The Power of Social Media in Sport

Technology in sport has reached a bit of a golden age. Never before has the average fan been able to connect so readily to their team. With modern sport viewing possible anywhere and everywhere, from online streams and mobile applications, the very idea of sport broadcasting has been changed forever.

And with social media, fans can finally interact with and connect to their favorite players and idols with the mere click of a button. If you told someone 15 years ago that in the very near future someone would develop a website that allowed you to keep track of your favorite athletes, stars, and public figures’ daily thoughts and movements, they would have thought you insane.

They’d also think you were worthy of being labelled a deviant. What kind of person wants to know exactly what someone else is up to all the time?

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Expansion! Part III

For those of you who haven’t read part 2, here it is:

The last time I posted, I painstakingly put out a set of rules as to how the expansion draft could be organized, in order to help even out the playing field and give the expansion teams the ability to get off the ground. I talked a little about how important this coming wave of expansion is for the sport and the league as a whole.

I did say “teams” repeatedly, on the assumption that it would be a two-team draft. And I did leave failsafes in for existing teams, for those of you with short memories. Listen, if your team was crippled through losing 2 depth players or middling prospects, it probably wasn’t a great team to begin with. And think of it as an investment in the future of the NHL; a stronger start for these teams means more positive exposure, more fans, more money, more interest. It means that they (hopefully) aren’t floundering in mediocrity for the first 8 years of their existence, as they try to acquire enough decent young talent to begin to look like an NHL organization.

So now, let’s take a look at how an existing team might, hypothetically, choose to organize its protected list if a new set of franchises were awarded this season:

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Expansion! Part II

I touched a little bit on the importance of starting off a franchise the right way near the end of my last post (which can be read here: Expansion teams get the short end of the stick in that regard. You pay your millions, woo the group of wealthy men whose exclusive club you’re trying to gain access to, and then you get to June and the always entertaining (if for all the wrong reasons) expansion draft.

I love drafts. It’s so interesting to use them as a benchmark for where a player was rated at one point in time, and how far they’ve come since in relation to their peers. This love extends itself to expansion drafts as well. It’s (hypothetically, since I’ve yet to experience one in detail) intriguing to see who teams value, what hard decisions will have to be made, and the general chaos that results from players learning that they were less valuable to their organizations than originally thought.

But the way the NHL has historically done these drafts generally results in teams that are no less than god awful. And that’s pretty brutal as an owner when you’ve just dished out hundreds of millions of dollars in order to watch Scott Pellerin and Tyler Wright play key (read: top line) roles for your baby.

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Expansion! Part I

NHL expansion has been gaining steam over the last few years, to the point where at this junction you’re all but guaranteed to see at least two more teams in the Western Conference in the next 2-3 years. Count on it.

And that’s great for the game. First off, it solves that tricky little 16-14 conference alignment thing we have going on, which probably creates a ton of stress for the NHL schedule-makers (who, unlike their bosses or the players who follow the schedules they painstakingly create, are probably NOT paid in the 7 digits). Second off, and call me crazy, but the NHL is still growing. There is still a ton of growth potential in this league and I think the NHL brain trust is recognizing that there is definitive interest in having hockey in more markets. And not just markets like Southern Ontario and Quebec, where you know you have fans and potential customers.

I mean (and here’s where a lot of purists of the game are going to get mad) there are markets out there that don’t have NHL fans, that could potentially have NHL fans if you plunked a team there. Shocking, isn’t it?

Continue reading Expansion! Part I