Discover more from Hockey Wanderlüst
April 1 - Chat With Chara, IIHF Goes To NHL Rules, the Disney Magic Dust Returns
It's a great day for hockey - from Düsseldorf to Detroit
Scotty Bowman comes out of retirement to coach the Sabres! Details below
IIHF To Adopt the NHL Rulebook
Quick Chat with Chara
Ducks in a Row for NHL Media Rights!
Hottest NHL Euro’s
Oh the Oh-fense! KHL Video Joy
Gagarin Cup Final-4
Name the Logo Contest
I forgot to do something … oh yeah …
IIHF To Adopt the NHL Rulebook
There have always been two different versions of hockey. One in North America, the other in Europe. The two may never meet entirely, but the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) is moving forward to eliminating one obstacle: the different rules.
“We’re working on the ‘IIHF Unified Rulebook’ project, with the aim to harmonize the rules and the interpretation of the rules [across the world],” Danny Kurmann, IIHF Officiating Manager told Hockey Wanderlüst via email.
“Currently, there are various rules and interpretations of rules that create uncertainty and sometimes confusion for all those involved as well as for team leaders, spectators, and the media. This is not conducive to the game of hockey,” he adds.
According to sources, this harmonization means that the IIHF will adopt the NHL rulebook.
“The goal is to play, organize and officiate the national and international games with a harmonized, uniform set of rules - adapted to a level of professional ice hockey,” Kurmann says.
There are currently subtle differences in the rules and interpretations between many leagues, and especially between the IIHF and the NHL. All in all, the changes will affect 50+ rules, and will add some new lines on to the European ice sheets, namely the trapezoid behind the net.
“We are currently in the consultation phase with our IIHF Committees and after that the member federations will be informed accordingly. The new rule book will be voted on at the IIHF Annual Congress this June,” Kurmann says.
If approved, the new rules would go in effect for the 2021-22 season – including the Olympics.
Here’s hoping the harmonization also means the NHL will adopt the metric system.
Bowman to coach Sabres …
Do they have April Fool’s Day on both sides of the Atlantic?! Of course they do!
Slap Shots …
The women’s Swiss League title went to HC Ladies Lugano with a Game-4, 1-0 victory over Zurich Lions. It’s their 8th championship in club history. The Finnish Women’s champions were Kiekko-Espoo who took their 15th title since 1999. And the most dramatic finish came in Sweden, where Petra Nieminen scored in overtime as Luleå finished off Brynäs.
The Swedish Ice Hockey Federation announced that the 2024 World Juniors will be played in two arenas in Gothenburg.
Formula 1 driver Valtteri Bottas has acquired a ten-percent share of Lahti Pelicans, making the Mercedes driver the third biggest owner of the club. The Lahti native also invested in a luxury suite which will carry his number 77, starting next season. Bottas has nine Grand Prix wins and 57 podium finishes under his belt.
Turbo Chat with Chara
Zdeno Chara, who turned 44 in March, is in the middle of his 23rd NHL season and still plays about 18 minutes a night on the blueline under a one-year contract with the Washington Capitals.
Ultimately, beyond his competitiveness, his fitness, and his longevity, the tallest man in NHL history is hockey’s renaissance man. He speaks seven languages, transitioned to a plant-based diet a few years ago, once earned a real estate license while rehabbing an injury, has traveled the world doing charity work – and does interviews with Hockey Wanderlüst via text while journeying from Washington to New York.
Simmer: Have you visualized a scenario where you play Boston (where he captained the Bruins for 14 seasons) in the playoffs and how cool/intense/weird would that be?
Big Zee: I am where my feet are, so my next visualization is my next game. I am in the present time.
(Note: There’s no way this man would answer this question any other way. He’s not one to wander into mental flights of fancy and the last guy on the planet who would let any opponent think they were in his head.)
S: What was the hardest and easiest part of the transition (BOS to DC)?
Z: The hardest part is being away from my family. The easiest part is still playing the game I love.
S: Play to age 45? Age 50? If still effective, motivated, and enjoying yourself?
Z: I am enjoying myself now and I want to focus on doing my job on the ice and be effective. I want to help my team as much as I can to win as many games as possible.
S: If you’re not talking hockey, what topic are you most likely chatting about with other people; family, finance, politics, literature, etc.?
Z: It really depends on who you’re talking to, I am good either way. I like learning about new things, and I like listening to other people’s opinions, too.
(Note: Chara and I lost a mutual friend, Mark Berg, to cancer in February. He was an accomplished video journalist who shot a charity trip to Africa with us in 2008, and it was Chara who informed me and others. The talented cameraman was well-known in NHL production circles.)
S: Thoughts on (Mark) Bergie?
Z: He was a great man. In 2008 we had a nice trip to Africa together and since then we became good friends. Every time we met we had lots of laughs and great memories. We all miss Mark dearly. My deepest condolences to his entire family.
Ducks in a Row for NHL Media Rights
Toques off to our friends at NHL HQ and Disney’s ESPN Networks, who recently completed a reported $2.8 billion US media rights agreement. The 7-year deal promises to super-serve NHL fans with, well, magic.
For those old enough to remember, this is a flashback to a time when Disney was “all-in” on hockey. Legend has it that Disney’s former Chairman and high-profile hockey dad Michael Eisner led the Mouse to the rink through his personal passion and on the heels of the successful 1992 “Mighty Ducks” film release. A Disney investment in NHL expansion later that year (a novel corporate ownership venture at the time) was a creative whim for Eisner just too fun to pass up. The NHL’s Mighty Ducks of Anaheim showed up on a “Pond” in the backyard of Disneyland the following year. The NHL also became regular fare on ESPN in 1993, where it would remain for more than a decade. In the midst of peak interest in the NBA’s Jordan era, a June 1994 Sports Illustrated cover made the case for “Why the NHL’s Hot…and the NBA’s Not.”
The NHL returns to ESPN … cue the intro!
The Mighty Ducks ushered in an era of expansion, relocation and value creation for the NHL at a time when it was a stretch to hold even the 5th spot when measuring popularity among US professional sports. A look back to this period (the Florida Panthers also joined the NHL under ownership from another entertainment giant of the time, Blockbuster with founder Wayne Huizenga) suggests Disney was a big catalyst for Commissioner Gary Bettman’s largely successful three-decade tenure at the League. The 1994-95 season was the tipping point in the NHL’s aspiration to move from a popular Canadian and US regional sport, to establishing a true US national footprint and global sports brand.
Disney, and on the strength of the Mighty Ducks brand, catapulted the NHL to new heights in merchandising, growing fourfold to a half a billion USD in retail sales by the end of the 1990’s. Disney also leveraged its media rights agreement at the time to help grow the ESPN franchise and establish ESPN2 in the US, while also developing its international networks and syndication business.
But by 2005 the shine was off and Disney moved-on, selling the franchise and opting out of the NHL-ESPN rights agreement. A labor crisis loomed, leading to a lost season for the League and one of the darkest periods in Bettman’s time at the helm.
Two years later in 2007, with ESPN and Disney in the rearview mirror, the renamed Anaheim Ducks would win their first Stanley Cup led by the “Finnish Flash” Teemu Selänne. The NHL would spend years building back its audience on US television with a series of cable and network partners, leading to the incumbent NBC deal that’s expiring this June.
It would appear the Disney stars are once again aligned for the NHL. Let’s start with this week’s reprisal “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers” that will introduce a whole new generation to the classic underdog hockey tale. This time it comes in the form of a “dramedy” series to feed the streaming beast that is Disney+. On the merch front, the Anaheim Ducks 3rd jersey featuring the original 1993 crest, has remained among the League’s top sellers domestically this season, and the top seller in Europe according to League sources.
This week, the current Ducks sported the film version of the jersey when they visited Minnesota, where the film was set in 1992.
By most accounts, the NHL landing back on ESPN is huge for fans, great for the League and great for ESPN, which faces far more competition these days retaining its title belt as the sports network champ. They have been mostly absent from hockey for more than a decade with the exception of modest NHL news coverage, college hockey, and a couple of bouts with the World Cup of Hockey. The seven-year multi-platform agreement includes a mix of regular season, special events and post-season coverage on ESPN, ABC, ESPN+ and Hulu that should win fans back. The combination of linear and streaming delivery will net the League a reported $400 million a year. This so-called “A package” is one of two US agreements the League will cut in the coming weeks. The deal also includes some limited international rights for Latin America, the Caribbean and parts of Europe.
It is no secret that Disney trades on nostalgia across its many businesses and are masters of the “what’s old is new” genre. Few if any do pre-quels, sequels, remakes and recycles any better than the Mouse. Even the announcement of the return of the circa ’93 “NHL on ESPN” theme music has had the boys buzzin’!
From our spot on the couch, the “NHL on ESPN Redux is a can’t miss OT thriller!
1. The Hottest NHL Euros - March 24 to March 31
🇫🇮 Joonas Donskoi (COL) - Seven points in four games, two on the powerplay. 2.25 P/GP
🇸🇪 Mika Zibanejad (NYR) - Seven points in four games, six in one game!
🇸🇪 Gabriel Landeskog (COL) - Four goals and six points in four games.
🇨🇿 Martin Nečas (CAR) - A career-high four-point game against the Lightning, six points in three games.
🇫🇮 Juuse Saros (NSH) - Three games, all wins and the Preds are back in the hunt. Save%: 95.3
2. KHL Playoff Highlights
Come on, guys, give the goalie a chance!
Michal Cajkovski! BOOM!
Reid Boucher! BOOM!
Sergei Plotnikov! KABOOM!
Teemu Pulkkinen! BOOM!
Denis Barantsev! BOOM!
3. Gagarin Cup Final-4
The video above made reference to the West final below. The Gagarin Cup semi’ between (1 seed) CSKA Moscow and (2) SKA St. Petersburg begins on April 2nd.
The East final begins one night later, April 3rd, between (1) Ak Bars Kazan and (2) Avangard Omsk. No Cinderellas here, the top seeds all through to the final-4.
4. Name the LOGO: (answer Sunday)
5. Answer to Sunday’s quiz:
The Question: What two current Montreal Canadiens each played in the World Junior Championship three consecutive years?
The Answer: Joel Armia and Artturi Lehkonen played together for Finland in the 2013 World Junior Championship. It was the third consecutive WJC appearance for Armia, and the first of three in a row for Lehkonen.
See you on Sunday.
Enjoy the hockey action !