NHL Rumors

More than half of the city’s residents were born outside of Canada, so in some ways the globalization of basketball is coming home to roost, with immigrants bringing their interest in the sport as they settle into a pre-existing NBA market. “I feel like basketball is the biggest thing in Toronto,” said Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins, the Toronto native who was the first pick in the 2014 NBA draft. Bigger than hockey? “I think so,” Wiggins said. “I think it changed over.”
Oculus Rift is Facebook’s virtual reality headset, and it could make them huge profits by changing the way we consume sports in the future. Much of the excitement about Oculus Rift, which Facebook acquired for $2 billion last March, was about its role in the video gaming world. Many saw Oculus Rift revolutionizing gaming by creating far more immersive e-worlds than ever before. However, now, Oculus Rift and other virtual reality vendors are rumored to be looking to use this technology to produce an infinite amount of courtside seats that it could sell to sports fans.
A united front among all the leagues would certainly help Silver’s cause for a federal solution. The other leagues have — at least publicly — not wavered from their anti-legalization stance after the op-ed. MLB declined to comment for this story, and the NFL refused to even reiterate its anti-legalization stance. Gary Bettman, the longtime commissioner of the NHL, told CNN in November after Silver’s op-ed was published: “I think there needs to be some attention paid to what sports is going to represent to young people. … Does it become a vehicle for betting, which may in effect change the atmosphere in the arenas?” But multiple sources with direct knowledge of meetings between the leagues believe the NHL is much more open to legalization than Bettman’s comments indicate. And the NHL and MLB are both currently partnered with daily fantasy sports operator DraftKings.
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Any rule changes that you think would help the NBA game? For instance, sometimes they talk about instituting FIBA goaltending rules in the NBA. Any thoughts on that or any other changes that would help the game play? Marcin Gortat: The goaltending? It definitely wouldn’t help. You have too many athletic guys in this league that would tip the ball out of the rim, so pretty much to make a basket you will need to swish it, you know what I’m saying? I would say I would loosen up a little bit the rules about the fighting fines. That’s what I would loosen up. Because today you go to an ice hockey game, and the one thing they’re waiting for is a fight, you know what I’m saying? So if they could set it up something like that in the NBA. That if there are two guys and they have a problem, if they could just separate everybody. And these two people that have problem, if they could fight …
The Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA and the New Jersey Devils of the NHL have become the first major U.S.-based professional teams to sign a sponsorship deal with an online gambling company. Scott O’Neil, the chief executive of the Josh Harris-owned teams, and Norbert Teufelberger, the chief executive of bwin.party digital entertainment that operates partypoker, confirmed the multiyear agreement in a statement Wednesday night.
McGowan may not have any say in on-floor operations of the Blazers but, during his classroom talk, he asked an assistant to keep him updated on the Blazers’ performance that night against Milwaukee. He fielded questions from students and placed special emphasis on one point. “Learn to sell,” McGowan said. “If you want a high probability of getting into an organization, the biggest opportunities are in sales.”
When he joined the Kings, the organization had 55 employees. By the time he left, it had thousands and was part of AEG, whose holdings included the Los Angeles Galaxy of MLS. In McGowan’s 17 years with the organization, he had risen to chief operating officer of AEG Sports, overseeing the business operations of the Kings, Stanley Cup winners in 2012, as well as the Galaxy, winners of the MLS Cup in 2011 and 2012. As the Kings celebrated their Stanley Cup victory, McGowan went slip sliding to join them on the Staples Center ice – one of the few suits allowed to do so. He’d even grown a playoff beard, part of the NHL tradition when pursuing what many consider to be the most venerated trophy in sports.
The Nets/Barclays Center team took over the Islanders business operations a couple of months back. So far, so good. Helped by a playoff appearance last season, the Islanders have sold 3,000 more season tickets this summer and seen 87 percent of last year’s season ticket holders renew, despite the team’s lame duck status. The team opened its training camp on the Brooklyn ice and announced a number of things, including the design for the new locker room and plans for an Islander Team Store inside the arena. On Saturday, the Islanders will host the Devils in an exhibition game at Barclays. From what Yormark says, the ticket sales show that Brooklyn is embracing the Islanders. He tells Newsday that 25 percent of the 11,000 fans who bought tickets are from Brooklyn; 32 percent from Nassau and Suffolk. There’s another phenomenon at work, too. Anecdotal evidence suggests Nets fans are becoming Islander fans and vice versa.
McGowan said the exploration – what he called a “deep dive and a deep exploration” – was a useful exercise, allowing him and his staff to look at how adding 44 NHL games (41 regular season and three preseason) would play in Portland. Can a league whose season overlaps the NBA’s thrive in Portland? “Oh yeah,” McGowan said. “I think this arena could absolutely handle that. It’s a great venue. Obviously, we have a great ice sheet here, and there are a lot of hockey fans in Portland. I think it could work in Portland, for sure.”
Trail Blazer owner Paul Allen was said to be fully on board with the acquisition of the team, as long as the price and terms made financial sense. The Phoenix team is currently owned by the NHL and is valued somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 million. The Trail Blazer source said, “Allen continues to be very supportive of investing in things that are good for the Portland market.”
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The Glendale, Ariz., City Council Monday signed a 15-year, $225 million lease agreement with the prospective new owners of the NHL Phoenix Coyotes, keeping the team in that suburb of Phoenix. It was considered a bit of an upset that the agreement was reached and the prevailing wisdom was that the franchise was going to be moved, with Seattle said to be the leading candidate for the relocation. But, according to a highly placed Portland Trail Blazer source, the Blazers were closely monitoring the situation, had been in discussions with the NHL and were ready to make an offer for the franchise in order to move it to Portland’s Rose Garden, if the lease in Glendale didn’t work out. The interest by the Blazers was considered serious, by the team and the NHL, with much time spent on financial analysis and projections. It is believed the team could consolidate several of its operations to serve both basketball and hockey while adding another full-time tenant for the arena.
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The Nets ownership is increasingly interwoven with the Islanders. They don’t own any equity stake in Charles Wang’s rising NHL team, but the Bruce Ratner – Mikhail Prokhorov combination will be the Islanders landlords in Brooklyn and have taken over the business operations of the Islanders as well. Moreover, arena ownership wants the contract to renovate Nassau Coliseum — and believe they have an advantage over the competition, including Madison Square Garden, in that the Islanders have agreed to play six games in the new Coliseum if the Barclays Center team wins. Could MSG, that is the Rangers, stop them? “Sources” talking to the Post and ESPN claim they can. Ratner disagrees. Actually, things are beginning to get a little dicey between MSG and BC. The Post and ESPN report that the NHL and the Rangers would have to approve any games played outside the home ice of Barclays Center. “He made a promise that is not 100 percent in his hands,” according to a “person familiar with the situation” quoted by ESPN New York.
“These are players you can build your team around,” said NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr and his staff according to Predators.com. “We think Seth’s game is still going to develop, as are [Nathan] MacKinnon and [Jonathan] Drouin, but we had no reason to remove Seth from that No. 1 spot.” Jay-Z has also taken a strong interest in Seth’s future, wanting to be involved in his potential branding and marketing appeal via Roc Nation Sports (a partner of CAA Sports who also represents Popeye). Being from a mixed background but predominately seen as an African-American, Seth has the probability of being the Tiger Woods of hockey. His impact is limitless, and Jay-Z would love to strike a deal. “When Seth comes to the NHL Draft (in Newark, NJ) in June, his family, agents at CAA and Roc Nation are going to have a powwow to see if he’ll sign with them,” a source told Page 6 of the New York Post.
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The playing days of Brooklyn Nets assistant coaches, longtime NBA journeymen and former Denver Nuggets teammates Popeye Jones and Doug Overton are well behind them, but as their feats and triumphs begin to fade with time, a resurgence of talent that hits close to home is deep in the making. The 1999 signing of Jones to the Nuggets coincidentally had a grander impact on his son Seth’s professional career than his own. While residing in the snowy city of Denver had its hindrances due to the unkind temperatures and icy highways leading into town, Seth took to a different sport than that of his father. “We lived in Denver for eight years and it first started with his older brother (Justin),” said Jones. “They were playing roller hockey with other kids in the neighborhood and once it started getting cold in Denver, because we moved to Denver in August of ’99, the kids go inside and play ice hockey. My kids wanted to try, and then off we went to the store. Seth was a little fellow, probably about 4 years old, tailing along and he got some skates and a stick and some equipment also.”
There are natural goal-scoring strikers and Stockton-esque midfield setup men all over the world soccer map, but no one has ever combined those two talents like Messi. Not even Maradona. Which is why a certain Mr. Bryant, self-avowed Barcelona fanatic, chimed in to say that Messi actually has more in common with The Great One than basketball’s Chosen One. “Messi,” Kobe told ESPN.com this week, “is more (Wayne) Gretzky.”
The NHL is borrowing a page from the NBA with the draft lottery. The NHL announced Monday that all 14 teams that miss the playoffs, or the teams that hold the rights to the top 14 picks, will be eligible to win the No. 1 draft pick when the lottery is held April 29. Under the previous system, the five teams with the fewest points had the opportunity to win the top selection since no team could move up more than four spots.
Crayton said when she speaks to NBA teams about Wright, she can tell that perceptions about Wright’s well-being cannot be changed. There aren’t any known NBA players with MS, though Crayton said she wouldn’t be surprised if there was somebody who was playing with the disease and concealing it. She thinks the stereotypes about MS could keep athletes from being open about it. In November, NHL goalie Josh Harding of the Minnesota Wild revealed he has MS. Crayton said she’s encouraged Wright to get in contact with Harding. “It’s really just about the label,” Crayton said.
Jones acknowledged that the two sports did not have much in common, but said he learned from watching basketball players. “The persons I watched closely were Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd,” he said, recalling when his father was an assistant with the Dallas Mavericks. “You’d see Dirk back there behind the scenes taking jump shots before and after games, before and after practices. It just taught me to keep working hard when no ones’s watching, and the person you are behind the scenes is your true self.” Seth never played organized basketball, but some of Popeye’s basketball DNA seems to have rubbed off. “We played basketball in Ann Arbor a lot the last couple years, and he’s got a lot of talent,” said Brady Skjei, a United States teammate who spent two years with Jones at the National Team Development Program. “Great hands, a soft stroke, a terrific shot.” Jones said: “I actually am pretty good at basketball, I have to admit. I have a nice two-way game, I think.”
On the ice he is a commanding presence, a hard hitter. But more often he is the rare defenseman who can control a game’s tempo with his stickhandling and passing — a “full-package defenseman,” in the words of Phil Housley, the United States coach. Probably not what anyone expected from a son of Popeye Jones. “No one wants to live in their father’s footsteps,” Seth Jones said this week when the United States team held a three-day training camp at the Rangers’ practice rink in Greenburgh, N.Y., before heading to Europe. “I think the time will come when I stop getting those questions and everyone knows the story. That’s just my family and my background and part of my life.”
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Seth Jones probably should have wound up a basketball player. He is tall, with a great vertical leap, and his father is Popeye Jones, who played 11 years in the N.B.A. and is now an assistant coach with the Nets. But instead, Seth Jones, 18, is projected to be a top pick in the N.H.L. draft and may be on his way to becoming hockey’s first African-American star. “I’d be shocked myself if I heard a story like that,” Jones said, when asked if people are surprised by the combination of a basketball father and a hockey son. “Me and my two brothers all play hockey, so it was weird, I guess, that none of us played basketball.”