Saturday, January 20, 2007

Here are some cool accidental action shots. I have a camera phone that sits face-out in its belt holster. It's a bad design but the cool side effect is that occasionally I bump the button and start the camera or video recorder and get unexpected pictures or videos.

Here are some shots from the Zamboni, during a game, with my hand on the water valve. I turn the water down around the turns so the goalies don't have to deal with a flood when they return to the ice:

I had some video footage as well but lost it in transfer from my phone to a Mini-SD card to my computer. I accidently deleted them from all three, assuming I had them still saved in one place.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

More Number Crunching - and - Good News For Cyclones

My last post was heavy on stats. I hope I don't make your eyes glaze over, but looking at the stats as of today (1-15-07) they have played half their season and I continue to be impressed, so it merits a continued analysis...

Games Played: 37
Wins: 21
Losses: 13
OT Loss: 1
Shootout Loss: 2
Points: 45
Overall Win %: .608
Home Win %: .667
Away Win %: .531
Goals For: 110
Goals Against: 91
Goal Differential: +19
Last 10 Games: 7-2-0-1
Penaltis in Minutes: 849

What does all this mumbo-jumbo mean? Damn fine hockey, that's what it means. .608%? You gotta be kidding me! It breaks down to .531 on the road (recoving after a bad start on road wins) and .667 at home! That's fantastic - especially polishing these stats after coming off a stretch of 7 games in 9 days. That's brutal at any level! Let's see some local men's league players do that!

For the fans, this means that if you go to a hockey game, you have about a 66% chance of seeing them win. Secondarily, it means if you don't see a win, you will still see a good hockey game. That's what I call getting your money's worth.

Their weakness right now is the power play. To go deep in the playoffs, they need to fix this. However, it may not be as bad as the 15% rating. First, you have to figure that they are pretty high up in terms if penalties against. A lot of their power plays are cut short by penalties and they spend a lot of time in the box, therefore getting fatigued.

The league is demanding the referees call the games very tight, in the "new NHL" style. Personally, I don't like it but that's another whole blog entry. For whatever reason, the Cyclones are getting more than their fair share of penalties. But they rise to the occasion and have the best penalty killing in the league. That's pretty damn impressive.

So, even if they don't fix their power play by the time the playoffs come at least they can fend off the other guys' power play. That's not a great thing to have, but it's a decent off-set.

The other weakness is marketing. All of us who go to games know this because we know how good it is but we don't see the organization selling themselves off the ice. So far, I'm still not worried. They had only precious few months to put a team on the ice last summer. They had their priorities straight. They concentrated on GOOD HOCKEY. They delivered GREAT HOCKEY. Marketing crap is still crap and won't sustain. They first built a fine product.

Now they need to market that product. They have started that. We're seeing TV commecials, soda can advertising, Yellow Book cover, embedded flash ads on the Enquirer and Post websites, etc. They are getting the ball rolling in support of an established product.

That's OK by me. They have to keep it up and continue to improve. I still maintain that they need to get on the radio next year. They've proven this year that they have the goods; but next they have to put the goods out 'in your face' for people to see.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Hellooooooo Out There!

As I have said, the blog will not be as active and not be as "probing" as it once was. My holiday season was wonderful and I've not even looked at or thought about the blog in a few weeks. I checked the site meter and, sure enough, many of you are still checking it regularly.

I truly appreciate that.

To show my appreciation, I'm putting up this post and will try to get back into the swing of at least semi-regular posts. I also want to encourage comments on my posts. Comments are open without restriction. You don't need a blogger account.

At this point in the season, if I had to give the Cyclones a grade, I would give them a qualified A-minus. By qualified, I mean that I'm giving them some lenience on the curve due to circumstances. They could definitely do better on the management/marketing end and of course more wins is always good. But overall I give them an A-minus.

I think it was important for them to come out this season and walk the walk, not just talk the talk. They need a strong winning season. People like winners and they can not hope to garner support unless they are winners. After 29 games they are 15-12-1-1 with a .552 win percentage. Only two overtime games means they have played to mostly decisive tallies. Fortunately, they are on the winning side of the percentage. There are two teams in the league that are over .700. That is an incredible state, and also a case of sharks preying on tuna.

There are 8 teams out of 25 that are over .600. That's damn good. It would be very commanding of respect if the Cyclones would get over .600; but that's also an unrealistic goal. The original ECHL Cyclones ended at .570. The IHL Cyclones ended at .530. The last ECHL Cyclones were .49 (over .500 the first two years and .375 the last).

Overall the entity known as the Cincinnati Cyclones stands at a .530 record. So, the current standing is above the historic average. I'll take that. Especially knowing that this team is still striving to improve and actively seeking to improve.

[NOTE: My numbers for previous seasons are pure win/loss not based on points, so the old numbers are actually a little higher if you figure points with OT and shootouts. I was too lazy to do it the long way]

Stability has been much better this year than I would have expected. Fortunately so far they have received players from the parent club and not lost any. They have a fairly deep bench so losing a guy or two may not be so painful. The healthy-scratch guys do contribute when they get the chance to play.

The only call-up of Grumet-Morris wasn't even from the parent affiliate. God bless him for getting the shot, and the 'Clones still have Desjardins. Hopefully they'll get "Dover" back soon to have the ultimate goalie depth chart.

Clearly the thing that has hurt them has been somewhat of a black hole from management and marketing. Or, I should say they have allowed that perception. They are diligently working in the background and they are making great strides. They just not standing out on a street corner telling everyone how good they are. Walking the walk. No trash talk.

The slack that I afford them, mentioned above, is the haste in which they had to put things together. From the time of announcement to the night of the first game was very short. They had their priorities straight by first concentrating on the product. They have delivered the product, more than promised.

That is a perfectly good strategy, as long as they know that it is not a formula for instant success and are prepared for a long-term commitment. I have confidence that they are indeed following that course. Now that they have established the product, they have to put a face on the entity and market themselves.

Again, I am confident that they are following a plan. I think we are already starting to see that plan unfold (for example, the yellow book ad and the embedded online ads with the Enquirer/Post).

I think that given the short notice and the volatility of minor league sports, the A-minus is about the best they could have scored, and they have earned that. Anything higher would have to be nearly god-like. They are doing well; they have room to improve; and they have shown that they intend to improve.

So far, so good. The team is doing its part and so are the base fans. Now both sides need to continue that trend. Tell a buddy, bring a friend to a hockey game!

Don't forget to leave comments!