If Minnesota is the State of Hockey, Nevada is … well, it is not the State of Hockey. It is the state of legalized gambling, however, and it is a state in which the NHL is considering adding a team.
Is that a good idea?
Five Thirty Eight doesn’t seem to think so. Maybe Nate Silver is right, but his logic doesn’t quite seem right, either:
According to my previous research, the six current NHL markets with the fewest number of hockey fans are Nashville, Miami, Raleigh, Columbus, Phoenix and Tampa. Those franchises lost a collective $51 million in 2013-14, according to Forbes. Now there’s momentum to place an NHL expansion team in Las Vegas, another idea that makes little sense. Our 2013 analysis estimated that there are just 91,000 NHL fans in metro Las Vegas. That’s tiny even by comparison to the six smallest NHL markets that I mentioned before, which have between 146,000 (Nashville) and 279,000 (Tampa) hockey fans. And it’s well below Seattle’s 241,000 or Quebec City’s 530,000 fans.
Silver also argues against an NHL team in Vegas because the city hasn’t supported minor league teams well in the past, while concluding that an NBA team makes far more sense.
On that last part, I agree. But the minor league reasoning seems far-fetched. And to a larger degree, so does the argument about a small base of NHL fans. Any team based in Vegas in any major league is going to be more about capturing the tourism crowd than the locals.
Yes, the NBA is a better fit than the NHL — and probably the ideal draw in Vegas. But even without a full house night after night in an NHL arena in Vegas, the league exposure in Sin City would be worth it. I’d put a team there before I’d put one in, say, Kansas City.
(Photo of Blues coach Ken Hitchcock in Vegas for 2012 league awards was a wonderful bit of serendipity).
Former Vikings offensive lineman Brent Boyd, a longtime leading spokesman against the NFL’s handling of disability claims and retirees with concussion-related symptoms, said he’s not happy with the news today that U.S. District Judge Anita Brody gave final approval to a class-action settlement of NFL concussion claims in Philadelphia.
“I’m extremely disappointed in Judge Brody that she didn’t protect NFL retirees,” said Boyd, who has struggled with concussion-related symptoms since played for the Vikings from 1980-86. “I’m disappointed that this is called a concussion settlement, which is a misnomer because most of these concussion symptoms have been carved out of this and guys aren’t being given any help for these symptoms.
“I am disappointed because it’s not a concussion settlement. It’s a Lou Gehrig’s settlement. A Parkinson’s settlement. The guys with all the symptoms of CTE, their families aren’t going to get squat.”
Boyd’s biggest complaint with the settlement is that future diagnoses of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive degenerative brain disease, isn’t part of the settlement.
“The word that keeps going through my mind is sinister,” Boyd said. “This whole thing is sinister. Does anybody else think it’s sinister that CTE ceases to exist about an hour ago when this settlement was announced? Because from now on, from this point forward, there is no reward for CTE. There is no recognition of CTE and its symptoms. You had to die between, I think, 2006 and when this settlement was announced. And you had to die because they can’t diagnose it until you die.”
Boyd said he’ll huddle with his lawyers to get more details on the next steps in the process.
“As far as I know, this is it,” he said. “That’s something I need to speak to my attorneys about. Leading up to this, I was told that you had to opt out. If you opted out, you would sue again. Your chances of winning were razor thin and it would take years and a whole lot of money to go through that. Most of us don’t have either the time or the money to go through that.”
The plantiffs co-lead counsel’s claimed today that the settlement enjoyed “overwhelming” support of retired NFL players because 99 percent of them didn’t opt out of the settlement when given the chance. Boyd said that’s definitely not the case.
“They’re making it sound like we were in favor of the settlement by not opting out,” he said. “That we approved of the terms of the settlement, which couldn’t be further from the truth. It was very perilous to opt out. Some of us aren’t going to live long enough to fight the NFL. And we don’t have the money to fight the NFL.
“They have skyscrapers filled with attorneys and all the time in the world. It all comes back to a phrase I coined in Congress years ago: ‘Delay, deny and hope we die.’ That’s the NFL’s unofficial strategy for dealing with guys who built this league.”
Advanced stats in the NHL are still fairly new and sometimes terrifying. I still don’t know quite what to make of all of them, but I did use them a few months ago to build a compelling case after Devan Dubnyk was traded as to why he could very well be a massive upgrade in goal.
That turned out to be one of the few things I’ve ever been truly right about, so I am taking a moment to reflect on that. I’m also offering this disclaimer: I still don’t know exactly what I’m doing here. I’m just a guy who likes numbers and wants to see meaning in them.
As such, some of the numbers from War on Ice from Game 3 jumped out at me more from the standpoint that what I saw in the stats and what I saw in the game were two very different things.
What I saw was a Wild team that either dominated or at least carried the play from about midway through the first period all the way through the rest of the game — and even in those first 10 minutes, Minnesota wasn’t in real trouble. Just tentative. St. Louis barely had a sniff on Devan Dubnyk, while the Wild buzzed the Blues for long stretches.
What the numbers say is that the game was — at least during 5-on-5 situations, which was almost all of the game — far more even. “Corsi,” which measures not just shots on goal but shots blocked and those that missed the net, shows both teams were almost the same: Minnesota had 45, St. Louis had 43. And St. Louis was actually credited with more scoring chances (20 to 19) than the Wild.
Was I watching the game with an inherent bias, getting caught up in the emotion of the crowd and a couple of nice goals, thus distracting me from a much closer game than I imagined?
Or is this a case where the numbers lied and the quality/tone/flow of the play was a much better measure than the raw data?
I tend to think it was the latter, since the general consensus was that the Wild badly outplayed the Blues. But it bears watching on Wednesday.
Speaking of Game 4, here are some fun historical numbers per Who Wins that should make Wild fans feel pretty good about things going forward:
In all NHL best of 7 series in history (443 of them), a team with a 2-1 series lead has gone on to win the series 69.3 percent of the time. That winning percentage dips to 61 percent when the team up 2-1 is the one that started out without the home-ice advantage — which makes sense because the team with home-ice is presumably the stronger team — as is the case with the Wild. But those are still pretty good odds.
Interestingly, the team up 2-1 only wins Game 4 specifically 47 percent of the time, with the road/home splits almost exactly the same. That speaks to the desperation of teams down 2-1, which is what the Wild should expect tonight.
If Minnesota wins tonight, the numbers get even better (of course): Teams up 3-1 all-time in NHL series go on to win the series 90.2 percent of the team (248-27 series record).
With the NFL draft just over a week away, we are starting to get a consensus among the draftniks when it comes to whom the Vikings will select with their 11th overall pick.
Iowa offensive lineman Brandon Scherff and Louisville wide receiver Devante Parker still show up in the mock drafts of some notable national analysts. But Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes is the team’s pick in the vast majority of the latest first-round mocks.
Which probably means there is no chance the Vikings are going to pick him.
No, I see the logic of drafting a cornerback in the first round, and the Vikings have definitely shown interest in Waynes, who many feel is the top cover guy in the draft, in the pre-draft process. If I did a mock, he would probably be the player I would be mostly likely pencil in at pick No. 11.
Which probably means there is no chance the Vikings are going to pick him.
Anyway, let’s take a look at who 10 prominent draftniks are mocking to the Vikings in Round One.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Waynes. “The Vikings could still afford to upgrade their wide receiver depth chart even after the Mike Wallace trade,” McShay wrote. “But the cornerback position opposite Xavier Rhodes is a bigger need. Coach Mike Zimmer ideally wants two corners who can hold up in press-man coverage, and Waynes is the best cornerback prospect in this draft and best-suited for press-man, with very good straight-line speed and technique. In Rhodes and Waynes, Minnesota would have a very good pair of corners.”
Charles Davis, NFL Network: Waynes. “The Vikings continue to make strides, fulfilling the image of coach Mike Zimmer by becoming a very good defensive team,” Davis wrote. “Waynes is an immediate starter and producer.”
Rob Rang, CBS Sports: Waynes. “Given the caliber of receivers Minnesota faces in the NFC North, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see defensive-minded head coach Mike Zimmer push for another long, lanky corner for his scheme, especially should the top talent at the position fall in his lap,” Rang wrote.
Jamie Newberg, Scout.com: Waynes. “I am so tempted to change my Minnesota mock pick to wide receiver Devante Parker but I have gone with Trae Waynes from practically the beginning,” Newberg wrote. “I still have strong feeling that the draft’s top corner will be picked inside the top 10. But by who?”
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Waynes. “Waynes becomes a pretty decent value as the top cornerback in the draft,” he wrote. “The Vikings have a need there and, at a position where I feel like the transition from college to pro is as pronounced as it is at any place on the field, Waynes has the range of skills that add up to a guy who can help out early in his career. The Vikings are in decent shape up front, but they lack both depth and size at cornerback, which is no fun in this division.”
Dane Brugler, CBS Sports: Waynes. “While the Terrance Newman signing was good for depth, the Vikings still have a need at cornerback and could draft the top defensive back on their board with this pick,” Brugler wrote.
Lance Zierlein, NFL Network: Scherff. “Perfect match,” Zierlein wrote. “The Vikings would likely race this pick to the podium if it works out that Scherff is available.”
Doug Farrar, Sports Illustrated: Waynes. “Do the Vikings need a receiver for Teddy Bridgewater?” Farrar wrote. “You bet they do, but this is such a deep receiver class, and head coach Mike Zimmer needs a top-flight cornerback to pair with Xavier Rhodes even more. … Waynes isn’t a perfect cornerback, but he’s aggressive, plays well against top opponents, and he can establish leverage on deep passes. If he can develop more toughness against the run, Minnesota could have one of the better young cornerback duos in the NFL.”
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Parker. “The Vikings grabbed Mike Wallace via trade but let’s be real. They’re not set at the position,” Brinson said. “Parker could end up being the best wide-out in this draft and he spent time playing with Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater already. Get him his guy.”
Eric Edholm, Yahoo Sports: Waynes. “Have no illusions: Terence Newman signing with the Vikings does not preclude them from drafting a cornerback high,” Edholm wrote. “Waynes fits the Mike Zimmer mold, and adding another man-cover corner — along with the underrated Xavier Rhodes — allows Zimmer to be very aggressive with the talented defense he’s building there.”