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Edmonton Oilers’ off-season questions will include playoff goaltending choices


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Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) sits on the boards as the Vegas Golden Knights celebrate the win during NHL Stanley Cup second round playoff action in Edmonton on Sunday May 14, 2023.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

By Steven Sandor in Edmonton

A lone Vegas Golden Knights fan could be heard as Edmonton’s Rogers Place descended into silence Sunday.

“Skinn-errrr, Skinn-errrr,” was the one-man chant.

Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner was the target from somewhere in the upper bowl.

Perhaps it was a disgruntled Oilers fan.

Skinner was replaced by Jack Campbell before the third period of Sunday’s 5-2 loss to the Golden Knights.

Vegas took the best-of-seven playoff series four games to two to advance to the Western Conference final.

The Oilers trailed 4-2 when Skinner was pulled for the third time in the series.

The 24-year-old from Edmonton allowed four goals on 17 shots with the first scored just 24 seconds after the opening faceoff.

“I needed to be better,” Skinner said. “I got pulled countless times. It’s hard to take this one on the chin, for sure.”

It wasn’t quite “countless,” even if felt that way to Skinner and some Oilers fans, but he was hooked four times in his 12 playoff starts.

He was pulled in the second period of Game 5. Skinner didn’t make it through the second period of Game 3.

In the first round, he gave up three early goals to the Los Angeles Kings before Campbell took over and helped the Oilers to a Game 4 overtime victory.

With every hook, the questions became louder and more persistent.

Should Campbell, the man on the $25-million, five-year deal, take over? Should the experienced vet take over from the rookie Skinner?

Campbell had a disappointing debut season for the Oilers with a pedestrian .888 save percentage, but he was strong in every relief performance.

Campbell finished with a stellar .961 save percentage in the playoffs, albeit from a small sample size.

Skinner posted an .883 playoff save percentage, which was five points worse than Campbell’s regular-season mark that cost him the starting job.

The Oilers’ fan base certainly wanted Skinner to succeed. He’s an Edmonton kid who was going to be, at best, the backup, but ascended to starter.

Edmonton signed him to a three-year contract extension worth $7.8 million in December.

Skinner was nominated for the Calder Trophy awarded to the NHL’s top rookie.

After each of the three playoff games he didn’t finish, Skinner was back in net for the next game, including Sunday’s loss.

“It’s always good when you’re put back into the net,” said Skinner. “You’ve got a chance for redemption, a chance to bounce back.

“I thought I did a great job on bouncing back in every game, and then tonight just obviously wasn’t my night.”

Edmonton head coach Jay Woodcroft stood behind his goaltending choices after Sunday’s loss.

“I think we’ve beat this up the last two days in terms of the questions,” Woodcroft said. “In the end, we win as a team and we don’t win as a team.”

Skinner misplaying the puck led to the Knights’ goal 24 seconds into Sunday’s game, however.

He cleared the puck along the boards into the path of two Vegas forecheckers. The puck ended up in the net behind him.

Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault scored a hat trick in the second period.

The first came on a loose puck Skinner couldn’t quite track.

The second was a rebound that popped up in the air off the goalie’s shoulder and then landed in the crease for Marchessault to convert.

“I worked really hard to get into position. I got a lot of depth,” Skinner said. “He made a nice shot, I made the save, it went right up.

“I thought it was going to go into the netting. I feel that’s kind of how it normally goes. I was looking up to kind of make sure, and it bounced right on the goal line.”

Marchessault’s third was a wrist shot that beat Skinner cleanly.

Off-season questions about the Oilers will include if playoff pressure was too much for the rookie goalie.

Should Woodcroft have trusted Campbell to take over, despite the shaky regular season?

Despite getting the hook in Game 5, Skinner said he felt good going into Sunday.

“I felt confident,” he said. “No matter what, I felt good. I know how to play the game. I’ve done it for many years, and I’ve been able to rebound from a lot of goals against in my lifetime.

“If you think about it this year, there’s one shutout I’ve got, so every game I’m letting in a goal, right? I’ve had lots of practice rebounding from goals against.”

But there was no rebounding from Sunday night when the Oilers were eliminated from Stanley Cup contention this year.

“This is obviously part of the book that one day we’re all going to write,” said Skinner. “This is a chapter where it stings and it sucks and it’s painful.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 15, 2023.

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Bruce Dowbiggin

Celebrity Owners– Fun, Yes, But The Equity Is Even Better

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In case you hadn’t noticed. Celebrity Sports Ownership is all the rage. When the Ottawa Senators were for sale Ryan Reynolds, Snoop and The Weeknd were all mentioned among the bidders (that eventually went to Montreal businessman Michael Andlauer). LeBron James now holds a minority position with Liverpool FC.

Jay-Z owns part of the Brooklyn Nets, Usher a piece of the Cleveland Cavaliers while Fergie of Black Eyed Peas fame also partly owns the Miami Dolphins. Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Marc Anthony, and tennis superstars Serena and Venus Williams are owners of pro sports teams. Famously, Elton John owned Watford FC, although he’s now just an honorary chairman.

And, of course, Reynolds and Rob McElhenney used a documentary TV series that showed their Welsh Wrexham soccer team promoted to the FA’s League Two. What’s the attraction?

Clearly a little PR is always a good thing. But sports team ownership has also become a lucrative equity play. As BMO reports, “The average compound annual growth rate since the last purchase price…  is 15 percent, a meaningful outperformance to the TSX and S&P.  Forbes estimates the Toronto Blue Jays are currently worth US$2.1 billion or roughly C$2.85 billion.

Based on recent sports franchise transactions, expansion fees and annual estimations of franchise values by Forbes Magazine, an $8 billion enterprise value is easily defendable for the Jays’ owners MLSE (who also own the Maple Leafs, Toronto FC and Argonauts).”

It’s the same across the major pro sports leagues. The estimated average franchise value in the NFL since 2013 is $5.1B with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16 percent; in the NBA it is $2.9B with a CAGR of 18 percent. For MLB it is $2.3B with a CAGR of 12 percent; the NHL is $1.0B with a CAGR of 11 percent; while MLS is $0.6B with a CAGR 21%.

But, BMO cautions, owning a sports franchise is considered “an equity investment strategy rather than a cash flow or income play.” In other words, don’t think that ticket sales and hot dogs are going to make you rich. (Although the NHL’s salary cap, which guarantees owners’ profits is a sweet deal.) The key is sports media which is thriving despite the move to cord cutting..

Sports media rights contracts have grown in tandem with franchise valuations. Not to be ignored in the advertising growth and viewer interaction is the bear knowns as legalized sports betting. Betting companies are flooding the airwaves with commercials while bettors tune in to watch how their selections work out. The casinos and online shops have replaced lower-paying traditional advertisers who’ve dropped off.

In Canada, league or team ownership of broadcast properties is still common. For that reason the real value of those broadcast rights is often opaque. (We had some irritated pushback from Rogers and Bell for writing on this tidy arrangement in the mid 2010s, forcing some limited disclosures). Rogers Sportsnet and TSN own (via MLSE) own a stable of teams in MLB, NHL, CFL and MLS. Good luck finding out what they pay themselves for media rights.

It’s more open in the U.S. Since the New York Yankees pioneered the YES network in 2002— sparking multiple imitators in other markets—the move in the U.S. has been away from outright ownerships of regional sports networks. A number of RSNs in the U.S. are either in bankruptcy or nearing it. Digital and network sources are now absorbing these sources. ESPN, via its owner Disney, is looking to find partners for its many broadcast properties as their bottom line in general has suffered.

Still, ESPN’s legacy business generates revenue and operating income of approximately $12.5 billion and $4.0 billion in 2023. It remains to be seen what new model emerges in the U.S. to answer cord cutting and the death of conventional TV. The NFL’s experiment on Monday, having two MNF games compete on separate networks is one experiment.

In Canada’s monopolistic market, “TSN/RDS penetration rates have declined at a quicker pace than ESPN over the past 10 years. ESPN penetration has dropped from 81 percent of U.S. households in 2013 to 56 percent in 2022, while TSN/RDS penetration has decreased from 89% of Canadian households in 2013 to 49 percent in 2022.

In addition, BMO admits that cord cutting is a thing. “SportsNet subscribers have decreased -23 percent to 5.8 million over the same period. Subscriber and advertising revenues are 60 percent and 40 percent of total revenue, respectively. Since 2017, TSN revenues have increased 13 percent. TSN subscribers have decreased -29 percent to ~7.8 million over the same period.”

But! In the last five years, TSN and SN have increased advertising revenues by 13 percent and 15 percent respectively. The same figure for the top five Canadian non-sports channels (collectively) is six percent. Thank you legalized wagering in Ontario. So who wouldn’t want a piece of this action, especially in Canada?

The red flag in this surging equity market comes in the form of smaller Canadian NHL markets. The Senators sale for $950 suggests a healthy interest in owning, but the Sens sale was also tied into the new LeBreton Flats arena. Ownership or control of a Canadian arena means more than NHL games. It also includes revenue from concerts, rallies, monster-truck events etc.

Even with that can Andlauer produce a winner just two hours from the Montreal Canadiens market? Likewise, the Winnipeg Jets are desperately in need of a larger arena to replace the 15,321 Canada Life Centre. Having Canada’s richest man, David Thomson, as an owner is no guarantee of getting one. And should Thomson tire of being the saviour of a losing Jets hockey property, who in that market has C$1-2B lying around needed to fund the franchise properly?

Likewise, the Calgary Flames. Despite the political press conference this summer about as new agreement the arena that management promised by 2013 has still not seen a shovelful of dirt turned over. The latest gaffe was architect’s drawings for the rink being rejected by the NHL due to inadequate dressing-room space. Start again.

Should the rink not be available till 2025-26 will an evolving ownership group still be interested in shelling out the money to keep the Flames (and Stampeders, Roughnecks and Hitmen) operating in Calgary? And if they don’t, because losing sucks? While energy-rich Calgary has plenty of billionaires, few will want to risk the money needed to keep a competitive team in a small market.

Connor McDavid’s brilliance plasters over the same small-market crack in Edmonton. Yes, they have their new building, but can owner Darryl Katz fund the moves need to keep his stars and build a winner? Vancouver, owned by the Aqulini family, has a larger market base, but with Seattle Kraken just two hours away can they too write the cheques needed to create the first Stanley Cup winner since the Canucks entered the NHL in 1970.

If these Canadian markets do survive longterm it might have to be with foreign ownership. Certainly there is money to be made riding the equity train. But there also no guarantees that those carpetbagger owners might replicate the Montreal Expos and scoot to richer markets.

Sign up today for Not The Public Broadcaster newsletters. Hot takes/ cool slants on sports and current affairs. Have the latest columns delivered to your mail box. Tell your friends to join, too. Always provocative, always independent.

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster  A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History, his new book with his son Evan, was voted the seventh-best professional hockey book of all time by . His 2004 book Money Players was voted sixth best on the same list, and is available via

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Red Deer

New Chiefs logo for Red Deer Minor Hockey designed with guidance of indigenous leaders

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News release from Red Deer Minor Hockey Board of Directors

Red Deer Minor Hockey Commission proudly announces the unveiling of their new Primary Logo, paying homage to the indigenous heritage and peoples of the region.

The revamped logo is a result of two years of dedicated efforts to align with the values and traditions of Treaty Six and Seven peoples, who are the original founders of the land on which we live, play, and work.

In 1967 in our Centennial Year, Red Deer Minor Hockey’s Earl Chadwick, with the permission of Chief John Samson, adopted the Chiefs name and logo as a tribute to the indigenous community’s and their rich cultural heritage on the Treaty 6 and 7 land that we play on.  Since then, the Red Deer Minor Hockey Chiefs have strived to maintain a strong connection with the indigenous peoples of the area.

Recognizing the need to further honour and respect the indigenous heritage, the Red Deer Minor Hockey Chiefs embarked on a comprehensive logo redesign project. The objective was to create a logo that not only represents the team but also reflects the values and traditions of Treaty Six and Seven peoples.

After extensive consultation with indigenous leaders from Treaty Six and Seven, the Red Deer Minor Hockey Chiefs are proud to unveil their new logos. These logos symbolize the unity, strength, and resilience of the indigenous community, while also paying tribute to the original founders of the land.

The Red Deer Minor Hockey Commission expresses their gratitude to the indigenous leaders for their guidance and support throughout this process. Their blessing and endorsement of the new logos reinforce the team’s commitment to fostering inclusivity, diversity, and cultural appreciation within the hockey community.

The Red Deer Minor Hockey Board of Directors along with Chief Wilton Littlechild along with the Treaty 6 and 7 Chiefs invite our members and friends to join them in celebrating the unveiling of their new logos on Friday Oct 13 2023 for the Home Opener of our U18 Optimist Chiefs at the Servus Arena.  The Red Deer Minor Hockey Commission remains dedicated to promoting a positive and respectful environment for all players, coaches, and fans, while honoring the indigenous heritage and peoples that have shaped the community and land we play on . We will provide the Celebration details as soon as we have finished the plans.

Red Deer Minor Hockey Board of Directors

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