Wednesday, February 16, 2005

This-

-is the darkest day in the history of the NHL, and let's remember, last year, one guy broke another guy's neck.

I'd say it was one of the darkest days in my own personal history, but there was that day where I got bit by a werewolf.

That day sucked too.

I've said it before, but this is different than baseball canceling the World Series. This is different than football and basketball stoppages. What is potentially going on here is the end of professional hockey in America as we've known it over the last 30 years.

This is a bit of a jokey way to illustrate my point, but it's funny that the only way you can get ESPN to spend more than 35 seconds on hockey is when there isn't any.

But that's just it. The vast majority of sports fans in America just don't give a shit. You can blame terrible marketing, you can blame the collective bargaining agreement, you can blame clutch and grab, you can blame the trap, you can blame less scoring, or you can blame expansion into areas without a tradition of hockey.

Whatever.

It doesn't matter now.

Whichever problem you choose to blame, the answer is definitely NOT to cancel the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Whatever you think about hockey during the regular season, any sports fan with a pulse has to enjoy playoff hockey in overtime. If it's happening during the Stanley Cup finals, and you can see guys hoisting up the indisputably coolest fucking trophy in the history of sport, people are gonna come back for that.

If they would have managed to make a deal this weekend, the lengthy lockout would have provided incredible publicity for the return of the game, and the shortened season would have been a perfect place to try out new rule changes that could spark debate and passion.

What we have now is a 180 degree spin the other way.

What is going to get fans interested is hard hitting, brilliant passing, mind-blowing goaltending, and the jaw-dropping artistry in the midst of seemingly anarchic brutality that makes up the game of hockey played at it's highest level.

What is not going to help is 30 seconds of B-roll footage of Gretzky scoring his 802nd goal sandwiched by 15 minutes of lawyers talking about revenue sharing and cost certainty.

And from a fan's perspective, particularly in America, this is devastating. In addition to the tremendous loss of casual attendance that all teams will suffer, they are losing a remarkable opportunity to give some of the greats from the past 20 years their chance to skate in their final game.

Mark Messier, Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull, Scott Stevens, Mario Lemieux, and many, many more who were not only tremendously exciting to watch, but were integral in promoting or selling the game are now just going to fade away.

Additionally, the new younger superstars, who were just beginning to build real excitement are still relatively unknown, and this gap will not only rob them of a year or more of their prime production, but will make it that much harder for them to market the game in the future.

Guys like Martin St. Louis, Ilya Kovulchuck, Vincent Lecaviler, Joe Thornton, Andrew Raycroft, Jerome Iginla, and more are nowhere close to household names in this country, and they aren't going to be for more than year at least.

That said- it may not be over.

Bettman seemed to not deny a middle figure at his press conference, and I'd be stunned if the players were not flooding his office with calls in an attempt to get SOME kind of deal done.

If they don't, we could be talking about all kinds of awful things from new leagues, to replacement players, to a total shitcanning of all the tradition that has made this game as great as it is.

And if you think people don't give a shit about hockey now, wait until they are faced with a brand new hockey league with no decent TV contract, inflated XFL type "asses in seats" rules, and clashes between storied new franchises like, oh I don't know, say- the New York Urbanites vs. the Boston Ice Devils.

You gotta be kidding me.

Jesus- we have an hour.

Make a deal, Goodenow.

Please.

I'm a fucking werewolf over here, which sucks enough.

Don't force me to try to watch Nascar again.

5 Comments:

At 3:54 PM , Blogger Litany said...

Bettman's getting on my damned nerves lately. Jeez!

 
At 6:13 PM , Blogger Charles Star said...

The answer, of course, is to start folowing college hockey. 99% less bullshit, 100% more hockey in 2005.

For the record, Cornell is the team to root for.

 
At 6:57 PM , Blogger Jereme said...

I don't want to detract from your point. However, during the regular season, doesn't ESPN show at least one NHL game a week?

Also, you talk about new leagues having shitty TV contracts. Weren't Bettman's TV contracts nearly the worst for any televised sport?

I agree that the Players are as much to blame for this cancellation, but Bettman isn't helping anything with his lackluster performance as GM.

To follow college ice instead would mean that I never ever see a game televised. That would plain suck. At least with the WHL I can see the local team play a few times a week on the tube.

 
At 9:36 PM , Anonymous Boofus McGoofus said...

2 things --

1 -- The Stanley Cup maybe the coolest trophy ever, but it is without doubt the ugliest thing ever on ice.

2 -- It seems to me that, in your current situation, you might be able to exercise some influence with the involved parties, at least during the full moon. Know what I mean?

 
At 1:46 PM , Blogger Charles Star said...

Jereme - get yourself a dish. College hockey is on TV now a lot.

 

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