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

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Does anyone in California care about Hockey?

I spent the last 3 days in SoCal for work and trying to find hockey scores is harder than a Scott Stevens open ice hit. I am used to minimal hockey coverage in the Bay Area but in SoCal you have the best team in hockey (last year at least) and the only sports news in LA is when/if Kobe will be traded. I don't know about SoCal but the joke here in San Jose is that there are only 17,496 (capacity of the Shark tank) hockey fans in the Bay Area and the fringe fan will never embrace the sport because they didn't grow up with it. A winless basketball team gets twice the coverage the Sharks get. It has been said that the Sharks would have to win a Stanley Cup (or at least get to the finals) to get full-fledge media coverage. My short experience in SoCal shot down that theory. You have the Stanley Cup Champs and I have to check the bottom line of Sportscenter just to get any hockey scores. I used to hate all the bandwagon fans who would show up at the Tank just for the playoffs and pretend they have been fans for life. My friends and I always hated intermissions during playoffs games as the concourses were packed and playoff games were "the place to be." I always disputed the fact that the Bay Area was an "event town" and thought the Sharks could draw these rabid fans throughout the season. Now I don't know if hockey will ever be more than the 4th major sport. Does it really matter though?


beingbobbyorr said...

I still shake my head every time a die-hard hockey fan laments the sport's poor-man status. Doesn't everyone realize that increased attention from the great unwashed of American armchair-jock culture = greater demand for tickets = increased ticket prices + more games on PPV.

As long as attendance at your local barn is healthy enough to sustain the team and squelch the "start buying more season seats or we're moving to Kansas City" game, the fan has nothing to gain from encouraging others to love the sport. Owners, broadcasters, and advertisers are the only ones who benefit from more than 17,496 Sharks fans.

Niekon said...

Hockey has always been the bastard step-child of the sports media. 10 o'clock news last night on KTLA covered the game for about 5 seconds and that was a quick little graphic. No video highlights from the game... but immediately spent the next few minutes covering the return of some player for the Lakers. Do I care about the Lakers? No, but I've resigned myself to know that if I really want to know anything about what's going on in the NHL I will have to just turn on my computer screen and click over to my numbers hockey newsfeeds.

But do we really want these other fans in attendance to the games? Do Sharks fans really want the Raider Nation taking the trip down the freeway to join you in the Tank? Do Kings fans really want Dodger fans to start showing up at the Staples Center? I won't discuss the idiots I'm already seeing at the Honda Center just because it's a bandwagon thing making it more difficult for me to get good seats at a decent price.

Earl Sleek said...

I will say that the less-than-packed Honda Center last night was kind of nice--more things can be done in each intermission.

Shoot, Cheechew. I had no idea you were down here in SoCal, you could have seen a nice shootout loss last night.

Gautham Ganesan said...

As I read this post, I opened up the Mercury News to the sports section and found the Sharks' shootout loss to the Ducks covered in a tiny section at the top of the front page, with the rest of the page reserved for the endeavors of local high school football teams. That's right, HIGH SCHOOL football. Where are we, friggin' Alabama?

But, to echo the sentiments of the other commentators, it really isn't beneficial to us Sharks fans to grow the sport. The team certainly isn't moving anytime soon and, while the Sharks have been in the red the last few years, playoff revenues are likely to make up for that. With so many people who know next to nothing about hockey already buying tickets in bulk, presumably after reading that the Sharks have a chance to win the Cup, it's already nearly impossible to procure tickets. I don't want to see how hard it would be with even more bandwagoners on board.

Patty (in Dallas) said...

I agree. I used to wring my hands about the lack of coverage here in Dallas, but now I kind of prefer it. Because the only time anybody ever mentions it is to denigrate it for not being football. I'd rather they just not talk about it if that's all they're giving.

Now I just get what I want from the internet or Center Ice.

PJ Swenson said...

One day, I will be able to get all of my hockey news in cartoon form.

Mike said...

Average ticket price for the Sharks: $33. Average for the Leafs: $70.

I'll take the niche status, thanks. Also, I think it makes the die hard hockey fans even more die hard, since we have to face all the scorn of everyone else. Makes me feel very left-coast and elistist, exactly what I'm going for.

Megalodon said...

I've discussed this with Rudy before, and our position is pretty much the opposite of what most of you guys are expressing. On the one hand, it does feel nice to have hockey all to ourselves, our own little niche sport without the mainstream invading it.

But we can't go so far as to be hostile to any attention hockey gets. We shouldn't EMBRACE its status as a neglected sport, as if that were a good thing. Hockey must grow its fanbase in order to survive and thrive. By 'protecting it' from 'bandwagon' people, we just might kill it.

Plus, we have networks switching away from OT games to air the PRE-SHOW to some horse-race. That's not the way it should be.

Patty (in Dallas) said...

I guess I'm just picky. It's not that I want it to be niche, I'm just learning to live with the fact that it is. Of course I'd rather have good coverage, but I don't think that's one of my local choices. There's no coverage and then there's the occasional mention of how funny the NHL is because nobody likes it. I pick no coverage.

That was stupid of them to interrupt the OT game for racing. But I don't think that's a local coverage thing. That's the IDIOTIC deal the league made with NBC.

I'm not much of an activist, so since I feel like there's nothing I can do about it, I try to like it the way it is. :D

Chris in Torrance said...

I listen to a lot of extreme metal and punk rock. You're wondering what does that have to do with hockey? It means that I'm used to no following the crowd and I'm used to and actually prefer NOT having mainstream media coverage. As soon as the media gets ahold of anything it gets perverted into a money making machine that bares little resemblance to what you once loved. The best examples I can think of are from that moron on ESPN John Buccigross wanting to make the nets bigger to increase scoring and remove fighting to decrease the violence, thus making the game more acceptable to the mainstream audience. I hope I'm not the only one that is STRONGLY opposed to both these ideas and I hope it proves my point about mainstream coverage.

ColBerdan said...

Interesting. Last year during the playoffs if fans of a non-California team asked a question like that they would get all kinds of crap. But someone from California asks where all the hockey fans are and instead of shouting "we are legion!" the cry is "well, there aren't many, but that's ok because that's how we want it!"

I don't know about southern California, but there seems to be a lot of support from casual fans in San Jose, or at least more than the media coverage would make you think. Go to any bar downtown and they've got a "Shark's territory" sign and the bar tender probably knows the score of the game that night. I was a Red Wing for Halloween and couldn't go 15 minutes without someone making a comment (True, it's not your traditional "scary" costume but a ghost isn't going to knock you out of the playoffs now, is he?).

The causal fans are out there. Unfortunately, media coverage of hockey sucks in general (I'm looking at you, ESPN) so unless you're in one of the handful of hard-core American markets or Canada, you just aren't going to see a lot of coverage.