Parity in the 4 Major Sports (NHL, NFL, MLB and NBA)

Since the lockout in the 2004-05 NHL Season and the implementation of the salary cap, I keep hearing that there is a lot of parity in the NHL. I always agreed with this statement and we don't have to look very far to find some good examples. The Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs were the last three teams in the Eastern Conference in the 2011-12 season and all three made the playoffs this year.

However, as I was watching the Conference Finals last week, I realized that the four teams playing were the last four Stanley Cup Champions: Pittsburgh Penguins (2009), Chicago Blackhawks (2010), Boston Bruins (2011) and Los Angeles Kings (2012). This led me to think, is there really that much parity in the NHL and how does it compare to the NFL, MLB and NBA?

There are a number of ways to look at parity but I chose two:

1. Parity in the regular season

In order to do this I looked at the regular season standings in these four leagues from the past 8 seasons. I ranked teams from 1 through 30 (1 through 32 for the NFL) to be able to compare all four sports equally without having to consider the number of games in each league. I then did a regression to see the correlation between a team's ranking in two consecutive seasons. Here are the results:
NFL - 0.08
MLB - 0.20
NHL - 0.24
NBA - 0.41

What this means is that from year to year in the standings we will see the least change in the NBA and the most change in the NFL. The most surprising to me was to see that there is more parity in the regular season in the MLB than in the NHL. For a league without a salary cap and a 162 games season, one would think the best (and richest) teams would always find their way to the top but that's not the case.

The NBA and NFL aren't much of a surprise since we all know that the same teams always finish near the top in the NBA and that the NFL has the most parity. Part of the season for that is the NFL only has 16 games and a single injury can take a team from Super Bowl Contender to last in the league (2011 Colts).

2. Parity in the playoffs

Since every league has a different number of teams that make the playoffs and the number of different teams that win isn't necessarily representative, I decided to look at the number of times each time made it to the Conference Finals in each league, here are the results:

Once again the NBA has the least parity but the other three leagues are pretty equal and have some good parity. I have to admit I was surprised that no team in any of the four major sports has made it to the conference finals more than four times in the past eight seasons.

If we combine all this data, it looks like it was just a coincidence that the last four teams remaining this season were the last four Stanley Cup Champions. There is a lot of parity in the NHL but no more than in the MLB or the NFL.

Enjoy the Stanley Cup Finals and for the Bruins and Blackhawks fans, we have some Boston Bruins Jerseys and Chicago Blackhawks Jerseys left in most sizes. We're also still offering 5% off any of our NHL Jerseys if you "Like" the Sports Jerseys Canada Facebook Page.

Carolina Hurricanes get creative to unveil new uniform

The Carolina Hurricanes have decided to get creative to unveil their new uniforms. Over the next 10 days they will reveal a "teaser swatch" of their new uniforms every day at noon until the big reveal on June 4th. So far we know that the colours and primary logo will remain the same. We also have this image here that shows the new font and also shows us that the collar will be black
It seems a little exaggerated but heck I'm following and you're reading about it so I guess it's working. For those interested in seeing the swatches every day, you can see them on the Hurricanes website.

Have we all forgotten about the lockout?

The NHL lockout was painful for anyone who loves hockey and was even more painful for any business owners like myself. All of us that read blogs, forums and talk-backs during the lockout saw that the large majority of fans were frustrated and said they wouldn't watch hockey anymore. So which fans really backed up what they said?

According to a report by SportsBusiness Journal, only the Colorado Avalanche had lower local TV ratings than in 2011-12 and I think we all know why, they only won 16 games. The TV Ratings on NBC were up 18% compared to last year and were the highest for the NHL in almost 20 years. As far as we're concerned, our jersey sales are well up compared to last year. Part of that is because of natural growth of our business but the lockout certainly didn't have any negative effect.

One argument for this is that because of the shorter season, more teams were competitive than in previous years and more viewers were interested. It's a valid argument for some of those statistics but doesn't explain why the TV ratings for a team like the New York Rangers who finished first last year and had a disappointing season this year are up.

The other part that is intriguing to me is how much the NHL players were united during the lockout and fought together for some things that seemed irrelevant. They were a very united group, as much if not more than in the NBA and NFL in the past two years. However, now that they're back to playing again, they seem to have lost respect for each other and we've seen just as many hits to the head as in previous years. Just my two cents...

So with all that said, does anyone feel different than they did when they were watching the first round of the NHL Playoffs in 2012 about 11 months ago? Other than it's a little warmer outside and there's more Canadian teams in the Playoffs, it's the same hockey we love, there's just as many people in the stands and just as many (if not more) viewers on TV. As angry as we were at the owners and players back in December, it's all back to normal.

New Winnipeg Jets Jerseys Speculation

The new Winnipeg Jets jerseys are probably the second biggest mystery in hockey right now after the Crosby injury situation. Since we're in the jersey business, it has to be our number one.

We don't have any secret information as to what the jerseys will look like and we won't until they're unveiled to the public within the next few weeks. It shouldn't be much longer however since the Jets are playing their first preseason game on September 20. One player, Blake Wheeler, who did have "secret information" posted a picture of the team's pants on his Twitter account: It doesn't tell us a whole lot but it's still nice to see a little preview of what the uniform will look like.

If I had to speculate, since the pants are dark blue and don't have a line on the side or any other colour on them, I don't think they will choose to go with a mainly dark blue uniform. Scott Brown, director of communications for True North Sports and Entertainment, has also stated that the picture of the Jets jersey which was leaked last week is "not even close" to the real jersey. Even though there's no other blue on the jersey, it is possible that the Jets would go with a uniform of another colour as a few other teams have done.

Take a look at the Blues home jersey for example:

The main colour is a lighter blue even though that colour is not on the logo and there's white and yellow accents on both the jersey and the logo. My guess is that the Jets will go with a similar concept: a lighter blue logo with quite a bit of dark blue as well as red and grey accents. If that the case, the numbers would probably be red with a grey outline. Once again I just want to remind all of you that this is pure speculation and I'm simply having fun at guessing what it might look like.

I might be totally wrong but either way, I think my suggestion would look pretty nice. Finally, you can pre-order the new Winnipeg Jets jerseys from our online store or you can simply send us an e-mail and ask to be notified when they're in stock which should be sometime in November.

We'll have some more articles in the coming weeks about the other new jerseys for the 2011-12.

Latest NHL News

Training camps are approaching very quickly in the NHL and the regular season is now less than a month away. The Hockey News has released their 2010-11 Predictions and the most surprising one is probably the Vancouver Canucks finishing first in the Western Conference.

In Edmonton, Taylor Hall has chosen to wear the #4 and the choice was approved by Kevin Lowe. Copper & Blue's Staff is pretty split on the decision. As a side note, Taylor Hall jerseys are available in our online store.

Kuklas Korner has published some interesting statistics on the shootout in 2009-10. Take a look at the top 20 goalies and top 20 players in shootouts from last season.

There were also quite a few signings in the past week:
-Peter Mueller signed a 2-year deal with the Colorado Avalanche
-Blue Jackets first round pick Ryan Johansen signed an entry-level deal.
-Phoenix Coyotes and Martin Hanzal agreed on a 2-year deal.
-Andrew Cogliano resigned with the Edmonton Oilers for one year.
-Nigel Dawes agreed to a two-way deal with the Atlanta Thrashers.

R&D Camp, New Tiebreaking Rule and Other News

Earlier this week, a Toronto Maple Leafs Blog, Pension Plan Puppets, had their content stolen by the Toronto Sun. Here's a nice article from Blueshirt Banter that describes the situation and talks about the lack of respect for bloggers. A few months ago I had a major website copy part of one of my articles and it was very frustrating. At least, they handle the situation better than the Toronto Sun did.

The biggest news in the past few days has been the NHL R&D Camp. The most detailed article I read on the topic is by Jim Kelley from Sportsnet. He looks at the rules being tested and sees which ones ave the best chance of going through. The one rule change that has been made so far is that shootout wins will no longer count in the tiebreaker. Nothing major but I guess it's a nice rule.

Edward Fraser from Blog looks at the winners and losers of the 2010 off-season. Excellent article especially since it gives credit to the Blackhawks for doing the best that they could given the situation they were in.

Here are some other news and articles from the past week:
-Vincent Lecavalier will undergo minor arthroscopic procedure.
-Alexander Edler is skating again.
-Copper & Blue questioning what the Oilers are doing this summer.
-CBC will televise 10 AHL games in 2010-11.
-In Lou We Trust analyzes the goals scored against Martin Brodeur in 2009-10.

Finally, Icethetics has a nice article on teams changing jerseys for the 2010-11 season. All of these jerseys will be available on our online store within the next few weeks and many, including the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Vancouver Canucks special jersey are already available.

The Ilya Kovalchuk Saga

After a couple of months off we're finally back for the 2010-11 season. The biggest topic of the past few weeks in the NHL has undoubtedly been Ilya Kovalchuk.

Richard Bloch ruled in favour of the NHL and decided to void Kovalchuk's contract. I think most people agree that this was the correct decision but what I don't understand is why it wasn't done before. The NHL has realized its mistake and is now looking back at similar contracts: Roberto Luongo, Marc Savard, Chris Pronger and Marian Hossa.

Instead of putting a vague clause saying:
"Article 26(3) allows for a finding of circumvention if the intention of the parties was to circumvent the CBA OR if the net effect of the deal, intention aside, was to get around the CBA."
Why not put in something like on a 3-year contract every season must be at least 25% of the total contract, 20% for 4 years and so on. This means that on a 4 year deal worth 20 million, the most front-loaded contract possible would be 8 million in the first year and 4 million in the final three. Pretty simple and solves a lot of problems. You might argue that the NHL didn't see this coming but it wasn't too hard to predict. Maybe not 10-12 year deals but a 7-year front-loaded deal like Marc Savard should have been predictable.

Here are thoughts from a few other bloggers:
-Eric Macramalla from "Offside: A Sports Law Blow" analyzes the decision in depth

-Winging It In Motown argues that the NHL shouldn't be able to go this. I have to say I agree with this and especially this part: "The teams and the players should have a right to know exactly what they're allowed to do."

-Jewels from the Crown has a few nice quotes from arbitrator Richard Bloch.

-Puck Daddy also writes an article saying that this whole situation is a joke.

-Pro Hockey Talk discusses the fallout from this and the investigations of the four other contracts.

Here are some articles from local sources regarding the other four contracts:
-Marc Savard - Boston Globe
-Chris Pronger - Flyer Flies
-Roberto Luongo - Vancouver Sun
-Marian Hossa - Chicago Now

State of the Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens surprised everyone by beating the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins before losing to the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference Finals. This team had been depleted by injuries all season long and were finally able to pull everything together in the playoffs despite playing without their number one defenseman Andrei Markov.

Bob Gainey was heavily criticized for a number of his moves over the past few years but his overall record doesn't look so bad. The Montreal Canadiens made it to the playoffs in five of the six years that Gainey was GM and three of those times they made it past the first round. He was also criticized for signing small players last summer but it certainly wasn't a factor in these playoffs.

Let's take a look at the 15 players they currently have under contract for next season:

Scott Gomez - F - $7,357,143 - When the Canadiens traded for Scott Gomez last summer, Gainey was criticized for acquiring another small center but, most importantly, for acquiring his 7 million dollar contract. Many failed to realize that this trade was done in preparation for July 1st and is probably what allowed Gainey to convince Brian Gionta and Mike Cammalleri to sign in Montreal. Sure Gomez probably isn't worth more than 5 or 5.5 million but this trade was necessary in order to have a competitive team in 2009-10. Gomez picked up 59 points this season and added 14 in the playoffs; we can probably expect 65 to 70 from him next season if Gionta stays healthy and if Pouliot picks up his play a little next season - Overpaid.

Mike Cammalleri - F - $6,000,000 - He was on pace for 38 goals before suffering an injury in late January. He struggled for the final nine games of the regular season when he came back from his injury but picked it up again in the playoffs scoring 13 goals in 19 games. Had he not been hurt, Cammalleri probably would have finished in the top 30 for points and in the top 10 for goals. He is approximately the 25th most paid forward in the NHL which seems pretty fair, although one could argue that he is underpaid after the playoffs he had - Fair value.

Andrei Markov - D - $5,750,000 - Before the 2009-10 playoffs, the large majority of the Montreal Canadiens fans would have agreed that Andrei Markov was the most valuable player to the team. Over the past few years, the Canadiens had an awful record when Markov was out with an injury as he was pretty much their only good puck moving defenseman. Although he has been injured often over the past two years, he is still amongst the five best defensemen in the NHL in my opinion and is worth at least as much as Jay Bouwmeester who signed a deal worth 33 million over five years last summer - Good value.

Roman Hamrlik - D - $5,500,000 - He has finished second in time on ice per game in each of the last three years behind only Andrei Markov and, most of the time, has been solid defensively. The problem with Hamrlik is that he is starting to slow down at 36 years old and probably won't get much more than 25 points next year. The Montreal Canadiens are very glad to have him but they just wish he was making 4 million a year instead of 5.5 - Overpaid.

Brian Gionta - F - $5,000,000 - Similar to Mike Cammalleri, Brian Gionta had a pretty good season overall but was slowed down by injuries. Gionta's stats over 61 games would have given him 38 goals and 24 assists over a full season. This would have put him in the top 10 for goals and the top 50 for points. His offensive statistics are slightly worse than Cammalleri's but his defensive play makes him just as valuable - Good value.

Jaroslav Spacek - D - $3,833,333 - Most agreed that this was a good signing by Bob Gainey last off-season but it didn't turn out as well as expected. Spacek was disappointing for most of the season but played much better in the playoffs which could be good news for next season - Slightly overpaid.

Andrei Kostitsyn - F - $3,250,000 - He is an extremely talented player but who unfortunately is just as inconsistent. He remains a pretty good top six forward but his production has declined since signing a three-year deal in 2008. - Slightly overpaid.

Hal Gill - D - $2,250,000 - In just a few months, Hal Gill went from one of the most criticized players on the team to one of the most appreciated. Despite the criticism, he was solid defensively all season long and was a leader in the locker room. He does not bring much to the team offensively but he is excellent in his role - Fair value.

Travis Moen- F - $1,500,000 - He had the second best season of his career offensively with 20 points and was the second most used forward on the penalty kill. He won't do anything special but he is one of the few third or fourth line forwards on the team that played regularly on the penalty kill - Fair value.

Georges Laraque - F - $1,500,000 - Laraque was asked to leave the team in January and will probably be bought out this off-season. This would cost the Canadiens $500,000 in cap room for the next two seasons instead of $1,500,000 for the next year.

Josh Gorges - D - $1,100,000 - He was excellent all season long and was the most consistent defenseman on the team. He had the most time on ice per game on the penalty kill and fourth most at even strength. Gorges finally got the recognition he deserved from the media in the playoffs and will be a huge bargain next season - Great value.

Ryan O'Byrne - D - $941,667 - He was heavily criticized last season but picked up his play this season and seems to be improving. He still isn't much more than a sixth or seventh defenseman but he definitely has the potential to develop into a top four guy in a couple of years - Fair value.

Max Pacioretty - F - $875,000 - He was expected to play with Gionta and Gomez this season but was a big disappointment this season. He is still only 21 years old so has plenty of time to develop but - Fair value.

P.K. Subban - D - $875,000 - At times in the 2010 Playoffs, Subban looked like the best defenseman on the team. He still has a lot to learn but he made tremendous steps this season and will be a top four defenseman as well as a potential Calder candidate in 2010-11 - Great value.

Ben Maxwell - F - $850,000 - He didn't play much with the Canadiens this season but had a pretty good season with the Bulldogs and should make the big team next year as the 12th or 13th forward - Fair value.

Here's what we have when we put all that together:
Great value: 2
Good value: 2
Fair value: 6
Slightly overpaid: 2
Overpaid: 2

Total Cap Hit: $45,582,143 (assuming George Laraque is bought out)

The Montreal Canadiens defense is pretty set for the 2010-11 season with Andrei Markov, Roman Hamrlik, Jaroslav Spacek, Hal Gill, Josh Gorges, Ryan O'Byrne and P.K. Subban. This is the same defensive core which played so well in the 2010 Playoffs with one exception: Andrei Markov replacing Marc-Andre Bergeron. Bergeron could still be signed as a 12th forward / 7th defenseman and power play specialist but it probably won't happen unless Gauthier is able to trade Hamrlik or Spacek this summer.

At forward, the Canadiens will resign Maxim Lapierre, Tom Pyatt and Benoit Pouliot for a total of about 3 to 3.5 million which will bring the total cap hit to close to 49 million for 17 players including 10 forwards. Dominic Moore, Glen Metropolit and Mathieu Darche could also be resigned as UFA's for close to the minimum. If we add two forwards at 2 million (whether amongst the three named above or others), the cap hit will now be at around 51 million for 19 players.

This leaves us with the three biggest question marks of the off-season: Tomas Plekanec, Jaroslav Halak and Carey Price. Tomas Plekanec will ask for a contract similar to Ryan Kesler (30 million over 6 years). Both have very similar productions offensively but Kesler has been a nominee for the Selke Trophy in each of the past two years. Based on that, Plekanec is worth about 4.25 to 4.5 million a year in my opinion. Jaroslav Halak will definitely ask for more money than Kari Lehtonen who recently signed a three-year deal worth 10.65M. It will be very difficult to sign Halak for less than 4 million dollars a year unless it is a one or two year deal. Carey Price would be cheaper than Halak but we're still not sure if he's ready to start 60 to 65 games and be the number one goaltender on a playoff team.

Pierre Gauthier will have to make some decisions this summer since he cannot afford to keep all three players and probably can't even afford to keep both Halak and Plekanec unless he makes a trade. One solution would be to deal Price along with either Hamrlik and Spacek for a young NHL-ready player making close to the minimum (and picks or prospects depending on the player) and then to resign Bergeron as a seventh defenseman. The only way to keep both Halak and Price would be to trade a defenseman for a center to replace Plekanec on the second line but that's unlikely to happen.

In my opinion, the most likely possibility is that Carey Price will be dealt either for a center to replace Plekanec or with either Hamrlik or Spacek for a young forward to play with Gionta and Gomez. If the Canadiens stay healthy next season, they've shown us that they are amongst the best teams in the Eastern Conference and 95 to 100 points is certainly within reach for the 2010-11 season.

Until Monday May 31st we are offering our Pro Customized Montreal Canadiens Jerseys (name and number sewn on) with any name you would like for $164.99. Simply go to our online NHL store and use discount code "HABS2010" before checking out.

NHL Playoffs Round 3 Schedule

The Philadelphia Flyers completed a historic comeback tonight against the Boston Bruins and will host the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday in game one. That same afternoon the San Jose Sharks will host the Chicago Blackhawks.

Here is the complete schedule for round three:

Eastern Conference
Philadelphia Flyers vs Montreal Canadiens
Sunday, May 16 at Philadelphia, 7:00 p.m. VERSUS, CBC, RDS
Tuesday, May 18 at Philadelphia, 7:00 p.m. VERSUS, CBC, RDS
Thursday, May 20 at Montreal, 7:00 p.m. VERSUS, CBC, RDS
Saturday, May 22 at Montreal, 3:00 p.m. NBC, CBC, RDS
*Monday, May 24 at Philadelphia, 7:00 p.m. VERSUS, CBC, RDS
*Wednesday, May 26 at Montreal, 7:00 p.m. VERSUS, CBC, RDS
*Friday, May 28 at Philadelphia, 7:00 p.m. VERSUS, CBC, RDS

Western Conference
San Jose Sharks vs Chicago Blackhawks
Sunday, May 16 at San Jose, 3:00 p.m. NBC, TSN, RDS
Tuesday, May 18 at San Jose, 10:00 p.m. VERSUS, TSN, RDS
Friday, May 21 at Chicago, 8:00 p.m. VERSUS, TSN, RDS
Sunday, May 23 at Chicago, 3:00 p.m. NBC, TSN, RDS
*Tuesday, May 25 at San Jose, 9:00 p.m. VERSUS, TSN, RDS
*Thursday, May 27 at Chicago, 8:00 p.m. VERSUS, TSN, RDS
*Saturday, May 29 at San Jose, 8:00 p.m. VERSUS, TSN, RDS

Get your playoff gear now in our online NHL shop! NHL Pro Customized Jerseys, NHL RBK Premier Jerseys, Player Name T-Shirts and more...

Montreal Canadiens sell out Bell Centre for Game 7!

The Montreal Canadiens organization will allow fans to watch the game 7 between the Canadiens and the Pittsburgh Penguins in High Definition at the Bell Centre on Wednesday night. Tickets went on sale at 10:00AM this morning for $7.50 and were sold out within a few hours later.

I know it's only $7.50 but it's still pretty amazing that a team can sell over 21,000 tickets to watch a game that they could watch for free at home or in any bar around the city. The fans in Montreal love their hockey and they know the atmosphere will be unbelievable on Wednesday night at the Bell Centre. Tickets are even selling on Ebay for more than three times the price.

The game 7 between the Montreal Canadiens and Washington Capitals had the highest audience for any NHL game on TSN and was the most watched NHL Conference Quarterfinals game on U.S. cable since 2003. I have to believe that the ratings for Wednesday night's game will be as high. This postseason has been one of the few high points for the NHL in the past decade and things could finally be turning around.