TIME nhl

Jack Johnson’s Shocking Bankruptcy Story; Maple Leafs Point Fingers

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson (7) during the game between the New Jersey Devils and the Columbus Blue Jackets played at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. on Nov. 1, 2014.
Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson (7) during the game between the New Jersey Devils and the Columbus Blue Jackets played at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. on Nov. 1, 2014. Rich Graessle—AP

Johnson, currently playing the fourth season of a seven-year, $30 million deal, has less than $50,000 in assets and more than $10 million in debt

The hockey world has been taught a couple of vitally important lessons this week.

From Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray, who is suffering from terminal cancer, we’ve learned of the life-saving potential of colonoscopies. It’s an uncomfortable thought, especially for men who tend to shrug off medical care for anything short of limb reattachment, but the preventative value of this simple procedure is enormous.

And then we learned that if you make your living in this game, you need to get yourself a good agent. It’s advice that would have saved Jack Johnson from bankruptcy.

The story of the financial ruination of the Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman that was told this morning by Dispatch writer Aaron Portzline is both shocking and heartbreaking. Johnson, currently playing the fourth season of a seven-year, $30 million deal, has less than $50,000 in assets and more than $10 million in debt, the result, Johnson says, of “picking the wrong people who led me down the wrong path.”

Those people, according to Portzline, were Johnson’s own parents.

Earlier in his career Johnson had Pat Brisson, one of the best agents in the game, looking after his affairs. But the two parted ways in 2008 and Johnson signed a power of attorney that turned over full control of his finances to his mother, Tina Johnson.

In hindsight, the decision to put millions of dollars into inexperienced hands was incredibly naive. But these were his parents. The two people in the world he trusted the most. Put into the same situation, there are plenty of us who might have done the same thing.

Fortunately, most of us don’t have parents like Johnson’s. The picture of them that’s painted by Portzline’s research is beyond ugly. Instead of making safe, conventional investments that would protect the financial future of their son, the pair blew through past and future earnings via a complicated series of risky loans at high interest rates, defaults on which resulted in massive fees, higher interest rates and three lawsuits against Johnson.

There are also reports of lavish spending on houses and travel, leaving Johnson not just broke but essentially working for nothing as garnishments swallowed his massive bi-monthly paychecks.

“I’ve seen lots of instances of parents riding their kid’s coattails around,” a league source told Portzline. “I’ve never seen a case as ugly as this one, where the parents took such advantage of their kid.”

Johnson has since surrounded himself with competent attorneys and financial experts who actually have his best interests in mind. Assuming relief will be provided in bankruptcy, he has a chance to climb out of this hole, save his future and maybe put his focus back on playing hockey.

But his relationship with his parents? That’s a tragic casualty of this mess. And one that no court can piece back together.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Sports

Watch Canadian Hockey Fans Help Finish the U.S. National Anthem After the Singer’s Mic Fails

This is sure to warm even the iciest hearts

At a Toronto Maple Leafs game Tuesday night, singer Michelle Madeira was partway through The Star-Spangled Banner when her mic cut out. She continued singing, but of course, the crowd couldn’t hear her. Without missing a beat, the entire crowd picked up where Madeira left off, completing the U.S. national anthem in unison.

Fans kept up the enthusiasm and sang O Canada right after.

See? Hockey fans aren’t just drunken and rowdy and prone to fighting. They’re also sometimes really awesome.

(h/t Daily Dot)

TIME Food & Drink

The 5 Best NHL Arenas for Food

An overall view of the interior of the arena at the NHL season opener at Staples Center on October 8, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.
An overall view of the interior of the arena at the NHL season opener at Staples Center on October 8, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Stephen Dunn—Getty Images

Here are the best places in the NHL to pound on the glass and have a bite to eat

This article originally appeared on Food & Wine.

It’s hockey season. Oh you didn’t know? That’s because hockey is usually degraded as the least major of the major American sports. Heck, at this point Nascar and professional wrestling get more love than hockey. But we find that exceedingly unfair. Hockey is faster than football, takes as much skill as baseball and has at least as many missing teeth as professional wrestling. NHL arenas also offer some great food for hungry fans. Here are the best places in the NHL to pound on the glass and have a bite to eat.

1. Bridgestone Arena, Home of the Nashville Predators

There’s not much in the way of actual ice and snow in Nashville, but the city still scored a hockey team in 1998. Predators’ fans can eat what is most likely the best if not the only chicken-and-waffles in all of professional sports. And the Nashville Hot Chicken sandwich is another local pick that’s worth the wait.

2. Rogers Arena, Home of the Vancouver Canucks

This year the Canucks have introduced lobster rolls and a dozen variations on stadium tube steaks, including a “perogy dog” topped with cheese and potato perogies and sauerkraut and a croque monsieur dog topped with ham and gruyere. They’ll also pour you a Negroni right from a concession stand. Not a bad way alternative to the $8 swill beer most arenas offer.

3. The Staples Center, Home of the L.A. Kings

Nachos and hot dogs are available, but a lot of the menu options at the home of the defending Stanley Cup champions read fit L.A.’s health conscious stereotype: roasted beet salad, sesame-crusted tuna, even gluten-free beer. The big winner here though is the sushi that’s made fresh at every game.

4. Nationwide Arena, Home of the Columbus Blue Jackets

Columbus, Ohio is on this list for one reason and it ain’t fancy. The arena here serves the ultimate “drunk at the stadium” food. The Dancing Kevin sandwich is named after this guy, Dancing Kevin. And like him it is a fantastically oversized piece of work. A pork bomb on a pretzel bun, the sandwich features ham, pulled pork and bacon topped with mozzarella sticks.

5. Bell Centre, Home of the Montreal Canadians;

Montreal takes a few things very seriously: French, food and hockey. The latter two are on display at the Bell Centre, which sells smoked meat sandwiches from Lesters Deli, which has been cranking out delicious, fatty sandwiches in Montreal for over 60 years. And because this is Canada, expect mountains of poutine.

More from Food & Wine:

TIME hockey

Watch Hockey Fans Sing ‘O Canada’ After the Shooting in Ottawa

Hours after a soldier was killed outside Parliament

Hockey games typically only start with Canada’s national anthem when there’s a Canadian team on the ice — Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary or Winnipeg. But that wasn’t the case on Oct. 22, when the Pittsburgh Penguins hosted their rival Philadelphia Flyers just hours after a Canadian soldier was shot and killed in an attack outside Parliament in Ottawa.

With the National Hockey League having postponed a planned Wednesday game that would’ve seen the Ottawa Senators host the Toronto Maple Leafs, it fell upon the Penguins to honor the slain soldier and those grieving by leading fans in a heartfelt rendition of O Canada, with the Pittsburgh rink digitally draped in a Canadian flag.

You can watch the touching footage above.

TIME hockey

NHL Suspends Kings’ Slava Voynov After Domestic Violence Arrest

Slava Voynov of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates with the Stanley Cup after the Kings 3-2 double overtime victory against the New York Rangers in Game Five of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final at Staples Center on June 13, 2014 in Los Angeles.
Slava Voynov of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates with the Stanley Cup after the Kings 3-2 double overtime victory against the New York Rangers in Game Five of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final at Staples Center on June 13, 2014 in Los Angeles. Bruce Bennett—Getty Images

The NHL has suspended defenseman Slava Voynov indefinitely after he was arrested on domestic violence charges Monday morning, the league announced Monday.

There are currently no details on the exact nature of Voynov’s arrest other than that he violated California Penal Code section 273.5, Domestic Violence. He will continue to be paid while suspended.

From the NHL’s release:

The suspension was imposed under Section 18-A.5 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which provides that, during the pendency of a criminal investigation, “The League may suspend the Player pending the League’s formal review and disposition of the matter where the failure to suspend the Player during this period would create a substantial risk of material harm to the legitimate interests and/or reputation of the League.”

Voynov, 24, has been with the Kings since 2011-12 and played in all 82 games for the team last season while helping it win the Stanley Cup. He’s played in all of the Kings’ six games this season, recording two assists and averaging 23:11 of ice time per game.

Voynov signed a six-year, $25 million contract extension with Los Angeles before last season.

The NHL dealt with a similar incident last year when Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov was arrested on domestic violence charges in an incident involving his girlfriend. The charges were later dropped.

The news of Voynov’s arrest comes amidst significant controversy around the issue of domestic violence in the NFL stemming from the arrest of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice.

The release of video showing Rice striking his then-fiancée in an Atlantic City casino elevator led to Rice’s release from Ravens and an indefinite suspension from the NFL, with criticism levied at the latter for initially suspending Rice for just two games.

The NFL has said it is working on developing a new domestic violence policy and the handling of the Rice case by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is the subject of an investigation led by former FBI director Robert Mueller III.

The issue of domestic violence has emerged in other sports as well, including the arrests of U.S. national team goalie Hope Solo and Charlotte Hornets forward Jeffery Taylor.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME

Why Wayne Gretzky Is Still ‘The Great One’

Simply the Best
The March 18, 1985, cover of TIME TIME

Wayne Gretzky became the all-time NHL career scoring leader on Oct. 15, 1989

Correction appended, Oct. 15, 2014, 1:45 pm

If you grew up in a hockey house like I did, your parents might’ve worshipped Wayne Gretzky as if he were the Messiah on Skates. And in a lot of ways he was: The Great One played a full two decades of NHL-level hockey, starting in 1979 with the Edmonton Oilers and ending with my hometown heroes, the New York Rangers, just before the turn of the century, racking up some 2,857 points in 1,487 regular season games. (NHL scoring gives individual players one point for a goal and one point for an assist, but those numbers don’t mean squat for the game at hand.)

Those 2,857 points made him — and still makes him — the League’s leading scorer. Gretzky toppled another hockey legend, Gordie Howe (1,850 points), to first take that title on Oct. 15, 1989, 25 years ago Wednesday.

Gretzky’s points total is impressive to say the absolute least. But as a kid who grew up loving hockey in Gretzky’s twilight years, it’s really this stat that stuck in my mind: If you take 2,857 points and subtract the points he got for goals, he’s still got more assists than any other NHL player has total points. (The next guy down, point-wise? Gretzky teammate and Rangers legend Mark Messier.)

As a young hockey fan, that fact instilled a simple lesson: Greatness can sometimes come from being the guy who puts the puck in the back of the net. But even more often, it comes from knowing whom you can count on to help you get that job done even better than you can. “How long Gretzky and [NBA star Larry] Bird play at the top and stay at the fair will help determine their ultimate reputations,” TIME wrote of Gretzky in a March 18, 1985 cover story about athletes at the peaks of their careers.

Gretzky stayed at the top for many seasons after that, but 25 years later his ultimate reputation is this: A life lesson that, while being the hero is nice, you don’t always have to shoot — sometimes it’s smarter to pass.

Read a 1981 story about the then-20-year-old hockey star, here in TIME’s archives: Hockey’s Great Gretzky

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the number of individual points an NHL player gets for a goal. The number is one.

MONEY

Why Germany Is So Good At Soccer (and the U.S. Is So Mediocre) in 2 Charts

Germany's national soccer players Roman Weidenfeller, Shkodran Mustafi, Andre Schuerrle , Kevin Grosskreutz and Per Mertesacker celebrate
Kai Pfaffenbach—Reuters

Hint: It's Focus.

As Germany takes the pitch Sunday, fresh off crushing Brazil’s World Cup hopes in a historic 7-1 blowout, it’s worth reflecting how Germany got there. Not the team; the country.

See, this isn’t Germany’s first grab at the sport’s brass ring.The German national team is one of international soccer’s most consistent powerhouses. German teams—including those from the Nazi era, post-war West Germany, and reunified Germany—have qualified for 18 of 20 World Cup tournaments and missed the quarter finals of those only once. The team has also made it to a mind-blowing seven finals — a 35% appearance rate — winning three of them.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the United States has not exactly replicated Deutschland’s success. The U.S. has zero titles and zero finals appearances, and reached the semi-finals only once, at the first World Cup in 1930. This year, we were eliminated by Belgium in the round of 16, and finished 15th overall in the tournament. Not bad by our standards, but not great. And certainly not befitting of a country with the world’s largest economy, 300 million people, and an extremely competitive national team in almost every other team sport.

So why is Germany is so good and the U.S. so mediocre? Following America’s most recent loss, many theories have been offered. We over-coach our players; our college system doesn’t mirror international play; we don’t have a soccer “culture.” There’s likely some truth to all of these answers, but there’s one I find most convincing: competition from other sports. The U.S. has only so much athletic talent, and unlike many other nations, we tend to spread it around. Germany, on the other hand, concentrates the vast majority of its athletic talent on soccer—and they’ve certainly reaped the rewards.

In order to visualize this, I’ve assembled pie charts showing the revenue breakdown of the most popular professional sports leagues. The numbers aren’t perfectly analogous—updated figures on smaller German team sports are hard to come by, sports seasons don’t coincide and sometimes span more than one calendar year, and we’re including only major team sports. But as a rough proxy for each nation’s athletic focus, they are offer a clear picture of the sports the two nations care most about and to which they dedicate the most resources and, as economists and others would argue, talent.

In the two charts below, the green pie slice represents the percentage of major team sports revenue that goes to soccer. As you can see, it’s not even close.

GermanySportsRevNew

 

USSportsRev

Soccer eats up the overwhelming majority of German team sports revenue, while in the US, it barely makes up a sliver. Germany’s three major soccer leagues each take in over €100 million, and their combined revenue is €2.8 billion—the equivalent of over $3.8 billion. There’s really only one major sport in Germany, with a few second-tier leagues running far behind.

In comparison, America’s MLS teams have a combined revenue of about $494 million, as estimated by Forbes in 2013 (the MLS does not release total revenue figures). That’s about 1/7th of the NHL’s revenue, and 1/20th of the NFL’s total income.

So next time you’re wondering why the U.S. isn’t good at soccer, remember: the American people are not exactly focussed on the “beautiful game.” All things considered, it’s surprising we aren’t worse.

Sources: BBL: Deloitte via SportsBusinessDaily; DEL: Deloitte via SportsBusinessDaily; 3. Liga: DFB official figure; Bundesliga: 2014 report; 2. Bundesliga: 2014 report; NFL: Forbes via Statistica; NBA: Forbes via Statistica; NHL: CBS Sports; MLB: Forbes; MLS: Forbes

 

TIME

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Soccer Will Never Be a Slam Dunk in America

Soccer doesn’t express the American ethos as powerfully as our other popular sports: We are a country of pioneers, and we like to see extraordinary effort rewarded... with points.

Has the time finally come to slap a Do Not Resuscitate bracelet on soccer’s prospects for popularity in America?

If it were up to me, the answer would be no, because soccer players are among the strongest, fittest, most strategic athletes in the world. But, for various reasons, the sport itself does not seem destined for the popularity that supporters have been predicting for the last decade. I’m reminded of the end of Man of La Mancha, when Don Quixote lies dying, but is suddenly inspired to rise once more and proclaim, “Onward to glory I go!” And then he drops dead. Soccer has been proclaiming this impending U.S. glory for years, and while there are signs of life in the body, the prognosis is not good.

Once the World Cup is over, soccer in the U.S. will return to its sick bed and dream of glory.This dire diagnosis probably seems crazy in the face of the current World Cup TV ratings success. Between Univision and ESPN, 25 million viewers tuned in to watch the U.S. play Portugal last Sunday. Compare that to 15.5 million viewers that the NBA finals averaged this year, or the 14.9 million averaged in last year’s baseball World Series. Worse, the NHL playoffs averaged only 5 million viewers. Only NFL football consistently beats soccer’s best rating.

The problem with those statistics is that it’s like using the ratings of bobsledding during the Winter Olympics to declare a new renaissance for bobsledding in America. The World Cup, like the Olympics, happens every four years, so the rarity factor alone will account for inflated ratings. For a more realistic view of its popularity as a professional sport, we need to look at how many people watch on a regular basis. Major League Soccer (MLS) averages a mere 174,000 viewers (compared to the NBA’s average of 2 million and NFL average of 17.6 million), while their equivalent to NBA Finals, the MLS Cup, averaged only 505,000 viewers.

The MLS points out that more people on average attend one of their games (18,807) than attend either NHL (17,455) or NBA (17,408) games. While that may be true, the reasons for that appear to be pretty simple: cheaper tickets and fewer teams playing fewer games. Add that to the fact that comparatively few people watch it on TV, and you have a sport that produces much less revenue than other major American sports. Like it or not, in the end that is the measure of a sport’s popularity.

The obvious question is why hasn’t soccer taken off in the U.S. as it has throughout most of the rest of the world? After all, youth soccer has exploded over the past few decades. In 1974, only 103,432 youth were registered players. In 2012, registered players amounted to over three million. In all, 13 million Americans play soccer (compared to 26.3 million who play basketball). When you look at those figures, you notice that twice as many people play basketball as play soccer, yet ten times as many people watch basketball on TV. This is important because the more people watching a sport translates into more people wanting to play that sport. That’s the money-making cycle. Watch. Play. Repeat.

Is there something fundamentally different about watching soccer that turns people away by the millions? Apparently so. For one thing, there’s a lot of movement but not much action. American audiences see people kicking the ball to a teammate, only to have it intercepted by the other team. A lot. To the average American used to the hustle of basketball, the clash of titans in football, the suspense of the curve ball in baseball, or the thrilling crack of the slapshot in hockey, the endless meandering back and forth across the soccer field looks less like strategy and more like random luck. It lacks drama. Of course, that’s not true at all, but that is certainly the perception.

Why aren’t those millions of youth soccer players since 1974 watching? Perhaps another perception is that it is a kid’s game. Kids get to run around, kick something, and generally wear themselves out to the gratitude of parents. Parents who dutifully and diligently attend their kids’ games don’t seem inclined to tune in to professionals on TV.

Soccer is counting on the growing U.S. Latino population to raise its popularity. Between 2002 and 2012, the Latino population increased from 13.3% of the U.S. population to 17%. I’m certain that will be a factor, but perhaps not a huge one — this ling of thinking doesn’t account for children seeking more traditional American sports in order to assimilate. As many parents will attest, some children refuse to follow in their parents’ sweaty sneakers.

Finally, soccer doesn’t fully express the American ethos as powerfully as our other popular sports. We are a country of pioneers, explorers, and contrarians who only need someone to say it can’t be done to fire us up to prove otherwise. As a result, we like to see extraordinary effort rewarded. The low scoring in soccer frustrates this American impulse. We also celebrate rugged individualism, the democratic ideal that anybody from any background can become a sports hero. We like to see heroes rise, buoyed by their teammates, but still expressing their own supreme individual skills. Certainly soccer has its celebrated stars, from Pele to Beckham, but those skills seem muted on TV where we’re often looking at small figures on a large field and therefore these feats appear less impressive than they really are. In football, basketball, baseball, and hockey, team effort is rewarded with points and individual greatness is as instant and immediate as a one-handed snagged football pass, a three-pointer from the corner, stealing home base, or a snap-shot of the puck into the goal.

Clearly, there are many dedicated soccer fans in the U.S. They play the sport, they watch the sport, they love the sport. But that group, though slowly growing, is not nearly enough to overcome the traditional favorites. To do that, it’s not enough that you’re as good as one of the popular sports, you have to bring something better. More excitement. More skill. More entertainment. For most Americans, soccer just doesn’t do that. And once the World Cup is over, soccer in the U.S. will return to its sick bed and dream of glory.

Abdul-Jabbar is a six-time NBA champion and league Most Valuable Player. Follow him on Twitter (@KAJ33) and Facebook (facebook.com/KAJ). Abdul-Jabbar also writes a weekly column for the L.A. Register.

TIME Photos

Photos: The Week in Sports

Kickoff of the World Cup, the NBA Finals, the Stanley Cup and the U.S. Open all made for a week packed with sports. Here are TIME's best photos from these athletic events

TIME hockey

L.A. Mayor Drops F-Bomb in Stanley Cup Celebrations

And it wasn't a slip of the tongue

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti tactically dropped an “F-bomb” on live TV Monday night to celebrate the L.A. Kings Stanley Cup victory — and the fallout hasn’t been a disaster.

“They say never, ever be pictured with a drink in your hand and never swear,” Garcetti said in front of a crowd. He then disregarded his own advice, raised a beer, and declared to loud cheers, “But this is a big f—ing day.”

In case you missed it, Garcetti, who the LA Times notes is ” known for his disciplined campaign style and careful approach to governing,” reiterated the message on his official mayoral Twitter account.

While Garcetti has received some disappointed responses on his Facebook page for swearing in front of children, many don’t view the intentional slip of the tongue as a gaffe. Sports fans told the LA Times, “It makes me have much more respect for him” and “He was trying to connect with the fans — and he did.”

 

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