The Instigator Podcast 10.13 – Changes in Montreal and COVID Concerns for the Olympics

It was a huge news week in the NHL as the Montreal Canadiens fired Marc Bergevin, cleaned house with the rest of their front office and brought in Jeff Gorton to head up the hockey department. We discuss everything surrounding the moves and the difficulty in Montreal continuing to maintain hiring French speaking executives and coaches. Elsewhere, the Penguins have new owners in Fenway Sports Group and more COVID cases may just threaten the NHL’s ability to send players to the Olympics.

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The Instigator Podcast 10.11 – Can the Sabres put Butts Back in the Seats

The Sabres are off to a rough start at the box office. Ranking last in the NHL in ticket sales by a wide margin. We discuss all of the factors that have led to the Sabres averaging fewer than 8,000 tickets sold per game and debate whether or not they can turn a proverbial corner and push their ticket sales back up above 10,000 or potentially higher. We also touch on the situation playing out with the Omaha Lancers and offer up a brief look at the standings and the teams who have impressed thus far, and those who haven’t.

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A Solution to the NHL’s Olympic Problem

After the NHL ended nearly 20 years of Olympic participation at the 2018 PyeongChang games, they’re set to return to the 2022 games. At least for the time being.

The first COVID hiccup of the 2021-22 season has caused the Senators to postpone games and immediately set off alarm bells regarding the NHL’s ability to withdraw from the games should additional postponements occur. How this all proceeds depends on a whole lot of factors no one can predict. The current surge in COVID cases certainly doesn’t bode well for avoiding additional outbreaks and postponements. But there’s no way to know if and when exactly another outbreak could come.

This all puts a cloud of uncertainty around if players will ultimately play in Beijing as it sounds like the league is happy to find any excuse to avoid actual participation in the games. That’s disappointing for anyone who relishes the opportunity to watch the best-on-best tournament and savors the quadrennial event. Whether or not NHL players ultimately make the trip to China for the 22 games won’t be officially determined in January, but it seems likely that if another postponement or two occurs in November or December, the league would pull the plug.

Hopefully it doesn’t come to that and the league’s stars are able to represent their countries once again. A men’s tournament with NHL talent is the best possible outcome for the event and would ideally shed more light on the women’s tournament which will have Canada and the US on another gold medal collision course.

The issues with the NHL at the Olympics are well documented at this point. The league is not shy about advertising their position on the matter, though I can’t help but think their inability to capitalize on their participation has more to do with how they manage the event and less to do with shutting down for a period each Olympic cycle.

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The Instigator Podcast 10.7 – Sabres Playing with House Money

The Sabres hot start has been a refreshing introduction for the season for Sabres fans everywhere. We discuss the players who have helped drive Buffalo’s 4-1-1 start and touch on a few we hope to see more from as the Sabres attempt to bank points early in the year. We also dig in to the investigation into sexual misconduct with the Chicago Blackhawks and the fallout from the public release of the investigation.

The Instigator Podcast 10.5 – Opening Night for the NHL on ESPN

We celebrate and discuss the opening night for ESPN and the NHL as the pair are officially together once again. We discuss some of the new features released in the days leading up to the season and the encouraging outlook from the first night of their broadcast. We also touch on the Sabres post-camp roster and have an in-depth conversation about where JJ Peterka should be playing.

The Instigator Podcast Episode 10.4 – NHL Season Preview with a Twist

We tried a slightly different approach with our season preview pod. Instead of trying to fit every team into the allotted time, we picked a few standout stories we think could surprise fans should they play out this season. We also serve up an update on Jack Eichel and run down the latest outlook on the Sabres roster as the season opener approaches.

The Definitive Hockey Jersey Number Rankings

What number you wear can often be a big part of a player’s hockey identity. Some players care more than others about the number they don, but even for those who are indifferent to them, those numbers help connect players with young fans and can even have sentimental value. Like it or not, numbers are a big part of what can make this game great.

Of course, some numbers are better than others. This is especially true in hockey where the history of certain numbers carries with it a certain folklore that others lack. Think of Vladislav Tretiak and his disciples wearing 20 in the crease or how number 19 became synonymous with Steve Yzerman and Hockey Canada. Hockey numbers are part of the sport’s lore and the good ones deserved to be honored.

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The Instigator Podcast 9.36 – The NHL is Returning to the Olympics

The NHL will be back at the Olympic games for the 2022 Beijing Olympics. We chat about the return of NHL players after missing the last cycle and what this means for the league. We talk about the pros and cons of the agreement and what long term opportunities are being missed due to the limitations in place between the NHL, IOC and IIHF. We also touch on the new contracts for Casey Mittelstadt and Henri Jokiharju and wrap up the Jesperi Kotkaniemi offer sheet saga.

The Instigator Podcast 9.33 – Waiting on an Eichel Deal

There was another twist in the Jack Eichel saga this past week as his agents issued a fairly strong statement and his doctor made an appearance on the 31 Thoughts Podcast. We dive in on where the trade winds are pushing Buffalo’s captain and try and handicap the current teams thought to be in the race.

We also look into Buffalo’s free agency spending and what sort of outlook the team has in the wake of a fairly active, but low-spend opening day of free agency.

The Instigator Podcast 9.32 – Breaking Down a Wild Draft Weekend

We’re back with a longer episode this week as there was a lot of action from the draft to dig into. Not only do we discuss Buffalo’s picks but offer up our favorites of Kevyn Adams’ class of 2021. The big topics were the pair of trades the Sabres made; sending Rasmus Ristolainen to the Philadelphia Flyers and Sam Reinhart to the Florida Panthers. We provide a quick update on where the Eichel sweepstakes stand and close the show with a bit of conversation on free agency.