On Ice

Peter von Allmen, professor and chair of the Department of Economics and Business, has an abiding interest in sports. In the past, he's played golf and ice hockey; these days, he's a competitive cyclist as well as a duathlete and triathlete. He teaches a course on the economics of sports. And many of his research activities have to do with sports.

One article that he will see published this summer in the Atlantic Economic Journal has the dry academic title of "The Influence of Structural Changes and International Players on Competitive Balance in the NHL." It was written with Aju Fenn of Colorado College, Stacey Brook of the University of Sioux Falls, and Tom Preissing, a defensive player for the San Jose Sharks. And thereby hangs a tale.

Von Allmen says the article began at the Western Economic Association meeting in 2003, where he and Brook gave a paper on the influence of international players on competitive balance, only to discover that Fenn and Preissing, who had been Fenn's student at Colorado College, had similar interests. So they pooled their data.

"It was more interesting, to me anyway, [because] Tom is a current NHL player," von Allmen said. Then he added ruefully, for this discussion took place in February: "Well, right now no one is a current NHL player because of the labor stoppage!" The NHL owners and players sat out the season but resolved their dispute in May.

"Tom Preissing signed with the Sharks after finishing four years at Colorado College," e-mailed David Pollak, who writes about hockey for the San Jose Mercury News. "He's a very bright guy."

If you wade through the title, the article discusses the dynamics of a sport that's still building a constituency when many of the players are foreigners (Russians, Scandinavians, Central Europeans) who have no ties to the community and little command of English. Many such are Preissing's teammates. So here is Tom, below, being defensive, and in his spare time a researcher with a link to Moravian College.

Photo: Courtesy of the San Jose Sharks/Don Smith