW YEEAAA!!!! I TOLD YOU I’D GET YA!  But, for real, my bad boss.

The River Market.  So busy, so eclectic. Minsky’s.  That Mexican place.  That Chinese place.  That place with the boat from India or whatever.  Look at all of that Asian scribble on that building!  THIS IS WHAT AMERICA IS MADE OF!!! Where else can you turn an abandon ice plant into lofts?  NO-WHERES, that’s where.  Breathe it in boyz, this is what it’s all about.  THIS IS WHY I GRADUATED EARLY, TO EXPERIENCE THIS!  THREE YEAS FOR AN ACCOUNTING DEGREE AND I’M NOT EVEN JEWISH!!!  AND I STILL HAD TIME TO WORK OUT!!!

And what a view of downtown, baby.  LARGEST G-D BUILDING IN THE STATE OF MISSOURI!  KANSAS CITY REPRESENT!!!

BRO’S THOUGHTS ON THE INTERIOR AMBIANCE, DÉCOR, PATRONS, ENTERTAINMENT, FOOD

Whoa, I thought you said this place was like a Hooters.  Awful small, kind of like your......Hahahahaha YEEEAAA, I AM THE JOKEMASTER FLASH!  AIN”T NO ONE JOCK ON MY RHYTHM!!!

This place is great.  All of the hockey shit on the walls is big pimpin’, my man!  YES!

/high fives bro

Look at all the Sharks stuff!  And the goalie masks!  THAT SHIT IS NO JOKE, NO F-IN JOKE, DAMMIT!!!  GOALIES ARE SICK MOFOS!  I would never be able to do that shit, man.  My dad only let me play golf in high school.  ALL-DISTRICT JUNIOR YEAR, I AM ALL THAT IS MAN!  EL DUDERINO!  TIGER WOODS IS A PUSSY!!!

/high fives bro

Hey, can I get a Guinness?  HOLY BALLS!  They have PINT CANS!!!  Never have I seen such AWESOMEITY SINCE CUTLER THREW THAT TD PASS THAT ONE TIME!!!

/high fives bro

/drinks

DUDE, NO WAY, BUBBLE HOCKEY!!!  F AND YES! 

/plays bubble hockey for 30 minutes, much high fiving is had

What’s that, you gotta take a piss?  Huh, yeah, that’s going to be difficult with such a tiny......   Yeah, I know, I know, but it’s still funny, man.  I’m gonna talk to these dudes over here while you own that piss, brah! 

Hey, wat up, guys?!  You ever been to this place?  Me neither, man, but I just work RIGHT DOWN THE FREAKIN’ STREET!!  HO HO HO Let me tell you, man, the workin’ world is a heartless beast!  Just like my ex!!!  HIGH FIVE MY F*CKIN SWEATY HAND!!!

/guys high five him

Man, you boyz like HOCKEY?!?  HELL YA!  Dude, I remember the Blades when I was a kid down there at Kimber (sic) Arena.  I went to a game once, and, bros, ooohhh bros, the FIGHTS!!!  The CARNAGE!!!  Bros, let me tell you. I was hooked.  HOOKED LIKE A HOOKER!  I HAD SEX WITH HOCKEY.  FOR MONEY.  LITERALLY!

/everyone chuckles awkwardly

/drinks

Whoa, dudes, this is my bro-worker.  Did you drop the Browns off at the Super Bowl??? hahahahaha wait, what?  YOU JUST DUMPED A PUCK IN THE EMPTY NET?!?!?! BWHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAAHHAHAHA WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?!??!  But, dude, for real, I gotta know, is el baño clean?  It is?  HELL YEAH, THAT’S WHAT I AM F-IN TALKIN’ ABOUT!!!  THAT MAKES ME WANT TO DO SHOTS!!!!

/high fives bro

/does shots

Dude, man, bro, I have to tell ya, these bros I was just talkin’ to at this table over here: COOL ASS DUDES!  THEY ARE F-IN REAL FANS!  They LOVEhockey.  Bring it in boyz, toast this DRUNK MOFO!

/drinks

Bro, I don’t know what to watch, the Royals or hockey.  I look over here, BOOM, Royals.  Over there, BOOM, hockey.  One eye on each game, know wat I mean?!?

Bro, who is playing right now?  That’s the Devils, right?  THE DEVILS THE DEVILS!!!  Man, that shiz is crazy!  Who they playin’, the Moose or some shit?

Oh, the Panthers.  They play in Jacksonville, right?

Ah, yeah, SOUTH BEACH BABY!  I met this chick from Mi-ami when I was in Padre last summer.  DAT AZZ! 

/high fives bro

/drinks, wistfully

Hey, what do you think about Lebron?!  He’s no HIS AIRNESS.  More like HIS DOUCHENESS, AMIRITE?!?!!?!!!

/drinks

OH HELL YES, FOOD TIME BRO!!!  I’m so hungry I could eat some peanut butter off a Brazilian midget's butt.  THIS GUY KNOWS WHAT I MEAN!!!

/high fives bro

/drinks

Dude...DUDE!!!!  I have to tell you something, and remember–NO HOMO–but for reals, I love you man.  Well, not you, but this TENDERLOIN!  This thing changed my life man, it’s changed the way I look at chicken.  It’s, like, religious or some shit.  Dip that mug in a bowl of gravy, YOU WILL CRY TEARS OF MANLY GOODNESS!!!

OVERALL – What did our bro think of the place?

Dude, DUDE, this place, IS AWESOME!  YOU KNOW I’ll be back.  After work, next Thursday?  Oh, yeah, we will own this place.  PARTY.  MOFO-IN.  ROCKIN’.  F-IN TOTES, MAN.

/high fives bro

Final assessment: 4 out of 5 Douchebag Mike Milburys