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What lockout? Business thriving, says NHL


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.

Regional Broadcasts
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.

Derek Roy signs in Swiss league

Derek Roy, Jeremy Smith, Chris Kelly
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Derek Roy has finally found work — but it’s not in the NHL.

Roy, who spent the entire preseason in Washington’s camp on a PTO, has signed with SC Bern of Switzerland’s National League A, the club announced on Friday.

The news comes after Roy narrowly missed out on making the Caps roster, and just one year after he had something of a bounce-back campaign in Edmonton, scoring 22 points in 46 games while developing chemistry with young winger Nail Yakupov.

A 12-year NHL veteran, Roy is one of the more prominent names to be squeezed out of work this season, and head overseas. The 31-year-old has scored over 500 points in 738 career contests, and has twice represented Canada at the World Hockey Championships.

With Bern, Roy will play on one of Switzerland’s stronger teams, alongside a trio of ex-NHLers: Chuck Kobasew, Andrew Ebbett and Cory Conacher.

Lehner’s injury ‘doesn’t look like it’s short term’

Robin Lehner
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Robin Lehner might not be back anytime soon.

Making his debut with the Buffalo Sabres, the 24-year-old goaltender couldn’t complete Thursday’s game against his former squad, the Ottawa Senators, due to what has now been revealed to be a right leg injury.

When he left the arena, he was wearing a walking boot on that nearly went up to his knee.

“It doesn’t look like it’s short term,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma told the Buffalo News. “It’s more than day-to-day at this point, but we need to evaluate further.”

It’s a rocky start to what’s an important campaign for Lehner. He has been given an opportunity to demonstrate that he’s ready to be a starting goaltender after being acquired by the Sabres over the summer, but it looks like that will have to be postponed.

While he’s sidelined, Chad Johnson is likely to be leaned on heavily.