With the Bills season almost upon us, I thought I’d chase another phone wallpaper project. Here’s the Cold Front – the name given to the Bills’ fearsome defensive line. This should work with most cell phones. If not, let me know and I can make the necessary changes. Continue reading
Guest Post by Kevin French
Many years have come and gone since the days when the Buffalo Bills had the national spotlight. After four straight Super Bowl losses and the retirement of a hall of fame quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and defensive end, all dominant and transcendent players in their own right, the Buffalo Bills fell completely off the map. There were days when the likes of Doug Flutie and Terrell Owens stole a headline or two, but the past 20 years have been a quiet one for one of the NFL’s oldest and storied franchises.
The last hall of fame member to leave the Bills was the one that was there first, Ralph Wilson Jr. With a city in turmoil, unsure of the future of its football team after the longtime owner passed, a man with a familiar face stepped in to save the Bills. Terry Pegula, owner of the other top professional sports team in Buffalo, the NHL’s Sabres, saved not only the Bills, but the city itself, when he bought the team for a staggering $1.1 billion and swore to keep the team in Buffalo. Continue reading
The end of July and early August are usually the quietest few weeks on the NHL calendar and, for the most part, this year has been no different. Besides a few minor free agent signings and the National Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid not much else has really transpired. With that being the case it’s understandable if you missed the news that the NHL has reached a digital media agreement with MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM).
For those that aren’t baseball fans (and those that are) the name MLBAM may be pretty unfamiliar. Besides running the various MLB media platforms such as mlb.com, the various team websites, MLB Network, MLB Extra Innings, MLB TV, and the mobile app MLB At Bat, the company is also in charge of several other entities. As per Sportsnet, MLBAM is already the streaming video provider for ESPN, HBO, and WWE among others. Forbes called the company “the biggest media company you’ve never heard of.”
With the six year, $1.2 billion deal MLBAM will take over control of nhl.com and the team sites, Gamecenter Live, NHL Center Ice, and (perhaps most importantly) the NHL Network. If you’ve ever watched the MLB Network on a day or night with a full slate of games, the fact that the MLBAM is taking over the underwhelming NHL Network can only be seen as good news.
Having watched my fair share of the NHL Network, MLB Network, NFL Network, and even NBA TV, I can confidently say the MLB Network blows the other three out of the water. Baseball’s flagship station sports a huge, modern studio, live programming usually from 10 am to after midnight, and an impressive arsenal of studio analysts that includes 14 former players, a former team executive, and several well respected baseball lifers such as Peter Gammons and Ken Rosenthal.
So how will (or how could) the new deal impact hockey fans and how they use the NHL’s media outlets? It’s a safe bet that the NHL Network is going to get a nice upgrade. As part of the agreement, the NHL Network will have a new headquarters in Secaucus, NJ, where a new set will be built. There may also be a few new faces in front of the camera. As already mentioned MLB Network has a huge amount of analysts and hosts, while the NHL Network only has ten listed on its website. Not only could NHL Network expand the amount of analysts at their disposal, the move down to New Jersey may impact a few of its current hosts. The likes of Andi Petrillo, Craig Button, and others live in the Toronto area and have been based their for many years. It will be interesting to see if Petrillo (who was previously with CBC) and Button (who also does work with TSN) make the trip to the states. If MLBAM opts to run the channel in a similar way as it’s MLB cousin, there’s a solid chance of more live programming (and less condensed reruns from 2-4 in the afternoon). Among the additions I’d love to see is a live, well run, morning show. MLB Central airs live at 10am on MLB Network after its version of NHL on the Fly, and is a great alternative to Sportscenter.
Statheads will also be pleased with MLBAM. The company has a series of “Statcast” videos that go into detail on various advanced stats in regards to everything from pitch velocity to an individual player’s advantage when it comes to stealing bases. This video on which player covers the most distance in center field is a great example of the work they do. When focused on things like zone entries, shot speed, or where players are shooting from on the ice, these videos could be a huge hit.
When it comes to the individual team sites and the league site, MLBAM will begin to implement its changes in January. It’s not clear what changes will be made but if the MLB team sites and the league site are any indication, there will likely be more information available on the team homepages. By taking a look at a baseball team’s website (I glanced at the Yankees’ and Brewers’ sites) as compared to an NHL team’s (I looked at the Sabres’ site) there are a few noticeable differences. First of those is that the team’s social media is embedded and easily veiwable on the baseball sites. “What’s trending” is also a feature on the baseball sites. Overall, the baseball sites are significantly more interactive and provide a huge amount of video content when compared to their hockey counterparts. When it comes to the league site, video content and trending topics is also prevalent. MLB’s website also has a feature called “Cut 4,” which is a video channel dedicated to offbeat and funny baseball related videos that some times aren’t even related to any major league team. Among the videos currently available are a minor league team unveiling an Arnold Schwarzenegger bobbehead and a softball player hitting a home run with a behind the back swing. It is features like this that draw people to the site and provide entertainment; it is also features like this that nhl.com is currently lacking.
MLBAM will also be coming out with an NHL version of the MLB At Bat app. At Bat is baseball’s in game app that provides live scores, pitch tracking, and live statistics. There’s also a premium version that allows subscribers to watch certain games and listen to any game via the home or away radio broadcast. An NHL app that provides those features would be of great value to many fans, especially expats who can’t see or listen to their hometown team on a regular basis.
The NHL has botched a lot of things in the past, but it appears they’ve found a company willing and able to significantly improve some ways fans get their hockey fix and revolutionize others. While drastic changes likely won’t be hugely noticeable when the puck drops on the season in about two months, my bet is by the end of the year there will be a change for the positive.
We’re one practice into the 2015 edition of Buffalo Bills Training Camp and we’ve already had a few lowlights from the QB competition and a juicy quote from the team’s new running back.
Since Shady McCoy dropped the orgy bomb on us all I thought it would be fun to toss together a few Bingo boards for us all to play along with through camp. This is going to pretty much be for fun but should someone either cover their board or something maybe I’ll grab a prize or two to send your way.
The rules are simple. Any and all of the squares must be covered based on something that occurred at camp starting on August 1 and beyond. The one caveat to this is the Orgy quote, consider that a bonus free space. But from this point forward keep your eyes and ears peeled for anything interesting coming out of camp.
A couple of the squares are sort of left up to your discretion. For example, the Rodak, #OneBuffalo and #BillsMafia squares can kind of be covered by anything of your choosing. Since we’re having fun with this, try to choose something really ridiculous for the choose your own adventure squares.
That being said, grab one of the three boards below and have a little fun this year at camp. Continue reading
After a short hiatus, Chris and Tyler are back to discuss Russ Brandon’s new position with the Sabres, a quick chat about the Bills entering camp and the NHL’s looming expansion conundrum.
In the last four years, the New York Rangers could very well making case that they are the most consistent NHL team to not have at least one Stanley Cup title during that time period. They have made in the Eastern conference finals in three of those four years, and in 2014, they made it to the Stanley Cup finals. Being consistently good is definitely exciting, but fans really want to see them win their first Stanley Cup since 1994. Even though it is the summer, how does the team stack up against some of the other challengers heading into next year?
It was a bit of an unexpected run in 2013 to get all the way to the Stanley cup finals. They were a bit overmatched once they were there, but they put up the good fight against Los Angeles. This past season, everyone expected them to get back to the Stanley Cup finals, but the Tampa Bay Lightning were able to knock them off. It was still a very successfully year, but they didn’t take care of business in the most crucial parts of the series. Continue reading