Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Earl Sleek: the model of Londifference

As the Ducks and Kings finish preparing for actual games this weekend, I thought I’d devote a post to the apparent problems of having two BoC teams starting their season in London. This is not to say that there won’t be any positives to these two teams taking the trip—but without knowing what the actual point of this Euro-experiment is, it’s tough to say how well the NHL did in its preparations. Anyway, here’s four reasons why the NHL’s decision-making seems odd to me.

1. Distance
In terms of miles traveled, the Ducks and Kings are the two most geographically distant NHL cities from London, England. It’s quite strange that the NHL would take its two furthest franchises and fly them 5,400 miles out of their way to start their season. But travel distance isn’t even the main concern here—there’s also an issue of time zones. If the NHL is trying to make more fans in the UK, maybe a smarter plan might have been to send two teams that don’t start most of their games at 3 or 3:30 am London time.

2. Destination
While the notion of having NHL games in Europe isn’t a bad one, the actual destination of London is bizarre—unlike many choices in Europe, England is not a hockey hotbed and there aren’t many Brits who make it to the NHL level. I mean, certainly there are British hockey fans, but how the NHL managed to pick a location where most of the locals are indifferent or unaware is beyond me. It’s not that it’s a hugely horrible decision, but it really begs the question—why not Sweden, or Finland, the Czech Republic, or Russia, a place where the NHL would be more warmly received?

3. Personnel
I’ve made a point of it before, but it is interesting that the NHL is sending the Ducks, the least European team in the league, to play in Europe. Anaheim’s player bias was exacerbated by the short summer—Sammy Pahlsson remains out with a hernia surgery and Teemu Selanne still needs more time to consider retirement. While it is cool that the games feature the defending Cup champions, I can’t help thinking it would be a better draw to send a team with an actual European superstar on it. I can think of 29 better possibilities in that regard.

4. Opponent
I’ve got a few mixed feeling about the fact that it will be the Ducks and Kings playing. On the one hand, they are pretty bitter rivals and probably will make for some exciting hockey, but on the other, the NHL took two of its guaranteed sell-outs and shipped them overseas. It’s a curious move for a league that is pretty gate-driven, at least. Surely there are games on the NHL’s schedule that could have used a London attendance boost more than Ducks-Kings.
But take heart, London! I’m not really here to make a big fuss about this; in fact, I’m having trouble caring about these drawbacks at all. Sure, the opening travel schedule for the Ducks is way inconvenient for the team, but as a fan, I’m not letting their issues get to me. For instance, the short summer might suck for a hockey player, but coming from the TV wasteland that is Southern California, I’m delighted to see hockey again this soon. And sure, maybe the team is screwed by all this early-season travel, but given the choice, I’d rather be screwed in the first few games of the year than sometime later.

Maybe I’m just feeling generous because of the cup win, but while the London games don’t seem like an ideal fit, I’m not going to raise a stink. Enjoy the novelty show, anyone who’s attending—there will be plenty of time afterwards to figure out if it was worth it or not.
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As an aside, if you haven’t seen the Ducks’ picture gallery of the team flying to London, it is perhaps my favorite team photo gallery ever. Not only do you get to see such great shots as Pronger getting his bag searched, Bryzgalov and Perry being screened with a hand-wand, and Parros doing a crossword puzzle, but damn, these Ducks fly in style! Anyway, I will be stealing from this picture gallery a bunch, I bet, so I figured I’d better link to it now.


This is the part of the plane where they keep the criminals.

Also, Sleek-favorite Sammy Pahlsson briefly answered some random questions—it turns out he hates Joe Thornton because he resembles the cast of “Dude, Where’s my Car?” Or something like that.

18 comments:

andrew said...

Damn, Pahlsson! Hating on Joe AND "Dude, Where's My Car?"

Show a little bit of heart, you Swedish bastard!

Kate said...

I don't want to hear another peep of complaint from the Ducks about their taxing trans-continental travel schedule. That plane is nicer than my apartment. I love how they are all encapsulated in their own personal pods.

Anonymous said...

I saw that picture of bert and may on the ducks website and thought to myself wwsmd(what would steve moore do?)

Earl Sleek said...

wwsmd(what would steve moore do?)

He'd be pushing the stewardess button like crazy, I think.

That plane is nicer than my apartment.

Yeah, it seems sort of redundant or wasteful to fly that plane to London and then check into a hotel.

Sherry said...

See, I just figured Bert and May didn't play well with others (and is it just me or is that pillow seatbelted in? I suppose that's awfully considerate of them).

Patty (in Dallas) said...

Whoever designed the seating was pretty forward-thinking. They're staggered so that everybody is on the aisle.

Chris! said...

Jeez, Earl, what's not to get?

Philip Anschutz owns the L.A. Kings.

Philip Anschutz owns the O2 Arena in London.

Philip Anschutz owns Gary Bettman. (K.C. expansion, anyone?)

I imagine the Ducks were thrown in to give the league a reason to drag the Stanley Cup along for some quirky photo ops.

You're right about this doing nothing to grow the game in England, a dubious goal at best to begin with. It's meant to make money for Phil Anschutz.

KMS2 said...

And THEN your Ducks get to come back to the States and play 3 away games (all of which are home openers for those teams) before the Kings even play another game! The Ducks definitely got the shittier deal.

Earl Sleek said...

I imagine the Ducks were thrown in to give the league a reason to drag the Stanley Cup along for some quirky photo ops.

To be fair, the Ducks agreed to do this before they won the cup, though I can't remember particularly when. Still, you are right. There are definitely some quirky photo ops.

You're right about this doing nothing to grow the game in England, a dubious goal at best to begin with. It's meant to make money for Phil Anschutz.

I don't know if this is related, but part of my daily commute is to drive right past the Staples Center, and for the past several months they have been building some monstrous structures next door, where they used to let fans park.

Anyway, I know there's a movie theater and some other stuff coming, so probably this is all a coordinated money-making mega-plan.

And it all would have worked too, if it weren't for that pesky Cloutier!

KMS2 said...

past several months they have been building some monstrous structures next door,

I think it's part of the whole "LA LIVE" project. Which I could never quite figure out was supposed to be "live" as in "I want to live" or "Live from New York, it's..." because it could really be either.

Black Dog said...

Bertuzzi certainly does look relaxed waiting for his bag.

Pookie said...

Kudos to George Parros for doing the NYT crossword puzzle! (We'll just overlook that he's doing a Monday puzzle in pencil.)

Meg said...

I particularly like the comparison of the Ducks to the Rockettes in that last photo. Perhaps they can replace sucker punching and elbowing with synchronized kicking? Now that would be goonery with pizzazz.

Earl Sleek said...

I think it's part of the whole "LA LIVE" project.

Yeah, totally. I passed by it this morning and saw a nifty sign advertising some new "Ritz Carlton Residence" living--so that screams of money-grab to me.

I think it's "LA LIVE" as in Saturday Night Live, but I haven't really heard anyone say it to confirm. I could be wrong, though. They really have been trying to promote downtown LA as a place people can live.

Maybe they ought to build a grocery store, though.

Steve (Newark) said...

Parros and Dave Grohl - Separated at Birth?

RudyKelly said...

Downtown LA is a great place to live; some of those cardboard residences the bums build up are nicer than anything I've lived in.

Anonymous said...

Bertuzzi + May + a Plane = ConAir 8)

KMS2 said...

Maybe they ought to build a grocery store, though.

I think a Ralphs opened somewhere and the next day there was a fire. Seriously, no joke, I think it happened.

some of those cardboard residences the bums build up are nicer than anything I've lived in.

I was about to give the bum who digs through my trash some money or food until I found out he has a place bigger than mine and I think he built it all by himself.