Archive for the ‘hockey’ Category


I was imagining that my first post of 2012 would have been a cheerier one. However, we were told on Thursday at training that our barn is going to be closing down and we, the Pitbulls (and the junior teams, the rec team, the university team and ice skating club) would become homeless at the end of the season.

 

The lease on the rink is running out and the rink is set to be converted into student accommodation. Not that I have anything against students or further education, but the situation is far from ideal. In fact thinking it purely from the hockey point of view, I feel like the people who have put the Pitbulls together and ran the team have had a severe kick to the teeth due to the decision.

 

As I’ve had a chance to reflect on the news for a few days, I have come to realise that the biggest loss of the rink closure is not the loss of hockey, but it is the loss of a place that has become a second home to myself and all my team mates. It could potentially also mean the loss of a group of guys who have become like a second family. We have all sweated and bled on to the ice to provide our fans and supporters with an entertaining night out and we as players have relied on each other. We have experienced highs and lows every week that we turn up for training and suit up, ready to hit the ice. Like I’ve said many times before on this blog, being on the ice is one of the best feelings I can imagine.

 

Beyond hockey  however, I have read and recanted numerous tales from Facebook and Twitter on people’s memories of the rink. I have come to know stories of people who have met the love of their life on the ice, memories of nights spent with friends and most of all, people lamenting the loss of a place to meet up and spend time.

 

As I’m not a native to Bristol and I have only spent two seasons with the Pitbulls, I have only a handful of memories compared to most of the other guys on the team who took their first strides on the ice at the facility. However, the situation sounds all too familiar; when I first arrived in the UK in Southampton to study I was told that the town used to house a rink, but it was torn down (now what stands in its place is a Range Rover and Jaguar dealership) and a new rink was promised by the council. Given that I have been in the UK for 8 years and there’s no new rink in sight (OK the Southampoton rink has been shut for nearly 30 years now) one can understand why the loss of a ice facility is a BIG deal to everyone who uses the facility.

 

In what is the Olympic year for the UK, there has been a lot of discussion about the state of British sports. How can the UK nurture the next sporting talents if facilities for sports of all kinds are being cut down. In a broader scale, the economic downturn has cut funding from many sports and leisure centres that provide both the young and old the opportunity to partake in sports, be it hockey, skating, soccer or boxing. Sports is an enabler. If I didn’t do sports in my youth I wouldn’t have learned valuable social skills and I probably would’ve spent more time than I did out in town partaking in teenage debauchery. Sports taught me a great deal of self discipline and respect to others.

 

However, as I’m trying to look for a silver lining in the news of the rink closing down, I am hopeful that it will not mean the demise of hockey in Bristol. I am hopeful that the powers that be build a new rink that is suitable for hockey and figure skating. Hockey is a growing sport in the UK and I’m sure that all our opponents would agree that there needs to be a team in Bristol. Say what you want about the state of the facility, it’s more fun to play more games than have fewer games on the schedule.

 

As my parting thoughts, I would like to see as many of you readers sign this petition to show your support for the rink. It only takes 30 seconds of your time and we (the people who use the rink) would really appreciate the support: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/save-the-ice-rink/

Be sure to also check out the following Facebook Groups and websites: https://www.facebook.com/BristolNeedsARink,


Choosing a hockey stick can be difficult at times. If you are anything like me, it can take hours and hours of trying out different sticks and checking out blade patterns. The staple of stick manufacturers that are known to all in the hockey community include the likes of CCM, Reebok, Easton, Bauer, Warrior and so on.

 

About Beaster:

Though in the recent years many new manufacturers have cropped up and began manufacturing their line of sticks to compete with the big boys. But how do we know if the sticks these ‘smaller’ players are making are any good? Well, one such company has given us a stick to test to find out just how good their wares are. The company in question is Beater Hockey, from Latvia. Latvia has produced many hockey talents, like Arturs Irbe and the late Karlis Skrastins its obvious that hockey is a big deal to Latvians. Beaster is the only manufacturer of hockey equipment from Latvia that I have heard of.

 

‘The Kings of Badassery!’ it proclaims on its website. Beaster hockey was established in 2008 and has been producing a line of sticks since then. It has grown to a global brand with dealers and distributors in Canada, USA, Germany, Slovakia, UK, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Latvia, Russia, and Kazakhstan. The full list can be found here: http://www.beasterhockey.net/#!page-7

Beaster hockey has recently also opened its own first retail store in Latvia and has also done so in the UK. The UK specific site can be found at www.hockeybeast.co.uk The site is currently being built but you can already order the RockNRolla stick from there.

 

Aesthetics & Look and feel:

The stick we are testing is Beaster’s RockNRolla range. The stick is 80 flex with MOD blade pattern and with grip surface. The stick is preferred by many KHL players and is used quite a bit by the Avangard OMSK team.

The first thing that we noticed from the stick is that it is incredibly light! Out of the wrappings, the stick weighs only 410grams, a whole 15grams lighter that the CCM CrazyLight. In fact, Beaster’s top of the range stick, the B1, weighs in at staggering 365grams. That is incredibly light for a stick!

The RockNRolla is not a mid range stick, far from it. It is one of the staples to the Beaster brand and is used by professional players across the globe. When looking at the design of the stick, Beaster have gone out to create a stick that is recognizable on the ice. The use of mirrored/reflective text for it’s own brand name and the name of the stick is recognizable off the ice. A lot of the time when looking at different stick manufacturers it is difficult to distinguish which stick the pros are using. And lets face it, the pros have a huge influence in the purchasing decision on the stick us mere mortals are buying

Durability:

One of the concerns that I had in the first instance of getting the stick in my hands was that of durability. The stick is so light that I worried whether it would be durable enough on the ice. Having said that, I had similar concerns with my CCM CrazyLight stick as well and that’s held up well.

In the hack and slash kind of environment that hockey can sometimes be the RockNRolla has held up really well. In fact you get the same durability that you would normally associate with some of the bigger and established brands in the market, so you are safe in the knowledge that your hard earned cash hasn’t gone into a stick that looks great and doesn’t last for more than a training session.

Normally with sticks the first bit that I notice wear and tear in is the blade area. It’s happened to sticks I’ve used from Easton, CCM and Reebok. The construction of the blade area on the RockNRolla is slightly different and the blade hasn’t started to come apart at the toe or at the heel. As part of the review I have been giving the stick a really rough and tumble ride to check out how well it has lasted.

The end result is that despite abusing the stick it is still in one piece. I’ve had other players slash at it during games and it has held in one piece.

Sure I haven’t gone to the lengths that ended my CCM U+ Pro stick, where I beat it against the bench in frustration and turned the stick into saw dust. But please do bare in mind that sticks do break in hockey and I’ve yet come across an indestructible stick.

Performance:

When I first got the RockNRolla it took me some time to get used to the feel of the stick, simply because I’ve been using CCM sticks for such a long time and I had to get used to the feel and contours of the shaft.

When I first used it on the ice, I had to get used to the sticks flex pattern (similar to Bauer TotalONE) as I noticed that at first my wrist shots weren’t coming off well and I couldn’t get a good enough feel for the stick. However, the more I’ve used it the better it has gotten.

With slap shots and one timers the stick is a beast of its own. I’ve noticed that my slapshots are still as heavy as with other sticks but this time there’s more control of the direction and height. The shaft is easy to load for a slapper and provides enough ‘pop’ for a one timer, without losing the feel of toughness in the shaft.

The only thing where I think the RockNRolla falls a bit behind on is the blade. I’ve been testing a MOD pattern on the stick and normally I prefer a curve similar to CCM’s Lecavalier or Thornton or Easton’s Sakic or Bauer’s Toews. The MOD pattern isn’t most ideal for me, but that is just my personal preference.

However, I think that the overall feel of the blade is not as good as it is on a CCM stick. Again this might be my long term use of CCM sticks, but with the CL I get a better feel of the puck. The RockNRolla does give you a good enough feel of the puck, but at times I found I had to pay increased attention to it and check to make sure the puck was still on the blade.

That again could be my personal preference from using a long line of CCM blades, but it is the ONLY thing I can really mark the stick down on.

Overall:

The Beaster RockNRolla is a nice piece of work. The stick looks flashy and means business. I know for many guys, buying a stick is a personal thing and there are a lot of factors that play into the decision, so it’s difficult for me to give it an overall grade apart from my own experience with it. I would thoroughly recommend the RockNRolla and would recommend that players take a look at the Beaster line of products to find a stick suitable to their needs. I think with Beaster the quality of the product and price are well matched and you are not paying for the name on the shaft or what players the company has to market it’s wares.

The RockNRolla is ideal for players who prefer lighter sticks that do not sacrifice durability and affordability. If you are still thinking about what hockey stick to ask from Santa or what stick to spend your Christmas money on, give Beaster a serious look.

Overall I’d give this stick a 4 out of 5 grade purely due to the issues I had with the blade pattern and the feel of it. Otherwise the stick stacks up well against the top of the range offers from Easton, CCM, Bauer and Reebok.


As this blog has documented in detail my struggles with concussion, I thought it would be a good idea to give you an update on what the after effects have been. You tend to read a lot about the symptoms of concussions, but once a player/person has gotten over the symptoms it is presumed that you carry on as normal.

Please do bear in mind that concussions vary from individual to individual and what I have experienced might not be applicable to some.

It has now been over six months since the concussion and I am symptom free from the actual concussion, but there have been several things that have not been the same. If you hear people who have suffered from concussions say that they have good and bad days, it is true. I have days when I feel normal and days when I still have to lock myself in a dark room due to intense migraine like headaches that have become more frequent since the concussion. When the headaches come they are pretty bad. It feels like someone is yanking at the inside of my eyeballs and I literally cannot move my head or I feel nauseous. There isn’t a set thing that I’ve noticed what would set it off, but sometimes it can be certain smells or even things like flashing lights.

The flashing lights is another thing that I can’t deal with. If I’m in a nightclub (rarely) I can’t be in for a long time as the lights they have really get to me and make me feel dizzy and that’s before I would’ve drank anything. The worse are strobe lights, if there is a strobe light that’s going off, I feel like I’m going to be sick. Other lights, what you normally see in clubs or at parties, give me a headache and ultimately ruin my night. Then again, I wasn’t that big on the club scene anyways so I’m perfectly happy to sit down at a bar or a pub.

The strobe light issue doesn’t have to be in clubs or on nights out. It’s also in films or TV when there are flashing lights or scenes that flash back and forth. Like in the movie Black Swan, the night club scene really made me turn away. Also I have trouble watching shows like the X-Factor (apart from the terrible singing and the mundane judges) due to the light show/screens they use.

The third biggest thing that I have noticed are short term memory problems. I still have a trouble remembering things that I have done or what I’ve been asked to do. A good example of this is from a few weeks ago when I left training and I could not remember where I had parked my car. I was wandering around the parking garage with a couple of teammates not being able to remember what level I had parked my car or where on the level I had parked it.

Then there is head banging or sudden jolts of the head i.e. if I sneeze. The head banging to music has stopped as I can visibly feel my brain move around in my head and it is an uncomfortable feeling. Similarly if I have a cold/flu and I sneeze and my head jerks because of it, it feels doubly bad.

So despite being over the main issues of the concussions it has had a profound effect on my life and the things that I do. Most of the time I don’t think about the concussion, but I still get reminders that I have suffered a blow that has altered things. I guess the lesson I have learnt from all of this is to listen to my body more. I am more in tune with myself than I was before and I take injuries more seriously than I did in the past, specially after any contact/jolts to the head. In the past I always thought “It’s just a dinger, it’ll be fine” where as now I make sure that if I do feel uncomfortable or feel un-easy about something I evaluate it, before it becomes a problem.

 

Despite this, I still love to play and I am thankful that I am able to carry on playing, but most of all, I’m grateful that I can lead a normal life most of the time.


As posted previously on this blog, Finland and Sweden have an NHL deal in place carrying through till 2015-2016. In Sweden the games will be shown by Viasat and in Finland by Nelonen Pro.

In Finland, Nelonen Pro will air 150 games per season and will show the play offs and the Stanley cup finals. Viasat in turn is looking to air 15games per week.

Additionally Viasat will be airing all 1,300 regular season games live or ‘as-live’ through it’s extra channels and satellite broadcasts.

Both channels will offer North American tv broadcasts but will provide localised commentary and local insights to the games.

“This is a significant deal and will allow us to bring all the NHL games to the Nordic countries for the first time ever,” said NHL director John Collins. “This broadcast agreement ensures that NHL fans in the Nordic countries an entirely new way to approach the games and the players. This agreement is a win for both NHL hockey and our fans.”

Included in the deal is an online broadcast service of games, Viaplay, which will allow fans to stream live games through the service.

Again there is no news about the continued availability of Gamecenter live.

This deal would mean that the NHL is available on TV in nordics, uk and the Czech republic. I will report any new tv deals for other regions.

Personally I have to say that this deal is really impressive and I hope it pleases the fans in the Nordics.


Bit of a different post today. I’m writing this sat in my room at the BMI Hampshire clinic. I’m here for an ankle arthroscopy to fix my atfl.

You might remember my post from the summer titled ‘If I didn’t have bad luck, I’d have no luck at all’, well that twisted ankle has gotten progressively worse since the season started.

The ankle felt fine during the pre season but it has been bugging me since we started games. I’ve pretty much had to strap ice bags on the ankle after every time I did any form of activity.

Where it is a bummer to have the procedure, I would rather have it now than tough it out to the end of the season. I look at this as an opportunity to return to action stronger and more motivated than I already was. I will miss a couple of games and miss being with the guys, but I would rather play to my full ability/potential than play scared that my ankle will buckle due to the tear.

The next few posts here will probably be about images of the ankle, post procedure. Ironically it is my right ankle and just over a year ago I had my right knee done, so the right leg will have cost £10k plus. And they say exercise is good for you.

There has been a number of other exciting things happening as well, which I’ll tell you about in the comic days. I will try and keep the whinging to a minimum.


We are a week in to the new NHL season and where GameCenter Live works again and people seem happy with it, the UK has seemingly bagged itself a TV deal through Premier Sports TV, which will be on Sky channel 433. The NHL section is on the Premier Sports web-site, though at the moment there aren’t too many games listed for live broadcasts as yet, but this could be as the deal is seemingly new. In a Tweet by Premier Sports TV said “We have the NHL! Starts live this weekend and we aim to show as many games live as possible in UK. Up to 10 a week.”

However, despite the long wait for a TV deal, many fans in the UK have turned to Twitter to say that GCL is still a preferred option for them, mainly due to the fact that it offers more games. We will have to wait and see how the situation develops with Premier Sports and what type of games they will be offering in the coming weeks. Hopefully they will offer a similar sort of standard in games to that of ESPN America. The schedule for Premier Sports hockey can be found at: http://www.premiersports.tv/

However, Premier Sports is not available to Virgin Media customers, which is not ideal as this is clearly cutting out a portion of the market and potential viewership. Additionally, Premier Sports does not have an HD channel on Sky, which means that fans that subscribe to the channel would have to watch the games in regular definition. Personally ESPN America spoiled me with HD broadcasts and in my elitist mind, I sort of snubbed the non-HD channel.

There is no confirmation as of yet, whether Premier Sports will be available on Virgin Media Also there is no confirmation as yet whether the TV deal would mean that the NHL would block GCL for the UK market as it did in the Nordics during the NHL Premiere games. Personally my opinion is to not shut down GCL as it would cause a huge uproar among fans who have paid for it and clearly enjoy the service. I’ve maintained from the start that to truly expand, the NHL needs a TV and an online presence in Europe. Though in the crazy times that it has gone through with the TV rights, it wouldn’t surprise me if they decided to pull the plug. However, the TV deal does offer a glimmer of hope for people like me whose internet connection is not able to support the streams from GCL.

As for the rest of Europe, there is no deal in place as yet, though I have seen suggestive comments coming from a couple of broadcasters saying that they have heard encouraging news about the rights.

The time is right for the NHL to get the mess sorted out as soon as possible. The league has an ideal opportunity in its hands to gain more fans in Europe. As the NBA seems to be heading into a lock out season, the MLB season is on the final stretch, the NHL has a great opportunity to convert a couple of fans into hockey lovers with the offerings of American sports on the European continent winding down with several leagues being close to the finish line.

I will look to provide more info on the wider European TV rights as soon as I hear anything. I would also urge any fans looking to subscribe to the channel to wait just a little while to see how the offering improves/changes as at the moment, it looks rather slim.

Update: Premier Sports has tweeted to say that it will be aiming to show 10 games per week, mainly live and that all games would be repeated. The subscription to the channel is £7.99 per month. I’m a bit curious about the word ‘mainly’ in the tweet however.

 

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If you are a hockey fan and have not heard the name Biosteel mentioned during the past couple of years, you could’ve been living under a rock. Before the pre-season camps begin for most clubs, those on Twitter and Facebook can see a stream of updates coming from Biosteel camp, which is by invitation only to the most talented players and prospects in the game.

The Biosteel container contains 325grams of the powder to make 60 portions of the drink

Such has been the buzz around Biosteel sports that we have taken a look at the product to see what the hype is all about. On first look at the company, it has several recognisable ambassadors ranging from Mike Cammalleri from the Montreal Canadiens and Steve Stamkos from the Tampa Bay Lightning. Biosteel is the brain child of the respected strength and conditioning coach Matt Nichol (follow him on twitter via @M_Nichol). Nichol first came up with the formula for Biosteel in 2004 when he was the strength and conditioning coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey. The company Biosteel Sports was formed in 2009 and was originally only sold exclusively to professional teams and franchises, but has in a few years been made available to the public as well.

On first look Biosteel High Performance Sports Drink (HPSD) comes in a tub of 375grams, which equates to approximately 60 portions of the drink, when mixed per one scoop to 250ml of water. Having used similar products, such as N.OX Explode by BSN I had my reservations about the taste and the effectiveness of the drink. Similarly, it was interesting to test the drink against some of the sports drinks that you are able to pick up in supermarkets (Lucozade Sports and Powerade).

As with any sports drink you consume, you want to be sure of its effects and that it is easy to drink. When comparing Biosteel to N.OX Explode taste wise, Biosteel is a clear winner. The powder smells almost like bubblegum and there is no strong taste in the Biosteel drink, which makes it easy to drink, compared to N.OX Explode, which has a strong and almost a sickly sweet taste to it. Taste of any sports supplement is a big thing. If the taste is not to your liking you are likely not to drink it.

Biosteel also mixes really well. Whether mixing it into a glass by using spoon or into a shaker, there is no excessive frothing of the drink, nor does the powder leave any clumps at the bottom of the glass or shaker, so there is no fear of having any un-wanted surprises with your drink.

Cheers! Drink the pink. The Biosteel powder mixes exceptionally well and is easy to drink.

Biosteel also promotes energy and where I wouldn’t necessarily class Biosteel as an energy drink in the same vain as Red Bull, it definitely improves energy levels during workouts. As we all know, caffeinated drinks are the worst possible drinks to have before, during or after a workout or game. Energy drinks that rely on caffeine and sugar give you a momentary boost and where you might feel that the traditional caffeinated drinks work, you’ll actually crash sooner and often without reaching your peak. With Biosteel, however, the energy release is consistent and you don’t experience a peak, but your performance is improved throughout your workout/game.

Similarly to sports drinks like Lucozade Sports, Powerade and Gatorade, Biosteel promotes recovery and hydration. Now this is where I have the greatest interest in the product. Having used Powerade and Lucozade Sports drinks excessively for hockey, I have always felt that they are – to a greater or lesser extent – really sugary and sweet in taste. So how does Biosteel compare to these supermarket, household names? It fares great against these products. Because it is mainly mixed into water and due to the mix of nutrients and electrolytes in the drink, Biosteel not only replaces lost fluids, but gives you that extra boost without a hint of caffeine or other substance that would make you experience a crash.

As an example, I’ve used both Biosteel and Powerade during my bike workouts. I do a workout on the bike that consists of 45 second sprints and 1minute 30seconds of active rest periods. Normally I try to complete 15 sets. With the use of Powerade, I feel that I am replacing lost fluids, but not much else. I can’t clearly explain it but the feeling of quick recovery and hydration is not there. Also further negative for Powerade is that even the ‘sugar free’ version tastes really sugary and sweet. Compared with Biosteel, I had one of the best workout sessions on the bike since I started doing it. I found that the sets just breezed past and I was literally in the zone and kept finding that little bit extra.

In hockey it has proved a great help too. It does give you that consistent feeling of energised and I do feel that I am more focussed and pumped than with some of the other products mentioned in this review. Infact I’ve become such a convert for Biosteel that it is an essential in my locker and kit bag for away games.

Biosteel should be an essential in the kit bag

Usually with any product of this type, I am really cautious of the hype, but Biosteel has really put its money where its mouth is.

The annoying thing about Biosteel is that I really wanted to find a flaw in the product, but I can’t. I simply cannot find anything wrong with it. Biosteel has come up with probably the best composition for a sports drink out in the market. It is not only hockey players that benefit from the product, but I can see that it has the potential to become a huge international success.

The only downside, for now, is that there is not a distributor in Europe, though you are able to order the product from the Biosteel website for the European market. I only hope that a smart, forward thinking distributor/online store will start stocking Biosteel so that athletes across the pond can also drink the pink!

For now you can buy Biosteel from: http://www.biosteel.com/buy_now.php

Overall Verdict: 5 out of 5

Taste: 5 out of 5

Mix-ability: 5 out of 5

Effectiveness: 5 out of 5

Look and feel: 5 out of 5

 

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The puck drops tomorrow and fans across the world are waiting with bated breath to watch the games. None more than the European NHL fans as the situation over broadcast rights is still up in the air. Fans have been campaigning across social media platforms to raise the issue to NHL and those involved. Even Brent Burns from the San Jose Sharks re-tweeted one of the #NHLTV4Europe tweets last night.

 

The last few days has seen Puck Daddy put a story together on the issue and even quoted the open letter I put together. I was just trawling twitter and I saw one of my followers Teemu Tammilehto (@tammarii) tweet that there is a TV agreement in place and that Game Centre Live has been blocked.

 

A thread on HF boards has users in Nordic countries saying that Game Centre Live is blocked and many other users from countries such as Germany are reporting similar problems. It would transpire that there is a broacast agreement in place for the Nordic countries (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Denmark) would have a TV deal in place with Viasat. But reading the comments on HF Boards, it would seem that the decision has enraged many fans (read the thread here: http://hfboards.com/showthread.php?t=943727&page=16).

 

To me this is an encouraging step, but still a double edged sword situation. In my initial blog and the follow up I said that the NHL needs a TV deal in Europe and a presence online, but with the broadcast agreement now in place, it would appear that the online broadcasting rights are up in the air.

 

 

Users who subscribed to Game Centre Live have received the following message:

 

“Unfortunately, NHL GameCenter Live is no longer available in Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland. The NHL is now being broadcast in your region through Viasat.

A refund has been applied to your account. Please allow 7-10 business days to see this reflected back on your credit card statement.

NHL Web Support”

 

 

I’ve been critical of the Game Centre Live route, but don’t get me wrong, the GCL is a great product but with most internet providers failing to deliver the promised speeds, users would have hugely differing experiences with watching games. For me personally GCL would’ve been a painstaking experience, much like watching the World Championships through IIHF.com.

 

However, as Viasat now has rights to broadcast games, there is no indication whether there will be online broadcasts and to what degree. The NHL needs to have both televised and online presence globally to really market the sport. TV will provide fans like me an outlet to watch games and the Internet provides the option of giving fans the option of what games they will watch.

 

Further to the point, there seems to be some sort of light at the end of the tunnel on getting the debacle sorted out, though there are many more markets that need to be covered and Medge and AMI are running out of time.

 

Apologies for the rambling nature of the post, but I wanted to get the information up ASAP. I will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as and when they happen.

 

Let’s hope that we will all be able to watch games in time for the opening face off, whether it is on TV or online. Or who knows, both.


As of today, 28th of September, with eight days to go till the puck drop for the NHL regular season, the NHL has made Game Centre Live available to Europeans. Where this is a step forward, many of us still want the games on television. Notably, like I mentioned in my open letter to the NHL, AMI Partners and Medge Consulting, the internet does provide the league with further opportunities, but it cannot solely rely on online presence.

I mentioned in my letter that some households cannot receive sufficient speeds to stream games and having watched the Game Centre Live introduction video on the site, it froze four times for me. This simply is not acceptable or a proper way to watch a high speed sport.

Game Centre Live will provide option for us to pay monthly for the subscription, but once you sign up you are tied to the contract and expected to make payments on schedule.

 

However, the bigger picture here is that the NHL has seemingly undercut Medge Consulting (the TV Rights owner) and provided Europeans with a way to watch the games, even if not in a desireable manner. What this means for Medge is that it will be even more difficult to come up with an agreement with broadcasters as GCL would appear a cheaper alternative to what Medge is selling the rights for. I would like to stress that the prices I’ve heard are rumours and I have no access to confirmed figures.

So what are the options then? For those who have fast internet access, GCL is a good way to go, but for me and I’m sure many in the same boat who receive only fraction of the promised internet speeds, will have to look elsewhere. Making GCL available to Europe IS NOT a solution to the problem. The NHL needs to be on TV AND online if it really wants to make its presence known in Europe. Where GCL offers us the opportunity to watch the games I can’t help but feel that the situation is a throwback to the 80s and mid 90s when it was seemingly impossible to watch live games on television (apart from the cup finals). Like I said, I fear that the NHL has taken a step back which will take more than five years to recover from as it has a lesser capacity to attract new fans in Europe.

There’s a Twitter handle to use for TV rights for Europe (#NHLTVDeal4Europe), so please spread the word and hopefully the powers that be will take notice and we can finally see a solution to the deadlock situation.


Dear Medge Consulting, AMI Partners and the NHL

 

I, like many of my peers in Europe are anxiously waiting for the new NHL season to begin. I’ve missed the long sleepless, Friday and Saturday nights that I’ve spent in front of my TV, watching the coolest game on earth. At the time of writing this, there are ten days to go till the puck drops for the 2011-2012 regular season. I would normally write how excited I am of this time of the year, but now I’m nothing but confused, concerned and angry.

 

However, like you may have guessed the current situation with the NHL broadcasting rights has left myself, and many others confused. I can understand that there are many broadcasters that you are speaking to, but seeing as the season is drawing closer, it is looking less and less likely that we will have the games on TV here in Europe. (I sincerely hope that this is not the case).

 

I know NHL is trying to push the sport here in Europe, but the current situation is doing little to help the leagues visibility on the ‘old-continent’. There is a huge number of fans that are tuning in to watch the games night in night out and many have subscribed to channels such as ESPN America or equivalent depending on their respective region.

 

What really annoys me, and I’m sure many of the fans in Europe, is that there seems to be a visible disconnect between the rights holders, the NHL and the fans. As many of us fans have had subscriptions to paid for channels, we have gone and cancelled our subscriptions, because a) the broadcaster cannot comment, b) the NHL is not commenting and c) Medge Consulting/AMI Partners have done little except issued a press release about the acquisition of the rights. How difficult is it to give some sort of guidance on the situation. The few articles I’ve read have Medge saying the “chances of having NHL on the TV in Europe is 100%”, and broadcasters saying that “at the moment I don’t think it is viable.” You can obviously see where the confusion comes from, can’t you.

 

I know there have been rumours of making the Game Centre Live available to Europe, but I ask you NHL, is this the right way forward? I know that we live in a digital age, where the internet presents countless opportunities. Call me old-school, but I sure like to watch my sports on my TV, in High-Definition without having to rely on internet connectivity.

 

Further to the point, if you really are looking to push the sport in Europe, please remember that not all countries are developed to the point that they could afford 20Mbps connections at every house. Heck, I’m lucky to get a 1Mbps connection and none of the providers can do much better. Am I to assume that I’m going to have to watch games, from game centre, with grainy image quality and with a connection that cuts out every 5 seconds? Hardly the experience one would want from the game of hockey. What about the price for the Game Centre then? In the past I have paid £10 for ESPN America per month and looking at the Game Centre prices for the USA, it does not look that attractive. Do you really want to start having fans flock to ‘illegal’ streaming links? At the moment it would seem that we have no other option.

 

Rather ironically, the games in Europe have sold tens of thousands of tickets, but you are losing out on a FAR GREATER audience by not having an agreement in place. I do actually sympathise with ESPN America as they have been backed into a corner and have undoubtedly lost a huge amount of revenue due to the loss of the games as many fans have cancelled their subscriptions to the channel. Surely this situation is not ideal.

 

Many of the articles I have read about the rights, quote broadcasters saying that the price Medge Consulting and AMI Partners have on the games is so extortionate that it makes little business sense to take on the games. The NHL has said on many occasions that it wants to expand the visibility and the league in the Europe, but I can’t help but wonder that the old adage of ‘money talks and BS walks’ is the true motive behind the sale of the rights.

 

This really isn’t the way to push a sport further into Europe and keep avid fans in tune with the best sports league in the world. At the moment, even the KHL looks like a more competent league in terms of broadcasting than the NHL does. Whatever the outcome of this mess is, I fear that the NHL has shot itself in the foot BIG TIME for the next five years.

 

I’d like to think that I’ve highlighted some of the feelings of the fans in Europe regarding the broadcasting rights.

 

Regards

 

Janne Virtanen