Archive for March, 2015

Off the Ice: Wrestler-turned-UFC Fighter CM Punk Continues Rivalry with LA Kings Mascot

Last night, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Los Angeles Kings met for the third and final game of their regular-season series. However, back in November, the Twitter war between avid Blackhawks fan, former world wrestling champion, and emerging UFC fighter CM Punk and LA Kings’ mascot, Bailey, was renewed yet again. (To read what happened, click here) Well, Punk attended the game, and he was the celebrity shooter for the Blackhawks’ second-intermission “Shoot the Puck” contest. But this chapter of the rivalry actually started during the Kings’ previous game against Minnesota last Saturday night.

After some witty banter during the game, the twitter jabs started to get a little chippy.

Which led to what happened Monday night.

And by the end of the game a 4-1 Hawks victory over the Kings:

And thus, the best Twitter war in the last 3 years adds yet another chapter to this storied rivalry.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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Coach’s Corner Rewind: March 28, 2015

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Rinkside Rant: Nashville vs. Chicago in The Case For Home Ice Advantage

The Nashville Predators have been in the NHL since 1998, and historically, they haven’t had an established fanbase that is nationally known, except in the world of country music (i.e. Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw, Kellie Pickler, et. al.). Their Central Division rival, Chicago Blackhawks, have been in the NHL since 1926, and already have an established fanbase that is known, not just across North America, but around the world. With the Preds already having clinched a Stanley Cup Playoff berth by beating the Washington Capitals 4-3 today, the wait comes to see who they’ll meet in the first round. If you ask any Preds fan who you DON’T want to see in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, nearly everyone wearing navy and gold would say the Chicago Blackhawks. AND FOR A GOOD REASON.

Sure, the Nashville Predators and the Chicago Blackhawks met in the playoffs only once; a six-game epic in 2010 that went in favor of the Hawks; but if you take a look at the standings, there was no logistical way Nashville would escape the crosshairs of Chicago  not even in a 2 vs. 3 divisional matchup or more recently, as a 1 vs. wild card matchup. Since the beginning of last season, Predators business operations wanted to tackle, and finally solve, a huge problem that has been going on whenever the Nashville Predators and the Chicago Blackhawks met at Bridgestone Arena. If you took a look at the crowd during a Hawks-Preds game in Nashville, you wouldn’t see GOLD: you would see a sea of RED. That’s because Hawks fans, LIKE ME, always come out in droves whenever Chicago’s hockey team plays away from the United Center. Take a look in St. Louis. Take a look in Arizona. Take a look in Dallas. Take a look in Denver. Take a look in South Florida. Take a look in Anaheim. Take a look in Los Angeles. Take a look in Columbus. Take a look in Raleigh. Whenever the Hawks play in those specific areas, you can see the same things that happen in Nashville: they take over the building and turn the visiting arena into the Madhouse on Madison. It rarely happens when the 28 other NHL teams visit those arenas. (Think about the first ever SpongeBob SquarePants episode where anchovies invade the Krusty Krab.)

Here’s how the strategy went down in Nashville according to Predators President/Chief Operating Officer and Alternate Governor Sean Miller: if you wanted to see the Hawks take on the Preds, you had to be A) a season ticket-holder, B) a partial-season ticket-holder, or C) if you plan to buy a Chicago-Nashville game, you had to purchase another ticket to another Predators game that features one of the 28 other NHL teams.

For the Predators, the reasoning for limiting Blackhawk fans whenever they play in Nashville is pretty simple: they want to establish a home-ice advantage that could equal those in Chicago, Montreal, ane even to a bigger extent, Philadelphia, and to pretty much “level the playing field” when they take on the Blackhawks. A sellout at Bridgestone Arena helps the Preds financially, but so too is the importance of “establishing home-ice advantage” by trying to make your one home arena intimidating to visiting teams.

Back in the beginning of this article, I mentioned the Predators clinched a playoff spot for the first time in four seasons. Well, here’s how the strategy’s going down in Nashville when it comes to playoff tickets: if you wanted to see the Preds in the playoffs, you can A) buy tickets at the Bridgestone Arena box office before or during tomorrow’s Predators game against the Calgary Flames, or B) buy tickets through nashvillepredators.com but only to customers who live within the TV market (Tennessee, Northern Alabama, Northern Mississippi, and Eastern Arkansas).

Preds fans know they might be facing the Hawks in the first round of the playoffs. They DO want to establish a home-ice advantage and make themselves noticed. But they DON’T want to see a sea of red, especially on a huge stage that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I respect what the Predators want to build, but…

WARNING: The following is coming from the biased Blackhawk fan inside of me speaking. Read with caution.

…it’s not gonna work. What we do, we do best: WE. TAKE. OVER. For some of us, getting tickets to a Hawks game in Chicago is very hard to get. Would you be willing to shell out a good amount of cash if the only seats remaining at the United Center are STANDING ROOM ONLY? Yes, but only in specific situations. Would you be willing to shell out the big bucks to go see the Hawks play on the road? Abso-freaking-lutely! It would be special, especially if you get to do it with friends. But listen to me: there’s a HUGE reason why we take over when we come to Nashville. For some of these people, this might be the only chance to see the Hawks play because they can’t afford to go to Chicago, and see the Hawks play at the United Center. For some of these people, they want to be a part of something special. Anytime you beat a rival team on THEIR home ice is bragging rights AND THEN SOME. Don’t give me the excuse that Predators tickets are a capital-B bargain. Don’t even give me the excuse that Predators think the Blackhawks are a “Big Brother team” they want to beat. WE GET IT. There’s a huge gap between an ESTABLISHING team and an ESTABLISHED team. You wanna replace “The Star-Spangled Banner” with “God Bless America” because we cheer during throughout the national anthem? Go ahead. But it will never take away the fact that in the last six seasons, that though we might be 8-8 in your building, we CAN steal a game, let alone games, in your arena.

And now, back to normal me saying.

What the Predators are doing might be “good for business” and “bad for the opposition”, but you have to do what you need to do, not only from a financial standpoint, but to ensure that your own fanbase that they get their money’s worth, both on and off the rink. In my honest opinion, you don’t have to single out one or two fanbases to protect what’s best for your own team. You have to be open to everyone. And I mean EVERYONE. You’ll get to be there, but only if success breeds success for the long-term.

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Coach’s Corner Rewind: March 21, 2015

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Don’t Miss A Moment: New Advertising Campaign Launches for 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs

A moment is easy to miss when it happens so fast. But when you catch one, you keep it forever.

We are less than a month away from the start of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and this time, there is a brand-new advertising campaign. Coming off of the heels of the “History Will Be Made” campaign used in the 2010 and 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the “Because it’s the Cup” campaign used during the last three seasons, comes “Don’t Miss A Moment.”

According to NBC Sports Group’s Senior Vice President of Marketing Bill Bergofin, the premise of the “Don’t Miss A Moment” campaign is very simple. “Moments are not only about great plays or goals. They can be about the experiences in the building with the players and with family. The spots also let fans know that we have every game and will have all the moments.”

And why not? For the fourth straight year for hockey fans in the United States, every game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs will be seen on NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, NHL Network, and joining the group of networks for 2015, USA Network. All games can also be seen streaming live on-the-go via the NBC Sports Live Extra app.

The first two 30-second ads of the campaign premiered during last night’s Wednesday Night Rivalry coverage on NBCSN. The first one features Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp.

The second one features Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin.

The next ad, which premiered one day before the Stanley Cup Playoffs began, features the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in its final season as the home of the New York Islanders.

Every team has its moments. Will the final act in this Coliseum be lowering a curtain or raising the cup?

This ad, which promotes the Conference Finals, shows the anticipation of both fans and players and the excitement the Stanley Cup brings. Only four words can describe the ad: WE WANT THE CUP!

The final ad, which promotes the Stanley Cup Final, shows the emotions of players when they realize the dream of winning Hockey’s ultimate prize, set to Louis Armstrong’s “A Kiss to Build a Dream On.”

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NBC Sports Group’s “Push for the Playoffs”: 22 Games in 26 Days to Conclude 2014-15 NHL Regular Season

Starting with this tonight’s Capitals-Sabres game, the NBC Sports Group will once again present the Push for the Playoffs for the third straight year. This time around, NBC and NBCSN will show 22 games in the span of 26 days to conclude the 2014-15 NHL regular season. All of the games will feature teams that are in playoff contention. Most of these games will either be an originally-produced national broadcast or a simulcast from a feed of a NBC Sports regional network (Comcast SportsNet). Here’s what you’ll see on either NBC or NBCSN over the next two-plus weeks (all games ET):

Monday, March 16
Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres, 6 p.m., NBCSN

Monday, March 17
Buffalo Sabres vs. Boston Bruins, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN

Wednesday, March 18
WEDNESDAY NIGHT RIVALRY: Chicago Blackhawks vs. New York Rangers, 8 p.m., NBCSN
Los Angeles Kings vs. Anaheim Ducks, 10:30 p.m., NBCSN

Sunday, March 22
St. Louis Blues vs. Detroit Red Wings, 12 p.m., NBC
Anaheim Ducks vs. New York Rangers, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN

Tuesday, March 24
Los Angeles Kings vs. New York Rangers, 7 p.m., NBCSN

Wednesday, March 25
WEDNESDAY NIGHT RIVALRY: Chicago Blackhawks vs. Philadelphia Flyers, 8 p.m., NBCSN

Sunday, March 29
San Jose Sharks vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN

Monday, March 30
Los Angeles Kings vs. Chicago Blackhawks, 8:30 p.m., NBCSN

Wednesday, April 1
WEDNESDAY NIGHT RIVALRY: Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, 8 p.m., NBCSN
Colorado Avalanche vs. San Jose Sharks vs, 10:30 p.m., NBCSN

Thursday, April 2
Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN

Sunday, April 5
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers, 12:30 p.m., NBC
St. Louis Blues vs. Chicago Blackhawks , 7:30 p.m., NBCSN

Tuesday, April 7
Minnesota Wild vs. Chicago Blackhawks, 8:30 p.m., NBCSN

Wednesday, April 8
WEDNESDAY NIGHT RIVALRY: Boston Bruins vs. Washington Capitals, 7 p.m., NBCSN
Dallas Stars vs. Anaheim Ducks, 10:30 p.m., NBCSN

Thursday, April 9
Chicago Blackhawks vs. St. Louis Blues, 8 p.m., NBCSN

Saturday, April 11
Minnesota Wild vs. St. Louis Blues, 3 p.m., NBC (Central and Eastern Time Zones only)
San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings, 3 p.m., NBC (Mountain and Pacific Time Zones only)
Boston Bruins vs. Tampa Bay Lightning, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN

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Coach’s Corner Rewind: March 14, 2015

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