Responsibility in Blogging

This is sort of a PSA to any hockey blogger who cares to read. It’s some inside journalism stuff, so feel free to move along if this minutiae isn’t your lede.

Blogging is often a place to provide added analysis, arguments, pleas and an aggregated potpourri of the internets so you’re kept in the loop. Sometimes that requires actually talking to someone to enhance the story.

Sports blogging has found a way to find 10,000 niches in an individual sport or league, whether it’s the jerseys and logoswhat refs are officiating the game  or strictly how the farm system is faring.

Several of those blogs mix quantitative, qualitative and opinionated analysis. Some on a higher level than other.

Most sports blogs hone in on their favorite team, though.

There can only be so many fan blogs that aggregate what the mainstream media or team embedded media reports only to be “enhanced” with their own roasting hot takes. Some focus on the mix of People magazine meet TMZ aspect of the team but at least use its credentials to gather original reporting  to enhance the blog (and sometimes photos/videos) on their slice of hockey life reporting.

Blogs often critique player performances, propose trade scenarios and even have the open letter—a definite no-no on editorial pages because it’s basically a column. Don’t try to cheat.

Most of that can exist in somewhat of a vacuum, but certain blogs may need a question answered to give a fair analysis. You know, acknowledge that someone from the organization you are writing about is affected in all of this. Or that we can’t pontificate from the keyboard and may the internet kingdom hear all. (This entry is one of those pontificating blogs.)

I ran into that issue recently about the Washington Capitals decision to move its equipment sale and Fan Fest from a Saturday to a weekday.

The basis of the blog was going to be that popularity comes at a price and it’s difficult to make everyone happy. The solutions are few to make it better for everyone, including those working the event.

I needed to ask the organization why the move was made. The reason could be very different from what I thought the reasons would be and I’d have to start from scratch. You cannot assume what the answer is. That’s how you get sued.

However, I was asked not to contact the Capitals media relations department on behalf of the credentialed blog because they wanted to keep a positive relationship with the team. If you fairly offer critiques about player performance and front office decisions on players, coaches and prospects, then the marketing and fan experience items are fair game. Every event is a money-making opportunity for the team, even if admission is free.

Some aspects managed crowds better by allowing season-ticket members priority access to certain activations and the equipment sale.

I could have contacted the organization myself, but while my track record and reputation is good in several journalism circles, the Capitals media relations department has no clue who I am. Most Caps fans don’t know who I am either on here, or that they come here for news. This site is a hobby. Other sites were opportunities, even though as a professional journalist I should not be working for free, for anyone.

I asked the Caps PR twitter account about the change but I didn’t receive a response. It was a long shot but contacting them that way would get things in the open. Anything beyond that, phone calls, emails, I’d leave for something I’d be getting paid for.

Here’s what I would have asked:

  • Why was the Fan Fest and equipment sale moved from a Saturday to a Wednesday?
  • Depending on the answer, then I’d follow up with, Was it because the event tends to be crowded, verging on overcrowding, each year? (It’s held at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, where reminders are frequent to not stand or sit in the bleacher stairways because of the fire code.)
  • Did the Metro construction on the Blue/Orange lines happening that week affect the decision? (It would have proved troublesome on a weekend to get there for some fans.)
  • Is this a one-time decision or likely be repeated in future years?
  • Do you keep track of the crowd or attendance at Fan Fest? Has it increased or decreased or stayed the same each year?
  • If crowding continued to be an issue, would returning the Capitals Convention help lessen the crowd at Fan Fest?
  • Regardless, are there any plans or talk that the Capitals Convention to return? What would it take for that event to return?

That helps cover a lot of areas, helps build rapport with an organization giving you access and helps form an informed opinion. You don’t want to risk a libel lawsuit or even be forced to write a correction or retraction because you didn’t ask the source for their side of the story.

The organization can chose to not answer any and all requests (keep records), or answer some but not all, but it still helps with building a story. With as many national and international media properties cover NHL teams, a blogger or freelance request could seem like a headache to them that they can brush off. But you never know how many clicks certain posts can produce, so at times you have to at least acknowledge the request.

I blame some of my journalism brethren for a habit by columnists to creep into blogging. I’ve seen too many columnists in daily papers, mainly at smaller circulations, hypothesize and place blame on someone or something without asking the person they’re hurling suggestions (or blame, maybe even praise) to in 550 words. The best practice in columns is to ask that source of the issue what they think, even if it leads to an awkward conversation, to get a complete view of the issue. Your thoughts may change, maybe backing down from what you originally thought, but it makes a better piece.

Your source continues to trust you. Your readers continue to trust you. And that’s not something you can easily reacquire after it’s lost.

NHL Veterans Getting TKO’d on PTOs

If you’re looking for feel-good stories of redemption from NHL veterans on professional tryout contracts, it’ll be a small chapter.

Only nine players on PTOs signed NHL contracts as of Monday, according to General Fanager:

  • Scotty Upshall (St. Louis)
  • Jonas Gustavsson (Boston)
  • Corey Potter (Arizona)
  • Michal Rozsival (Chicago)
  • Tomas Fleischmann (Montreal)
  • Lee Stempniak (New Jersey)
  • Steve Bernier (New York Islanders)
  • Brad Boyes (Toronto)

Let’s look at some of the notable names of the more than 85 players signed to a PTO during this offseason, according to a comprehensive list from The Hockey Writers. If those numbers are true, only 10 percent of players on a PTO signed a contract.

That number could be bumped up as Martin Havlat is working on a contract with the Florida Panthers, according to the Miami Herald’s George Richards and Scott Gomez could get something done with the St. Louis Blues, according to Andy Strickland.

[Update: Harvey Fialkov of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Tuesday afternoon that Havlat will not sign with the Panthers, while Sirius XM NHL reports that Jack Skille signed with Colorado and Setoguchi, below, is signing with a Swiss league team.]

Actually, let’s construct a 23-man roster from the list because there are so damn many guys cut. We’ll leave off Havlat and Gomez giving them the benefit out the doubt.

Forwards

Curtis Glencross-Derek Roy-Devan Setoguchi

Sergei Kostitsyn- David Booth-Patrick Kaleta

Daniel Paille-Tyler Kennedy-Kirill Kabanov

Patrick Dwyer-Jack Skille-Tomas Kopecky-James Sheppard

Extra Forward: Joey Crabb

Defense

Lubomir Visnovsky-Jan Hejda

Andrej Meszaros-Sergei Gonchar

Douglas Murray-Vitaly Vishnevski

Extra D: Ryan Wilson

Goal

Ray Emery

Peter Budaj

What I see is that serviceable third-line and fourth-line shutdown forwards are being shown the door. There are plenty of younger guys available to take those spots, and some that are stuck in the bottom three because the team’s depth won’t allow them to get in the top six.

A few of those players are former snipers whose luster has worn off, some explained like Setoguchi who went through rehab to get his career on track. Others like Glencross who fell off a cliff when traded to Washington from Calgary and plummeted so much that he was released from two PTOs in this pre-season.

Overall, you’ll have a team full of checkers and grinders, doing a good job of wearing down the other team and allowing few goals.

On defense, it’s old and slow. Guys like Gonchar and Visnovsky can make your power play pretty, but keeping goals out of the net will be an issue. As much as the forwards can do, it’s a five-man unit, and the back-end is thinking offense too much.

Glance at the ages and length of time in the league, and you wonder if these guys know that they’re supposed to retire before injury makes them retire. Gonchar is 41; Visnovsky is 39; Hejda is 37 and Murray and Vishnevski are both 35. Meszaros is 29 but plays like he’s 35.

In goal, Ray Emery takes the reigns while Peter Budaj continues his career back-up role. Razor, cut from the Lightning camp after Tampa’s own goalies were coming back from injuries, would be best with a team like the Lightning where he can be sheltered by a good defense as opposed to the lineup above.

Looking at who’s available this year, you could imagine there would be a similar crop come  2017-18 when the NHL could expand to Las Vegas, or even to Quebec City.

Remember, these are just the guys who would accept a PTO.

Look at some of the other UFAs who are without a team and didn’t sign a tryout:

Dainius Zubrus, Eric Brewer, Sean Bergenheim, Olli Jokinen, Stephen Weiss, Michael Ryder and Brenden Morrow. Out of that list, Morrow showed he should be ready to sign retirement papers. Zubrus is getting there at 37 years old and 10 points in 72 games last season in New Jersey.

With the European leagues already underway, can any of these guys still find jobs playing?

A Unicorn NHL TV Market and Why NHL Network Is Blacked Out in Frostburg

NHL Network LogoUpdate 2: I realized I never provided an additional update. Sorry.

The technician visited and explained that as I originally thought, the NHL Network is not available to Frostburg area customers.

However, the tech added that if I was in the Garrett County side of Frostburg instead of Allegany County, I would have access to the NHL Network, and many more channels in general. Of course that doesn’t make a lot of sense because Garrett County is as rural as you can get. It has more than 76,000 acres of public lands and lakes, which I believe is the most in the state.

 

Update: After asking NHL Network via Twitter to help fix this issue, another agent from @ComcastCares reached out and he believes the station is actually available in the Frostburg market.

After testing a different package not shown on the website, the channel didn’t appear, so they are sending a technician on Friday.

The technician will examine if they have my box on the right program guide (I don’t know why there are two different channel line-ups for one ZIP code), examine signal flux and my box.

This ought to demonstrate to the NHL Network to barter a bit better to be included in a lower tier of sports channels to have more viewers because other people would give up at this point to subscribe.

Original: Trying to watch hockey on TV shouldn’t be all that hard.

Given the battles to make it easier to watch games online, you’d think the TV end would be mainly issue free.

Not in Frostburg, Maryland, where territories of the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins converge in the mountains.

Frostburg is a unique National Hockey League television market where you can watch both the Washington Capitals on ComcastSportsNet Mid-Atlantic and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Root Sports. It’s a swing county when it comes to hockey allegiances for these bitter rivals, to be honest.

I decided that this year I was going to go without a NHL GameCenter Live subscription. It didn’t make any sense to me anymore despite the new single-team packages being offered thanks to a class-action lawsuit. Broadstreet Hockey exceptionally covered the problems with GCL’s new set-up that’s supposed to be consumer friendly.

When I moved to Florida four years ago, I watched both Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals games, and while I enjoyed the idea, it didn’t quite work out for me, outside of the constant video buffering.

The Lightning and Caps would often play on the same nights and start a half-hour apart. And when they didn’t, one of the two teams were blacked out (typically the Caps) for being on national TV. And the Lightning would mainly be blacked out for being on the NHL Network.

And nothing ticked me off more than being blacked out for a “national” game on the NHL Network, considering it’s not in standard sports channel packages. It’s included on DirecTV (which if they had broadband Internet and not DSL here, I’d be there in a heartbeat).

So, I opted to dive in an extra $9.99 a month to get NHL Network with my current Xfinity package along with some other sports channels like NBA TV (that I’d never watch) and Encore that are included. I figured the NHL Network should be a better deal this year with a new operator taking over, new talent and better programming.

What comes next is five hours of hopelessness between three Comcast agents, one in an online chat, another on the phone and a third via the @ComcastCares Twitter account. And oh yeah, the NHL Network’s website.

Let’s cut to the chase first: The NHL Network is not available on Comcast Xfinity in the Frostburg market. The channel is advertised as part of a Digital Preferred Package when ordering on the Comcast website and three agents fist believed that I should have the channel until they dug deeper to find out that it isn’t available after all.

Now, look at this map of NHL TV territories made in 2013 by Mile High Hockey. Do you think this same issue would lead the NHL not to provide the NHL Network in Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Louis and New York City where other teams share TV territories? Nope.

2013 NHL TV Territory Map

2013 NHL TV Territory Map

This is a Direct Message from a @ComcastCares rep “DB” who spent several hours trying to fix my issue, including resetting my box for a signal flux issue:

A Comcast rep explains why the NHL Network isn't available after several hours thinking it was.

A Comcast rep explains why the NHL Network isn’t available after several hours thinking it was.

If you can’t read the picture, it says:

“Sorry for the delayed response, I just got confirmation that the NHL isn’t available in your region. I wasn’t able to confirm this earlier. I do suggest still sending a tech out to resolve the signal flux so you don’t experience any issues in the future. ~DB @ComcastCares

“Was there a reason given why it is not available”—@ImYourChuck

“Just that there hasn’t been an agreement reached yet to provide it in your area. Requesting it thru the feedback link will let your region know that it is in demand. Which could make it possibly available later. ~DB @ComcastCares”

Why did I deal with three reps? The first one tried to resolve the issue and couldn’t find the channel. Because I grew tired, I called to speak to someone so I could remove the service. That was relatively quick. The rep, a hockey fan, tried to help but figured out that it’s not available because the NHL decided it shouldn’t be. I spent from 5 to after 11 p.m. going through all of this.

I vented on Twitter and a @ComcastCares manager decided to reach out to me and figure this out in DMs.

Worse, is that when I enter my ZIP on the NHL Network website, it says I should have it. See below:

The NHL Network shows that the channel should be available in Frostburg, Md., on Comcast cable. However, it is not available.

The NHL Network shows that the channel should be available in Frostburg, Md., on Comcast cable. However, it is not available.

The passive way to resolve this, as suggested by Comcast is that I need more people in the Frostburg area to request the NHL Network be made available through both the NHL’s website and Comcast Xfinity feedback. However, that’s a daunting task considering the small population in this region.The FSU student population from Central Maryland helps, but those students are opting for either GameCenterLive, Center Ice or going to the bar.

This isn’t the first delivery issue I’ve had with NHL games in Frostburg. I’m looking forward to the Oct. 31 Caps vs. Panthers game on CSN+ to check to see if I don’t have another channel I’m supposed to have.

I wonder how much of all of this has to deal with this unique territory where rival NHL teams from two markets are shown on local TV channels. And how much has to deal with Xfinity not being able to separate this tiny market from its Pennsylvania customers because its local office is based in Meyersdale, Pa., after shutting down its Frostburg office last year.

I don’t know the answers to those questions, and I want to know.

But really knowing why not is not as important as knowing when I will get the NHL Network.

Old Washington Capitals in New Places as NHL Training Camps Begin

It’s too real, guys.

Like seeing your girlfriend with another guy in the case of Mike Green with the Red Wings.

Or something more subtle, like asking Curtis Glencross “Did you get new glasses?” when you see him on a PTO with the Maple Leafs … but can’t even seem to find a photo of him as a Maple Leaf invitee.

So, here’s a photo and video round-up of Caps from last season, along with some other prominent ex-Caps, in strange new surroundings:

Mike Green, Red Wings

Mike Green practices with the Detroit Red Wings (Instagram @detroitredwings)

Mike Green practices with the Detroit Red Wings (Instagram @detroitredwings)

Green Life 52 is now Green Life 25, a number he was more familiar with while playing in Hershey.  Squeezed out from his contract and depth in the organization, Greenie gotta go.

Two to three seasons ago, Caps fans would be less disappointed if Green was traded, having his value somewhat decrease from injuries and the defensive mistakes he was making while his offense dipped. Last season, he really turned things around and we had to let him walk and not get anything in return. Godspeed on your Vespa, sir.

Troy Brouwer, Blues

Troy Brouwer [Video Screenshot: St. Louis Blues]

Troy Brouwer [Video Screenshot: St. Louis Blues]

The 2015 Winter Classic hero was traded in the offseason for T.J. Oshie and is also sporting No. 36 instead of No. 20 that he wore in D.C., because it’s worn by captain Alexander Steen.

Pheonix Copley, Blues

Mainly forgotten in the Brouwer/Oshie trade is goaltending prospect Pheonix Copley, who went from raw prospect to someone who could be a stud in the stable after his past season with Hershey.

Couldn’t find any good photos of Copley practicing, but we have his new pads, which is enough said for a goalie:

Michal Neuvirth, Flyers

Neuvy bounced around last year, splitting time with the Sabres and Islanders while dealing with injuries. Now he’s with yet another bitter Caps rival:

Eric Fehr, Penguins

Here’s a bowl full of awkward. Fehr scored in the 2011 Winter Classic against the Pens in Pittsburgh. Before he even landed in Pittsburgh, he stopped in Cincinnati to see the Pittsburgh Pirates play. The black and gold is striking enough even if it’s one of the other Steel City teams.

Because Fehrsie is rehabbing an injury (look at my shocked face), there aren’t any good photos of him on the ice other than this Sasquatch sighting:

Steve Oleksy, Penguins

Also joining the Dark Side is Steve “Binky” Oleksy, who mainly played with the Hershey Bears during his five years in the organization, managing to fit in over 60 games spread out over two seasons yet only saw one game with the Caps when Barry Trotz took over.

Joel Ward, Sharks

J. Randal Ward will always have a place in Caps lure for years to come and when he retires one day, I’m sure he will be welcomed with open arms back in D.C.

Wardo was the closest thing we had to Justin Williams before we got Justin Williams, scoring an OT GWG in Game 7 against the Bruins in 2012 and the amazing GWG with 1.3 seconds left in Game 1 against the New York Islanders.

He’s looking sharp in teal, especially in these throwback sweaters that will be worn in San Jose this year.

Alex Semin, Canadiens

Sasha Cares. At least on the first scrimmage of preseason. Semin, a sniper sorely missed in D.C., despite his perceived shortcomings. OK, a little soapboxing right now. Yes, he took a lot of slashing penalties. And he was hot and cold, but I remember another Cap great who had the same issues: Peter Bondra. /endrant.

After being bought out by the Hurricanes because he lost a step and didn’t buy in. From looking at how the Hurricanes played last year, a lot of guys didn’t buy in. Now he’s in Montreal on a one-year deal, wearing lucky No. 13.

And he’s sniping Carey Price in practice:

Tomas Fleischmann, Canadiens

Joining his one-time Caps line-mate in Montreal is Tomas Fleischmann, but Flash is in a tough spot. He’s on a pro tryout. Semin has a perception and baggage, but he has skill and proved he can pot 40 goals.

Flash is a good two-way player but the expectations always have been he should be producing more offense, whether that was in Washington, Florida, Colorado, Anaheim and now he has to prove it in Montreal. This is his sixth NHL Club, being drafted by the Red Wings.

Boyd Gordon, Coyotes

One of the Capitals who had to survive through the ugly rebuild, Gordon overcame groin injuries during his time in D.C., and was a face-off specialist until younger, cheaper options came through.

He’s returning for a second tour of duty in Glendale thanks to a trade from the Edmonton Oilers, which is probably the worst time to be traded from the Oilers given Connor McDavid is now on the team with essentially, an all-new team.

So again, Gordon plays on a team that is in the midst of the rebuild, does OK, and is dispatched before the team will get better. And now he’s on the very much so rebuilding Yotes.

Dishonorable Mention

Curtis Glencross, Maple Leafs

A trade-deadline acquisition from Calgary, he started off well in his first couple games then fell off a cliff. One-hundred percent bust, from regular season through the playoffs.

He went from scoring .58 points per game in Calgary to .38 with the Caps in 18 games. Then he was scratched in a few games in the playoffs, and scored one meaningless goal in 10 games.

Now, he’s on a PTO with the Maple Leafs. Not only couldn’t he find the net, a scoresheet or a team that wanted to sign him, I can’t find footage or photographic proof of him in Leafs attire at camp.

As much as the Caps wanted to forget his time here, nobody even wants to remember

Unsurprisingly, NHL arenas implementing walk-through metal detectors: Report

Considering the horrid shooting massacres the U.S. (and even Canada) has experienced over the years, it should not come as a surprise that NHL arenas are stepping up security.

The NHL is requiring walk-through metal detectors at all arena entrances this seasons, according to a report from the Edmonton Sun about Rexall Place getting the new equipment in its final season.

The most shocking news I read in all of this would have to be that in the same story about metal detectors coming to the Canadian Tire Center in Ottawa, the Senators will ban smoke breaks for fans. Guess they don’t have a contained outdoor area?

[OK that bit and a post since thankfully removed on the Edmonton Journal’s website that the metal detectors are unnecessary was also shocking.]

It’s always been weird to me that this hasn’t already happened. Security at the MCI Center/Verizon Center was always weird to me. What I thought was odd was if you showed up really early to the game, you could walk in and line up without being patted down and wouldn’t have to be wand. After a certain time, the security would have tables set up at the front door and check bags and wand fans.

Having attended Tampa Bay Lightning games the past few years in Amalie Arena, it felt odd going through the metal detectors, but never felt inconvenienced because of the long steps leading from the plaza up to an outdoor deck before you get inside. I also remember BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., having metal detectors, and you have plenty of entrances and space to spread out where lines aren’t an issue. And yes, a lack of attendance helped there.

Not all arenas have the best entrance layout. Boston really sticks out for me because you enter through the train station, cram through one timed entry, then get to another checkpoint, continue up to the next level and finally get to another level up to your seats…in the lower bowl.

In addition to Tampa already having the metal detectors, San Jose brought the metal detectors to SAP Center in March 2014 while Calgary installed its metal detectors in April 2014.

This is the most sensible of policies and considering different security techniques, nobody should be whining, really. Well, you shouldn’t whine about the metal detectors, but definitely give the person in front of you grief for not being prepared. Just don’t bring loose change with you and if you can help it, don’t wear a belt. That’s two major time hang-ups.

Ladies, ditch the bag, too.

From what I could find online, teams that didn’t have metal detectors set up before and will this season include Columbus, Edmonton, MinnesotaNashville, OttawaPittsburgh, TorontoWashington and Winnipeg. I’m sure there are many more.

I’m surprised that at least as of 2012, none of the arenas around New York City used metal detectors except for Barclays Center, where the Islanders will start playing.

Honestly, it wouldn’t have mattered around NYC because fans just assault each other with their fists on a nightly basis. If you’re lucky, you might get a beer shower, too.

Fantasy Hockey Broadcast Talent for MLBAM’s NHL Network

When news spread that MLBTV will oversee the NHLNetwork in the U.S., faithful viewers (and former ones) felt like this war of attrition of trying to find watchable programming was over.

MLBTV managed to pluck some of the best from ESPN, NBC and other properties whether full-time or part-time. Here’s a sampling of the major personalities from MLBTV:

  • Peter Gammons
  • Bob Costas
  • Harold Reynolds
  • Brian Kenny

And plenty of impressive former major leaguers including Hall-of-Famers Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, recent retiree Ryan Dempster and rising regional media stars including Kelly Nash, who covered the Tampa Bay Lightning for Fox’s Sun Sports.

The NFL Network, though managed by that league, has a solid talent line-up, too, including a local D.C. favorite of mine Dan Hellie.

The NHL Network’s line-up, at least what is officially listed, is small. That’s to be expected when you essentially have two shows. NHL Live, a simulcast radio show, and On The Fly, or whatever they decided to call the running highlights show.

Most of them are part-time and appear on other networks probably more than they do here. Former NHL2Night host Bill Pidto does work for MSG; Kathryn Tappen does plenty of work for NBCSN; Barry Melrose still has some ties to ESPN but has a much larger role at NHL.com and NHL Network and Kevin Weekes is always on.

Keep those guys and gals and build upon that.

After TSN lost the majority of its NHL games we see Craig Button on here a lot more, and more guest appearances by Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger.

It might be a little challenging now that NBCSN is plucking both TSN and ComcastSportsNet talent like Brian Boucher. And don’t bet on Jay and Dan leaving FoxSports1 so soon—or at all.

Whether full-time or part-time, who would else I like to see on the new NHL Network?

John Buccigross. Hockey fans have clamored to unleash Bucci’s Overtime Challenge but without the salary budget and production values, it was a pipe dream for the old variations of NHL Network to do this. Would he leave the Worldwide Leader like Rich Eisen, Peter Gammons, Brian Kelly, Dan Patrick and others?

We can only hope. His hockey contributions have lessened on ESPN.com over the years and his column shifted more to Cawlidge Hawkey than the pros—necessary to grow the sport more in the U.S., but it would help if ESPN broadcast more than the Frozen Four.

My gut on this one tells me he won’t come. He writes about his youngest boy Jack often as he shares his empathy and sympathy for all the sacrifices hockey parents make and unless Jack is ready for a billet home and make hockey is dream, I don’t see Bucci making the move unless he feels it will be nothing but a positive for his family—especially one with a teenager. (His oldest, Brett, has graduated from Miami University of Ohio.)

And if you ever read his column he wrote for USA Hockey magazine in 2010, you’d understand he takes pride in being more than the hockey guy. (And don’t call him the hockey guy.):

You see, I have always viewed hockey as an equal part of the ENTIRE American sports family. As a child, I hummed the music of NFL Films in my head while playing football next to my house and dreaming of becoming an NFL running back. I shot my Nerf basketball in the house with the CBS basketball theme in my head (“You’ll see the best of basketball on CBS.”), and I played whiffle ball every day the weather permitted.

There’s a lot more to that column, and you should read every word.

—Pierre LeBrun. Another ESPN guy (kinda), he’s all on the digital side only at ESPN.com and otherwise puts his time in at TSN where he’s kind of in no-man’s land with the rest of the hockey guys.

He’s a great scribe and a great TV personality and is in the upper halos of hockey journalists with scoops and breaking news. Just be sure that the network has a one Pierre only rule and don’t let McGuire in.

—Bob McKenzie. This would have to be in a part-time to featured correspondent role unless he’s really ready for a change. Not only is his insider information well sought after for pro hockey, his junior hockey knowledge is just as incredible. Unless the U.S. NHL Network bleeds over to Canada with the same production, I don’t see McKenzie heading South of the Border full-time.

You could argue it’s like stealing a Canadian institution, but when your network doesn’t have NHL rights anymore, you have to keep your options open. And he’s done that so far with regular NBCSN appearances.

—James Duthie. He brings wit, knows how to balance being newsy and humorous and is more loose than Bucci on-air. He likes to free wheel and improv a bit, to the point where you’re not sure if that’s Duthie or Ed Helms.

—Daryl Reaugh. A gem in Dallas who wants to transition to play-by-play, he deserves the national spotlightRazor is the best at turning phrases on-air. To me, he is the best color commentator out there, especially his early work on NHL ’99.

—Randy Hahn. When the San Jose Sharks needed change in the organization, they should have toyed with the roster more. Instead the broadcasting partners decided not to re-up another video game voice. He’s doing Edmonton Oilers broadcasts, but this guy. Oh this guy is an honest one.

—Alan May. Alan May has been the strongest addition to CSN Washington’s revamped pre-game and post-game talent, even filling in as a man between the benches during broadcasts. He’s honest, he’s quick and has great analysis of how the game’s played. When GM George McPhee was fired from the Caps, May pretty much let the door hit his ass on the way out.[Scrub to 1:00]

—Rick DiPietro. DP made the wise choice to retire after his comeback bid wasn’t meant to be, and through his unlucky streak of injuries he kept his sense of humor. That served him well when he became a radio host on ESPN New York’s “Hahn & Humpty.” Hopefully the network’s internal censors aren’t too harsh and let him spin a yarn on air, like this doozie about Bill Guerin scolding him for pissing in a shower.

Bill Lindsay. When Fox Sports Florida brought back Denis Potvin, it displaced Bill Lindsay to a smaller role either in studio more or when they could, place him between the benches where he was more valuable than ever. Bill both thinks and speaks clearly—both in his choice of words and his sound. That voice of his can self project like no other.

Greg Wyshynski. There’s no way he would give up Puck Daddy on Yahoo for the NHL Network because you’d likely face more editorial restrictions. But as a contributor with a regular segment or his own 30-minute off-beat show would do wonders for the network. He can continue to promote his Yahoo role and give us a different flavor of hockey news without working entirely for “the man.” Hey, if DC 101’s Elliott Segal can tone it down for segments for Capitals Red Line, Wyshynski would have no problem. He’s been nowhere near the lovable absurdity of Elliott In The Morning, but for hockey’s vanilla atmosphere it’s edgy in those circles.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Chris Osgood
  • Ray Ferraro

If you notice, there’s a challenge in finding former star forwards not named Jeremy Roenick who want to work in TV for hockey. A lot of the dynamic personalities make their home with Sportsnet and CBC (Don Cherry, Glenn Healey) that could create great TV.

But this list building upon the existing NHL Network staff would at least be a good start.

Oshie to Caps: It’s a Great Day For America

I’m glad I reserved judgment of the Caps’ moves, or lack thereof, until Thursday.

In consecutive days, the Capitals signed Game Seven Hero Justin Williams and traded for All-American Hero T.J. Oshie. 

I was afraid general manager Brian MacLellan would fall back in a conservative mode like his predecessor and former boss, George McPhee, and be reticent to make major offseason trades, so the young players would replenish the stock with the core.

MacLellan is definitely bold but let’s see what the results are before we proclaim victory.

My concern about the lack of big movement wasn’t solely motivated by what Pittsburgh did bringing in Phil Kessel. But instead looking at what the Tampa Bay Lightning and others did to rectify postseason failure in a hurry.

It’s scary to see how machine-like Yzerman moved through last summer to get rid of deadweight and use the return, even if it was just draft picks, to identify the exact type of player he needed in free agency and trades. The deft hand got the Bolts within two wins of the Stanley Cup.

What helped Yzerman was that the Bolts were swept out of the first round the previous season. Despite the close games on the scoresheet, it was clear what he needed and went out and got it. (Except a healthy goalie all the time when Ben Bishop’s groin broke down at the worst time.)

For whatever reason, the Caps convinced no matter what, they were only just one or two players away.

Smart general managers know they can’t buy their way into the Stanley Cup via free agency. They need to draft, develop and have smart trades. Sure, a couple free agents help in the process.

For whatever reason, changing the core with the Caps has taken longer.

At the same time, we all wish that giddy feeling when in 2009 Sergei Fedorov scored the GWG in a Game 7 against the Rangers would last forever, especially into the next round against the Penguins.

The last time the Caps were swept out of the playoffs, by the Lightning no less in the second round, was in 2011.

Here’s what McPhee did:

  • Traded for Troy Brouwer
  • Signed prospect Mattias Sjogren, who didn’t pan out and didn’t want to play in the AHL to get to the Caps
  • Signed Jeff Halpern after being away from the club for years
  • Traded Varlamov for picks, which one of them ended up being Filip Forsberg
  • Signed Joel Ward
  • Signed Roman Hamrlik
  • Signed Tomas Vokoun
  • Traded Eric Fehr to Winnipeg for prospects who haven’t panned out
  • Acquired depth defenseman Tomas Kundratek, who was useful for a season.

So that year after bringing in Marco Sturm, Scott Hannan, Dennis Wideman and Jason Arnott—all veterans needed on a young team—it didn’t cut it.

McPhee went out and got a young player with a Cup ring for the young core to relate to, a faceoff specialist for the bottom six, a clutch playoff performer, a stay-at home defenseman to counter having Green and Carlson and another veteran goaltender to continue the carousel.

All of those types of players were what the Caps needed but it’s clear that McPhee didn’t go out and be aggressive enough to get the best players available that fit that mold. You’d think by that time his reputation with player agents and some GMs caused issues with acquiring players either via trade, even if they had to waive a NMC, or by free agency.

This all would lead to Bruce Boudreau being fired the following season and by then, there should have been turnover of the core, core and not the outer fringe of the core.

Alex Semin, Mathieu Perreault, Mike Green and Michal Neuvirth would all eventually part and all without any significant return. Two of those players lost to free agency. Perreault let go for a minor leaguer and a pick and Neuvy brought back a shaky Jaroslav Halak, who didn’t even get the Caps to the playoffs.

After Hunter got the Caps into the playoffs for two rounds, Adam Oates came in and salvaged a poor start to get the Caps into another seven-game defeat with Mike Ribeiro, Wojtek Wolski, Aaron Volpatti, Steven Olesky…and Martin Erat for the ride. Sigh.

In came Mikhail Grabovski, who was pretty good for the Caps, then deadline acquisitions Halak and Dustin Penner and an Oates disciple in Alex Urbom…who definitely er… bombed. That all exploded the careers of Oates and McPhee.

MacLellan has so far, made moves getting the Caps back to the right direction. He can’t do everything as GM and certainly can’t undo everything in his first season. It look awhile for Yzerman to undo his previous regime’s mess, but that included having to stockpile picks. Once he had those picks he could wheel and deal hard.

MacLellan’s moves to get the Caps at least back in the playoffs brought both Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen at a steep price but absolutely the right players. Taking Justin Peters as a back-up was a sacrificial lamb having to pick someone who was OK to not play so Holtby can get his game on track. It worked. Worked so well that Philip Grubauer had to spell Holtby in the playoffs because it was ages since Peters played any game.

As for Tim Gleason and Curtis Glencross…I’d give a B for Gleason and a D for Glencross.

GMBM: Year Two

Now what we’re looking at is Year Two GMBM Retool.

There’s enough turnover here saying goodbye to Joel Ward, Eric Fehr and Mike Green combined with the other players the Caps parted ways with from the former Young Guns Gang where he has to see what he has now.

He upgraded in the Playoff Clutch Scorer Category.

In Oshie, he’s great in the shootout but that doesn’t count in the playoffs. Can this finally be the winger we’ve always wanted? Can he reach that ceiling that everyone expected him to hit?

Evgeny Kuznetsov, drafted by McPhee, is finally on the team full-time and showed in the playoffs he can be a No. 2 center. Can that be sustained?

Can Burakovsky be a dominant Top Six forward that can finesse? It looks like it.

Can Tom Wilson be a Top Six Forward—the next Milan Lucic? He’s got until the trade deadline to figure it out. Right now he’s the Caps’ Brett Connolly.

Can Brooks Laich finally not put so much pressure on himself and perform? Hopefully, because we need him to be healthy enough to trade him. I don’t expect a good return on him, but at least a pick to help clear space for a bigger move.

Is Braden Holtby the franchise goalie for the Capitals? Will the Capitals be good enough for him to not play 70 games so he can rest for the playoffs?

Is Justin Williams going to be a better Mike Knuble and sustain production beyond his first season here?

Here’s what I see shaking out in the season ahead:

  • Tom Wilson is traded for a veteran bottom-six winger who has more offensive upside.
  • Justin Peters is waived before the start of the season and is either claimed or buried in the minors
  • Brooks Laich is traded to Anaheim or Los Angeles for a pick or prospect since he won’t command more thanks to his health and declining production
  • Justin Chimera will have a rebound season and be kept in Washington for his seventh season here.

Back to Brouwer, Brooks

When McPhee brought on Brouwer, everyone was excited because the team was getting a young player from the Stanley Cup champ Blackhawks. I was pumped, too, because sending a first-round pick must have meant there was a high ceiling for a player who was drafted in the sixth round.

Brouwer played well, setting career highs in Washington, but everyone thought he’d get more than 43 points. Nobody thought he’d be so healthy as to play all but one eligible game for the Caps in his four seasons.

But he became duplicative with Brooks Laich, who came up with the Bears and was still part of that core. Didn’t matter he started with the Ottawa Senators—he barely got a sniff with them before we traded Peter Bondra for him. (Funny because Blues GM Doug Armstrong said Oshie duplicated other players on his roster.)

You’d think Brooks Laich would be the better one to trade with a higher cap hit, declining results and diminishing returns in the post season. You’re not going to get good value for that in return if you want to compete, and interested teams would be wary of Laich’s rash of injuries over the last few seasons.

Instead, you load up and give up the player who makes less, plays all 82 games, contributes much more than Laich on the PP over the last few seasons.

And how can you not forget the beauty of a goal Brouwer scored in the Winter Classic this year?

If we’re comparing the past, well, Oshie isn’t all that much different on straight stats and advanced stats. Biggest difference is Oshie gets more shots to the net, unblocked, and Brouwer is better on the PK. Even that is slight.

Here, the expectations of the guy coming in are even higher. Oshie never played with guys with skill of Backstrom, Ovechkin, Kuznetzov and Burakovsky. The only player coming close to that group is Vladamir Tarasenko, who Oshie hardly played with.

Pheonix Copley shouldn’t be lost in this, but he’s expendable after the Caps selected the best available goalie in the draft. He surprised a lot of people when had to be relied on in Hershey making him wanted in St. Louis where they’re still searching for a franchise goalie.

 

For what it’s worth

After the Lightning was bounced out of the first round in 2014—after not making the post-season the year before—here’s what Yzerman did last summer:

  • Acquired Jason Garrison and rights to prospect Jeff Costello for picks
  • Traded Teddy Purcell to Edmonton for Sam Gagner, flipped Gagne for a sixth-round pick while shipping out B.J. Crombeen to clear salary and contract counts
  • Traded Nate Thompson to Anaheim for fourth- and seventh-round picks in another salary dump and to clear contracts to do the following:
  • Signed Brian Boyle, Anton Stralman,Brenden Morrow and Evgeni Nabokov—the last two to one-year deals
  • Bought out Ryan Malone following his cocaine arrest and trial

Then to round-out the team:

  • Waived Richard Panik following opening night
  • Traded Eric Brewer for a pick
  • Traded once heralded prospect Brett Connelly to Boston for picks
  • Traded promising defenseman Radko Gudas for Brayden Coburn
  • Forced Nabokov into retirement

That’s how you shake up your core, shed salary and use prospects and young stars wisely thanks to a well-stocked system of even younger players waiting for a roster spot. And all of that was after saying goodbye to Marty St. Louis and previously, Vincent Lecavalier.

I don’t think anyone can mirror the Blackhawks no matter how hard they try. It takes a lot of luck with loaded contracts panning out into championships paired with incredibly smart amateur and pro scouting.

It’s been Kane, Toews, Hossa, Sharp, Seabrook, Keith and anyone else along for the ride for at least two of the three Cups.

Final Thought

When we’re talking teams in the Stanley Cup Finals—win or lose—are we ready to say this group of defenseman, without Mike Green now, is better? Or is worthy of a Stanley Cup Finals appearance?

Right now it’s floating somewhere in between the 2012 New Jersey Devils, 2011 Vancouver Canucks, 2008 Pittsburgh Penguins and 2013 Boston Bruins. The Flyers, Rangers and Lightning all had better bluelines that still lost out.

Without any changes you have Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen, John Carlson, Karl Alzner, hopefully a health Dimitri Orlov and Taylor Chorney with Connor Carrick and Sean Collins filling in when necessary. Hell, we may even have a Christian Djoos sighting.

A healthy Orlov could have made Green expendable earlier in his career. Now, I don’t even remember how the guy plays and don’t know if he still has it. I sure hope Orlov does.

At least in that Top 4, do you equate them with Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Doughty, Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Zdeno Chara and yes, even Andrew Ference who’s had three SCF appearances?

Not until they get to the finals.

 

Leafs were sick and tired of Steve Simmons

I’m sure everyone would agree that this piece by Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun was, uh, harsh on Phil Kessel. You would have thought that the guy got caught with prescription drugs at the border or something, but instead it’s fat shaming for a guy who’s a hell of lot fitter than any of us and a guy whining why can’t you score 60 goals! But it’s a much enjoyable read when you replace every Phil Kessel reference with Steve Simmons’ name (and a couple minor adjustments for player to writer references). h/t to Japers Rink for the link to the hit piece of the year.

And here we go:

Leafs were sick and tired of Steve Simmons

By Steve Simmons

The hot dog vendor who parks daily at Front and John Sts. just lost his most reliable customer.

Almost every afternoon at 2:30 p.m., often wearing a toque, Steve Simmons would wander from his neighbourhood condominium to consume his daily snack.

And now he’s gone. Just like that. The Maple Leafs could no longer stomach having Simmons around, the first player to be both punished and rewarded for the saddest Leafs season in history. The Leafs held their breath, plugged their noses, and ostensibly gave Simmons to The Onion because they couldn’t stand having him around anymore.

Really, this was as much about illness and insomnia as anything else: The Leafs were sick and tired of Simmons.

Sick of his act. Tired of his lack of responsibility. Unwilling to begin any reset or rebuild with their highest-paid, most talented, least-dedicated player. He didn’t eat right, train right, play right. This had to happen for Brendan Shanahan to begin his rebuilding of the Leafs. Separation between the Leafs and Simmons became necessary when it grew more and more apparent with time that everything Shanahan values was upended by Simmons’ singular, laissez-faire, flippant, mostly uncoachable ways.

It doesn’t matter that the Leafs didn’t get much for Simmons. It doesn’t matter that the writers they received for Simmons are probably named “if” and “but,” and the interns won’t translate into anything before 2019. None of that matters as coach Mike Babcock begins his new era of hope in September.

What matters is that Simmons is gone. That who he is, what he represents, what he isn’t, had to be removed from the ice, from the dressing room, from the road, from the restaurants — from everywhere. They couldn’t have him around anymore and be honest about the direction they intend to pursue. Everything they believe in for the future is almost everything Simmons has proven to be lacking in.

A Leafs front-office voice recently spoke about the two largest influences on any player. One comes from the coach. The other comes from the player who sits beside you on the bench. Those are the voices you hear most often.

For Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk, that voice belonged to Simmons.

If the voice is negative, critical, disruptive, condescending of players, critical of coaches, critical of fans, then that impacts more than just the player doing the talking. It poisons the environment. It brings players down. It cuts into their effectiveness. It establishes the kind of mood no team wants.

The right kind of leadership can make a team greater. The wrong kind can destroy it.

The second-half Leafs were the most destroyed team in Toronto history. The flag carrier of despair was Simmons. He wrote like he didn’t care, insulted the jersey, the paying public, the people watching at home, the interim coaching staff. He wasn’t alone.

But he was the only one making $80,000 a year. He was the only one truly entrusted to make an offensive difference. He was the only one who seemed to take people down with him.

When Dave Nonis was fired, when the Leafs scouting staff was fired, when the coaches were fired, it finally turned to the players. Simmons was the first to go. He won’t be the last. But sending him packing first was necessary. The message was necessary. The tone was necessary. This won’t be tolerated any longer.

Even if this is a Vince Carter-type of trade — the kind that may bring next to nothing in return. Carter quit on the Raptors. In a different kind of way, Simmons quit on the Leafs before they quit on him.

Kasperi Kapanen is a Leaf now. His stock has been dropping since Pittsburgh used a first-round pick to select him. Some people consider him a future third-liner, if he has a future in the NHL at all.

Scott Harrington is a Leaf now. He played four years for Mark Hunter’s London Knights. When they couldn’t come away with one of the Penguins’ better defensive prospects, they settled on the competitive Harrington. He is an AHL skater, scouts tell me. Maybe he’ll play in the NHL. Maybe not.

The best part of the deal is the lottery-protected first-round pick for next June’s draft. It’s nice to have that kind of pick going forward. But expect a choice between 20 and 30. That’s a long shot. Maybe three years away. Maybe more.

And you have to figure Simmons is good to write 40 inches or more reporting alongside either Bob Errey or Rob Rossi in Pittsburgh. And, still, this is a deal the Leafs had to make. A deal that was necessary.

They had to move Simmons out. They had to have him off the roster by the time Babcock begins training camp in September. You can’t have him half-assing skating drills with a team trying to learn how to work. You can’t have him being first off the ice with a team pushing to reach Babcock’s lofty goals. When you have an illness, you must get rid of the poison.

The Leafs did that on Wednesday. They treated their own infection — the Penguins playing the part of antibiotic. It doesn’t matter what they got for Simmons. What matters is he’s gone.

See you soon Tampa

If my flight doesn’t get delayed anymore, I’ll probably be in a St. Pete watering hole catching the conclusion of Game 6.

I’m going to be glued to my iPad on the plane watching the Lightning preventing an early end to the season so I can be part of something special: Game 7 in Tampa for the Stanley Cup.

I don’t want a touchdown at PIE to lead to a letdown when I hit the road to find the nearest TV. Hell, that just mean going over to the Clearwater Ice Arena just to see the end of the game. 

Tampa Bay doesn’t deserve disappointment on the national stage. The city and region, frankly have been resilient over the last six years, watching home values finally climb back after a nasty housing collapse. Seeing hope being built from Channelside, north to a new ice rink complex in Wesley Chapel, bustling retail and amateur sports boom in Sarasota to the south and craft beer breweries bubbling up in every neighborhood in between. 

Tampa didn’t arrive in 2004. Metaphorically, that championship crowned a race to the top by everyone chasing the dollar before the party came crashing down hard. It’s appropriate that the lockout wiped away the following season. And it only got worse in terms of diminishing results for the Lightning to a point where new ownership came in to make it seemed like Florida Man was running the team’s news ticker.

Now, you have everything in place that makes Tampa an exciting hockey market, place to live and work with hopefully a fully realized arena district.

I owe it to the Lightning for making hockey exciting for me again. When I moved away from Maryland, my frustration with the Caps were at an all-time high. I watched a Lightning team in transition that reminded me a lot of the Caps when Glen Hanlon was writing his own pink slip as George McPhee stocked the organization with enough talent to win two Calder Cups in Hershey in short time thanks to an up-and-coming coach who could coach goals to pour out of his roster. 
Guy Boucher was in a similar position with a defensive system that also grew old and in came Calder Cup prospects and eventually Jon Cooper. The key difference is that Cooper quickly learned he needed defensive adjustments and having a veteran of an associate coach like Rick Bowness sped up that learning curve as well as having guys from Andreychuck to  Yzerman supporting the organization.

I don’t have tickets for Game 7, nor could I afford them. Would I do anything to get in Amalie Arena for free? Of course but being in the streets of Tampa to celebrate, to be in the moment is all I’m asking for. 

Thats all we should ever want, too: 

Be in the moment. Be in the clouds.

Be the thunder.

Comcast shuts out Caps, Wizards fans for CSN+ games in Western Maryland

This is what Allegany County Comcast Xfinity viewers saw on their guide Tuesday but were unable to watch the Washington Capitals game because instead of NBCSN carrying the game as shown, it was carried on CSN+. Comcast in Allegany County does not carry CSN+.

This is what Allegany County Comcast Xfinity viewers saw on their guide Monday but were unable to watch the Washington Capitals game because instead of NBCSN carrying the game as shown, it was carried on CSN+. Comcast in Allegany County does not carry CSN+.

Update: A marketing representative from Comcast SportsNet MidAtlantic reached out to me Monday to investigate the issue.

Early indicators show that this is some sort of delivery issue.

The representative explained that CSN+ should be The Comcast Network in my area and ought to be Channel 6 in Frostburg.

After some searching, I found The Comcast Network but it’s on Channel 125 and it gets weirder. The game still didn’t air that night in Frostburg on The Comcast Network. When the Comcast Xfinity agent was trying to resolve the issue, he reactivated my box t make sure I’m getting the right channels.

I saw The Comcast Network flip on but on the channel CSN should be on.  After the system fully adjusted itself, it went back to the way it was. The Comcast Network ended up airing a MMA fight that night.

I haven’t heard back from the representative since I gave her this additional information but it sounds like the wrong feed of The Comcast Network is being sent here. The next opportunity to find out is April 4 when the Washington Wizards’ game is suppose to air.

I’ll post any updates if I receive them.

Original post: Not a lot of people crave to see the Caps play the lowly Buffalo Sabres this year on TV, but with points on the board for Washington’s playoff race, every game matters.

Somewhere in the mess, it didn’t matter to someone at Comcast or its partners for awhile.

Monday’s game between the Caps and the Sabres aired nationally on NBCSN except in the Baltimore/Washington market where the game aired on Comcast Sports Net Mid-Atlantic Plus, or CSN+.

CSN+ was used thanks in part for CSN broadcasting the Washington Wizards and Portland TrailBlazers NBA game.

I realize this is more than the Caps. The Wizards are on CSN+ for 12 games this season. Ted Leonsis, you might want to give Ed Snider a call about this and get it fixed because you’re missing eyeballs you ought to be entitled to.

In Allegany and Garrett counties, here in far Western Maryland, you couldn’t watch that Caps game on TV. The same goes for the other eight games CSN+ aired this year because Comcast in this area does not carry the overflow channel, CSN+. Yes, the normal CSN MidAtlantic is carried.

Why Comcast doesn’t carry an overflow channel within its own company, I just don’t understand. I couldn’t get an answer either. I’ll get more into that later.

Allegany and Garrett counties are in a weird area that has blackout exceptions for the NHL. Comcast carries both CSN and Root here so both Caps and Pittsburgh Penguins games can be aired. I know how much that violates some of you. I do kind of feel dirty watching the Pens when nothing else is on. (Of late, I can watch both of the Caps and Pens on the NHL GameCenter app without blackout restriction either, but I don’t know if that’s because it’s the end of the season, similar to what the NHL did during the first month.)

On the TV guide menu, the game said it was being aired on NBCSN here. I tuned in and it was Barclays Premier League soccer. CSN+ was nowhere to be found and I tried even punching in channel numbers that it could be without any help. The only way I could watch last night’s game was the livestream on NBCSN’s website, which interrupts live action with commercials.

I went online and talked to a Comcast agent just to be sure. The transcript is attached and you’ll see the guy did as much as he could to figure this out, even reactivating my box. After all of this and as much as I could explain to someone about blackouts and such, he determined that Comcast doesn’t carry CSN+ here regardless of package. Visit CSN’s channel finder and you’ll find the same thing. Try typing in 21532, the Frostburg ZIP code and you’ll only see DirecTV—a competitor of Comcast.

I wrote emails to Comcast, CSN Mid-Atlantic and the Washington Capitals last night imploring them to get Comcast to carry CSN+. Frostburg, especially, is a host to at least a few thousands students and professionals from the Baltimore and D.C. area during the hockey season thanks to the chief enrollment figures from my employer, Frostburg State University. Actually, more than 91 percent of students are from the Capitals’ broadcast territory. [Note: This blog is a personal project and is no way endorsed by FSU nor do the opinions reflect employees or students of the university.]

If I knew where in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia other students are from, the figure would be higher. Of note, Comcast subscribers in Franklin County, Pa., have CSN+, and were able to watch Monday’s Capitals games.

The audience is here. Cellular carriers AT&T, Verizon and TMobile have acknowledged how many people with their plans are up this way and have made or are in the middle of upgrading towers to serve its customers in a new area. I hope the same thing can be said for Comcast and CSN+, especially in a territory where Penguins games are also available on TV.

I’d switch TV providers but the rural area here is bound to limited choices. Comcast is the only cable provider. Satellite is available with DirecTV and Dish Network, but if you want high-speed Internet that’s faster than DSL, Comcast is your only option. And Comcast, much like other companies, won’t allow you only to subscribe to Internet service at certain speeds (like 25Mbs) that would make it easy to cut cable completely.

I know this is a small potatoes blog. I don’t update much, but when it comes to hockey and access, I’m all words.

Here’s the transcript: Xfinity-Chat-Transcript-Caps-Sabres