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Jokerit, a true contender to the title this season?

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Let’s throwback to the last season and see what we had when we watched Jokerit’s 3rd season in the KHL after a quite successful first two.

Basically, nothing worked on the ice, not the scoring, not the power play or the box play formations and there was in general poor defending as well.

Therefore, they lost many games, such games as they should have won, and they were overrun by the big teams, both home and away.

But, somehow, perhaps a bit miraculously, they managed to reach one of the two last playoff spots that were at stake throughout the regular season.

Although there wouldn’t be much more fun than that, Jokerit’s fate was sealed as we all knew within, as CSKA had absolutely no issues to eliminate the Finnish team in four straight games.

Some might talk about the famous “success hangover,” which causes teams who have reached the highest level and made a first successful couple of seasons then be at their worst the following term.

Although, I wouldn’t say that they were suffering from a hangover or too high expectations except for the fans, but rather I suspect that the organization was not really used to the league and the fact that things can change.

On the other hand, Jokerit didn’t have a competitive team enough to make games even exciting, as all got as bad as it could get, no matter what they tried.

So far in this season 2017-18, the tune sounds merrier for the Helsinki team, and they have reached 15 winning games in a row.

The incredible streak of Jokerit ended up in St. Petersburg, where they lost 4-3 in OT, but was so close to achieving the 16th win.

And if we talk about a single player:

Ryan Zapolski’s stunning club record ended at 245 min and 36 seconds of shutout minutes. The previous record was held by Tim Thomas, whom we knew as a wall for the Boston Bruins some years ago.

Zapolski should be a strong candidate to be one of the goalkeepers in the US Olympic team in South Korea 2018 because he’s one of the best tenders outside the NHL.

Another player that is in vogue this season is the super prospect, Eeli Tolvanen. An incredible talent that has the capacity to reach as far as the imagination can reach.

The shot is as accurate and hard as his countryman Patrick Laines.

The whole team has another approach and belief in their own capacity this year and after the game against SKA St. Petersburg, they have shown that they can disturb the defending champions, even in St. Petersburg where it is normally very tough to play.

One significant question we must ask though: is Jokerit a true contender for the title this year?

It would be easy to believe that when we have seen the team’s game so far in the season, but, on the other hand, I would say: why not?

If a non-Russian team could win the Gagarin Cup in the nearest future, it would be Jokerit undoubtedly, I’d think.

And, this season has demonstrated that there is capacity in the team to achieve that, also that there is much more force to dig out from the players, which means that they haven’t shown yet their absolute best even if they have played on a very high level.

I am sure that the Jokerit players have something similar to this quote in mind during every practise and game:

Unity is a strength… when there are teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.

-Mattie Stepanek, American poet 1990-2004

Find hockey memorabilia at SteinerSports.com

 

Arto Palovaara, Sunday Chronicler for Sports Rants Europe. Previously, he contributed for the betting company Betsafe, Svenska fans, Get real hockey and Ice nation UK. He is also an educated archaeologist and life coach who loves literature and history. Not to forget: probably he is the only sportswriter that plays the banjo.

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Olympic Cyclist Kelly Catlin Dead at 23

Anthony DiMoro

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Olympic track cyclist Kelly Catlin, who competed in the 2016 Rio Janeiro Games, was found dead in her California home this past Friday due to an apparent suicide, according to an announcement from her father, according to Reuters.

“There isn’t a minute that goes by that we don’t think of her and think of the wonderful life she could have lived,” her father, Mark Catlin said, according to VeloNews. “There isn’t a second in which we wouldn’t freely give our lives in exchange for hers. The hurt is unbelievable.”

Catlin, 23, took the silver medal in Rio and was part of the teams who took home the gold in 2016, 2017, and 2018 World Championships.

Catlin had reportedly struggled with mental health in the past and her sister, Christine Catlin, said that Catlin was “a really special person – kind, funny, empathetic, and talented at literally everything she did, per the Washington Post. She just felt like she couldn’t say no to everything that was asked of her and this was her only escape.”

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Tom Brady And Pats Play Record 8th AFC Championship Game, Seek 6th Superbowl

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It’s Championship Sunday and one of the NFL staples remain atop the league. The New England Patriots are appearing in their record 8th AFC title game in hopes of competing for a sixth title.

A season that most organizations would be happy with, was one of challenge for the Patriots. Usually a top tier team, they suffered bad losses to the Jaguars, Titans and Dolphins. However, in Patriot fashion along a weak AFC East, the Patriots finished 11-5, won a 10th straight conference title and secured a first round bye.

Kansas City will host New England in the AFC Championship game in what is a rematch from week six. That game featured an offensive clinic ,  As reported by CBS Boston, Brady went 24-35 passing for 340 yards and touchdown in that game; Mahomes went 23-36 passing for 352 yards and four touchdowns. The AFC Championship could very well play out the same way.

The Chiefs will be a tough out, They won their first home playoff game in 25 years last week against the Colts and are riding one of the most prolific offenses in history behind quarterback whisperer Andy Reid and phenome Patrick Mahomes who is arguably the NFLs best young QB.

In what is a David and Goliath matchup, Brady seems to imply they are the underdog. As he told CBS’s Tracy Wolfson, “I know everyone thinks we suck and, you know, cant win games,”.  Will the dynasty continue? Or will Reid and Mahomes hoist the Lombardi?

I’m leaning towards the game plan of Bill Belichick and veteran experience of Tom Brady in this one. I think a Patriot/Saints matchup is in order. Either way, it will undoubtedly be one for the ages.

Game Time: Sunday January 20th at 6:40ET/5:40CT on CBS.

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An Agency Changing the Sponsorship Game for Athletes

Anthony DiMoro

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The following is an official press release from Eight Seven Media

Sponsorships and endorsements have changed significantly over the past few years. Historically, we know them as mainstream commercials and endorsements by top apparel and shoe brands with professional athletes and celebrities at the forefront. Until recently, the huge rise of influencer marketing has changed brands perspective and they have gravitated towards using social media stars as their advocates. Influencers are compensated with hundreds of thousands of dollars and brands have turned away from the traditional celebrity or professional athlete. Eight Seven Media is looking to turn that model on its head and bring sponsorship dollars back to professional athletes.

Founded by Dylan Scance and Derek Flodmand, Eight Seven Media creates social media content for professional athletes. Working on the talent buying side, they noticed that brands were only picking talent based on either their audience or their content. When they would pitch athletes to certain brands, they knew they were a perfect fit for the brand from a personality and lifestyle perspective, but the athletes had a tough time getting deals from brands. Aside from the lack of resources these agencies provided, the number one reason was their lack of content. Most athletes understand that having a social media presence is crucial in today’s market, but they don’t necessarily understand exactly how to leverage their channels to their maximum potential.

We’ve outlined Eight Seven’s process below:

Step 1: Identification

Along with a data-backed strategy, their team works hand-in-hand with both the athlete and agent to understand what types of brands they are interested in partnering with.

Step 2: Content Creation

Their team then works directly with the athlete to create rich, bespoke lifestyle social media content, specific to the verticals they have identified. They will meet directly with the athlete to bring this content to life.

Step 3: Amplification

As the athlete pushes out bespoke content via their social channels, their team leverages a specialized software called Social Ads to amplify top-performing content to target audience(s) based on the verticals we have identified. This provides the athlete with increased reach and exposure within the right audience segments- thus increasing their potential value to identified brands.

Step 4: Reporting

Via the Social Ads software, their team provides intuitive reporting on content performance, inclusive of demographic and geographic data which highlights the extended audience that has been exposed to the athlete’s content.

Athletes are a perfect fit for brands for many reasons. They have a highly engaged audience that’s not filled with bot accounts (something that’s been plaguing the influencer industry for years). They are inspirational, motivational, and have overcome many challenges and hardships in life that inspire generations of fans. They are the perfect example of a true “influencer”, but they are still getting overlooked for sponsorship deals.

Eight Seven Media also offers their “Athlete Incubator”, a service where they work with newly signed athletes that are being developed by agents and teams and completely rebrand their social channels out of college. These athletes go through a 12-month process with Eight Seven where they advise them on best practices for their social channels, how to create and leverage high-quality content on their own, what brands look for from a social media perspective, and how to engage with their audience. Along with content creation, Eight Seven Media provides its clients with an analysis of how well their athletes social channels are performing.

The content being created is leveraged by agents when they’re pitching an athlete for sponsorships or endorsements. With the huge rise in lifestyle and fashion brands, non-traditional endorsements are something that’s taking the industry by storm. Kyle Kuzma signing with the GOAT app is a perfect example of how optimizing your content to fit the brands you want to work with pays off in the long-term. Brands not only want to partner with athletes that they can trust to produce high-quality content, but they want to ensure that this can be pushed out to their brands owned and operated social channels by repurposing these assets.

Learn more about Eight Seven Media here or reach out to dylan@eightsevenmedia.com.

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