Capitals

St. Francis (NY) escapes Quinnipiac 63-61

St. Francis (NY) escapes Quinnipiac 63-61

HAMDEN, Conn. (AP) Travis Nichols scored 15 points and Brent Jones converted a late, go-ahead layup to lift St. Francis (N.Y.) over Quinnipiac 63-61 Thursday night in the Northeast Conference opener for both teams.

St. Francis (5-7), which trailed 28-25 at halftime, opened up a 50-42 lead with 10:19 left to play but Quinnipiac (4-8) rallied to tie the game at 54-all and take its first lead of the half, 55-54, at the 3:48 mark.

From there, the teams battled through three ties and three lead changes before Ike Azotam's layup tied the game at 61-all with 49 seconds remaining. Jones hit a layup with 9 seconds left to give St. Francis the lead and recorded a steal on Quinnipiac's next possession.

Quinnipiac's Dave Johnson had a layup attempt blocked with 3 seconds showing and Evan Conti's desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer rimmed off.

Zaid Hearst led Quinnipiac with 13 points.

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It's been fun, but the NHL should not stick with the 2020 playoff format

It's been fun, but the NHL should not stick with the 2020 playoff format

This was going to be the year to experiment. No matter what, the 2020 postseason was going to be different. The coronavirus dictated that. The NHL should be applauded for thinking outside the box and trying different things this year, but when the league looks forward to the next season and beyond, let's not get nuts.

The 2020 postseason format has been great given the time we are living in and the adjustments that had to be made, but no, the NHL should not adopt this postseason format going forward, regardless of how fun it has been.

Let's be clear, the regular NHL's playoff format is bad. This is in no way a defense of the nonsensical divisional format which sets up the same matchups over and over and over again and punishes teams in good divisions. A wild card format so complicated you can't explain it to a casual fan? Having the two best teams in a division play in the second round even if they are the two best teams in the conference? Blech. It's terrible. The 2020 postseason format, however, is not a good alternative.

RELATED: POSSIBLE PLAYOFF OPPONENTS FOR CAPS COMING INTO FOCUS

Look, I get it. The best-of-five series are fun! The best-of-seven series can feel drawn out by comparison. In a best of five, every game feels really important!

When the NHL was presenting its plan for the 2020 postseason, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was asked about why the league elected not to shorten some of the playoff series to best-of-five as well and he said the players advocated not to do that so as not to cheapen the Stanley Cup. It takes 16 wins to win the Cup. Period. Even in a pandemic.

The NBA used to have best-of-five series in the first round and that made sense because a lot of those first-round matchups were garbage. The NBA does not have nearly the same level of parity as the NHL and the top teams almost always advanced with little drama at all. The first round of the NHL playoffs is fantastic and full of upsets. There's no reason to fast-forward through those series and play fewer games because those series are compelling.

OK, so keep the four-round, best-of-seven format. What about a play-in best of five series?

First, you can't have 24 teams out of 31 (soon to be 32) reach the postseason. For a league that wants its fans and players to care about an 82-game season, having 24 teams make the playoffs renders the regular season nearly meaningless. The only reason the NHL extended the postseason out to 24 teams this year is because the league canceled the end of the regular season and those bottom teams did not have a chance to make a final push for the playoffs like we see every year. There's no reason to extend the field in a normal season.

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While there are few who would advocate expanding the playoffs to 24 teams, there is a case to be made for adding one or two more teams per conference and having a play-in. Even that, to me, is a step too far. When the league expands to 32 teams, exactly half of them will make the playoffs. Do we really need more than that? It's easy to get excited about that prospect now in the midst of the postseason when the level of play is at its best and interest is at its peak, but let's think about the real dog days of the season in January and February. Would devaluing the regular season by adding more teams to the playoff make those January and February games when the season starts to drag more fun to watch or less? We all know the answer to that question.

And, by the way, all of the support to change the playoffs is a reaction to the qualifying series. We haven't seen what this postseason will look like when the playoffs actually get started. Will the round-robin teams end up at a disadvantage when they face off against teams that already played in a do-or-die series? Will injuries become even more rampant in the always grueling postseason because of those teams playing an extra round? It certainly seems like the proponents of adopting the 2020 postseason format are all being quick to declare this a success before seeing how everything ultimately plays out.

The best-of-five series are fun, but this year is different. It's OK to let 2020 be its own success and move on. The only thing the NHL needs to do is get rid of the awful divisional format, take the top eight teams from each conference and re-seed after each round. This year is different. Let's not pretend we need all these changes when life returns to normal.

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Making a case for Red Wolves as Washington Football Team's new name

Making a case for Red Wolves as Washington Football Team's new name

It's been several weeks since the Washington Football Team announced it was retiring its former name and logo after more than 80 years. Ever since FedEx became the first known sponsor to formally ask Washington to change its name, fans have taken to social media to voice some of their favorites among potential replacements. I spoke with several marketing experts about a few of the fan-generated names, and will use their responses to make a case for some of the most popular suggestions. This is the case for Red Wolves.

Case for: Red Wolves

The previous story in this series made the case for why a DC-themed name would be the best option for the Washington Football Team. One of the reasons marketing professionals said it would be a good idea is because teams that have a name connected to their city have stronger brand equity. So, it’s easy to see how those same experts weren’t as thrilled about names without a deep connection to Washington, like Red Wolves.

However, the marketing professionals weren’t against the idea that Red Wolves could work. And a big part of that has to do with the very reasons former Washington cornerback and unofficial leader of the Red Wolves movement Fred Smoot brought up.

“I can just see FedEx Field and the 80,000 people just howling like Wolves. That would really be something," Smoot told NBC Sports Washington last month.

That very atmosphere described by Smoot is why the name could be a good option. While a good name contributes to strong brand equity, it isn’t the only factor, according to Tim Derdenger, associate professor of marketing and strategy at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business. The fan engagement opportunities with that brand is also important, and those opportunities definitely exist with Red Wolves.

RELATED: 5 NEW AND IMPRESSIVE FAN-GENERATED RED WOLVES LOGO AND UNIFORM DESIGNS

“Absolutely, that’s certainly a dimension that you’re concerned about is what environment, what atmosphere, what engagement can you get from the fans when we can go back to these games, hopefully sooner rather than later,” Derdenger said. “And so what is that experience like? If you have really good fan experience, that is going to elevate brand equity and in the end make the organization more valuable.

“I think [Red Wolves] lends itself to a pretty interesting and maybe amazing fan experience with maybe the howling and everything.”

A good amount of fans are already fond of the Red Wolves name. It was a runaway favorite in a poll conducted by NBC Sports Washington, which also included Red Tails, Warriors and Red Hawks.

 

The poll didn’t include ‘other’ as an option, so it’s possible fans just chose the best of the names provided, but they aren’t alone in favoring the name. Harry Poole, VP of client services at RedPeg Marketing, also named Red Wolves among his favorites, along with Red Tails and Warriors.

“Each of these names has a story that can be told, rolls off the tongue and gives a nod to themes that represent the franchise -- strength, power, fight, courage, tradition and heroes,” Poole said.

He agrees that the team’s rebrand is about more than the name, but as the team undergoes the process, he thinks the name change can work in conjunction with an improving team on the field to create a better fan experience.

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“When the product on the field is strong, it makes the business side of things a lot easier as it relates to sales, marketing and community relations,” Poole said. “If I were selling tickets, merchandise, sponsorships or creating the gameday experience, I would be thrilled about the opportunity this presents for each of those functions.

“This is a momentous decision for the franchise, and it will impact every facet of their business. It needs to be treated as more than a creative project to identify a new moniker and logo, but instead, an exercise to reshape the entire fan experience.”

RELATED: TEMPORARY NAME CHANGE A POSITIVE STEP FOR THE RED WOLVES MOVEMENT

If Washington were to go with Red Wolves, it would only be the first step of a rebrand that would need to include creating the experiences described above, but also defining what the team’s culture will be and what the brand represents going forward. In attempting to do that, RedPeg Marketing CEO Brad Nierenberg thinks Red Wolves is a name “you can run with.”

“A name is an important starting point, but it’s all about what is the pieces of the puzzle, what you build around it,” Nierenberg said. “It’s about what culture you create, what is the brand known for. And I think that it’s interesting, I think the Redskins have an incredible opportunity to start a new narrative. They really do. There’s definitely a silver lining that you can take from this. And I think they have an opportunity, and to create a new narrative about the brand, and they’ll always go, this is the new brand.”

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