Saturday, 25 May 2019

Hockey Night In Dubai?

It's hard to imagine that we'd find hockey in the middle of the desert, but if they can do it in Glendale, they likely can do it elsewhere as well. With the KHL in off-season mode, there's all sorts of news pouring out of the league regarding free agency and franchises, and there was some chatter seen on social media this week about the KHL taking long look at Dubai as being a place to where the KHL could expand. While this seems far-fetched at first mention, the more you look at the factors involved it actually seems like a shrewd expansion idea. If you're going to go big, KHL, go really big!

Dubai Nights

Dubai, which has found all sorts of wealth since the 1960s with discoveries of oil and gold within their borders, turned to foreigners to help extract these resources and, in turn, build the city and country into a place of extravagance. As a result of decades and generations of foreigners being responsible for the growth of this extravangance, Emiratis represent just 11 per cent of its total population.

Contained within the roughly-35-square-kilometer metropolis are 2,504,000 people as of 2016. According to reports, approximately 75% of this population total is male. On top of this, "as many as 10,000 Russian expatriates and overall above 55,000 Russian speakers from CIS (former Soviet Republics) countries live throughout the country, with the majority having made Dubai and Northern Emirates their home," according to Russia Today, so there is a sizable group of ex-pats who likely want to see their favorite sport played in their new homeland. Add in the fact that some "500,000 Russian tourists come to the United Arab Emirates every year," and you have the potential for having a very pro-Russian crowd at KHL games in Dubai.

If that wasn't enough, there are approximately 40,000 Canadians, 1500 Finns, 3000 Swedes, and over 50,000 Americans - 9,000 United States citizens in Dubai alone - that call United Arab Emirates home, so you'll likely get a few other ex-pat hockey fans going to games as well.

In short, there likely is a market in Dubai for hockey if someone wants to set up shop there.

According to the report that was filed with Sport Express, the expansion into Dubai would coincide with the building of a new arena with the potential first game coming in 2021-22. UAE Hockey Federation President Vladimir Burdun stated he spoke with many North American players about the possibility of moving to Dubai if or when the expansion happens, and it seems he has buy-in from those players.

For a country with a average daytime temperatures of 24°C in the winter, it would seem almost crazy to think that we're talking about hockey being played there, but both Glendale and Las Vegas seem to have no issues putting ice in buildings for those teams. Official KHL expansion plans into Dubai haven't been announced yet, but it seems like this is only a matter of time at this point based on the comments from Burdun and the demographics shown above.

W. P. Kinsella was right - if you build it, they will come.

New Owner, Familiar Name

For some time, the Jokerit club in Finland has had Russian interests holding the purse strings as they played in the Finnish Elite League and as they transitioned into the KHL. With the success of the team in the KHL, it became fairly clear that the success of finding good players and convincing great Finnish players to stay was solely on the shoulders of General Manager Jari Kurri who leveraged that Russian money into a solid franchise.

This week, though, it was announced that Kurri would take on a larger role as the Hall-of-Fame Finn became the new owner of Jokerit as well as being named Chairman of the Board for the franchise! The Edmonton Oilers legend assumes control of the club by becoming the sole owner at 100% ownership, so he'll not only direct this club in terms of its successes on the ice, but he'll be instrumental for its successes off the ice as well.

From the looks of it, Finnish fans approve of this new leadership and for the transparency from the club in putting the club back into primarily Finnish hands. Whether or not it pays off in the long-term will be seen down the road, but this moved seemed to be the right one for Jokerit Helsinki fans as their homegrown legend now can add to his legacy by possibly guiding the club to a Gagarin Cup.

Expanding Their Reach

The KHL has already announced that there will be games played in Europe this season after having sent Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod and Dinamo Riga having played in England with Coventry, Nottingham, and Sheffield hosting the Russian clubs. Along with the games in England, the KHL also went to Zurich, Switzerland where Dinamo Riga hosted SKA St. Petersburg and CSKA Moscow, and Vienna, Austria was the home city for Slovan Bratislava as they were the home team against both SKA St. Petersburg and CSKA Moscow. With the success of those games, where would the KHL look to send their teams this year?

I'm not certain this is necessary based on the fact they usually send a team to the Spengler Cup, but it seems that Swiss city Davos will host Salavat Yulaev Ufa and Ak Bars Kazan in a regular season KHL game in December at Vaillant Arena, according to Russian news agency RIA Novosti. That regular season game will be the last one for Salavat Yulaev Ufa before they spend the next week playing in the Spengler Cup. Once done at the annual Swiss tournament, they will resume their regular season play in the KHL.

If the rumours are true, expect the KHL to look at a possible game or games in France and possibly a game or games in Italy after Italy's success at the this year's IIHF World Championship. Either way, getting a KHL game in the old barn at Davos will likely be a good opening event for the Spengler Cup, and it may give the KHL circuit a few more fans in the European city.

Lots of KHL news from this past week, so there's your updates from across the pond. While the KHL is providing second lives to players who seemed to have been squeezed out of an NHL job, the league should be given credit for expanding its reach across Europe and into the Middle East when the NHL seems to be willing just to offer crumbs to European and Asian fans of their league.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 24 May 2019

The Final Round

We started with sixteen teams, and we're now down to just two as the Stanley Cup Final features the Boston Bruins and the St. Louis Blues. There have been all sorts of experts who have come out with predictions, what to watch for in this final, who the key players will be, and so on, so I'll leave it to them to help you in your attempts to win the HBIC Playoff Pool. What I will do, however, is post the spreadsheet you need to fill out and send back to me before Monday's opening game of the Stanley Cup Final. That seems like a fair deal, right?

Let's get the business end of the Stanley Cup Final done first: here's the new spreadsheet for final round. Same rules as before - rename it with your name AND ADD "R4" AT THE END, and then send it to me at this email address.

Just as we did in the previous two rounds, there are no player selections for each division. Your scorers that you chose at the beginning are your scorers for the playoffs, and, unfortunately, there are a total of zero players remaining in the pool selected by all competitors. In other words, you're going to have to rely on your prognostication skills in the Stanley Cup Final because there are no players from any entrant left. That likely also means that no saw Boston and St. Louis in the final, but that's another topic for another time.

Because the series starts on Monday, you'll have had loads of time to be able to get this spreadsheet in to me. I realize that it is Memorial Day weekend in the United States, but I'm not drawing up the schedule for the NHL. Do your best in getting this in to me. If you run into issues due to travel or something, let me know ASAP so we can make arrangements. Deal? Deal.

Finally, you may look at the scores and think that you have no chance in winning a prize. That may be true depending on the gap between your current score and top scores, but I can tell you that less and less people have seen sending in spreadsheets as this contest rolls on. In saying that, we also saw Richard D. destroy Round Three with an amazing score to put himself back in prize contention, so make sure you really think hard about game-winning goal scorers because they could vault you past someone or many people if you predict well!

Best of luck in the final, and we'll see who stands atop the mountain once the dust settles in both the Stanley Cup Final and the HBIC Playoff Pool!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 23 May 2019

The Hockey Show - Episode 348

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is back tonight to send another couple of people home from Survivor: NHL Playoffs island. With the Stanley Cup Final set and the IIHF World Championships slowly being whittled down to the finalists, we'll go over all of that after sending home the two unlucky tribe members whose torches will be extinguished by Jeff Probst. Getting both Richard and John on the phone tonight should provide good chatter for the first half of the program, so make sure you tune in for a couple of exit interviews that should be entertaining!

As you can see, only Darin and Dianna remain on Survivor: NHL Playoffs island, and we'll send home Richard (SJS) and John (CAR) tonight after their runs came to an untimely end. Once those two have been sent back to the mainland, Beans and I will dig into the Stanley Cup Final and who we'd like to see hoist the Stanley Cup at the end of this series. We'll talk IIHF World Championship with the quarter-final games going today and how Great Britain and Italy shocked the world in the round-robin. We'll take a peek at the Memorial Cup and the action happening out in Halifax this week and into the weekend. We'll touch on the great work by the Blues in incorporating Laila Anderson into the team, and we'll touch on Ottawa's new head coach as DJ Smith was introduced today! It's another busy episode of The Hockey Show tonight at 5:30pm so make sure you join us on UMFM!

Speaking of joining us, the new UMFM website's online streaming player is pretty awesome if you want to listen online. If you're using an Apple device, the player doesn't seem to like Safari yet, but we highly recommend you use the TuneIn app found on the App Store or perhaps another browser. If you do use the TuneIn app, you won't be disappointed. It's a solid app.

Having lost faith in Facebook, I spend far less time on that site for good reasons. In saying that, you can still email all show questions and comments to hockeyshow@umfm.com! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter! We're here to listen to you, so make your voice heard!

Tonight, Teebz and Beans send Richard and John off the island before getting into who wins in the NHL, who lost at the IIHF World Championship, who's doing what at the Memorial Cup, who is Laila Anderson, who got hired in Ottawa, and much more only on The Hockey Show found exclusively on 101.5 UMFM, on the UMFM app, on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: May 23, 2019: Episode 348

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Blues Got A Bigger Boat

I've never seen Roy Scheider wear any St. Louis Blues merchandise, but it's pretty clear that the Blues went out and got a bigger boat following the Game Three "Hand of God" pass that Timo Meier pulled off in overtime. It took six games, but we know who will take to the ice in Game One of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday as the St. Louis Blues will travel to Massachusetts to tangle with the Boston Bruins on TD Garden ice!

With that being said, the scores have been updated for the third round of HBIC Playoff Pool, and I have to say that things are getting mighty interesting with the movement in the pool standings. With only a handful of contestants having skaters left to pick them up additional points, it really came down to who could predict the series the best. The average score for the round from predictions alone was seven points with the median score at eight points (four entrants scored eight points this round), but the highest point total for predictions came from Richard D. who put together a 14-point round! Along with his choice of San Jose's Joe Pavelski as one of his skaters, he closed out the round with a total of 17 points! Well done, Richard!

On the flip side of the coin, with the Sharks now eliminated, there are no skaters left for any entrant for the Stanley Cup Final. That means that the final standings will be solely based on predictions since no skater can affect the outcome other than those playing in the final. Game-winning goal scorers are going to be your go-to if you need to make up ground, so study up on who has been doing all the lamp-lighting and we'll see how this final round concludes!

With that, here is the link to the scoreboard. The final spreadsheet will be available on Friday, May 24 for download, so do your research, listen to the experts (if you think that helps), and make your predictions boldly in a few days!

As for the prizes, it's been a buys week thus far, but I will post the images of the prizes before the start of the Stanley Cup Final. There are some good prizes that I've accumulated, and it appears the top-three finishers will be on-track for some prizes. That being said, I'm always out there looking for more cool stuff, so there may be more by the time I get the images posted. If you're wondering, there is an NHL jersey up for grabs in the prize bag, so make sure you check in this weekend for the prizes!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 20 May 2019

Holiday Monday

It's a holiday Monday here in the Great White North as we observe Victoria Day. It's actually only observed in Canada and Scotland, but it began as a celebration to honour Queen Victoria's birthday who ruled over the British commonwealth for 63 years, seven months and two days! Upon her passing in 1901, the Canadian parliament took to action and renamed the day of her birth as "Victoria Day". It wasn't until 1952 when the government made Victoria Day on a holiday on the Monday of the week of her birthday, officially giving Canada a long weekend in May. The ironic part is that Quebec, who never really enjoyed falling under British rule, celebrated "Fête de Dollard" from 1918 until 2003 in place of Victoria Day until "Fête de Dollard" was replaced by "Journée nationale des patriotes".

After that quick history lesson on the day, I want to admit that I'm not actually fishing today. Instead, I am taking the day off to get some yard work done because the lawn is starting to turn jungle-like and a few weeks have sprouted from in between the interlocking bricks. That means they need to be pulled and some more sand needs to be applied between them to prevent weed growth and the movement of said bricks. All in all, it's a day outdoors for me that will likely end with some barbecuing and relaxing on the patio!

Enjoy your day where ever you are and doing whatever you're doing. I'm off the grid today, and I'm going to use my time wisely!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!