NHL Week in Review (October 15-21)

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Rarely does politics interfere with major sports but this year has been a bit of a different one throughout North America.

The NHL has relatively stayed out of it despite a controversial trip for Pittsburgh to the White House and J.T. Brown’s anthem protest.

Although the biggest controversies in politics and sports have avoided the NHL there is still some politics coming into the league.

It may not be the massive political landscape that exists in the USA right now but it is a big deal for the league.

All eyes were on the local elections in Alberta, specifically the election for the mayor of Calgary.

That is because the Calgary Flames have been looking for a new home for years as the Saddledome is a legendary but old stadium.

The team has been working to try to get a new stadium for a number of years and to help them upgrade their experience in the city.

Now only two years after the Edmonton Oilers built their new downtown stadium the Flames are even more desperate to keep up with their provincial rivals.

The biggest hurdle in getting a new stadium has been the commitment of the city to provide funding for the stadium.

It is far from an old debate and not one that the Flames are alone in as there have been battles with governments to fund stadiums since sports became a legitimate business.

For years the threat of a team leaving was enough to make a city or state/province get the money together and build a new stadium.

That has recently changed though as governments are now, more than ever, reluctant to get the money to build shiny new stadiums.

Much of that is because the stadium doesn’t do anything for the city when the team is the chief owner and operator.

It is not a community improvement aspect to the city if they can’t use it for their own needs and public programs.

That’s spending a lot of money on a building that is used a few times a year, 41 plus the odd concert in the case of hockey.

Add to the fact that more research has been done and has shown that professional teams can be good but they are not as valuable to a city as once thought.

They can bring some extra revenue to the city and boost the area around the stadium when events are held but overall losing a team doesn’t sink a city.

It is a nice thing to have and it can bring a city together and provide a sense of community but beyond that, there isn’t much reason for cities to be scared of their professional teams.

Add all of this to the fact that teams are owned by multi-billionaires with plenty of money to spend.

It’s not like they don’t have the money to finance a stadium themselves or know people who can build a stadium without public funds.hockey-sidebar

Leading the way in the fight against using public funds to finance stadiums has been Naheed Nenshi, the mayor of Calgary.

In the fight for the Flames’ new stadium, he has been the biggest force fighting against the new stadium.

He isn’t opposed to the idea of a new stadium but he will never back down on the use of public funds to build that new stadium.

As the fight moves on things are getting a lot more intense and there are threats now of the Flames moving to a new city.

Seattle has already been a popular destination for expansion talk and rumours have started that the Flames might be willing to move to Seattle should there be no arena deal.

The Flames stated that they are going nowhere but it hasn’t stopped the rumours that an arena deal could be the end of the team in Calgary.

That is why the mayoral election in Calgary became one of the most watched around the league.

Nenshi was up for another term while his main opponent Bill Smith was looking to unseat him and although the election had plenty of other aspects the stadium deal was one of the most public.

Smith seemed to be an easier person to deal with when it came to a stadium deal seeming more open to the idea.

The result of the election could have decided the future of the team although no decisions have been made yet on what that future looks like.

The future didn’t get a lot clearer though as the team saw the election put them in the same spot that they were in before the election.

Nenshi won his third election and will remain the mayor of Calgary keeping the biggest obstacle towards a new stadium in place.

It leaves them in an interesting place as they will likely not be getting a new stadium unless they can find private funding.

Without the new stadium, there will be no end to the speculation that the Flames are not going to be around for very long in Calgary.

 

Overtime

Karlsson Makes is Return

He has been one of the best defenceman in the NHL for years while also being the best player in Ottawa. That is why it was a tough thing when the Senators had to go without him for the start of the season. After off-season surgery, he wasn’t fully ready for the NHL leaving him to sit out for the first two weeks of the season and leaving the Sens without their best player. He made his debut this week but the Senators are struggling through their season and he needs to get back to normal to bring the Sens back to the playoffs.

Protest Over

Last week J.T. Brown made some headlines when he raised his fist during the national anthem becoming the first hockey player to protest the anthem. He received plenty of death threats and didn’t see the ice after that showing. This week he released a statement claiming that his protest was over and that he plans on focusing on his volunteer service in multiple facets as well as working with the Lightning foundation. For some, it was a good compromise as the team seemed to be committed to help him while others saw it as backing down to get back on the ice.

Changing an Attitude

Ken Dryden is a legend in the NHL and a Canadian Senator that is known for being one of the smartest Canadian athletes ever. So when he speaks up people listen and in a new book he took a shot at the concussion issue in the league. In the book, he lays out a two-step process to end concussions in the league and the biggest suggestion could have a big effect on the league. That suggestion is to change the attitude in the league surrounding finishing a check. Instead of hitting players after they give up the puck just to finish the check players need to be smarter and lay-off those hits to reduce the chance of brain trauma.

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