The Instigator Podcast: Fabric of the Game with Chris Creamer and Todd Radom

It was a great pleasure to have Chris Creamer and Todd Radom join the podcast to discuss their new book Fabric of the Game. It’s a tremendous book that details the history of the jerseys and logos of the NHL. Todd and Chris discuss the impetus for the book, the countless hours of research it took to compile some of the incredible stories in the book and some of their favorite bits of the text. We also talk about their personal favorite aspects of uniform design and the NHL’s Reverse Retro line.

Ranking the NHL’s Reverse Retro Jersey Collection

The NHL’s newest jersey initiative was formally introduced today, with the Adidas Reverse Retro alternate jersey set unveiled for all 31 teams. The premise was to put a modern spin on a jersey from each team’s history. There doesn’t appear to be any hard and fast rules for how the designs were picked as most put a club’s current colors onto an old design. But others borrow vintage colors or even use throwback designs in the case of the Hurricanes and Avalanche.

It’s a jersey collection that could have easily strayed into questionable territory but taking in all 31 designs, there’s really only a couple which aren’t overly appealing. Perhaps most importantly is what this represents for the league. This is a new take on a jersey program which puts the onus on designs which will be fun for fans to see on the ice and hanging in their closet. This is a big step forward for a league that’s often seen as too boring and conservative. Not to mention it’s going to be an excellent revenue source in a time when any penny earned will go a long way.

Naturally, with a host of new jerseys to enjoy, the only logical course of action is to rank each of the designs. I look forward to hearing how wrong my rankings are in the comments or on social media. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 8.36 – Balancing the Sabres Internal Budget

TSN’s Frank Seravalli reported that the Sabres are expecting to operate with an internal budget which could drop as low as $70 million. We spend time talking about whether or not the Sabres could effectively operate at that figure (they can’t) and what steps they can take to come close to achieving a tighter budget when it comes to spending on the team. We also touch on the hiring of Peter Laviolette and Bill Zito, the new contract for Jonas Brodin and the Nick Bjugstad trade.

The Instigator Podcast 8.34 – NHL Postpones Playoff Action

This week’s episode begins with a discussion of the decision by the NHL’s players to push for postponement of Thursday and Friday’s games as a response to the Black Lives Matter movement. If you don’t wish to listen to that portion of the conversation because the Black Lives Matter movement triggers you in some way, I’d recommend you fast forward to the 26 or 27 minute mark of the show when we begin discussing the Kasperi Kapanen trade and a potential trade partner for the Sabres.

The Instigator Podcast Interview Featuring Julie Stewart-Binks

Julie Stewart-Binks, host of Drinks with Binks and Call it a Night with Julie Stewart-Binks on fubo Sports Network joined the show this week for a wide ranging conversation that touched on everything from the NHL bubble, qualifiers and Premier League soccer.

We discuss how COVID-19 has altered the landscape for how sports are going to be broadcast in addition to how her shows have been affected by coronavirus as well. Along the way we touch on NHL hub cities, the pros and cons of how sports may return and get a deeper look into the two shows Julie hosts on fubo Sports Network.

You can catch Drinks with Binks on the fubo Sports Network on Friday’s at 8:00 or 24/7 on www.fubosportsnetwork.com as well as Pluto, XUMO, The Roku Channel, Samsung TV Plus, Vizio, and to subscribers to fuboTV. If you want to learn more about fubo and fuboSN, visit www.fubosportsnetwork.com or follow them at @fubosports on social. Also, be sure to follow Julie on Twitter and enjoy the show.

The Instigator Podcast 8.30 – NHL Return to Play Schedule Reported as CBA Extension Looms

With new news being reported about the schedule the NHL will be following for completing the 2019-20 season, we run through the key dates for the coming months on this week’s show. This includes the schedule for the qualifying round and playoffs, when the offseason will begin and when the 2020-21 season is set to start. We run through the entire schedule and how it could affect not just the end of the 2020 season, but how the coming year could look due to fatigue, rust and other extenuating circumstances. Also on the show are segments on Lindy Ruff’s hiring in New Jersey, Judd Brackett being hired by the Wild and the report that Rick Dudley won’t be coming to Buffalo.

The Instigator Podcast 8.26 – NHL Return to Play & The Sabres Enter the Offseason

We’re back with a new episode after a long layoff but it feels like we never left. The Sabres have missed the playoffs once again, the GM (and owner!) put his foot in his mouth and a player insinuated that he’d like to be traded. In addition to touching on the Sabres post mortem, we run through the NHL’s return to play plan. While we generally favor the playoff format, we cook up a couple of different takes for the draft lottery.

An Unusual Season Calls for an Unusual NHL Draft Lottery Twist

There are still a lot of questions hanging in the air regarding the NHL and a potential return to complete the 2019-20 season. It feels like we’re a long way off from getting any clarity on regular season games being played or jumping right into the playoffs. Whether or not regular season games are restarted or if the league jumps right to the postseason there will be plenty of action available for ice hockey betting on NHL games.

No need for flash cards in this format.

Last week I floated a few different ways the NHL could tackle their postseason, should they be forced to take a new approach with the playoffs. Assuming the league expands the playoff format, there would only be a handful of teams left in the dark on clawing back some of their lost revenue. So what if the NHL took a different approach with those teams in awarding spots in the draft lottery?

This is an unusual season which almost certainly requires the league to utilize a different playoff format. Why not do the same with the draft lottery and plug the non-playoff teams into a tournament of their own to win the top picks? Continue reading

Tackling a Coronavirus Affected NHL Playoff Format

The utterly unprecedented response to COVID-19 has ground practically everything to a halt around the world. Hockey hasn’t been immune to that as leagues throughout North America and Europe have paused or canceled their seasons while the NHL is on indefinite hiatus.

The stoppage has left everyone wondering if or when the Stanley Cup Playoffs will be played. And if they’re played, what format will the league utilize? A lot of rumors have been floated thus far. One rumored format would see the playoffs expanded to account for a 24-team field. A plan formulated by some players would even see regular season games played. But just Wednesday, Pierre LeBrun quoted Bill Daly as saying anything they pursue would not impact the ability to play a full year in 2020-21.

There are so many balls up in the air at the moment. Some days it seems as if leagues, especially the NHL, are anticipating a quick return to play. Other days it seems as if we may not see any action again until the fall. With the CDC’s latest recommendations, it seems like the earliest we’d see any sports return would be June. Possibly late May.

I find it very hard to believe the NHL would be able to return with any sort of a regular season slate. The proposal reported by TSN would see preparations and play extend all the way into October, which seems preposterous to me. Given the current state of affairs, it seems that the most logical solution is for the league to adopt a modified playoff format and salvage what they can of the 2019-20 season. Continue reading

Two in the Mailbox: Olofsson Contract, Coronavirus Playoffs and Goalie Options

It’s been quite a while since I rolled out a mailbag and as this is a pretty long one, we might as well jump right in. Thanks to everyone for submitting your questions.

@strikeforcetim How would you format the postseason/award the Cup this year?

I’m going to steal the plan Elliotte Friedman floated on this week’s 31 Thoughts podcast because I think it makes the most sense on just about every level. His theory would be to give every non-wildcard team a first-round bye and then set up two play-in series between the next two teams in each division to determine the fourth team through to the next round.

Based on his approach, the play-in match ups in the East would be between the Panthers and Canadiens and the Hurricanes and Blue Jackets. In the west it would be the Jets, Predators, Canucks and Coyotes. His idea called for a two-game set, played in one arena and determined by total goals. Later in the podcast he detailed an idea floated by some around the league that would actually incorporate more teams (as many as 24) in play-in scenarios. That seemed a little far-fetched to me, although it might not be so bad if it meant the Sabres were a “playoff” team.

There are only two things I’d change about Friedman’s initial plan. The first would be changing the play-in teams from the next two in each division to the next four in the wild card race. Pitting the next two teams from each division would eliminate teams higher in the standings and closer to the wild card race that was suspended. Simply picking the top four teams in the wild card race would reward the teams who would have been most harmed by the current shutdown. The other change I’d make would be to the two-game play in. Friedman suggested total goals and allowing ties with the only sudden death coming in the second game. I’d prefer both games to be played to a conclusion as opposed to aggregate goals since it’s almost certain there would be some sort of controversy born from that decision. Continue reading