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  • 🏒 Linechange: Timmy's aint happy, esports growing & the Bettmanator lets one slip

🏒 Linechange: Timmy's aint happy, esports growing & the Bettmanator lets one slip

Your hockey + tech+ culture news all in one.

I know, we're a couple of days late, our bad!

Late for what, some of you in the back might ask?

Linechange is a weekly newsletter that aims to inform you intelligently (and respectfully) about the best hockey + tech + culture tidbits.

No time to waste, here's what's crackling:

  • Tim Horton's, Canadian Tire, Esso, Nike and more keep dropping the hammer

  • Esports to dethrone hockey within decade

  • Bettman hints at teams going direct to consumer for game coverage

Canada's coffee chain adds extra espresso to its sponsorship position

Woah, so unless you've been living under a rock, your jaw must be sore from hitting the ground over and over and over again when it comes to Hockey Canada. We won't dive into the whole scandal timeline, but the media has uncovered a SECOND fund that was used to pay off sexual assault victims. Yikes. You read that correctly.

As the brand that's supposed to warm up hockey parents during that cold 7 AM Saturday practice, it only makes sense that Tim Horton's is doubling down on their sponsorship withdrawal. The real frightening thing is executives from the Canadian federal hockey organization keep peddling weirder and weirder arguments not to change. The "everybody else is doing it, why am I the one being punished" excuse laid out publicly by current ( I can't imagine for long) board chair Andrea Skinner is a head-scratcher.

Tim Horton's isn't alone either. Canadian Tire is permanently withdrawing ( that's intense!), Nike's out and so are a bunch of other groups.

It's getting so bad that in a rare unprecedented move, provincial hockey bodies are now disassociating themselves from the federal body and not transferring money up the food chain. Add in the fact that the Sports Minister agrees with this cowboy approach, and you've got yourself a sizzling plate of trouble.

"I think that would be very impactful in a negative way to all of our boys and girls who are playing hockey," she said. "Will the lights stay on at the rink? I don't know. We can't predict that. To me, it's not a risk worth taking."

Andrea Skinner, Hockey Canada board chair, explaining why the executive team should not change at Hockey Canada

Our editorial take: Force em' to clean house. Rinse it squeaky clean. Now. Actually, no, do it yesterday. This has become a circus, and it's tarnishing a national treasure. Canadians deserve better. Hockey deserves better.

The next shift is coming quicker than we think

Most of us hockey folks don't know it, but soccer has officially surpassed hockey in popularity in the US. Esports will soon shove hockey down to 6th spot if things keep going.

Isn't esports video-gaming, some of you might ask? No, it's the sport of video-gaming: franchises, teams, audiences are built on top of skilled players playing video games. Think this is a joke? Watch this real real esports event from 2018 in Madrid.

Now pivot back to the players from the Arizona Coyotes who aren't pleased with their 5,000 person rink setup. As an industry we keep thinking fans will stick around for the game because they've been there for over 100 years, but those hockey fans are getting older every year, with no signs of a rejuvenation.

Gen Z do not view sports through the same lens that older generations did. The physicality is less important than the social connectivity and mental engagement. We all need to start paying attention to what the next generation is doing, not what we think they should be doing. Read the room.

Gary drops golden nuggets ( golden for him obviously)

The Bettman-in-chief has answered some intriguing questions recently during a Sports Business Journal interview. One thing that stood out to us particularly was his comment on regional sports coverage ( the regional sports stations that cover games). He expects teams in the future to stream coverage directly to fans and skip the local networks that have been supporting teams for decades.

Why does this tiny detail matter? In essence, the whole dynamic as we know it today will drastically change if teams stream to fans directly instead of using local broadcasts. Sure, more money will be made by the teams ( hoorah Gary, ya did it again!) because they'll control more of the inputs ( $$$) and the output ( costs and structure). But we'll lose that authentic feeling of watching a game as a community and instead every streaming decision will be made to maximize profits. Local broadcasts play an important role in providing the human inefficiencies that make the game, well the game.

In an era where real journalism is literally dying, the last standing relatable entity is the local regional broadcast. It's inefficient, clumsy & sometimes teeters on awkward but it's got the Michael Scott effect: you kinda like it and relate with it, for some weird reason.

As a final note, Steve Carell played D-3 hockey and has an up-and-running Elite Prospects page. Eat that for dessert.

Alright, that's a wrap.

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