Philadelphia Writer Dumps On Hockey

If you only read one article this am, this should be it. Who knows how much is written tongue in cheek. Who cares. With the exception of die hard fans in each market, I think John Gonzalez pretty much sums up the average American attitude towards hockey.

Take a gander:

“It’s become a niche sport, a regionalized pastime with devoted fans who love the home team but not necessarily the international product. It’s partly why hockey’s American television ratings consistently rank last among the four major pro sports.”

Ummm no, it hasn’t “become a niche sport”. It has always been one. It has never grown beyond.

“my first reaction to the news that NBC might bail on the NHL was “hooray.” It made me dream of a world where no one suffers through national hockey games because they will have disappeared from our televisions.”

LOL- that is really, really funny…unless of course you are the NHL.

“‘I’d rather watch an Arena League Football game – if the AFL were still operating, that is – than settle down for three periods of out-of-town hockey. And I don’t think I’m alone. Would you be that broken up about not getting the next Calgary-Columbus clash? Would you head out to the bar or buy the NHL package to catch Colorado vs. Washington?”

I would love to know what Ted Leonsis would have to say about that. Not because his team is mentioned but because he is an impassioned owner.

“The NHL could move every team in the league (save the Flyers) to Toronto and it’s doubtful anyone around here would blink. I’m betting the same goes for other American cities, too. Part of that is because hockey has never been the country’s favorite sport, and part of that is because the NHL lacks the oversize personalities that dominate other leagues. Almost everyone knows about LeBron or Kobe, but how many fans can opine about Alex Ovechkin or Marc Savard?”

I think that is tongue in cheek, however the underlying sentiment is probably valid. The vast majority of American probably don’t care.

“The biggest, longest-lasting national news to come out of the NHL this season happened when former Dallas Stars winger Sean Avery said something not-so-nice about ex-girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert. In any other sport, Avery’s comments would have barely registered. He’s an extremely poor man’s T.O., a watered down version of Stephon Marbury, a not-nearly-as-interesting facsimile of Manny Ramirez. It takes a lot more than trash talking a former flame to keep pace with that crew. In the NFL, where shooting yourself in the leg is a mere hazing ritual, Avery would go almost totally unnoticed. But in the NHL, a league full of players as stiff as the ice itself, Avery was painted as a bad boy who had to be punished.”

So the point is we need some hardened criminals in the NHL, then the folks south of the border will really watch? A league full of players as stiff as ice. That is pretty funny though, I will give him that.

“According to the aforementioned Toronto Sun story, the league makes approximately $10 million per season in its revenue-sharing arrangement with NBC. In sports, $10 mil is nothing. It’s the cash Pacman Jones takes to the strip club when he wants to make it rain. Which gives me an idea. With a little effort, we could raise $10 mil ourselves, then pay the NHL to give up on NBC (and any other network that might consider coming to the rescue), keep the game provincial, and stay away from national television. Think about it, then send your donations to The Inquirer. We’ll handle everything.”

So here is the question to you out there. Would any of you care if the game became totally “provincial”? We all know it isn’t happening, at least not in our lifetimes…. If the vast majority of American’s don’t care, should we care that they don’t? Absolutely not. I don’t care how many people attend a game in Nashville, Phoenix or Atlanta. That there are few fans in the sunbelt, Mississippi or Idaho means nothing to me. If the US teams all moved to Canada should we care that all the teams, even “Gonzo’s” Flyers are playing in Canada?????

Read the Philly Story here….

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February 17, 2009 11:25 am

A link, or maybe a mention of what paper this was in, would be nice.

February 17, 2009 11:45 am

If the cost of success for the NHL in US markets is tools, criminals, and egocentrics for athletes, I’ll pass. Move them all back to Canada and the traditional US markets, that’d be fine by me. I am sick of the Bettman experiment anyways.

February 17, 2009 5:19 pm

The fact that the NHL isn’t full of thugs and insecure, desperate, pathetic multi-millionaires begging for attention is one of the main reasons why I love hockey.

February 18, 2009 10:51 am

The salary cap will play a big part in outreach and interest. The biggest way to get fans is to have a good team in your back-yard. Like it or not, the cap should give a team a chance to pick up young talent from others who cant afford them.

The NBA is the worst game on TV today. People are literally watching it for the highlights and have no interest in the game’s at all. People who like the game watch College B-Ball.

The NHL is a game, and has strategy…To want to learn the strategy, you need to follow a good team that has excitement.

Back in Black
Back in Black
February 18, 2009 11:31 am

Maybe Zack Parise could be like Lebron and spend the next two years telling everyone he’d rather play for the Rangers. And then maybe Ovechkin could rape someone like Kobe was alleged to have done. Finally, some stars with big egos.

And really, stiff? The NBA fines players for not following an off-court dress code.

I’d worry about losing the American market in that the loss of money would lead to European leagues outbidding the NHL. But there are plenty of strong markets in the US, even if it’s lacking a ‘national’ one.

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