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Shap Shots Mailbag: Who sets the start time anyways?
Plus a look at how movie clips became part of regular NHL game presentation.
Happy Tuesday. It’s mailbag time, you asked questions, I did my best to answer.
Who determines the playoff puck drop time? League or networks?
Is there any possibility of a change to earlier start times? As a Stars fan located on the east coast, it’s challenging to stay up for a full game that starts at ~10pm, without overtime.
I’m not expert, but I have to believe an 8:50 local pick drop time on a weeknight is not great for viewership numbers or growing the game. Kids won’t be able to watch and casual fans aren’t staying up that long. (From Alex)
It’s a combination of the league and the network working together to set the start time.
ESPN and Turner want as little overlap as possible, so does the NHL, so they prioritize TV windows over local start times. It makes for some very late nights and it’s not great for the game.
This past weekend, with daytime hockey, I was able to sit and watch NHL playoff games with my daughter who is 4-years-old and currently learning how to skate. It was great, but she’s not staying up to watch a game that would start at 8:50 pm locally, it’s just not happening.
I grew up in New Jersey and was an 11-year-old in 2000 when the Devils had their cup run with several lengthy overtime games. My parents let me stay up because I was already a hockey-obsessed child.
During each overtime intermissions I would start calling my friends houses on the landline (my parents had fallen asleep) to tell them about the game. I’ll always remember this conversation I had with my one friend’s mom.
“Hey Mrs. (NAME REDACTE) is Robby there! The Devils are going to another overtime.”
“Sean, Robby is in bed. Don’t call us this late at night.”
The die-hard hockey fans are going to stick around for late starts, but for a sport that needs to continue to grow locally and nationally, the league has to be better about understanding the Central Time zone.
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Who is the best candidate on the roster to follow Jamie Benn as captain of The Stars?
Also, given the way his rookie year has gone, has it changed your expectations of Wyatt Johnston and what he should look like if he were to reach his ceiling? (From Mike)
In today’s NHL we often give the captaincy to one of the best players, someone that can handle day-to-day media things, and someone who can elevate the team’s brand with the decision.
Jason Robertson checks all those boxes. Add in the fact he’s an American in Texas, and the Stars have a marketing goldmine they are sitting on whenever the formally pass the captaincy to Robertson.
On Wyatt Johnston, coming into this season I looked at his ceiling as a top-line center, potentially the heir apparent to Joe Pavelski on a line with Roope Hintz and Jason Robertson.
So my view of his ceiling hasn’t changed, but my expectations of him reaching that ceiling have changed. I’ve become a bit of a prospect curmudgeon, I often need to see players prove things in the NHL before I buy into the hype — I’ve been scarred too many times by covering AHL players that I thought were sure bets never reach the NHL — and Johnston to me looks like a future point-per-game player in the NHL.
Now the NHL is becoming a higher scoring league, so point-per-game no longer means superstar, but it would put Johnston into the conversation amongst the top-50 players in the league, which is still pretty damn good.
Occasionally, a player will be traded from a team that has played more games to a team that hasn’t played the same number of games, and, as a result, the player will end up playing in more than 82 games in a season. How is their per game pay adjusted for this, and does this have any other impact on their contract? (From Alexander)
Players aren’t paid per game, they are paid per day. So when a player is traded, their contract is also traded and they are still paid the same.
When a player is suspended a forfeits pay, it’s based on days they are suspended and not the game themselves.
How is the NHL officiating crew decided for the NHL Playoffs? The game 2 crew seemed to have so much better control of the game than game 1. How far in advance is it decided? Do we know if we will have the game 1 crew again in the Minnesota series? (From Kyle)
Like NHL teams, officials advance from round to round.
That way, in theory, the best officials are working the biggest games and success in the early rounds also matters for the referees and linesmen.
From my understanding, the officials within a series are scheduled out from Game 1 through 7, but there is a mechanism available for the league to change assignments if needed.
Apologies if this has been asked/answered before. I have read and/or heard from other people who cover the NHL that teams pay for each player's equipment needs during the season, like sticks, skates, etc. For goalies, does the team pay for the mask customization? Or does the team just buy a plain mask and the goalie then pays extra to an artist for the customization?
Do teams cap the amount of an equipment item an individual player can have? My guess is no since that could reflect poorly on the team management if players couldn't get the equipment they wanted. (From Sarah)
Great question. And the answer is yes, teams pay for everything for players, including goalie mask paint jobs.
David Gunnarsson is the most popular goalie mask artist and that’s partially because of the individual setup he has with both teams and mask providers. Mask companies typically provide Gunnarsson a blank stock of masks at his barn (yes, he paints in a converted barn) in Sweden so when a goalie gets traded or changes teams, he can simply paint a blank mask that’s already been fitted and ship it to the NHL team.
Teams also don’t cap the amount of equipment a player can have. As you noted, teams want to have a reputation and believe in providing everything possible for players, even if some of those things can be a bit ridiculous. For example, the Stars for a long time traveled with an espresso machine because Marc Methot wanted espresso before each game.
So many arenas have organ music to entertain the fans on some stoppages but all the Stars have is extremely loud noise. Does AAC even have an organ? (From Jerry)
So I wrote about this my first book, “100 Things Stars Fans Should Know and Do Before they Die.”
The AAC doesn’t have an organ and never will. From the time the Stars moved to Dallas, the mantra in game presentation has always been, “untraditional market, untraditional presentation.”
The Stars do get credit for introducing the common practice of using movie clips on the video board, which I covered in my book. Here’s an excerpt.
I read that the Knights removed the pedals from stationary bikes at T-Mobile Arena. Is there a limit on "pranking" teams in the playoffs? (From Tiffany)
That ended up being miscommunication, the Golden Knights did not remove the pedals from the Jets stationary bikes.
There used to be more space to mess with an opponent, but things in the NHL have become so standardized and protected by the CBA, that any off-ice messing starts to quickly become a larger issue.
What is Stephen John’s doing now? (From Michael)
That’s Stephen Johns’ story to tell whenever he wants to. I occasionally catch-up with Stephen, each time it’s a pleasant conversation, but that's his story to share and tell at his time.
Impressions of Harley’s performance to date, please..... (From DY)
He’s been good, confident, and not intimidated by the moment.
As the Stars defense corps goes, he’s been one of the most consistent from game-to-game (after Miro Heiskanen, of course) and has actually been able to move the puck and generate some offense at even-strength.
He nearly scored in Game 4 and I think he’s stepped up well against physical challenges.
What are your thoughts on why DeBoer is not shuffling lines despite the poor 5-on-5 play? Why not keep Marchment-Seguin-Domi together and move Dadonov or Dellandrea to the top line? Benn/Johnston have shown they can play with anyone and the odd-man out would join that line. (From Jason)
I actually wrote about the Stars even-strength struggles for a piece in D Magazine. You can check that out.
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