NHL wins and sins: Gambling on hockey, Mark Borowiecki, Arby's and Brian Boyle

It’s time for our weekly installment highlighting what’s right and what’s wrong with the NHL during every week throughout the season. For all the things there are to love about the NHL and its product, there’s also plenty to hate and plenty to criticize. 

With that in mind, let’s hash it out together … right here … every single Wednesday. 

Loving and/or hating something about the NHL at any given point throughout this season? Feel free to drop your praise/complaints in my email inbox at [email protected]

What’s right: Gambling on hockey

The NHL officially embraced the gambling world this week when it announced a multi-year partnership with MGM Resorts — the first sports gambling partnership in league history. As part of the deal, MGM gets to use the league’s intellectual property (such as league and team logos) and advanced data for their sports book. The idea is for the partnership to help open up new and easier ways for fans to bet on NHL action.

While the NHL won’t be taking a cut of MGM’s gambling profits, the league will be pulling in a good chunk of money as part of the deal. The exact financial details of the agreement aren’t known yet, but this isn’t an exclusive rights deal — meaning that the league can also sell its property and data to other sports books as well. According to a study commissioned by the American Gaming Association, it’s estimated that the league could pull in over $215 million in additional revenue annually thanks to the legalization of sports betting.

That financial windfall will likely have an impact on the league’s salary cap, which is adjusted based on league revenue every year. That means more money for your favorite team to spend recklessly and moronically in free agency! Hell yeah!

And if all this money talk is putting you to sleep, you may be more interested in this aspect of the announcement: It seems the NHL’s player and puck tracking technology is nearly here. Gary Bettman confirmed that the tracking systems the league has been developing over the past few years is expected to be implemented at full scale starting next season. Its arrival should have a pretty significant impact both on the analytics side and the gambling side, and MGM is hoping that it will bring “new and innovative interactive fan engagement and betting opportunities.” 

TL;DR: This gambling thing seems like it’s going to be pretty good for the NHL and its fans, at least until it becomes a point of contention during the next lockout in a few years.

What’s wrong: Mark Borowiecki

Boy, was it ever a week for the Senators defenseman. He achieved the incredible task of getting himself suspended not once, but TWICE in the same week.

First, Borowiecki found himself in hot water thanks to an elbow he delivered to the face of Bruins rookie Urho Vaakanainen last Tuesday. Ultimately, the 19-year-old Vaakanainen was diagnosed with a concussion and Borowiecki landed a one-game suspension.

Then, in his first game back from that suspension, Borowiecki logged precisely 3:25 of ice time before promptly diving into a pile of crap again. He was given a major penalty and ejected from Sunday night’s game against Vegas thanks to this hit on Cody Eakin. Borowiecki was called for charging on the play and appeared to clip Eakin’s head on the collision. 

Once again, Borowiecki got a call from the league’s Department of Player Safety, who handed him a three-game ban. He’s due to return this Sunday if anyone wants to mark their calendars and watch him go for the coveted “scramble a guy’s brain and lose some game checks” hat trick. 

On the bright side, he’s got a pretty good Halloween costume in the bag now.

It’s Borowiecki, b—-.

What’s right: Brian Boyle’s health

After being diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia last preseason, Boyle found out this week that his cancer was in full remission. That’s great news for the 33-year old Devils center, who was originally told by doctors that it could be 18 months before the cancer fully disappeared. He beat it in just over 13 months. 

After his diagnosis, Boyle played 69 games for New Jersey last season and was an All-Star selection in reserve. He also took home the Masterton Trophy for perseverance and dedication to hockey at the end of the year. 

Boyle said that he’s felt pretty good for a while now and that the remission news won’t change much moving forward (he’s still going to have to take monthly medication and attend regular checkups) but it has to feel good knowing there’s no trace of the leukemia left in his body. 

That’s really all I got. No jokes or anything here. Just legitimately happy for Boyle.

What’s wrong: Auston Matthews’ health

Even as a Boston guy and a noted Leafs un-enthusiast, seeing Auston Matthews go down to injury this week sucked. The 21-year-old Toronto star is going to miss at least a month after taking a big hit from Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba over the weekend.

Matthews suffered a left shoulder injury but will not need surgery. He said the injury is similar to the right shoulder separation he suffered last year, an ailment that kept him out of 10 games. 

Obviously, it’s good news that the injury isn’t serious enough to warrant surgery or keep him out for a huge chunk of time, but it still stinks to lose one of the game’s most talented and exciting stars for weeks at a time. It’s especially tough when you consider the start that Matthews had to this season.

Through the Leafs’ first 11 games, Matthews had 10 goals (second-most in the NHL at the time of injury) and 16 points (sixth-most). He was drumming up early-season Hart chatter, which isn’t surprising considering the projections.

The Leafs will likely survive his absence, but we’re all worse off for missing out on a month of Matthews highlights this year. However, I am very much looking forward to the “Are Auston Matthews’ shoulders too brittle to carry the Leafs?” takes to come out of Toronto. 

What’s right: Arby’s

Yeah, you heard me … Arby’s.

With the Red Wings in last place and looking like one of the worst teams in the league — if not the worst — Arby’s showed some love to the Detroit faithful this week by changing a long-running promotion to make it a bit more achievable for this year’s pack of sad Wings.

That’s a monstrous promotional shift that essentially serves as a pretty good burn against the Wings. Seeing a hat trick is relatively rare, even for some of the most talented NHL rosters. The Red Wings didn’t have one at all last year. Arby’s clearly had very little faith that anyone on Detroit’s roster was going to register one this year. It’s hard to blame them; The Red Wings are second-worst in scoring so far this year.

But three goals in a game? That’s standard stuff, even for the league’s worst squads. It’s something the Wings are going to achieve quite a lot this season. In fact, they already hit the mark twice already this week. Plenty of free curly fries to go around!

So let’s give some credit where credit is due. Arby’s didn’t have to make this change. They could have left Red Wings fans out to dry and without any free curly fries to drown their sorrows during what is almost certainly going to be a miserable season in Detroit.

But Arby’s is better than that. They have the meats, and they have compassion. They also have enough brains to realize that a promotion is useless if fans never get to utilize it.

What’s wrong: Mikko Rantanen’s hitting ability

We discussed Mikko Rantanen here last week. He, along with linemate Nathan MacKinnon, got off to an incredible start to the season, recording at least one point in each of Colorado’s first nine games to start the season.

Well, the duo was finally kept off the score sheet in that 10th game — a shutout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The game was extra rough for Rantanen, who also did this.

Just an absolutely incredible blooper, and one that Rantanen probably got chirped about pretty heavily … at least until he bounced back with a four-point effort in the following game. 

Nylander Watch!

NHL wins and sins: Gambling on hockey, Mark Borowiecki, Arby's and Brian Boyle
Pete Blackburn photo illustration

Toronto’s young stud has still yet to be signed or traded but his holdout does now officially have its own adorable Halloween costume. I’m still trying to figure out if that’s the real Kyle Dubas.

NHL wins and sins: Gambling on hockey, Mark Borowiecki, Arby's and Brian Boyle

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