Pressbox Hat Trick

Rants and commentaries on the latest hot topics in sport. Pressbox and hot dogs not included.

  • Pressbox Hat Trick: The Podcast EP3

    Episode 3 of Pressbox Hat Trick! Julian McKenzie, Tristan D’amours and Vince Morello talk NBA All-Star Weekend, Concordia and McGill hockey playoffs, and the Toronto Maple Leafs with special guest contributor Joshua Rosenbaum.

  • The Shootout Needs to Go

    • Graphic Sam Jones

    Having a win or loss decided on a glorified skills competition is not only unfair, but it also reduces the game of hockey to a one-on-one situation. To play 65 minutes of hockey, only for the game to be decided in a shootout with only one player and one goalie are on the ice, takes the elements of the team out of the game.

    When a game reaches four-on-four overtime, games tend to open up with all the extra space, leading to scoring chances for both teams, and it’s exciting hockey for the fans. However, when overtime ends, the shootout becomes a dud, the scoring chances and buzz of overtime end.

    Another issue with the shootout is how it sometimes drags for too long. When a shootout has to go past five shooters per team, I am already tired of it, and just want the game to finish.

    Are there solutions? Of course there are. Obviously I am not advocating for the NHL to go back to the era of ties; there’s another all-too-obvious option for the NHL.

    In the GM meetings of 2012, Ken Holland, the General Manager for the Detroit Red Wings, suggested adding another five-minute period of three-on-three hockey before going to shootout. It was turned down quickly; however, it eventually gained enough traction for it to be tested with mixed results in 2010 and 2011.

    Despite the results of the NHL tests, its minor affiliate, the American Hockey League, decided to adopt a new rule. Instead of the standard five minutes of four-on-four overtime and then a shootout, they opted for a seven-minute overtime period. The first three minutes would be played four on four, then the latter part would be played three against three.

    The CIS also adopted the new overtime rule. Instead of being seven minutes, CIS teams play a five-minute period of four against four, then another five-minute period of three on three. If the game is still unresolved after ten minutes, it goes to a shootout.

    While some people are in favour of the three-on-three, it also has its critics as well.

    “I’m not a fan of the three-on-three, I voted against it when it came up,” said Stingers head coach Kevin Figsby. “If you’re going to play an extra ten minutes of the game, it’s not about the fans, it’s about the players. It should of five on five until the end. The shootouts for the fans. I don’t think you need to bring in a sideshow like three on three.”

    Since implementing the rule change, the AHL has dramatically reduced the number of games ending in a shootout.

    Since the beginning of the season and all the way through Dec. 16, 75.3 per cent of games that needed extra time ended in overtime, compared to last season when only 35.3 per cent of games ended in overtime, with the rest resulting in a shootout.

    While it is a small sample size, the extra period of three-on-three hockey shows that it can end the game before it goes to a shootout. Having the extra period would essentially get rid of the sideshow skills competition and end games quicklier while actually playing hockey.

  • NHL Salary Cap and Canadian Dollar Love Affair

    • Graphic Sam Jones

    Prior the beginning of the 2014-15 season, with the Canadian dollar trading at $0.88 USD, the salary cap was expected to go up from 69 to 73 million. However, with the recent free-fall of the loonie, trading currently at $0.80 USD, projections have been significantly lower, resulting in a potential disaster for certain clubs.

    The cap consists of different restrictions that teams must follow. Each year, based on the projected revenues for the upcoming season, the NHL determines its maximum and minimum values.

    The Canadian dollar has a major impact on how the league evaluates this. 76% of all revenues generated by the league come from only six teams. Three out of those six teams are Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. This means their revenue decreases in value as the dollar drops.

    On average, a one-cent drop in the loonie removes $690,000 USD from a Canadian franchise’s net earnings.

    Each player in the league is paid in USD. Canadian teams, who generate the majority of their income in CAD, have to take a loss on money exchange. Not to mention that most of teams in the US need to pay for hotel costs, and flights all in USD.

    The Collective Bargaining Agreement is the contract that the NHL and the NHL Players Association signed during the 2004-2005-lockout season, integrating the aspect of the salary cap. At the next lockout in 2012-2013, the CBA was revised and new additions were added.

    From the negotiations, the NHL added a component called revenue sharing. This is where the top ten most financially successful teams pool money, so other teams that need help can use it. This is how the entire league is affected. Since three of the top six highest-earning teams are Canadian, the value of money they put into the “revenue sharing pot” is worth less.

    The first cap was set during the 2005-2006 season at 39 million, and as of 2014-2015, it’s at 69 million. That‘s a 77% increase over the span of 10 years.

    Most clubs’ earlier speculations believed the cap would increase well above $75 million for the 2015-2016 seasons. A major reason was the $5.2 billion dollar Rogers TV deal the NHL signed, along with the increasing popularity of the sport across the US.

    Now what does this mean for the Habs?

    Well honestly, Marc Bergevin is probably one of the smartest GMs out there. He clearly understood the ramifications of the falling Canadian dollar and acted quickly. The Canadiens have big internal signings that need to be taken care of this summer, trying to retain restricted free agent Alex Galchenyuk.

    Galchenyuk is currently in his third season and on pace to tally somewhere around 55 points. If we compare this to Evander Kane’s third season, where he got 57 points. What followed was a six-year 31.5 million dollar contract.

    Bergevin, realizing the possibility of having to sign key players with little cap increase, traded Rene Bourque to the Anaheim Ducks and Travis Moen to the Dallas Stars. In exchange he got two players with expiring contracts, enabling him to leave room to add or resign players.

    Regardless of what happens, teams now know that they have an extra dimension to consider when handling the management of their teams.

    NHL commissioner Gary Bettman doesn’t seem too worried about the issue, saying, “I assure you, even with the decline in the Canadian dollar, the salary cap does not fall off a cliff.”

  • Pressbox Hat Trick: The Podcast EP2

    The second episode of the Pressbox Hat Trick: The Podcast . This week Julian McKenzie, Tristan D’Amours and Vince Morello talk about the Stingers’ playoff hopes and their rivalry with McGill. Also on tap are talks about the Montreal Impact, and the blockbuster trade between Winnipeg and Buffalo. Enjoy!

  • The Importance of Having Women Coach Women’s Hockey Teams

    • Graphic Madeleine Gendreau

    Robertson is a coach for the Midget AA Lac-St-Louis Selects for the Ligue Hockey Feminin du Quebec.

    In a male-dominated field, women are often overlooked as hockey coaches. Some may not see the positive impact we have on adolescent women. There is only so much a father-turned-coach can teach a girl’s hockey team.

    For the past four years that I have been coaching, I have been the only female coach in Lac Saint-Louis at the competitive level.

    Not many have realized that as former athletes, we can teach these girls much more than anyone can imagine.

    According to the Coaching Association of Canada, women only hold 19 per cent of head coaching positions. 19 per cent of Canadian women participate in sport, compared to 35 percent of men. While girls’ teams with male head coaches have been successful, it takes more than just physical preparation to win games.

    As women, we understand the psychological makeup of young girls. The life experiences that girls go through are very different from that of boys. They’re taught to act and think differently.

    It’s important for a coach to understand how a girl mentally prepares for her sport. This is where we as female coaches come in. We are there to share our knowledge with the girls and give them an experience of a lifetime.

    Hopefully, this will encourage them to continue with their competitive natures and take up coaching themselves.

    The values and leadership models that are currently in place are based off on a system where males hold these head coaching positions. We as women need to change this model for the young girls we coach. A new system must be created based on them.

    The female view of competition and independence needs to be changed as well. The traditional model has shaped the sport culture to suit men’s hockey.

    It’s time for change, a time where the girls have their own system where they can feel important. This starts with us, the female coaches that are willing to step up and be leaders.

    Since there is a significant lack of women in coaching positions in girls’ hockey, this process may take a while before it takes off. A program needs to be put in place to support the female coaches, like myself, that dream of moving up and being behind the bench of the national team.

    The Coaching Association of Canada is trying to combat this problem and aims on increasing the number of coaching opportunities for women.

    This program is giving coaches the opportunity to experience their sport on another level. There are apprenticeship programs and team workshops that coaches can attend to further enhance their knowledge.

    According to studies done by the CAC, since the late 1980s, close to 500 female coaches have received more than three million dollars in the form of development grants and even National Coaching Institute grants.

    There are people willing to help women make a difference in the lives of the young women we coach. We need to stand our ground as leaders and prove how important we are.

    Although men lead this profession, this is our time to change the value system and mould it towards young women. One day we will stand, leading our team on the ice in proper roles as head coaches.