CC is for 200

In 2016 AD a state of war existed between a loosely organized alliance of hockey men running the NHL’s city state-like franchises and Big Corsi, with their overwhelming numerical advantage. Big Corsi’s first attempt to gain a foothold in the established hockey world ended with a decisive victory by the hockey men at the Battle of Edmonton.

But we all know that Big Corsi plays the long game. So in 2016 they again sent an invasion force to capture Florida with numerical superiority.

And it is here, that the 200 hockey men achieved their greatest victory over the Computer Boys…

Ok, enough of that. I’m not going to re-write the entire screenplay for 300 here.

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But what I am going to do is talk a little about the resilience of the hockey establishment and how they keep the outsiders at bay.

You need look no further than the last 12 months in Florida to see how the establishment mobilizes to defend against an outside threat.

A year ago, Dale Tallon had been pushed aside as GM and was effectively on his way out of the decision-making process:

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To be clear, he wasn’t completely out of the decision-making process. He was still officially in charge of hockey operations for the franchise, but the day-to-day running of the team was now ostensibly a three-man operation:

That said, getting pushed upstairs and having to share the decision making power with GM Tom Rowe and AGM Eric Joyce was clearly the first step to pushing him out of the way entirely.

But the NHL’s old guard isn’t pushed aside so easily. Following a disastrous run of bad injuries, bad luck, and bad press, Tallon was back in the driver’s seat by Christmas. Or should I say back in the saddle:

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And boy was there was much glee in the mainstream hockey press when this happened. You see, the 200 hockey men aren’t just working for the league and its teams. No, some of those 200 are in the media. You need look no further than the media reactions from the old guard when first Tallon was sidelined and then Gallant was unceremoniously fired to see just how interdependent they are with the men running the teams.

C, it turns out, is also for ‘collusion’.

I mean, it’s an open secret that Dreger had a direct line into the Leafs’ front office while Dave Nonis was there, and he has the a similar arrangement with Tallon in Florida. It shouldn’t be a surprise that Dreger was the first one to come out with the news of Tallon’s fall and rise in Sunrise. It’s not just that he was that first one out with it — I mean, that’s his job as an NHL “insider” — it’s the slant that he put on his scoops, which was always from Tallon’s perspective. But again, that should not be a surprise:


When you bring that critical analysis to the information that some of these insiders put out, things start to make a whole lot more sense. Sometimes comically, so:

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And the collusion isn’t just with front office staff. It’s also with NHL executives.

Remember when Dreger was brazenly inserting himself into the NHL’s disciplinary process?

All this to say that hockey’s old guard, the so-called “200 hockey men”, span NHL front offices, league management, and the mainstream hockey media. And when they perceive a threat to their fiefdom, they circle the wagons, look out for each other, and scratch each other’s backs.

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This can run the gamut from avoiding the use of Offer Sheets on RFAs to helping an old friend solidify his power base by making a rival look bad to team ownership. And when one of your fraternity is out of a job, you do what you can to get them back in the game. Sometimes, you even going to extremes. In one mind-blowing example, a little bird told me that an expansion franchise was contingent on the hiring of a specific GM!

Seriously, the NHL is only a funny handshake away from being a secret society.

The thing about secret societies in general, and the old boys’ club running the NHL in particular, is that they are relics of the past. And as such, they lack the imagination to understand what the hockey fans of tomorrow want, and how to draw them in and grow the game:

Ultimately, the NHL will come around — whether it’s the use of advanced statistics, addressing the unnecessary violence in the game, or dealing with concussions. One way or another, the inexorable march of progress and numerical superiority will overcome the resistance to change. Just this week, yet another organization recognized the value of applying data analysis to their sports business:

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It is only a matter of time before the Computer Boys and Big Corsi are running the show. Until then, all we can do is sit back, grab another bag of popcorn and wait for the sequel. Maybe we can call it 200: Fall of an Empire.



  • McGretzky

    Fighting in hockey will never be addressed until the demographics of hockey players changes.

    If you put white men in an icy environment, fighting is the natural outcome.

    The NHL is merely a microcosm of Western civilization.

    To give up fighting is to symbolically castrate white men.

    Which is the same reason there will never be gun control in America.

    Fortunately, the “old guard” is dying off which is good for humanity as a whole.

  • DJ_44

    I wonder if it is a coincidence that the language used in this article, and the anti-Benning zealots for that matter, so closely mirrors that of the Trump – Make America Great Again campaign and supporters.

  • TD

    I like the advanced stats and think they have some meaning, but these articles reek of “we know everything and the only reason we don’t rule the hockey world is because of the big bad secret society”. Old and tired.

  • GLM

    Wow! a 6-month late opinion article about the old boys club vs advanced stats AND the Florida Panthers? Just what I was craving/needing when I checked in on Canucks Army, you know, as a fan of the Canucks interested in coverage and articles relating to the Canucks.

    I’m starting to wonder if there might be a disconnect between the CA readership and graphic comments/petbugs…

    • Locust

      “I’m starting to wonder if there might be a disconnect between the CA readership and graphic comments/petbugs…” – understatement of the year!

      This “mystery” writer should just take over as the new CA Troll Manager … or maybe, he already has …. ?!?

      • Canuck4Life20

        Ever since the troll started going on about the page hits going up in a comment that was quickly deleted (one of the few that has been) I’ve suspected the troll is someone on the inside. It’s a shame that they feel they need to stoop to this to draw in readership.

  • TK Smith

    All the comments so far are bang on. This was so weak that I wonder if it is a click bait posting that was designed to get a reaction to boost the writer’s ego and the site’s stats. Of course no self respecting worshiper of statistics would manipulate the numbers; would they? The conspiracy theme is weak sauce and is worn out. Don’t conflate profile with competency. Just because Darren Dreger gets tons of coverage on a Toronto centric media outlet does mean that he is accepted outside of the Centre of the Universe as a skilled or reliable commentator. He is related to Nonnis so he got more info than non related media members. Nonnis told him what he wanted him to hear. Quelle surprise! Constant stroking from his emploers and the echo chamber that is Toronto media seems to have given him an outsized sense of value and his email to Campbell is proof of that. One thing Dreger has over the author of this post is that he puts his name to everything he produces. Why is that you slide rule soldiers are so thin skinned that a good portion of you hide behind a nom de guerre?

  • Jimjamg

    Completely agree with the collusion angle. See 2011 cup finals- Colin Campbell. Any respectable organization would never have allowed a hockey-Dad to be in charge of anything at any sort of professional event, let alone a Final series. The conflict of interest was so obvious and so compelling the fact it was allowed to stand says all you need to know about how the League operates behind closed doors.

  • JarkkoRuutu

    Show me an established organization that doesn’t have this “Old Guard” dynamic… Something to it, but the article sounded a bit too conspiracy for my taste…

  • bobdaley44

    Relics of the past? Nothing like a nerdy advanced stat guy who’s never played complaining because he thinks he knows the game better than a group of people with countless years of playing, coaching and managing experience. Advanced stats are almost meaningless in a game like hockey. A game in flux playing with and against different players and ever changing dynamics not to mention division differences and i could go on. Name me a team successful with an analytics approach. Phoenix? Florida were good until they promoted the analytics people.

  • Dirty30

    The diagram for “what they don’t want you to know” and “public relations” are reversed. There’s a lot more any organization doesn’t want you to know than what they are prepared to reveal.

    The old guys vs new guys seems a bit trite — people typically feel more comfortable dealing with people and situations that are familiar than those they don’t know. As new people and ideas become more familiar they will be more accepted.

    The “Facebook instant friends” generation really does need to learn patience in developing relationships with real people.

  • Betty

    Ugh. I hope not. Advanced stats are interesting but good heavens, until you get better data quality, this is silly. Any statistician or data expert will tell you, Garbage in, Garbage out.

    Is corsi useful at a team level? Maybe, though it’s hard to think that it’s not a symptom of a type of team’s success rather than something that can be drilled down to the individual level. Think about a sales company. Their overall sales (like say, team corsi) is part of how well they do, yet many people in the company will make no sales (tech support, most management) but are vital to the team.

    Then there are of course the inability to count quality of shot. For example, sure, the Sedins are doing well in corsi stats, but when they screw up, it’s a breakaway, which is substantially more dangerous than a harmless shot by someone boxed to the outside by Sutter.

    Just because the corsi experiments don’t seem to go well doesn’t mean there’s a cabal.

    (And if you want to complain about fighting, I agree with nonsense fights and would like fewer goons but when someone stands up for themselves, all for it. Maybe go to a game and listen to the crowd roar after a fight, like Stecher’s tilt to start the season.)

  • Dirk22

    Advanced stats aside, will be interesting to see how the old boys club of the NHL plans to catch up to the NBA to market itself to the younger generation.

    From what I’ve seen with teens and those younger, the other leagues (NBA and NFL) popularity are way higher than the NHL. Part of that has to do with fantasy leagues I think, and the relative state of the Canucks, but overall I think the NHL is going to have to find a way to adapt.

    • Dirty30

      And yet one could argue that problems in the NHL stem from the employment of an ex-NBA commissioner as the head of the league. Going into non-NHL markets, ignoring the basics of the game in favour of gimmicks, trying to use ‘game-management ‘ to keep marginal teams competitive or favouring popular teams.

      I don’t know what it costs to go to an NBA game, but hockey is expensive for families to attend. Hard to grow a sport or fans when they can’t afford to go to games.