Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Faded rock star, push and needle.
You don't know, well that's alright.
You do your thing, I'll live my life.
--- Jerry Cantrell, "Locked On"
This impending NHL lockout pisses me off on many levels. More so than the lockout that happened in 1994, because now I'm an even bigger fan of the game than I was back then. We are coming off one of the greatest Stanley Cup postseasons in history, and yet the NHL, owners and players, want to screw that momentum up?
Here in America, hockey earns TV ratings that are below such award-winning material such as "The World Series of Poker" and Arena Football. I blame the NHL for not marketing the game as well as they should. There's no reason why the NHL isn't bigger in America. So hockey isn't really "America's game". I'd much rather watch hockey than tennis or golf, that's for sure. But yet those two sports that I just mentioned are bigger in America than hockey. That's inexcusable.
What will happen to the NHL if there is a long lockout? Who knows. There's been talk of contraction, which is just silly to begin with. Granted, the fact that there's a hockey team in Columbus, Ohio and not Portland, Oregon is a joke. But at the same time, I bet that there are more than a few people in Buckeyeland who care about the Blue Jackets. If there is a long lockout, we may have seen the last of some great players, including Mario Lemieux and Peter Forsberg. (I may hate Forsberg, but I can't deny the fact that he's a great player)
Going back to the momentum created by the Stanley Cup postseason of this past spring, the fans of Tampa Bay now have a Stanley Cup to celebrate. But what if the Lightning don't play hockey in 2004-2005? This is one of the reasons why hockey can't afford a long lockout, because they will lose some of the fanbase in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area. The same goes for Calgary, but on a lesser level, because they are in Canada. The Canadian fans will come back to the game. I'm not so sure about some of the American cities that have NHL franchises.
David hit on a very good point last night. NBC will have the broadcast rights to the NHL, beginning in 2004-2005. This is one way where the NHL could market itself better. Except for NASCAR, the Peacock network doesn't have any major sports in their pocket. Just don't use the blue puck like FOX did, that's all I ask.
What if I were in charge of the NHL? What changes would I make?
---Remove the Chicago Blackhawks from Bill Wirtz' hands and allow the public to own them, ala the Green Bay Packers. This could work. I know I'd buy a share in the Blackahawks. Not that I'm a Blackhawk fan, but I'm a hockey fan and it's just wrong that the Blackhawks are sucking wind right now.
---Keep all 30 teams in place. No contraction needed whatsoever.
---Bar Jeremy Roenick from the broadcasting booth. But he would be allowed to be a studio analyst. I'd have no problem with that.
---Eliminate trapping. F**k you, Jacques Lemaire.
---Lower ticket prices. It's a joke that the cheapest ticket in some NHL cities are 25 bucks. If the NHL wants to market the game better, lower the ticket prices, so more families can go to the games. Hell, lower the ticket prices so poor college students like myself can make a road trip or two to cities such as Dallas, St. Louis, or Nashville to go see a game.
---Force all the cable systems throughout America to carry CBC. (OK, that's a stretch)
---Have Don Cherry on the EA Sports NHL games. "Don Cherry NHL 2006", it's in the game!
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Last but not least, I found this pic at Yahoo Sports. If I could, I'd visit Laura Neumueller, who's the manager of Granville Sports Corner in Vancouver. David would as well. Hey bro, road trip?
Anyways, I've rambled enough. We need hockey. What more can I say?