The NHL is celebrating the halfway mark of the 2013 lockout-shortened season today. And yes, celebrating is an appropriate word.
Following is courtesy the NHL’s PR department:
The excitement generated by the League’s return is reflected in strong business metrics. Indicators of fan engagement — at the rink, on television and online — are up across the board:
– Overall, NHL teams are playing to 96.7% capacity, with a per-game average of 17,662 (up 3.6% over 2011-12). The average figure during February (17,625) was the highest recorded for that calendar month in League history.
National Broadcasts (all ratings numbers compared to last year’s full regular season figures)
– NBC network broadcasts are +29% and NBC Sports Network broadcasts are +23% over 2011-12;
– CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada Prime East broadcasts are +16% and Prime West are +12% over 2011-2012;
– TSN Wednesday Night exclusive is +30% and TSN2 broadcasts are +26% over 2011-12;
– NHL on RDS broadcasts are +16% over 2011-12.
From coast to coast. Regional Sports Networks repeatedly have broken ratings records for their live broadcasts of NHL games this season:
– 28 of the 29* measured clubs are up or even over 2011-12;
– 25 of the 29* measured clubs are showing double/triple digit increases over 2011-12.
* TSN Jets Regional no longer measured by Nielsen Online
Now, some of the above may be attributed to the pent-up demand the lockout created. And it’s still going to be interesting to see what season-ticket renewal rates look like this offseason.
But consider: it’s only been a couple of months since the lockout ended. Clearly, a lot of people have been able to put the work stoppage in the rear-view mirror. And once the playoffs start, all that ridiculousness is going to be an even more distant memory.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.