Wednesday, 14 December 2016

The Anti Gift-Giving Guide

When Thurl Ravenscroft first sang about how horrible the Grinch was way back in 1966, I'm not sure if he knew how the song would pass the test of time with flying colours. When the song is heard today, people instantly know where the song is from and what it represents. Some people may even know a Grinch-like person or two, so I thought might be a good time - the first day of Christmas - to bring out the anti gift-giving guide of all the things you probably shouldn't spend your money on for a hockey fan this season. This list doesn't have a lot of entires, but these are probably things you should avoid if you want your hockey fan to have a festive holiday season.

While some of these items may seem like a good idea on the surface, there are very good reasons why you shouldn't gift-wrap any of them. The problems with these gifts run deep and often will cause untold pain and suffering as time marches on, so leave these gifts alone and go for something practical. Like a toaster. Or maybe a pair of slippers. Just not these items below.

KHL Season Tickets

I'd love to watch hockey in a European rink full of passionate fans who care deeply about their team. European fans sing, dance, and cheer all game long, and it looks like a great time. Teams that have immense followings seem to get cheers and jeers regardless of where they go, so it makes for a fun rivalry for fans.

I've spoken about it before, but the financial problems in the KHL are ridiculous. Risto Pakarinen, who I hold in high regard for his European hockey knowledge, tweeted out this week the following:
Jokerit is losing hand-over-fist in money, and the owners - Harry Harkimo, Boris Rotenberg, and Gennadi Timchenko - just keep pumping more money into the club. Jokerit is a proud franchise with a deep and rich history in the SM-Liiga in Finland, but it seems that the allure of the Russian league for the Finnish-Russian citizens who own the team is everything they want.

When you lose nearly €30-million in two years, it might be time to explore options. On top of Jokerit's red ink, a December 1, 2016 report from, HC Slovan Bratislava has not been paying its players as it struggles through another KHL season. These are glaring issues that speak to the weakening Russian ruble under which all teams conduct business. In Jokerit's case, their revenues don't even cover the team salary of €13-million, so they were already behind the eight-ball before the puck dropped this season.

If you're a hockey fan in Europe, maybe hold off on buying those 2017-18 KHL season tickets. Your local KHL team may not be part of the KHL next season.

CCM V04 Hockey Helmet - $49.99

You want your hockey star to be protected by the latest and greatest equipment on the market, and you go hunting for a new helmet for your soon-to-be-NHL star. When you arrive at the store, you see racks and shelves filled with all sorts of helmets and helmet brands, and your head starts to spin. You realize that you're on a budget, though, so you start to look for the best helmet at the most economical price. CCM is a trusted name in hockey, so you opt for the $50 CCM V04 helmet.

According to the Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings report, your hockey star is basically wearing a concussion magnet. The aim of the report "is to have helmet manufacturers lower head acceleration and reduce the risk and number of concussions a player suffers over a season". As you can see on that report, the higher the STAR value is, the worse the helmet is for reducing the risk and number of concussions by those wearing that type of helmet.

Only two helmets were deemed to be "Good" by Virginia Tech: the Bauer RE-AKT 75 at $119.99 and the Warrior Krown 360 at $79.98. I appreciate that people have budgets when it comes to Christmas, but safety for your hockey star should override everything else. Invest in a good helmet and leave the CCM V04 sitting on the sidelines.

Any Junior Composite Stick

I have never used a composite stick in my life, but my days of dreaming about the NHL are long done. I have picked them up, and they're amazingly light. They seem to be able to withstand some incredible stress when it comes to shots. All of this is great if you're older than 10 years-old, but kids who are starting out in hockey and getting into the game don't need $100 sticks. Ever.

Look, I get that there's a "cool factor" when they see their hockey heroes using these $300 sticks on TV in the NHL, but those guys have earned the right to use those sticks. They're also making enough money to replace their own $300 stick if it happens to break. Be smart, grab a wood stick, and let your kids know that they haven't quite reached the ability to deliver a one-timer like Ovechkin or a slap shot like Weber just yet. Once they hit the more competitive hockey ranks, you're welcome to spend your money any way you like. But kids at 10 aren't needing a $90 stick just because Crosby uses one.

NHL Expansion Franchise - $500,000,000+

Let's be honest: this would be the coolest gift ever. You have your own NHL franchise, you're part of one of the world's most exclusive clubs, and you bring pride to a city of region that needed a boost of enthusiasm. This will just be like all those NHL video games you played where you craft an expansion team from a group of unwanted players and free agents only to win the Stanley Cup a season later.

The reality is that the Las Vegas franchise has all sorts of problems that have embarrassed the franchise and league since the fateful Las Vegas night where they announced the name of the team. People don't like the team name. The logo and name have a trademark issue. The initial video to introduce the team didn't play. Twice. Gary Bettman was booed in Las Veg... wait, that's normal.

The cost of this expansion franchise is ballooning daily, and I cannot understand why any billionaire would spend half-a-billion dollars on an NHL franchise when it cost just $80 million to join the league just 16 years ago. That's more than six-times the cost of the Wild and Blue Jackets, and those teams have already been sold at least once. The sticks shock on this franchise should have scared even the most brilliant financial and business people away, but Bill Foley and the Maloofs wanted a piece of the action. Good for them. Let's see how long they hold out in the Las Vegas desert for until someone wants out as the costs continue to escalate before they even have a player on a roster.

I'm sure there are more examples, but those are a few suggestions of things to avoid this holiday season. If you have more, feel free to post them in the comments section and we can chuckle about gifts that shouldn't be given.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

No comments: