David Stern

NBA lockout could be opportunity for NHL teams


Panthers GM Dale Tallon told ESPN’s Craig Custance something interesting the other day.

When asked if the NBA lockout meant more media attention for the NHL in South Florida, Tallon replied, “We’re getting a lot of coverage. Ever since July 1, we’re getting a lot more. Fans there are excited about what’s going on. We’re getting a little more [attention] but it’s more to do with what we’re doing [than a lockout].”

Obviously Tallon isn’t about to say they’re only getting more coverage because there’s no Heat news to report on. And in fairness, the Panthers did have a newsworthy offseason. Plus they’re off to a good start.

But let’s be real here – the NBA lockout hasn’t hurt. All those reporters who used to spend all day listening to Chris Bosh cry have to do something.

If there’s no basketball this year – and that’s looking like a distinct possibility – teams like the Panthers, Coyotes, Avalanche, Devils, Stars and Ducks need to cash in on it. All those teams play in NBA markets, and all could use a boost in attendance.

Trust me, sports fans in those cities will want a team to cheer for, especially once football season is over.

I remember what happened in Vancouver during the 2004-05 NHL lockout. With no Canucks, all of a sudden everyone was following the BC Lions (CFL). The Lions hadn’t been relevant in Vancouver since the 80s when Pamela Anderson was going to games and looked like this:


It wasn’t a one-year phenomenon either. Lions attendance jumped 20 percent from 2004 to 2005. People liked the product. They paid for more.

Granted, there were other factors at play. The Lions were a good team and management had improved. But the NHL lockout gave them a bump without a doubt, particularly when it came to media coverage.

Listen, I’m not saying every basketball fan is going to start watching hockey. If I had to guess, I’d say there’s more crossover between hockey and football fans in Vancouver than there is between hockey and basketball fans in the United States. However, you can’t underestimate the desire of sports fans to cheer for a team, even if it’s not their number-one sport.

Kane scores OT-winner, caps Islanders’ bumpy start in Brooklyn

Patrick Kane

On paper, it’s the perfect way to kick off meaningful hockey in Brooklyn, as the New York Islanders faced the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.

In reality, there were some highs and lows, culminating with Patrick Kane scoring a power-play overtime-winner to give Chicago a 3-2 (OT) win.

The Barclays Center crowd was going to be a big part of the story one way or another, but even by building-opening standards, the audience made some waves.

Indeed, Kane was greeted with some jeers during his first road appearance of the 2015-16 season, though he didn’t sound surprised.

(There were other controversial chants, apparently.)

Speaking of the crowd, it may not have been the greatest turnout:

ESPN goes way, way in depth on how the change of locale was received, by the way.

It wasn’t a perfect night inside the rink, either, as there weren’t exactly rave reviews about ice quality. New York Newsday’s Arthur Staple compared the ice to a “slushy” and “soup,” with an anonymous Islander (or Islanders) describing the conditions as “awful.”

Kane was pretty diplomatic about it, for what it’s worth.


So, no, it was not a perfect night for the Islanders.

They probably envisioned a teeming, perfectly mannered crowd. Management likely expected Jaroslav Halak to be in net, too.

Sometimes breaking ground is often about overcoming those early stumbles, though, and maybe the best review is to parallel the on-ice results: the Isles at least got a point out of it.

Let’s not forget that there are some cool perks that come with this situation, even if the specifics may vary.

If you want even more information/photos/etc., you’d probably do well to check out #IslesOpeningNight.

Columbus collapse: Rangers spoil Blue Jackets’ opener

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For a little more than a minute, Brandon Saad was going to be the story of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ opener. Instead, his power-play goal merely got the ball rolling on a flabbergasting finish.

The New York Rangers scored three goals in 1:17 of game time to manage a 4-2 win.

They’ve now spoiled home openers for the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets to begin their 2015-16 season.

It might be easiest just to show you when the goals were scored, noting that the third period began with a 1-1 tie.

Brandon Saad power-play goal: 16:10 into third period (2-1 Columbus)
Oscar Lindberg: 17:24 (2-2 tie)
Kevin Hayes: 17:41 (3-2 Rangers)
Mats Zuccarello: 18:41 (4-2 Rangers)

Yikes. Zuccarello scored two of the Rangers’ goals, while a beauty by Cam Atkinson is likely long forgotten.