THE GREAT EXPANSION VOL 6

New York’s sports teams will never be ‘small market’ but in the world of hockey procurement during the sponsorship era the NYR were puny.

I refuse to get into the exact details of the ‘sponsorship’ system that was the NHL’s procurement plan before the universal draft. I will tell you that much of what you read on the internet isn’t true–NHL teams didn’t carve up Canada by region or territory. There were NO territorial rights. Clubs did have rights to players on their ‘sponsorship’ list and there were no territories involved; the key item was getting a kid’s name on something called ‘agreements’–A, B, or C. A agreements were for tryouts, B agreements that allowed players to decide if they wanted to sign with an NHL team–that’s how Jean Beliveau got to stay in Quebec for a time–and the C agreement. For “C” contracts the player had to be 18 years old, and once he signed it the NHL team owned his rights forever–they could renew until he dropped dead. Now I’m getting long winded here but this is important and we’ll get to it. From what I can tell, a player could sign an “A” form at birth–Bobby Orr would have been 14 when he signed his agreement. Crazy. The next time someone shouts “kill all the lawyers” we’d do well to remember that a great hockey icon signed his life away when he was a little kid.

NHL teams could have several clubs in their system each season, and they could protect players for each team. And this wasn’t just at the pro level, it went all the way to the juniors and then below to midget level. I want to show you an example of how big the Leafs and Habs were in terms of grabbing talent and the massive numbers they dealt with, but that is a chapter unto itself and dry reading. So let me say this: adding up the parent teams, minor pro, Jr A, Jr B and their midget and feeder teams, Montreal had 26 teams under their care in 1965-66. New York? 15.

What did this mean? Montreal grabbed the cream, and then sold or traded their leftovers for money or better players. New York traded their stars, their Worsley’s and their Bathgate’s, because they had to. NEW YORK traded star players because they had to do it. The sponsorship era helped only the rich and they took full advantage of it.

It also meant–as we’ll see below–that unlike Montreal, Toronto and Boston, the Rangers pullbacks and set free lists consisted mostly of players acquired from other teams (usually the Canadian clubs). And those players came in return for the Rangers’ best veterans; in this way the 50s and 60s New York Rangers resembled the Edmonton Oilers of the Doug Weight-Bill Guerin era (although their veterans were traded at an older age).

That all changed with the universal draft, and for New York it came a few years early. More later. The Rangers were an oddball combination of castoffs and old men mixed in with a quality player who came through the system now and then. Bathgate, Worsley, Harry Howell, they were followed by the generation that included Jim Neilson, Jean Ratelle and Rod Gilbert, but the clusters were never strong or deep enough to sustain a contender year over year.

They had talent 1967 summer, but most of it had been developed elsewhere.  The top players on the 66-67 team boasted only Rod Gilbert, Jean Ratelle and Jim Neilson as home grown contributors. Orland Kurtenbach had come up through the system but meandered through other cities before arriving back in the big Apple.

The Rangers kept two good ones in the expansion draft–Eddie Giacomin (L) and Gilles Villemure (R). Giacomin played 506 NHL games after expansion, Villemure 200. Rangers lost two good ones too, Cesare Maniago (513 NHL games) and Wayne Rutledge (82 NHL games and then a solid WHA career). We’ll get into this during the Oakland post, but the Rangers also held the playing rights to a retired player, Jacques Plante.

 THE BLUE SHIRTS BLEED RED ON EXPANSION DAY

NEW YORK’S PULLBACKS

  1. Reg Fleming 288
  2. Red Berenson 821
  3. Larry Mickey 276
  4. Bob Plager 615
  5. Paul Andrea 146
  6. Gary Sabourin 627
  7. George Konik 52
  8. Dunc McCallum 185
  9. Bob Jones 2
  10. Bob Blackburn 135
  11. Bob Ash 0
  12. Bill Knibbs 0
  13. Ron Ingram 0
  14. Gord Vejprava 0
  15. Wayne Hall 0

This is a pretty strong list of pullbacks. Berenson, Plager and Sabourin would be traded soonafter the expansion draft, but the Rangers had some nice things in their system. NYR pulled back 3,147 NHL games–an impressive total–and three or four of these fellows were good players. Berenson would end up being one of the very best players of the expansion era, and his dominance of the western division is the stuff of legend. That’s him in the photo above with something resembling a mask.

SET FREE

  1. Earl Ingarfield 219
  2. Al MacNeil 74
  3. Bill Hicke 274
  4. Rod Seiling 844
  5. Larry Cahan 283
  6. Noel Picard 319
  7. Bryan Campbell 260
  8. Ken Schinkel 371
  9. Doug Robinson 126
  10. Jim Johnson 294
  11. Bill Collins 768
  12. Ron Boehm 16
  13. Ken Block 1
  14. Sandy Fitzpatrick 18
  15. Bryan Hextall 528

This is a helluva list. Seiling (who would be re-acquired after the draft) had a long career and Bill Collins was also effective for a long time. Neither came up through the system however; Toronto had traded both of them in a deal for Andy Bathgate. Once again, the rich getting richer, as the Leafs won Stanley that year (1964) and the acquisition of Bathgate was deemed to be a big part of it.

The Rangers lost a lot in the expansion draft, but much of it came via trades with Toronto and Montreal. Berenson (Mont), Seiling (Tor), Collins (Tor), Hicke (Mont) were probably the best players available from the Rangers that day, and none of them came through the New York system.

NHL GAMES PLAYED BY THOSE ‘SET FREE’

  1. Boston 6,933
  2. Toronto 4,439
  3. New York 4,395
  4. Montreal 3,801
  5. Chicago 2,983

The damndest thing happened in 1966. Brad Park came through the Toronto system, signing forms all the way and remaining the property of the club. When it came time to sign the C form–and own his ass forever–they dropped the ball. Quoting Legends of Hockey:

  • At the age of fifteen, Brad was just slightly over five feet tall. Looking back, Toronto Maple Leafs executive King Clancy stated, “I don’t know how we let him get away. I have never seen a young player with as much poise as he showed.” In April 1966, Rangers’ scout Steve Bklacich urged the Rangers to sign Park, who was up for grabs. “I was drafted by the Rangers as a midget, but somehow, I never thought of playing for them,” Brad admits. For $3,000, the Rangers picked up a prospect who would become the cornerstone of the franchise for seven years. “Going to New York was the best thing that could have happened to me,” states Park. “There was more chance for a young defenseman to make a name there than in Toronto.

He was right as rain.

One final note. In 1966, a man named Al Ritchie passed away. He was a legendary scout, and procured Dick Irvin, Johnny Gottselig, Gordon Pettinger, Freddie Metcalfe, Murray Armstrong, the Warwick Brothers, Babe Pratt, Scotty Cameron, Huddy Bell, Jim Henry, Bill Giokas, Dunc Fisher, Gus Kyle and many other old timers. From 1933 until he died, Ritchie worked for the Rangers and sent quality talent east from Western Canada. If I ever win a lottery, I’ll write a book about him.

Up next: Gordie’s team and the crazy world of Sid Abel behind a desk.

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12 Responses to "THE GREAT EXPANSION VOL 6"

  1. blackdog says:

    Johnny Gottselig? Wasn’t he the captain of the Hawks when they won one or both of their Cups in the 30s? Now that’s old timey.

    You’ve read the Joyce book right LT? I believe he references Ritchie and iirc he discovered Gordie Howe and wanted the Rangers to sign him but they passed. Does that ring a bell? Great story.

  2. Bruce McCurdy says:

    blackdog: Johnny Gottselig? Wasn’t he the captain of the Hawks when they won one or both of their Cups in the 30s? Now that’s old timey.

    Johnny Gottselig was captain of the 1938 Hawks, and one of if not the first natives of Russia (Odessa) to play in the NHL. The captain of the 1934 Hawks was the legendary Charlie Gardiner, who remains the only goaltender to captain a Stanley Cup champ. Gardiner died just a few weeks after that triumph, at age 29. In another universe the Vezina Trophy is called the Gardiner Trophy.

    “I have never seen a young player with as much poise as he showed.”

    Who cares about poise, was Park any good? Oh, right …

  3. Ryan says:

    Sorry to drag the arena topic into this fine thread…

    I was curious about the assumptions made by VOR in his projections:

    “If we assume a third of the years in the 35 year deal are sold out, one third average the same capacity as the Oilers over the last 20 years, and one third are at the worst capacity 73% and that concerts and other bookings move in tandem then you would expect Mr. Katz to make $260,000,000 over the 35 years as a result of the current deal. Sounds good right? “

    Now, I’m no accountant, but that sounds like a worst-case scenario projection. Off the top of my head, those numbers would equate to selling less seats in the new arena than selling out Rexall Place.

    Typically, with projections, it makes sense to do different models (worst-case, average, best-case scenarios) at the very least.

    From Wikipedia, Rexall Place seats 16,839 for hockey vs. the arena project’s estimated 18,500 seats. Not accounting for differences in type of seats, box seats, etc. that’s a difference of 1661 seats.

    Using your estimate, that would equate on the hockey side at least of selling:
    16839 (based on a sold out Rexall, I don’t have their average seat sales for the past 20 years).
    18500
    13505
    For an average of: 16281

    Granted, my average number is higher than that in your projection because I used a sold-out Rexall instead of the average seat sales over the past 20 years. Given that the city’s population has increased by over 33% during that time period, I’m not sure why you chose to input that into your projection at all.

    Despite all of your accounting accumen, it appears that your projections are based on the assumption that Mr. Katz’s hockey ticket sales fall below the level of selling out our current arena. Is it then a wonder why your numbers don’t make sense? Never mind factoring playoff revenue, interest compounded on profits invested after annual returns, etc…

  4. Ryan says:

    The other problem as Woodguy pointed out is that your comparison is him putting $100 million into savings bonds today and compounding that return over 35 years. Given that the $150 m is a lease cost over 35 years, that comparison is completely flawed. At the same time whatever revenue he earns on a per annum basis isn’t exactly going to be non-interest generating funds sitting in his basement.

    I’d be curious, however, if you were to run the numbers again with a more reasonable set of projection assumptions along with some element of playoff revenue and accumulated compound interest on his annual profits.

    As well, I think the other problem with your projections is using Northlands data for operating costs. Given that Northlands is a “non-profit” entity, I’d be curious as to what their payroll structure and an actual break-down of their expenses are like. Granted, I wouldn’t assume that these numbers are publicly available.

  5. Moosemess says:

    Ryan:
    Sorry to drag the arena topic into this fine thread…

    This must drive LT crazy, but I would imagine it’s unavoidable given the topicality and contentiousness of this issue at the moment.

    Listened to the guys discussing this on the Team this morning and they echoed the beliefs of many that it would be all but impossible for Katz to move the team because it would require approval of the league? Naturally this leads to a further mistaken belief that the City should wield the hammer in these negotiations, because despite the fact that we have the 2nd oldest arena in the league, we just gosh darn love our hockey here, we fill the building and that has to count for something?!

    To people sharing this belief, I would ask, why do you think the deal got so much worse when Mandel visited Katz and Bettman in NY? I would suggest Bettman made it exceedingly clear in those meetings that should the City fail to provide a suitable building for this team (suitable in the league’s estimation), the league would support the franchise’s move to another market.

    Katz doesn’t want to move the team. The NHL doesn’t want the team moved. But rest assured, if the City does nothing about this arena situation, then Edmonton will not be considered to be a ‘major league’ market by the NHL no matter how many consecutive sellouts our undersized concrete donut can boast.

    Complacency is not an option on this one. And it bears repeating, the cost of this arena is a drop in the bucket percentage wise compared to the City’s overall capital budget. People get too sidetracked on the fact that this building will be operated by a billionaire, when they should be considering it along the lines of other infrastructure investments like the Museum, Winspear, Expo Centre, etc.

  6. Mr DeBakey says:

    I refuse to get into the exact details of the ‘sponsorship’ system that was the NHL’s procurement plan before the universal draft.

    I suggest everyone read “Skates McGonigle” by Leslie McFarlane.
    Its a novel – fun, old-timey stuff.
    The tale is focussed on NHL player procurement in the Mines League of Northern Ontario during the sponsorship era.
    OK, focussed is too strong a word. How about spins crazily around NHL player procurement?

    Written in 1966, Its was back in print a few years ago so there are a few new, and many slightly used, copies available via the intertubes.

  7. commonfan14 says:

    If the city had never had an NHL team, and getting one suddenly became a real possibility, I wonder what people would be willing to shell out to make it happen.

    Seattle played hard ball with their evil billionaire owner over building a new arena and it cost them a Sonics team with 40+ years of history in the town, including a championship, and right before the team turned into a powerhouse contender on the backs of the young stars it had drafted.

    Now Seattle is willing to do pretty much whatever is necessary to get a team back, even though they know it won’t be quite the same and the team won’t be nearly as good.

    It isn’t fun, and I’ve grown to hate Katz for the way this has all gone, but there are lessons to be learned from the Seattle experience.

    At least Katz didn’t buy the team with the intent to move it – although he could still sell it to somebody who does intent to do that. Seattle fans could tell us about that, too.

  8. DSF says:

    Moosemess,

    Excellent post.

    Most of those who believe Edmonton will have an NHL team in perpetuity just because it is a city with rabid hockey fans, obviously don’t understand that filling one of the smallest arenas in the league is far from enough to ensure that.

    From Katz himself in his interview with Staples and MacKinnon at the Journal.

    “DK: The reality is we need a new arena. The city needs one. The arena doesn’t generate enough for us to build it ourselves, especially if we’re not going to own it, that it has huge benefits to the city that warrant public investment.

    (No. 1,) it locks up the Oilers and the NHL for 35 years, and that’s pretty important;

    (No. 2,) You gain an iconic landmark that can transform the city’s identity;

    (No. 3) Enormous, expanded tax base, including multi-billion-dollar CRL;

    (No. 4) Major catalyst for much-needed revitalization of our downtown core;

    (No. 5) Billions of new investment downtown;

    (No. 6) New sports-and-entertainment district;

    (No. 7) Stronger draw for people to work, live and play downtown, which helps all our employers.

    The city has been focused on the downside risks of the project, which is appropriate, but they also have to look at the benefits. We have to think about the city’s future and design a future boldly and with some confidence, OK? We need a P3 that can sustain the Oilers that is commensurate with other small markets. That’s what we need. That’s all we’re asking for, and we’re willing to partner with the city to meet this need and capitalize on this opportunity. But we can only do so on terms that are fair and make sense for both parties.”

    And this:

    “DK: So this has to be a private-public partnership. I don’t think anybody denies that. Now, Edmonton is a great hockey town, not necessarily a great hockey market. We have the best and the most knowledgeable and, to be honest, loyal fans in the NHL. That’s what we believe. But Edmonton is tied for the smallest media market in the league by far, and we have the lowest percentage of corporate season-ticket holders. And in already a small market, you guys, we have to compete with a taxpayer-subsidized facility currently being renovated at public expense to better compete with us. You know who that is?”

    Those engaging in knee jerk reactions to Katz really need to read the entire interview before engaging their vocal chords:

    http://blogs.edmontonjournal.com/2012/09/18/daryl-katz-speaks-out-on-arena-full-transcript-of-interview/

  9. VOR says:

    I want very briefly to respond.

    Typically, if I was doing this sort of analysis for a client I would not only do the three typical cases I would identify a number of parameters that had the biggest impact and hold everything else constant while I changed those. I’d do break even analysis and equity ratios and quick ratios and whatever else they would pay me for. I’d look at payback times and Project and Equity IRRs.

    I just did a set for a client where we ended up to date with 120 spread sheets and 72 spider charts. That project is now at 300 manhours. Bluntly, doing a detailed analysis of this deal would require several thousand man hours.

    In this case I was simply trying to figure out for myself if the deal is as bad as we think. I did some I&E and cash flow proformas. I was a bit surprised by what I found.

    While the deal is bad for the City (and at some point I will bore you all by explaining why) that wasn’t news. However, the deal as explained in the local press and on the City’s website is also bad for Katz. My quick and dirty summary was based on easily accessible data – Northalnds Annual Returns – the NHL’s own published numbers, and some external sources like Forbes and Live Nation.

    I state my assumptions very clearly because I get that if you change the assumptions everything changes. I chose the model of splitting possible outcomes into the three categories because it roughly conforms to what we know about Oiler’s attendance in the past. There are some very powerful tools for forecasting event attendance into the future but they are exceedingly complicated to use and have sensitivities to factors I can’t calculate without access to data that I do not have.

    Just to give you a sense of what I mean – something that comes through loud and clear is that the design of the inside of this building is critical to the entire outcome. It needs to be planned to maximize concession gross revenue and EBITDA. Also, interior design determines quite a bit about what shows you can book. Like, what acoustic design decisions are you making and what is that doing to the cost?

    I’d assume that the City and Mr. Katz have engineers and bean counters and economists and accountants. They have the technical capacity to project a range of possible outcomes and returns. However, nobody seems to have bothered. Or if they have neither side is sharing the results with the public.

    I have now found several well respected bloggers and pundits who predicted we end up right back here. Mainly because the deal didn’t make sense for either party. Which is certainly consistent with my analysis.

    I know there is a large faction here who wants to make Mr. Katz out to be the bad guy, thinks of City Council as his dupes, and people like me as “moral cretins” or “too stupid to breathe.” No level of analysis will make the slightest difference to this sort of critic. All I was saying to the undecided is Katz isn’t being as unreasonable as you might think. The current deal sucks for him as well.

  10. DSF says:

    VOR,

    Not all things that can be counted, matter.

    Not all things that matter, can be counted.

    Katz and Mandel shared a vision for a rejuvenated downtown and, while there may be other methods to achieve that vision, the construction of a new arena and sports and entertainment district offer the best (and, perhaps, last) hope to achieve that in a generation.

    In my view…the city has exceptionally low risk in the current deal if you believe the arena will trigger the volume of ancillary development that could occur and the enormous benefit the CRL will provide to the city over a very long term.

    The biggest risk for the city, IMO, is that the arena is not built, the team leaves and the city would be totally on the hook for replacing Rexall Place without an anchor tenant like the Oilers.

    As we’re seeing in Seattle, building a new arena to get an NBA team back and hoping for an NHL franchise has triggered a public/private partnership that sees the city providing $225M for an arena that will be owned by the private developer.

    In return, the city asked the developer to guarantee that arena revenue will be sufficient to retire the city’s investment.

    Likely too late to take a radically new approach to the funding formula in Edmonton but blowing up the current framework but I would think the city should take a very close look at how much revenue the CRL could actually generate as opposed to the $45 million that it is targeting for the arena.

    That’s where the solution likely lies.

  11. Moosemess says:

    Assuming Katz and Council can get in a room together and work this out, a BIG assumption that, what about the little matter of the $100mil still outstanding from the province or parts unknown?

    Really, isn’t that what this all about, and everything else is just window dressing?

    Whether it’s casino licensing, MSI, etc. this deal’s been on shaky ground from the beginning until those funds are committed. The tennis game between the City and Katz right now seems largely about arguing who will most benefit from this and thus should be the party to fill that current funding gap.

    How much do you want to bet the City will eventually relent and reallocate a portion of the MSI?

  12. Moosemess says:

    And now for something completely different.

    LT, I’m a big fan of the Oklahoma twins as you are, so I thought you might like this latest contribution to nubile sports fandom.

    http://www.mobypicture.com/user/Britney_Maclin/view/13744757

    Sourced from the original story, here….http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Football/NFL/2012/09/19/20212471.html

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