Wednesday, March 16, 2005


A Hull of a Tournament Lined Up

The World Hockey Association has new ownership and things are starting to heat up as more players are committing to a 6-team tournament. The tournament will be the Bobby Hull Invitational, named after the best left winger in NHL and WHA history.

While I don't have much faith that the WHA could succeed as a viable 2nd option to the NHL, this short term option sounds great! If they have a game in Vancouver, I would definitely try and get out to see it.

It also appears that the WHA learned from the OSHL's mistakes (Wow, it's been awhile since the OSHL was around, eh?).

The OSHL games suffered from a lack of intensity because the players had no incentive to break a sweat or throw a bodycheck.

WHA president/owner Ricky Smith confirmed yesterday each player will be paid $20,000 US and that a $2-million prize will be awarded to the winning team.

Excellent! We know the way to a hockey players heart is through the wallet. Dangle a nice carrot in front of them and hopefully they will take the bait.

In addition to the prize money, the WHA also needs to worry about insurance. Players won't risk their NHL contracts for this type of prize money unless they are get coverage. I hope they are able to arrange this before the whole

The new World Hockey Association website is also about 500% better than the previous incarnation. At least the WHA's site has a 'legit' look to it.

The WHA is also trying to get the fans involved. For any wannabe bloggers, the WHA is looking for 'Franchise' blogs. You could run a blog for your 'favourite' WHA franchise. Although some would scoff at why anyone would blog about the WHA, you should give the WHA credit for reaching out to the fans.

While the NHL and NHLPA would like to manipulate our opinions into their vision of financial utopia, the WHA seems to be treating the fans with some respect. The WHA knows that it has to provide an entertaining product in order to entice and keep fans. Why not asking the people what they want? If the NHL ever really listened to the fans (and I'm not talking just looking at attendance figures), they would probably clue in to the fact that their product needs tweaking.

The best example of this fan-based input comes in the 'Rule Changes Proposal' the WHA has published on their website. Fans can vote on the following...

I'd bet $5 that the 2nd-to-last rule suggestion was Brett Hull's :).

I'll take a wait-and-see approach as usual, but I'm actually pulling for the WHA this least for this 6-team tournament. In the end, I'm hoping that the NHL can learn a thing or two from the WHA like it did during the first incarnation back in the 70s.

Czech Extraleague Playoffs Update:

Sevens are wild in Czechia as underdogs Liberec and Kladno forced their series to Game 7.

Kladno 2 - Pardubice 1 (Series tied at 3)
The "Kladno Twins" - Pavel Patera and Martin Prochazka - produced both goals to help the Bulldogs take the heavily favoured Stallions to the brink. While Pardubice definitely has the heart and grit than Sparta Prague does not, this team often suffers the same downfall of having too many star players on a roster and not enough ice time for them all. Normally, you'd want a stacked roster...right? Well, the past champions in the Extraleague all seem to have more 'role' players on the 3rd and 4th lines as supposed to the big scoring stars.

(Photo courtesy:
Liberec 3 - Slavia 1 (Series tied at 3)
9 NHLers in total played in this game and Jaroslav Spacek (1 assist) was the only one to get an offensive point.
Give props to the much derided and mispronounced Milan Hnilicka. Milo made 37 saves and made sure Josef Stumpel didn't get another hat trick and cause the universe to consume itself to restore balance.

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