The business of violence in the NHL – Time to Stop the Madness?

March 8, 2014

With the Olympics behind us and the NHL back in full swing, I was reflecting on how exciting it was to watch the 2014 Sochi Olympics hockey.

Of course as a Canadian, I loved it because I was proud of Team Canada’s men’s and woman’s team and their two gold medals.

 crosby-goal

But it was more that that. It was great hockey. I believe that one of the reasons was the focus on sport and the lack of violence. It was exciting, intense, fast… and clean.

Hockey Night in Canada was what I grew up on.  As a kid, it was the days of bench clearing brawls and I loved the fighting. But now as an adult and as a parent, I see things in a different light. Now, I also think of the impact this has on my kids who watch and play hockey.

Lets face it, violence is officially considered to be part of the game in NHL hockey. I’m not sure if you can find it in any of the NHL’s official rule books, but the facts are clear:

  • Teams hire players with limited hockey talent but who are good fighters
  • Players are allowed to fight for a period of time before being stopped even though there are 2 referees standing right beside them
  • And NHL14 for XBOX and Playstation include fighting as part of their hockey video games for kids

It amazes me that when a fight breaks out during an NHL game, many fans are up on their feet with smiles and expressions of enjoyment on their faces.

In a Globe & Mail article this year, neurosurgeon Dr. Michael Cusimano states that this “type of response to violence in hockey tells our children that fighting in sports is not just okay, but good. It sends kids a very powerful message that violence in the way to get what you want.” Cusimano goes on to note that “there are 60,000 to 70,000 hockey-related concussions in Canada altogether every year.

Why did violence become part of hockey? Is this sport? This type of behavior is not tolerated in any other sport, amateur or professional and it is clearly is not tolerated in society. Can you imagine two people spontaneously breaking out fighting on the street with two policemen standing beside them allowing them to fight while onlookers cheer them on? This type of fighting does not happen in the NFL, the NBA, the MLB or at Wimbledon. Yet in hockey, it seems that the league and the teams are not only willing to accept violence but they embrace it.

Why? Well I am guessing it’s good business. Let’s give the crowd what they want. But why is it other major professional sports leagues seem to be able to make substantial profits without violence yet the NHL seems to feel it is needed to make money.

Brooks Orpik

What will it take to reverse this trend? How many injuries or deaths have to happen in the NHL? How many injuries or deaths in minor league hockey?

In his Hockey News article last year, Ken Campbell talks about the NHL’s “culture of violence” and accused that “the NHL is a complete coward when it comes to standing up to these miscreants, we have to have fighting”.

I could get used to watching the caliber of hockey that I saw in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. I dream of the day when those that have the power to make this occur in the NHL come to their senses.

Sadly, this day is unlikely to occur until the cost of violence puts a significant dent in the league’s and the team’s profits. According to a National Post article in January by Joseph Brean, violence is already costing the NHL over $200-million a year. Is this still not enough? Will it take the fans refusing to buy tickets to games or watch on TV unless hockey becomes a sport again and not “Gladiator Night in Canada”?

Watch this, I mean really, watch it. Is this hockey?

As Vancouver and Calgary are set to face off against each other again tonight can we expect a repeat to their January 18th game?

So let’s hear it for the IOC and the spectacular hockey at the Sochi Olympics. Let’s call  on Gary Bettman and the NHL  to up their game and strive for the same level of excellence. It’s time to “Stop the Madness” and to eliminate violence in the NHL.

After all, it’s all about sport….Isn’t it?

You Don’t Have To Be In “The Valley”!

November 8, 2012

Last week Brad Feld visited Montreal as part of his Startup Communities book tour. He spoke at Notman House to a room packed full of Montreal entrepreneurs.

More and more, Montreal is receiving visits by high profile US entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

Feld says that building an entrepreneurial ecosystem requires four things. As he explains ion the video below, the community must be lead by entrepreneurs, needs to take a 20 year view, must be inclusive and requires engaging activities such as meetups and startup weekends and the like.

There has been much talk lately about the loss of a number of notable Montreal startup leaders, namely Sylvain Carle, Ben Yoskovitz and Raymond Luk, yet the Montreal startup community continues to grow. While many talk about how the best way to ensure the success of a startup is to do it in Silicon Vally, Feld rejects this premise. Feld told the Montreal audience first choose where they want to live and then build your startup there.

Feld practiced what he preaches having moved to Boulder Colorado from Boston about 17 years ago. At the time, Boulder was not the startup community it is now but Feld and others have built Boulder into a thriving startup community.

Montreal is an awesome place to live, surrounded by the beauty of the Laurentians, the Eastern Townships, Vermont, the Maine coast and the Adirondacks. Located less than 6 hours drive from Boston, New York and Toronto, Montreal’s international flavor coupled with generous government research & development (SRED) tax credit programs which reduces the cost of innovation make it an incredible location to build a startup.

Feld stated that building a startup community requires a core of around 10 committed leaders. Despite the recent losses, those who remain continue the mission of building our local ecosystem. As FoundersFuel graduates it’s newest cohort of aspiring startups at it’s Demo Day tonight, I am confident that Montreal is clearly on the way to growing a vibrant startup community to foster creativity and innovation.

Are you planning to stay and build your startup in Montreal? The Boulder Thesis states “You have to give before you get”. How can you help build Montreal’s startup community?

Nurturing Innovation

September 14, 2011
It’s been a long time since I have written a post, having been caught up in so many things but Mark Suster’s post a couple of months back “You Need to Win the Battle for Share of Mind” got me thinking about the amazing tech startup community evolving right here in my own back yard.
As CFO of a Montreal telecom company  for over 10 years, I have become very passionate about technology, entrepreneurship, startups and in general, making a difference. As I think about how a generation of web entrepreneurs have changed the world so much over this period, it is amazing to think that Google was born just over 10 years ago, Linkedin 8, Facebook 7 and Groupon less than 3.
Over the past few years I have witnessed the evolution Montreal’s growing startup community. The resources available to repeat as well as first time entrepreneurs continue to grow. New venture capital funds like Real Ventures and SeedPlant Capital, seed accelerators such as Founders Fuel and  Year One Labs as well as blogs like NextMontreal and meetup groups like Mtlnewtech are all contributing  to build the infrastructure necessary to support incredible innovation.
The recent International Startup Festival organized by Phil Telio and an amazing team was incredible and is further evidence of the entrepreneurial spirit in Montreal.
We are not Silicon Valley yet or even Boulder but we are on the right path and I look forward to seeing this trend continue to evolve and prosper.

My Go To Device

September 24, 2010

As anybody who knows me can tell you, I love technology and I love gadgets. But mostly, I love how they can be used to make our lives better. So as it’s been about three months since I got my iPad, I thought I would reflect on my experience so far.

On a regular basis, I am asked “what do you use it for?” The short answer is ” Almost Everything”. More and more, I am finding that my iPad has become my go to device with my Macbook Pro and iPhone taking a lesser role in my daily life. Don’t get me wrong, the iPad is not for the heavy lifting. I would not use it to create a complex spreadsheet of draft a contract however for content consumption it’s awesome.

And it’s portability, easy of use and abundance of apps allow me to greatly increase my productivity. I often take my iPad with me at times where I would not have wanted to lug a laptop. Did I mention that it’s lots of fun too?

So how do I use it on a daily basis? Here are some of my regular uses:

Apps

There are over 200,000 iphone apps most of which run on the iPad so there should definitely be some that you would find useful or fun. Although those iPhone apps that have not been yet been upgraded to utilize the iPad’s capabilities leave something to be desired. But don’t fret, there are plenty of iPad optimized apps.

So far my favorites include:

  • Notes and Pages: for small documents and meeting notes
  • Keynote: for editing and making presentations
  • Things: Task/To Do Management
  • iBooks and Kindle: for reading
  • iPod: for music and Audiobooks
  • Twitterific, and
  • Scrabble

Of course my kids have their own favorites.

Web Browsing and Watching Videos

Surfing the web on the iPad is great. Web pages look great on the iPad’s 9″ screen. In general, I often prefer to use my iPad than my Macbook Pro and at 1.5 pounds and small size I take it almost everywhere.

It’s lack of flash support is definitely an annoyance. I think Apple made a mistake on this one and clearly they will lose sales by this omission, however that is the choice they made. There are however an increasing number of online videos that do support iPad friendly format.

Email & Note Taking

While I read and reply to many emails each day, I read more tan I reply and most of my replies are a few sentences or shorter. Even at my desk when my laptop is right in front of me I generally prefer using my iPad as graphically it is just so much nicer to look at. The virtual keyboard is an issue but I have found that after a while i got used to it.

I even now take my iPad to meetings to take notes. It is smaller, lighter and easier. It is also less intrusive as I don’t have a laptop screen sticking up and blocking the view between me and those in the meeting. Once the meeting is over its very easy to email the notes to others.

I could go on and on

Needless to say my iPad has become very useful to me.  And for those of you who are skeptical on being able to do real work, I wrote this post with the WordPress App on my iPad while enjoying a latte at Starbucks.

Tell me your favorite uses.

Why Must I Pay Twice For The Same Content?

August 10, 2010

Like many, I love to listen to audiobooks. Given that I read slowly, it allows me to get through books that interest me much quicker. In addition, it gives me greater flexibility as I can listen to the book while I drive.

For many books, such as novels, one listen to the book is sufficient. However as I mainly like to read business and marketing books, there are times where I would like to listen to the audiobook and yet have a copy of the ebook as a reference.

Yet today, assuming that I don’t want to rip a copy, it seems that my only option is to pay once for the audiobook and a second time for the ebook. This doesn’t seem reasonable to me.

It seems that the book publishing industry is still caught up in the old world model much like a large part of the newspaper and magazine industry. I want author’s and publisher’s to receive reasonable revenues but why should I have to pay twice for the same content?

And why can’t I buy an ebook once and use it on my iPad when it suits me and my Kindle when I want to read outdoors on a bright sunny day. Well, I guess the device manufacturers such as Apple and Amazon are responsible for this one together with the publishers.

I feel it is reasonable for book publishers to charge a premium if I want both the audiobook and the ebook but not double. And portability between devices should be a given.

And what about book rentals? There are many books that I would love to read but don’t want to buy all of them. In the physical world I can take them out at a library. Why can’t I do the same in the digital world?

This unfairness has miffed me for a long time. What do you think?

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