Posts Tagged ‘NHLPA’

The NHL’s CBA Works Against Player Development

July 14th, 2011

The newly amended Collective Bargaining Agreement following the NHL’s 2004-2005 lockout created a number of significant changes to the NHL; some foreseeable and some not.

The biggest impact from the CBA is the hard salary cap and the significance now placed on talented prospects and rookies.

The economic reality of today’s NHL makes young and talented players (that’s the polite way of saying “cheap but effective players”) an extremely valuable commodity. Common place knowledge now, but GM’s like Jim Rutherford and Bryan Murray figured this out years ago.

While the salary cap limits the amount a team can pay players, it certainly has no bearing on the number of scouts, coaches, and development professionals an organization can employ. I’ve never understood why big market teams don’t invest more in their player personal departments and development programs (the Toronto Maple Leafs being one of the few exceptions).

If I were running a hockey team, I’d be putting my players on custom development programs with my best trainers, scouts, coaches etc… the moment after I drafted them. Seriously – right after the photo on the podium, I’d show my newly drafted prospects a treadmill backstage with their name on it. Then I’d have them board a flight to my team’s gym and practice facility for the rest of the summer.

But wait! You can’t do that.

» Read more: The NHL’s CBA Works Against Player Development

NHL’s 2010 Off-Season with Google Maps and Insight

September 1st, 2010

Alright web-savvy readers, I have a question for you. I’m certain the majority of you have heard of Google Maps and Google Insight. But have you heard of Google’s new web tool, “Google Maps with Insight?”

It’s not yet available to the general public but somehow I got an advanced peek the other day. Since I have no life, the first thing I did was Google the NHL’s 2010 off-season.

First impressions? This thing is pretty in depth. The insight was pretty sharp and I found the geo-placements of various NHL personalities bang on too! I managed to take a screenshot of this new tool for you all to see. Check it out:

Stayclassy.net's funny Google Maps image of the NHL's 2010 Off-Season

Pro tip: You may want to click on the image for a larger view! Click here for hi-res, downloadable version of this image.

Stay classy, NHL 2010 off-season.

My job interview with the NHLPA

August 11th, 2010

Disclaimer: Everything below is 100% true. I’ve never lied about anything on this site before and it wouldn’t make sense to start now. Ultimately you’ll just have to believe this story. It’s OK if you don’t but you should know I’m not getting anything out of telling the world I didn’t get a job.

About three months ago a recruiter contacted me about “a great marketing job.” Having just started another job, the thought of more meetings and interviews didn’t excite me. I blew off the recruiter several times without any hesitation. She kept following up and eventually told me her client was the NHLPA. Now she had my attention. Obviously I was willing to talk about meetings and interviews for a position within the NHLPA.

Apparently the recruiter had already made herself familiar with Stayclassy.net. It turns out a reader of this site knows her well, knew about the opportunity and recommended she speak with me. I’m totally serious too. During initial conversations with the recruiter, I wasn’t aware she’d seen and read the site.

The first official phone interview with the recruiter didn’t get off to a great start. For whatever reason, we just weren’t on the same page. About 20 minutes into the call, out of nowhere, she asked me about Stayclassy.net. I started to laugh and thought “Oh God, this opportunity is going to end quicker than an Atlanta Thrashers playoff series.” That was when I decided to pull a ‘George Costanza’ and literally do the exact opposite of everything I’d normally do. I figured I had nothing to lose and it would make for a funny story. (Note: Don’t mistake my attitude as reckless or care free. I wanted the job but I knew competition would be strong and probably have more experience than me. It was my intention to stand out by being different. I wanted to push the envelope since I already had a good job).

Several weeks later I found myself at the NHLPA’s headquarters in downtown Toronto interviewing with the Hiring Manager. The meeting was short but went well… and Stayclassy.net came up several times. (Note: It’s not that I’m embarrassed by the site – I’m not – It’s that the people interviewing me represent the players I regularly poke fun of. Awkward…). I kept thinking this couldn’t help my chances. Stayclassy’s content wasn’t discussed as much as my views on social media and online marketing. I was later told they liked me and wanted to introduce me to other NHLPA staff.

A few weeks later I was back at the PA’s office (by the way, they call themselves ‘The PA’). This time I was meeting with three new people, in addition to the Hiring Manager from the last interview. I was courted from one Director’s office to another. The first interview started with a simple question: “Kevin, what do you think of our website?” Using the Costanza methodology, I spent the next five minutes ripping it to pieces in sheer disgust. My attitude was well received (somehow). The Director told me he liked my critical perspective. Without flinching I cut him off saying “You didn’t ask me to come in and tell you what a great job you’ve done.” Much to my dismay, he was impressed. I couldn’t believe my luck. Even I thought my tone was a little too much. Perhaps the Costanza theory has merit after all…

For every hockey fan out there reading this, here’s a question for you: How much do you know about J.S. Giguere, Wade Belak, Mike Sillinger and Steve Sullivan off the ice? I was asked this very question. The interviewer wanted me to show I follow more than just on-ice stories. I did well because my life revolves around hockey and nothing else. I was then asked to discuss several trades that happened within the last few weeks. I talked about why I felt trading Jaroslav Halak before signing Carry Price was weird. He agreed. We then talked about how bizarre it must be to get traded (mostly because of Mike Sillinger and how often he was traded in his career).

Moving to the next interview, I saw an insane amount of Alex Ovechkin life-size cutouts, framed photos, books, hockey bags etc… around the office. In a lame attempt to stir up a laugh and break the ice, I said to one of the Directors “Is Ovechkin part of the interview process too?”

Dead silence. Not exactly a hit joke. Two of the Directors responded with a firm “NO.” I made a mental note not to attempt any more jokes while interviewing with the PA.

The next interview was a 2 on 1 and I won’t lie, it didn’t go well. Imagine Bryan McCabe fending off two skilled forwards – that basically describes my performance. It was one of those interviews that felt like I was on trial rather than a candidate of interest. I limped out of this interview assuming the dream was over. I concluded the morning by doing another interview with the Hiring Manager. He asked me what was going through my head at that exact moment. I told him I was thinking ahead to my rec hockey game later that evening and how I wanted to continue our winning streak.

About a week later I got feedback from the recruiter.

You’ve probably noticed this process took a long time with several weeks between interviews and news updates. This process was far longer than any job interview I’ve ever been involved with before. I’m not really sure why, although the summer is a very busy time for the PA. The playoffs just ended, unrestricted free agency had begun, Lou Lamiorello signed a ‘reasonable’ 17-year contract and the PA’s search for an Executive Director (ie Donald Fehr) was heating up (according to TSN).

That was a month or so ago. A few weeks passed and I was told I’d be moving forward to the final stage of interviews. This round of interviews would be with the Hiring Manager and the most senior person currently within the PA. For the sake of this story, he’ll be known as Head Dude. I was asked to submit a strategic report of what I would do in the role, how I would tackle various challenges and meet important deliverables. The report was due on Thursday July 22nd.

The next day, Friday July 23rd, I was scheduled to present my report to Head Dude. This was one of the hottest days of the summer. It was face-melting hot. I was a sweaty mess as I made my way into the PA’s office. Head Dude greeted me with great enthusiasm saying “Kevin, great to meet you. This way please” while guiding me to his office. He followed with “It’s a hot one outside today, eh?” With zero hesitation I responded with “Sure is hot, Head Dude. I’m sweating more than Cam Fowler on draft day.” There was a brief pause of silence, which felt like an eternity. Immediately I regretted making that joke. Truth is, it was completely unplanned. It came out of nowhere. Trembling with fear and nervousness I turned my head towards Head Dude. I was ready to be thrown out of their office. But much to my surprise – a recurring theme throughout this entire story – he erupted in laughter. I was so relieved.

We started to review my strategy document that he’d only read part of (which is fair since I submitted the 12-page report the evening before). Part of my plan was to promote NHL events in non-traditional ways to encourage fan engagement and greater connections between fans and players (courtesy of the NHLPA). I talked about how an opportunity was missed at the 2010 Winter Classic by not having Zdeno Chara show fans how to shoot pucks over the “Green Monster” (Fenway Park’s green homerun wall). I explained how the PA could use sponsors, players and fans to shoot pucks through Heinz Field field-goals for the 2011 Winter Classic. Head Dude busted into laughter, again. (Note: I’m not actually this funny. In fact I was a bit weirded out that someone with a great deal of power and authority was actually laughing at or with me. On second thought, it was probably at me). Head Dude’s laughter confused me because I was dead serious. I continued to explain my idea. He was still laughing but said “Kevin, you are crazy. This is interesting and ‘out of the box’, but it’s crazy.”

One thing you should understand about the PA. They were honest about a number of initiatives they had on the go. They were already working on a few of the ideas I approached them with and disclosed additional information for me to better position my talking points. When I spoke about the Winter Classic idea, they laughed and said it was creative. I left this interview as the ‘crazy marketer’ with some different ideas. I figured if the NHLPA wanted to do something different (or very different), I’d be their guy. Remember this whole approach was the only way I felt I could compete with candidates who probably had more experience than me.

On Tuesday July 27th I got an email from a close friend saying “Dude did you see [link included within the message]?” Not knowing what he was talking about, I opened the link. It was a video of the Pittsburgh Penguins hosting media and members of the Washington Capitals to promote the 2011 Winter Classic game (the video was shot earlier that day) at Heinz Field (Pittsburgh Steelers stadium where the Winter Classic was set to be played). And yes, they were shooting pucks through the stadium’s field-goal poles. My eyes fell out of their sockets. I could not believe what I was seeing. I immediately wondered if the PA was involved with this promotion. I was furious. The more I thought about it, the angrier I became. “Did someone use my idea? Do I look less original?” I was in full panic-desperation mode – like Dean Lombardi was after missing out on Kovalchuk and signing Alex Ponikarovsky. (Note: Earlier this week I found out the PA was not involved with this event).

To wrap this long story up, things ended here. I had a series of great interviews with the NHLPA but they elected to go with the other, more experienced candidate. I have no problem with this. I wish the PA all the best. To their credit, the PA and Hiring Manager called me and gave me a full review of their thoughts on me and my interviews. It was a great phone call and I was proud to hear how highly they thought of me. I will admit I asked Hiring Manager half-way through the call “Wait. Are you sure you are talking about the right candidate?”

I feel fortunate to have gone through this process on my own terms. I wouldn’t change a single thing I did or said throughout the interviews… even the bad jokes! One thing I’d like to make abundantly clear: I’m not accusing the PA or anyone else using/stealing my idea. I believe this was 100% coincidence and you should too. I’m chalking it up to great minds thinking alike…

I’d like to thank the PA for giving me an opportunity to participate in these interviews. I was given a great opportunity from a world class group of professionals. Even the Directors that gave me a hard time weren’t that bad. They take their jobs seriously and I can respect that.

The point of this story is to give an honest, inside look into the experience I just went through. It’s not meant to insult or disrespect the PA or its staff – this was an awesome experience. I’m not trying to blow hot air their way either. In fact I didn’t even ask them if writing this article was OK. It probably isn’t and it’s likely I’m burning bridges by publishing this story. But as a passionate fan of hockey and anything that surrounds the game, I feel this is a story I’d like to read about.

The things I do for you, Stayclassy readers… Thanks for reading this really long story.

Stay classy, NHLPA.

Hockey Blogger Code and Secret Societies

August 5th, 2010

When it comes to blogging about hockey there are a lot of rules many aren’t familiar with. There’s a Code. A hockey blogger Code. It’s pretty much like a Secret Society thing except we all attend the meetings from our parents basements. And we don’t drink wicked beer out of even wickeder mugs like that Simpson’s Stonecutters episode… we drink grape juice out of no-name juice boxes. Or whatever mom bought on sale this week from Costco!

Now I’m going to do something a little crazy today. I’m going to share the Code and information about the Secret hockey blogger Society. I can’t believe I’m going to reveal highly confidential information in such a public forum. Usually it would be blasphemy but I’m 92% sure I’m not even welcome in the Society. Kind of like how David Blaine isn’t welcome in the magic community. You know, because he’s all creepy and weird. Or Dominic Moore and each NHL team he joins every trade deadline.  Anyways I’ve made you wait long enough. Below is the hockey blogger Code and some background about the Secret Society. Please don’t tell anyone you read it here.

Various excerpts from the Code:

  • The Code requires bloggers to be sharp and savvy when it comes to NHL trade rumours. The Code teaches us to question virtually every trade scenario and call “bullsh—” on anything that sounds remotely fake. Doing this helps lend credibility to rumours we either really want to happen or really want to believe for no apparent reason.
  • It’s not enough to simply love DownGoesBrown, praise him and retweet his blogs. The Code requires you to take it to the next level by leaving strange and obscure comments on each of his articles. Some common examples include “This post was deliciously funny,” “I spat my coffee all over my computer and now you owe me a new one” or “I think you made me fart from laughing so much.”
  • The Code requires you to churn out as many blogs, tweets and emails as possible during trade deadlines, UFA frenzies or other large hockey news events. Note: you’ll get all your information from Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger but do not use their names when recycling their news. You can refer to them as “your sources.”
  • A good and quick way to build credibility with your readers is to remind them what you wrote, said and predicted last week. No one’s ever going to click on your shameless self-promoted links but they might believe you. It’s basically no risk.
  • Even though you don’t ever agree with anything the man says or writes, the Code requires you to follow Damian Cox on Twitter.
  • Speaking of Twitter, the Code encourages “retweeting” other blogs and links regardless of its quality. It’s also cool if you retweeted the link without reading it.
  • Saying “there isn’t much to write about” is generally an acceptable excuse for being lazy. Or for “having a life and leaving my basement.”
  • A good way to drive traffic to your website is to trade blogroll links with other popular hockey sites. It’s a pretty honest thing sites do to grow readership and respect within the online blogger community, however, sites that follow the Code usually pull the “McGuire Maneuver” instead. Here’s what you do: First you lay the ground work by getting an agreement with another site to trade links. Next, set expectations that you are very busy for the next few days. Then you wait until the other site adds your site to their blogroll and… wait for ityou never put their site on your blogroll!!! How awesome is that??!? Why is this called the “McGuire Maneuver?” Because it’s so stupid and so annoying no one will ever admit to talking to you in the first place.

General information about the Secret Society:

  • We don’t actually understand the majority of the NHL’s CBA. We just pretend to. Basically it’s such a mess that we can get away with making it up as we go. To my knowledge no one has been caught making things up. Whenever the NHL and NHLPA rewrite the next CBA, we’ll have a field day making up new crap from scratch knowing we got away with all the lies from the last CBA!
  • For a little while we capped the number of bloggers who could be a part of the Secret Society. Even though we did this, bloggers from Philadelphia and Chicago kept taking up all the open and not-so-open-spots which basically screwed it up for the rest of the group.
  • Hockey bloggers sometimes get a bad rap. As a Secret Society, we felt we needed to be taken more seriously. So like any organization thinking clearly, we asked George Laraque to be our official ambassador. Turns out he was too busy to accommodate our request. Something about helping the “French-Bloc’s right to a 25th Stanley Cup…”
  • Those newly acquainted with The Code and it’s Secret Society are highly sought after. There’s usually lots of competition from other groups and societies which usually results in bidding wars and regrettable offers made. Our Society usually outbids the Los Angeles one because we offer 17-year commitments like the Jersey Shore girls offer “good times.” And because the LA Society can’t recruit sh—.
  • In the early days of the Secret Society, Eklund was invited to join. He accepted and faced his initiation of having to push a large rock up a steep hill. After pushing the rock up a quarter of the hill, Eklund devised a short sighted scheme to avoid completing the task by forecasting unbelievable weather changes. He often claimed “calm before the storm,” followed by a “something big is about to go down” warning in an effort to avoid the daunting rock push. These quotes linked to a strange ranking system that always seemed to change. No one understood this ranking system despite hearing numerous explanations. Eklund never finished pushing the rock up the hill and is now a sworn enemy to the Society and its bloggers. As such, he is not privy to the secrets of the Code. Unless he reads this not-so-secret blog. Crap.

Stay classy, hockey blogger Code and Secret Society.

Hockey resemblances in my office

July 16th, 2010

Well readers it’s Friday, which probably means you are already at home enjoying the weekend. For the few of you still at the office, I have a treat for you (read: a 5 minute time waster). Lately I’ve noticed a ton of similarities and resemblances of hockey and hockey stories in my office. Maybe I’m sinking to new low’s in this brutally slow off-season. Or maybe it’s because the only hockey news I’m hearing about is Ilya Kovalchuk’s sight-seeing itinerary. Or – and this is a huge possibility – I’m going crazy. At any rate, here are some hockey resemblances in my office:

  • The receptionist in my office is a pest. Everything she does is annoying and she yaps way too much. Each time we speak is like a dagger through my eye. When she talks I see her lips moving but I never truly comprehend what she’s saying. And she repeats herself six or seven times per thought, at minimum. Without a doubt, this must be how Ryan Kelser feels when told his linemate for the year will be Alex Burrows.
  • My boss doesn’t do anything particularly well. In fact, he always gets in the way of projects and tasks. He’s a giant road block at life. And he’s paid quite well too. Basically, he’s Anton Volchenkov.
  • Of course offer sheets don’t exist in my office. Never would competition offer a 200% salary raise to someone for simply being employed. What does exist in my office is an immediate “You’re fired if you don’t perform well” offer. It’s valid at any time.
  • My office has a wonderful design team. They are very creative and combined with the marketing department are excellent at taking silly ideas and keeping them in the news for weeks on end. They were thrilled to hear from Dean Lombardi a few weeks ago about a “top secret July news-blitz project.”
  • A few women in my office are engaged and soon to be married. It’s a very happy time for them. They are enjoying the planning process but admit they are slight divas. They are also very competitive people. Can you imagine how much “Z-Snaping” and weird neck gestures I’m going to see after they find out Carrie Underwood had a secret wedding location located “somewhere” in North America???
  • I started working at this office just before the NHL’s regular season ended. Once the summer officially began I noticed the office hours changed dramatically. In fact, I haven’t seen many of my co-workers for months now. You are probably thinking “OK, this is going to be a Leafs joke because they always miss the playoffs.” Yup! You are correct. Leafs suck!
  • All is quiet in our “cowards who don’t back up their words” department. I guess we let those guys intern at Vogue all summer too.
  • This isn’t at all related to my job but it’s good to see Mike Komisarek in the news again. I’m impressed at how much he’s contributed to the NHLPA’s search for a new leader. I think it speaks to his work ethic. In fact, I’m pretty sure he’s done more for the PA this summer than he did for the Leafs all last season.
  • My company lost a terrific salesman last summer named Marian. It’s still affecting our sales numbers for this year and the company has yet to get back on track. But we can’t afford to look at the past any longer. It was an employee we should have kept and didn’t. Instead we decided to double the salary of our next best salesman, Mikko. We figure he’ll eventually become the all time sales leader within our organization, surpassing the totals of Marian’s 7-year tenure with us, even if it takes him the rest of his career. And when that time comes – and it might not, ever – we will celebrate by calling Mikko a “franchise salesman.”

Stay classy, weird hockey office.

Headshots, and how to deal with them

February 3rd, 2010

If there is one term in hockey right now that is beaten to death, it’s “headshots.”

Even yesterday, without any recent provocation (Patrice Cormier notwithstanding), Sun Media printed an article on the topic, declaring that Canadians want to see headshots eliminated from the game of hockey. The only anomaly that they didn’t mention is that both metropolises of Ottawa and Edmonton voted overwhelmingly in favour of headshots being exclusively dealt to Dany Heatley.

With no solution in sight, I thought it might be prudent to make a few suggestions on what the NHL can do to eliminate headshots from the game.

  • Have Marty McSorley negotiate all future contracts for the NHLPA. The direct economic impact of his negotiating skills would create fear about potential brain damage.
  • At all NHL training camps, incorporate the new Chris Pronger Obstacle course. At the end of the course, have Chris Pronger get sacked by successful players. He may never elbow again. Or never ask to be traded for undisclosed reasons.
  • Have all helmets fitted with chaff release based on a proximity sensor located in players’ pads. When an approaching elbow or shoulder gets too close to the helmet, chaff is released, blinding the opposing player.
  • Offending players will be forced to gently stroke Alex Ovechkin’s sticks all day until they are warm, but not too hot to handle. While this may reduce scoring, the YouTube videos will be punishment enough.
  • Initiate simple retrofits to hockey helmets, featuring Viking thorns and German WWI spikes.
  • A player caught in the act of a headshot shall change his name to ‘Downie’, wear the number ’9′, and play every game against Matt Carkner, where he will be Carkner-fied.
  • Have the offending player traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, where their truculence will be initially welcomed until they realize they’re playing for Toronto.
  • Un-retire Bobby Clarke, and have him break ankles after each headshot.

Stay classy, unsolved NHL headshots.

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The NHLPA reminds me of Sloan … and not the Canadian band

July 20th, 2009

So today the NHLPA announced that they don’t think players should attend Olympic training camps.  That’s fair I suppose, given that they wouldn’t be insured by their team like they are at NHL training camps.

But doesn’t that send some mixed signals?  Kind of like Sloan did last night on Entourage?  Spoiler Alert by the way.  Hope that didn’t ruin anything for anybody.

But seriously.  Why play in the Olympics then?  Why do any extra-curricular, outside the scope of your day job activity?

The NHLPA has consistently said that they want to be a part of the Olympics.  The players like to do it and it’s good for the Olympic Games to have the best in the world competing.  But to now say to the players that they shouldn’t go to camp? It should be clear cut, one way or the other.

Most Ottawa Senators fans remember the “Rip Heard Around the World.”  And no, not when Dany Heatley ripped out your hearts by asking to be traded.  I’m talking about the High-Definition, Dolby Digital Surround Sound Rip of Dominik Hasek’s elusive Abductor muscle.

And I know what you’re saying?  Isn’t an Abductor a player for the Detroit Red Wings?  Well, contrary to popular belief, it is not a player, but a groinal regional muscle.  And the Dominator allowed that muscle to dominate him.  He never played another game that season, or ever again for the Ottawa Senators, in what was arguably one of our best teams and best chances to win a Stanley Cup.

But that’s just it.  The Olympics are an inherent risk that players are willing to take.  They know that they could potentially be hurt, but they want to wear the crest of their country on their chests.  So why tell them not to show up?  If they feel like doing it, and risking injury to prove their worth to an Olympic team, then that should be within their rights to go.

Take Milan Lucic for instance.  He is not a clear cut decision for Team Canada.  But the impression he makes at an Olympic camp could mean the difference between a roster spot, or a spot on my couch watching the games (Milan, if you want, you are more than welcome to join the Channel 4 News Team at Chez Tambland for the Games if you don’t make the team).

Anyways, all I’m saying is that if the NHLPA made that announcement to cover their own butts, that’s fine.  But do it with an internal memo or something.  There’s no point in throwing out mixed signals (But thank you for keeping hockey in the news- how’s that for a mixed signal).

Stay classy, NHLPA. Go Canada Go!

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