Jason Brough

Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin celebrates his goal against the New York Islanders in the third period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016 in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Before hockey fans freak out about the NBA’s experiment with jersey ads…


Gary Bettman was right — the NHL “won’t be the first” of the Big Four professional sports league to have advertising on their jerseys.

That’s because the NBA will be the first. The basketball league announced it today.

From the NBA’s press release:

The NBA Board of Governors approved the sale of jersey sponsorships, beginning with the 2017-18 season, as part of a three-year pilot program. The sponsorship patch will appear on the front left of the game jerseys opposite the Nike logo. Patches will measure approximately 2.5 inches by 2.5 inches and be adjusted to fit the dimensions of each sponsor’s logo. 

Now, let’s face it, the NHL may go down a similar path in the future, because….money.

But for now, just keep in mind what the commissioner said in September when the league announced its deal with Adidas.

“There have been some suggesting this deal means it is inevitable there’ll be advertising on uniforms – and that’s just not true,” said Bettman, per the Globe and Mail.

“Our sweaters, among all the other sports, are I think iconic, which is why I’ve previously been quoted as saying, ‘we certainly won’t be the first’ and you’d probably have to drag me, kicking and screaming [to do it], which would take a lot – a lot, a lot – of money.”

The Panthers didn’t have a sellout last night, and people sure noticed


Well, you knew whatever the attendance was last night in Sunrise, it would be a story one way or another.

If the Panthers had drawn a sellout for Game 1 of their playoff series versus the Islanders, it would be the story of a franchise that was finally starting to make inroads in the South Florida market.

Alas, the Panthers didn’t sell out, and so it was another story.

From the Miami Herald:

By the way, a Canadian TV broadcast from the arena reported the crowd was about 12,000, a ludicrously low guesstimate that had Panthers general manager Dale Tallon fuming in the press box.

Poor Canada has no team in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 1970, or else that TV station might have been covering one of its own teams instead of being in South Florida. Anyway, the attendance was 17,422, credible, though surprisingly some 2,000 shy of a sellout.

It turns out Panthers fans, like their team, weren’t quite good enough as the playoffs began. You wait four years for another playoff shot and you can’t fill the barn?

The Panthers and Isles are right back at it tonight at BB&T Center. No word on the expected size of the crowd.

For the record, Florida did show a marked improvement in attendance this season, going from an average crowd of 11,265 last year to 15,384 this year.

Coach Q would love the Blues to get to 70 hits


ST. LOUIS (AP) Besides winning their playoff opener in overtime over the defending Stanley Cup champions, the St. Louis Blues hoped to exact a physical toll.

The Blues were credited with outhitting the Chicago Blackhawks 41-24 in Wednesday night’s 1-0 victory.

They got some unlikely contributions, too, with rookie forward Robby Fabbri sending Michal Rozsival to the dressing room with a well-timed check.

“Just playoff hockey, a lot of emotions,” Fabbri said. “I just got knocked over right before that, just thought I’d try and get someone back.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said there are no physical issues with his team. Chicago anticipates forward Andrew Ladd will be in the lineup, too, after the player returned to Chicago just in time for the birth of a child.

Quenneville scoffed at Blues coach Ken Hitchcock’s statement that he’d like the Blues to get 70 hits in Game 2 on Friday night.

“I hope he tries to go to 70, it means we got the puck the whole (game),” Quenneville said.

The Blackhawks won’t be pushed around. They also hope to counteract the Blues’ physical play with speed.

“Every team tries to be physical and get in on the forecheck and things like that,” defenseman Brent Seabrook said. “For us, we want to play our game and get the puck up to our forwards and try to create things off the rush, use our speed and get pucks to the net.”

Over the long haul, the Blues expect the hits to add up. They believe they’re the deeper team.

“It’s not just pounding,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “Every opportunity you have to make them play an honest game and play hard, come later in the series it’s going to pay off.”

Shattenkirk remembered being affected by the uptick in physical play in the postseason earlier in his career.

“As a player when you’re constantly getting bumped into, it can be frustrating if you let it get to you,” Shattenkirk said.

“Especially guys who like to skate with the puck, who like to join the rush, who just want to really not be touched out there, you find yourself almost like you’re in quicksand.”

“Maybe you bruise a guy up and it just affects him a little bit, and that’s something we’re trying to do.”

The Blues make no apologies for the bad bounce that resulted in the only goal.

David Backes was attempting a cross-ice pass to Alexander Steen, loading up for a one-timer, when the puck deflected off defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk‘s skate and trickled between Corey Crawford‘s pads.

“In overtime, there’s no such thing as a bad shot,” Backes said. “It was ugly, but it counts.”

The Blackhawks also realize it’s just one game.

“I don’t think you ever just brush it off,” Seabrook said. “But I think for our group, we’ve been here before and we’ve been in this situation. We’re a confident group.”

Related: “No human can withstand that many hits”

Demko added to United States world championship team

Boston College players mob goalie Thatcher Demko (30) after they defeated UMass Lowell 4-3 in the NCAA Northeast Regional hockey final in Worcester, Mass., Sunday, March 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Goalie Thatcher Demko, defenseman David Warsofsky, and forward Miles Wood have been added to the United States squad that will compete in next month’s world championship in Russia.

Demko — a Hobey Baker finalist this season for Boston College — has been in the news a lot lately, as the 20-year-old has yet to sign with the Vancouver Canucks, the team that drafted him in 2014 and would like to get him under contract this summer.

If Demko decides to go back to school for his senior season, it would seem likely that he’d be headed for free agency next summer, a la Hobey Baker winner Jimmy Vesey.

The latest on that, from Vancouver Metro:

General manager Jim Benning, on Tuesday, expanded on the visit he had with Thatcher Demko’s family last week while the Boston College star goalie was in Tampa Bay for the NCAA Frozen Four.

Benning did not actually speak with Demko himself. Read into that what you will.

While he didn’t speak to the actual player in this case, Benning said he had a good conversation with Demko’s parents and Demko’s representative.

“He was concentrating on trying to win a championship and we didn’t want to disrupt him from his focus on that,” said Benning. “He’s an extremely competitive guy and he was so mad that they lost out the night before, he didn’t want to visit or talk the following day.”

Wood was Demko’s teammate at Boston College. He recently signed with the New Jersey Devils, making his NHL debut on April 9.

Related: Devils claim Warsofsky

Kings’ defensive depth goes under the microscope

He’s not the flashiest defenseman in the world, but Alec Martinez is an important player for the Los Angeles Kings.

That’s why his mysterious injury has been monitored so closely leading up to the Kings’ first-round series with the Sharks. Los Angeles may have Drew Doughty, but the blue-line depth beyond Doughty, Martinez and Jake Muzzin has been in question since Slava Voynov went back to Russia.

Per LA Kings Insider, Martinez is expected to play tonight in Game 1. At this morning’s skate, he was on the third pair with Rob Scuderi. The first pair was Doughty with Brayden McNabb; the second was Muzzin with Luke Schenn.

Martinez has not played since Apr. 2, so head coach Darryl Sutter may be taking a wait-and-see approach with the 28-year-old. It’s possible, if he looks good out there, that Martinez gets moved up to the second pairing with Muzzin. Those two played together for most of the regular season.

Again, Martinez isn’t the flashiest player, and this isn’t the flashiest story. But Kings GM Dean Lombardi is well-aware of the importance of depth on defense.

“Look at those teams that won in Chicago when we went to the conference finals,” Lombardi said, referring to the 2013 and 2014 postseasons. “They’re pretty much able to roll three sets, right? Three pairs. And that’s the way it was designed. And if you look at Chicago, and the year we beat ‘em, and the year they beat ‘us, they had the same thing. Right? Leddy was Martinez. Right down the frame, it was almost like a carbon copy. Keith, Doughty, Seabrook, Muzzin. It matched up entirely. Both teams could roll three sets. Chicago started getting hit last year. They lose Oduya. They’re doing the same thing. Funneling guys in, Keith has to play a lot of minutes just like Doughty has to play a lot of minutes.”

As for the Sharks, they might not have a Doughty, but you could argue they have the Kings beat in defensive depth. Per CSN Bay Area, here are San Jose’s expected pairings for tonight:

Marc-Edouard VlasicJustin Braun
Paul MartinBrent Burns
Brenden DillonRoman Polak

Related: Why your team won’t win the Stanley Cup