Does Blackhawks jersey ban violate the First Amendment? (via ABA Journal)

Chicago Blackhawks fans who are lucky enough to snag tickets for the Stanley Cup Finals at the Amalie Arena in Tampa will be barred from wearing team apparel if their seats are in exclusive club seating areas.

The policy, along with another restricting ticket purchases to credit cards associated with Florida zip codes, is raising hackles among Blackhawks fans. The ban on team apparel is also raising First Amendment issues, according to Florida International University law professor Howard Wasserman, who spoke with the Chicago Tribune.

Amalie Stadium is publicly owned and the First Amendment would apply to its actions, Wasserman said. He sees a potential problem if the ban on Blackhawks gear applied throughout the stadium.

He notes that the ban only applies to certain sections, however. “While troubling (and stupid),” he told the Tribune in an email, “if that involves only a relatively small portion of the arena and only a relatively small part of the seats, it may be permissible. Certainly more so than a blanket ban on anyone wearing Blackhawks gear.”

(via ABA Journal)

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Predators Advancing on Chicago

After dropping an 87 minute double overtime game to Chicago in game of the Stanley Cup playoffs on Thursday (the game started on Wednesday), the Predators come back and blast Chicago back north with a 6-2 win to tie the series. With this win, the Predators have the loud-mouthed Blackhawks just where they want them.

Read the full story here.

On the Road Again: A study of NHL rink variation

One of the important background dimensions to comparative baseball statistics is known as “park adjustments,” a set of corrective factors applied to account for the physical differences (e.g., outfield wall depth) between each park. Among American sports today, only Major League Baseball and NASCAR (and golf, I suppose) permit such structural variation between the competitive arenas themselves.

Professional hockey used to be in that group too. More than merely adjusting, adding, and subtracting lines on the ice to affect the flow of play, as the NHL continues to do (cf. the NBA three-point line), the rinks themselves used to be different sizes. League rules mandate a uniform rink size, but so-called “small rinks” persisted in the NHL as late as the 1980s and 1990s in Boston, Chicago, and Buffalo.

While hockey does not face the structural differences present in baseball, there still is a need to apply rink-by-rink statistical adjustments. That’s because the compiling of basic hockey statistics (e.g., shots, hits, turnovers) requires statisticians to make judgment calls to a more significant degree than in a discrete-event sport like baseball.

By way of limited background, the NHL collects basic gameplay statistics through a computer system known as the Real Time Scoring System (RTSS). A benefit of RTSS is that it aggregates and organizes data for analysis by teams, players, and fans. A vulnerability of RTSS is the subjectivity alluded to above that comes when human scorers track a fluid, dynamic sport like hockey.

While others have noted certain biases among the RTSS scorers at different rinks, a paper by Michael Schuckers and Brian Macdonald published earlier this month analyzes those discrepancies across a spread of core statistics and proposes a “Rink Effects” model that aims to do for subjective rink-to-rink differences in hockey scoring what park adjustments do for structural differences between baseball parks.    Continue reading

How did the Detroit Red Wings manage to take a 3-1 series lead over the Chicago Blackhawks?

I’m not exactly sure, but it sure has been a fun series to watch so far. My main concern is not that the Blackhawks may get a game back when the series returns to Chicago Saturday night, but that one of their players will do something to injure one of the Detroit players. This undoubtedly is one of the NHL’s oldest rivalries, stoked in recent years by the matching successes of both squads, but as last night’s game demonstrated, one team’s handling most of the extracurricular physical activity, and one team’s handling most of the goal scoring.

ALDLAND Podcast

After taking a couple weeks off for various reasons (mostly because of a lack of interesting stories), ALDLAND is back with a brand new podcast.  The B1G title race is featured, along with discussion of the Blackhawks record point streak and our first ever story about the MLS.  Click play and get some culture!

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Download the ALDLAND podcast at our Podcasts Page or stream it right here:

Windy City recap: Red Wings fall to Blackhawks 3-2

I started my New Year’s sports roadtrip in Chicago, where the Blackhawks beat the Red Wings 3-2 at the United Center. The game was exciting, with five goals and lead changes spread out across the three periods, and some brawling by Todd Bertuzzi. Although the game was tight and balanced, Chicago stayed slightly better throughout the night.

This was my first visit to the United Center, and it’s an impressive, fun place to watch a game. It feels both large and consuming at the same time, and from the start of the National Anthem, the fans keep it loud.  Keep reading…

Friday Delta Jam

Today’s Friday Jam comes to you from the road, where I’m beginning my reverse reinactment of the second third of the great blues migration. I will be in Chicago tonight for the Red Wings and Blackhawks, and I’ll be in Memphis tomorrow afternoon for the Liberty Bowl, where Vanderbilt will face Cincinnati. Given the recent spate of hockey head injuries, the most recent victim of which is Nashville’s Shea Weber, featuring Warren Zevon and Mitch Albom’s “Hit Somebody! (The Hockey Song)” in this spot didn’t seem quite right. The other selection never was in question, however, and I was happy to find this particular clip because it was the first time I’d ever heard the tune:

I hope that happens to me exactly, minus the rain and the catfish. I’ve caught catfish. I’ve eaten catfish. Various preparations. I’ve tried. I can’t do it anymore. And the pouring rain. It always seems to rain for the Liberty Bowl, but this year is shaping up just fine.