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

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

An Open Letter to Canada

(Today's regularly scheduled gameday will be not be seen today because I felt like writing this instead. All I'll say about tonight's game is that if Ryan Smyth leaves California with his bones intact, I'll be very disappointed.)


Dear Canada,

Hey, what’s up, ya hosers? (Sorry, I bet you’re really tired of that. By the way, how do you guys say “Behoove?” I bet it’s hilarious.) I hope you’re not too cold up there in the Great White North, and hopefully you were able to get all that snow out of the way. It’s been cold here in L.A. too; yesterday it was almost 40 degrees! Anyway, I think we have to have a little talk. You see, I’m a hockey fan here in L.A. (I know, they exist? Good joke, really, I can’t hear it enough) and I’m starting wonder about your commitment to hockey. I’m not saying you’re not good fans, you guys are passionate and that’s great, but I’m starting to wonder if maybe you’re hurting the sport by loving it too much.

I think what I’m trying to say is that you guys are a more little focused on making sure hockey is still a “Canadian” sport than worrying about its health overall. Read this thread or this article and tell me that Canadians really seem concerned with growing the sport. You guys are acting like that one Biblical dude who would rather split the calf in half than let someone else have it. (What was his name… Jesus?) Look, if Nashville eventually has to move, fine, I get the economics of the situation… but you guys seem to be reveling in their failure, like it proves your hockey superiority or something. It’s not good for the sport if Nashville moves, no more than it was when Winnipeg and Quebec moved. The future of the game rests with the teams in the Southern part of the United States; if they fail, the league fails. I’m not sure you guys realize that.

Another thing that’s been bothering me: you guys criticize the NHL's position in the American sports scene a lot. Actually, there are 2 groups of people that constantly mock the NHL: idiot sports "personalities" like Jim Rome and Canadians. The first I can understand: radio talk show hosts are lower than Ducks fans. But the second? I think there’s something deeper here. I get the impression that you guys don’t really want hockey to succeed in the United States. You want to keep hockey to yourself, and you justify it by saying, “Well, nobody watches hockey in the United States, they don’t even want the game.” I think I understand why, too; I’m not Canadian, so I can’t really pretend to know the national psyche, but I think you guys might be a little worried about being irrelevant. Hockey is what makes Canada unique on the global scene, and if you lose that then the only thing you’ll have left are moose and flannel. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) Is that accurate?

You guys have to understand, though, that someone isn’t going to watch a sport if they think they don’t think it’s important. It’s like… you guys ever get the show Firefly? It was on a while ago, it was created by the guy who did Buffy I think. Anyway, it had a loyal fanbase that constantly talked about how great the show was and bombarded magazines with letters any time they mentioned it. What happened was, new people didn’t watch the show because they didn’t feel like they knew it enough to engage with it like the older fans. The result? The show got cancelled. I’m not saying hockey’s going to get cancelled or anything, but it’s running the risk of being irrelevant. Basically, these constant articles questioning hockey’s relevance are fulfilling their own prophecy by pushing away people that might otherwise be attracted to hockey. You keep trying to gauge your importance in hockey, and you’re pushing away potential fans because of it. You’re holding the game so close to your chest that you’re suffocating it.

I’m sorry if this is kind of rambling, but I’m not really trying to make a point, just trying to get a dialogue started. I’m still not quite sure what I think myself, but I think what I’m trying to say is this: you don’t own hockey anymore. I know you created it, and hey, I’m very glad you did, I love the sport. But it’s not yours anymore. I know you hate Gary Bettman because he’s American and he doesn’t understand the history of the game or whatever, but trying to expand hockey in America is a good idea. Moving teams to Hamilton is a step backwards for the league because those people are going to watch hockey whether they have a team or not. A team moving from Nashville or Pittsburgh or Anaheim (fingers crossed) will completely destroy hockey in that area.

If you think about it in terms of making the sport better, there’s a good chance the greatest hockey player in the world has never laced up a pair of skates because he decided to play basketball or baseball or football or soccer instead. Think about it like this: California leads the NFL, MLB, and the NBA in terms of athletes currently playing the sport. In contrast, there have been 18 NHL players in the history of the sport from California. (I’m not sure if that’s current.) In the last draft, a defenseman named Jonathon Blum was drafted by the Nashville Predators. He was the first Californian to be drafted in the 1st round in the history of the NHL. This isn’t a fluke; this is the future of hockey. The choice is yours: do you want to keep hockey and watch it sink into an abyss shared by lacrosse, soccer, and paintball, or are you willing to let it go and watch it succeed? It’s up to you.


Respectfully,

Rudy Kelly


45 comments:

Earl Sleek said...

Beauty post, Rudy.

1. You're saying I wasn't drafted because I'm Californian? Good thing I didn't put any time into skating or playing.

2. Let's all move to Nashville!

3. Andy Mac for Doug "Dead" Weight? Bobby Ryan called up, Scott Niedermayer aboard? Lost in a shootout to the Sharks? My head is full, maybe I'll write a monster post tomorrow.

beingbobbyorr said...

Rudy has some reading to do:

http://proicehockey.about.com/b/2006/06/08/the-nhls-small-universe.htm

RudyKelly said...

I'm not quite sure what that article has to do with my point, other than he's kind of dumb for implying that hockey is better off being a small sport. I want as many people watching and playing hockey as possible, because 1) hockey is awesome, and 2)it increases the possibility that great athletes are going to play the game.

James Mirtle said...

So... you're upset with all southern markets being generalized as unfit locations for hockey, yet we've got some pretty across the board slams for what "youse Canadians" believe?

Look, growing the sport, and the NHL's plans to put hockey teams in markets that just aren't going to fly isn't the same thing. The league's business plan is all about getting into major American television markets, and has little to do with having kids from Nashville strapping on skates.

The league doesn't fail by being a regional one because it's always been that way and always will be. It's great that Californians are starting to play the game, but there's a long way to go on that front yet. Whether or not a team moves north, or east, or west, has little bearing on the game's success; planting six or seven teams in locations with half full buildings, however, does.

The NHL is a business, with designs on growing that business. In a lot of ways, they've failed by putting teams in markets that are holding the league back from what it could be.

Canadians, in general, want their league to succeed, and don't necessarily agree with the fact teams in tiny markets like Edmonton are subsidizing Atlanta and Miami.

sacamano said...

(1) I fundamentally disagree with your basic premise that "...trying to expand hockey in America is a good idea" if by "hockey" you mean "NHL" and if by "expand" you mean subsidizing teams in inappropriate markets for seemingly undefined lengths of time.

(2) I fundamentally disagree with your basic premise that "The future of the game rests with the teams in the Southern part of the United States; if they fail, the league fails. I'm sure you guys realize that"

Ummm, no. The league will not fail if Alabama doesn't like the NHL. The league would survive just fine if it was limited to northern cities or even, gasp, only Canadian cities.

(3) I fundamentally disagree with your basic premise that "moving teams to Hamilton is a step backwards for the league because those people are going to watch hockey whether they have a team or not". Say what? The bottom line is that putting a team in Hamilton will generate income for the league, while having a team in Nashville loses income for the league. I'm no economist, but how is this bad for the League again?

(4) "If a team moving from Nashville or Pittsburgh or Anaheim (fingers crossed) will completely destroy hockey in that area"

From my perspective this is a feature not a bug -- it is exactly the problem. The same statement cannot be said of true hockey markets. The Peg, as only one example, still has a thriving hockey culture without the NHL. If the only thing supporting hockey in a city is the NHL, one might ask whether the NHL ought to be there when there are countless other options.

(5) I fundamentally disagree with your position that "you guys don't really want hockey to succeed in the United States". . I think the fact that hockey has been trying its damndest to expand for the last 15 years speaks against this. I think it is probably fair to say, however, that "we guys don't really want hockey to succeed in the United States at the expense of short-changing the people who enjoy the game the most. Why should Hamilton fans (as only one example) sacrifice their wish to have a home team in order to convince folks in the Southern US that they really should enjoy hockey? Because they are going to watch it anyway? Puh-leeeze.

(6) I fundamentally disagree with your statement that "Hockey is what makes Canada unique on the global scene, and if you lose that then the only thing you'll have left are moose and flannel"

Hockey does not equal the NHL, my friend. Go to any small town in the country, and you will find hockey rinks. Whether the NHL expands or declines doesn't change this. I'm also confused about how not having the NHL in the Southern US makes it any less of a "global" game -- I mean, I guess we can all consider the Southern US as a different area of the globe. Plus, we'd also still have toques.

(7) I fundamentally agree with your statement that "someone isn't going to watch a sport if they don't think it's important"

And you use this policy to support the idea that we should put hockey in the Southern US? Something doesn't follow here.

(8) I fundamentally disagree that hockey is "running the risk of being irrelevant".

The fact is, it has never been relevant in the Southern US. And I'm okay with that. But it sure as hell is relevant in Hamilton or Toronto (why does New York have 3 teams, LA have 2 teams, and southern Ontario only one again?). And it will remain relevant in those areas even if Alabama doesn't like hockey. In fact, if we stop wasting so many resources on those Southern Markets, it will become even more relevant in the areas where it is wanted.

(9) Bonus essay question. Exactly how long should Hamilton (as only one example) fans have to sacrifice their ability to have a home team in order to allow the Southern US to embrace hockey? Seriously, how long? 5 years? 10 years? 50 years? 100 years?

Do you really believe that if the Southern US doesn't embrace hockey that the NHL can't survive? Seriously? No, seriously?

spade-in-victorhell said...

have more entertaing games like the ducks-sharks and the leauge will be just fine....My roomate who has zero intrest in hockey.. and previous ducks games...could not take his eyes of the sharks-ducks last nite..

p.s. who cares what canada thinks about america anyway...they hate us like the rest of the world...lick my balls

p.s.s. rudy you must be confusing jim rome with someone else...he constantly has hockey interviews...and takes calls concerning hockey..some of the listeners "do" talk some shit but thats all listeners from all sports stations..usually the listeners who talk shit on the rome show are just trying to bash the canadian fans who also listen...hacksaw is also pretty good with hockey...so are the loose cannons..colin cowherd heard on 710 is very much anti-hockey and might be who your thinking of...

Anonymous said...

Fire Bettman!!!!!!

http://www.FireBettman.com

RudyKelly said...

Which teams are subsidized? I honestly don't know, I'm curious to find out who they are. I know Nashville was (is?), but I'd like to know who else.

I'm sorry I didn't make this clear, but of course a team should move if they aren't economically viable. I don't think I ever said that Canada should have to pay for the hockey enjoyment of Florida. That said, there's a difference between a team going through a difficult financial situation (like Edmonton did a few years ago) and a city not be able to support hockey. It hasn't been proven, at least in my eyes, that Nashville is an unsustainable hockey market.

Also, I'm sorry of over-generalizing you Canadians; I probably should have said "traditional hockey fans," because I know the people I'm talking to also exist in New York, Minnesota, and right here in LA. But the fact remains, it's a little unfair to over-generalize the South as unable to sustain hockey. Look at Dallas, or Carolina, or San Jose, or Anaheim, or Phoenix; they've all done pretty well for themselves. Think about what they did with the Grizzlies in the NBA: they gave them a team, waited what, 6 years, and then moved them. That was a terrible idea and the league was worse of because of it.

Sacamano, I think the fundamental difference between the two of us is that you're looking at what Canadians are losing, while I'm looking at what Americans are gaining. I guess that makes sense, since I'm assuming you're Canadian and I'm obviously an ugly American. I don't know if there's anything I can say that is going to convince you; sorry. Oh, and I'm sorry I forgot toques, I don't know how I did that.

The only thing I really want to say is that the league absolutely fails it if is a regional league, because there is no major sport that exists regionally. Mirtle, you talked about TV revenue; why would a major network want to carry hockey if they knew only half the country would even consider watching? I think hockey needs to become a sport that kids consider playing down here in the South (man, I hate calling myself the South, it makes me feel like a racist) and there needs to be little kids like the one who scored that awesome goal in Dallas in the NHL, and you'll see just how popular hockey can be down here. That's going to take a while, and maybe a team is going to go through a little growing pains, but ultimately the league will be better off.

RudyKelly said...

Also, now I'm worried that I've angered James Mirtle. Is the Hockey Blog Secret Police going to take me away and force me to watch the Anaheim Stanley Cup video for 2 days straight?

Earl Sleek said...

I think the main thing that rings true in this post, though, is the fact that way too many people seem to celebrate Nashville's struggles to keep their team (let alone keep their roster intact).

I mean, it's one thing if Nashvillites will never watch any ice sport, but really there seems to be two factors going here: (a) the league is still trying to figure out how to make hockey more exciting and watchable for all its fans, and (b) yet even while acknowledging that the sport isn't at a very exciting point in its development, the league still judges non-traditional markets pretty harshly for not packing their arenas.

It seems to me that the thing that should happen is that FIRST the on-ice game should be modified so that it gets away from 60 minutes of defense, and THEN once the sport is more watchable judge whether Nashvillites can stomach the sport. Now it seems that things are a bit backwards; we'll pull a team out of Nashville for poor attendance, but later, when the die-hards finally admit that NHL hockey is regularly tough to watch, we'll fix the sport.

Quality-of-sport will always be a tough thing to gauge in Canada, though; arenas north of the border will sell out no matter how boring the sport being played is. Whether that's a positive testament to the genericized Canadian fan is debatable.

Emily said...

I can understand the argument that cities that have meager local support or can't survive without subsidies don't deserve to keep their teams, but I will seriously never, ever understand the "no snow, no hockey" regional snobbery that shows up on that Oilers thread (and a lot of other places). Why? If there's enough interest to fill arenas, why shouldn't fans get a team? Because they don't have to wear thermal underwear in winter? Are there factions of people in figure skating circles that think anyone from an place without cold winters shouldn't get to compete?

sacamano said...

Very roughly speaking, the bottom 15 teams are subsidized by the top 15 teams. I don't know where current reliable revenue numbers are, and the Revenue Sharing Formula confuses the hell out of me, but I think we can safely say that having teams in Phoenix, Nashville, and Atlanta costs the top teams (and the League overall) loads more money compared to what they would be paying if those teams were playing in Hamilton, Toronto x2 and Winnipeg/Quebec.

. . . and you'll see just how popular hockey can be down here.

Ahhhh yes, the same old tune.

Again, exactly how long should we wait before deciding that it just might not be all that popular? If you aren't convinced now, what in the World would convince you that Nashville is an unsustainable hockey market?

Personally, I'd be just as happy for the NHL to recognize and embrace the fans that it has, rather than shafting them in a largely futile exercise of growing the game in non-traditional markets.

If that makes the NHL a non-major niche sport, then I'm okay with that.

But hey, I also love curling so perhaps I'm not a reliable gauge on these things.

spade-in-victorhell said...

one suggestion I have is not allowing the goalies to play the puck at all...make the defenders think twice about standing up at the blue line....or maybe making teams send in a minimum of 2 forecheckers always...just a thought...

build more rinks in non-traditional cities..get more youth leagues...stuff like that...a little more exposure..youth buliding and a tweak to the game...and well all be good...

damn canadians..stop being so jealous that your countrymen prefer to live in warmer climates and less public view...just be happy u came up with the sport...kudos

sacamano said...

My first paragraph in the previous post should end:

"...or by simply reducing the number of teams overall by cutting out the bottom feeders".

I'm not advocating for more teams in Canada and fewer teams in the US.

I'm advocating against the NHL doing everything it can to keep teams in non-traditional markets (see the numerous blocked Preds purchases) under the delusion that one day we will all wake up and find that hockey is popular there. It ain't gonna happen.

sacamano said...

one suggestion I have is not allowing the goalies to play the puck at all...make the defenders think twice about standing up at the blue line....or maybe making teams send in a minimum of 2 forecheckers always...just a thought...

I've got another idea: why not let 2nd basemen bodycheck runners to increase the excitement of baseball. Right now it is just so damn slow that most Canadians just don't tune in. I'm positive that a few minor changes like that would allow baseball to expand outside of its traditional southern markets and become a truly global game. Hell, if you allowed checking, I bet we could even get some MLB teams in Edmonton and Kelowna and Yellowknife.

Gawd I'm grumpy today.

Ted said...

I think a woman stole a baby. The woman and the real mother were brought before kind David, and he proposed that the baby be split in two as a crafty way to know who the real mother was. The real mother said let the thief have it, the thief said OK split the kid. Doesn't seem very realistic that she would say that, but any way....

Canadians may or may not have some attitude about the game, but that isn't was is going to kill the game. Let's not imbue the northernly neighbors with any God-like powers, since we're using Biblical references and all.

The NHL did over-expand, IMO, and that is a problem that isn't going to go away magically, or by changing a few Canucks minds.

Ted said...

Er I think it was Solomon actually. Sorry for the tag on post no one cares about.

Earl Sleek said...

Personally, I'd be just as happy for the NHL to recognize and embrace the fans that it has, rather than shafting them in a largely futile exercise of growing the game in non-traditional markets.

I'm behind you in the spirit of your first phrase here, Sacamano, except that I largely remain unconvinced that we know what the effect of a more offensive game would be in Nashville and other locations. So far all I can tell you is that stifling hockey has trouble selling in places that didn't invent the sport.

And while I think your mockery of the changes to hockey is somewhat fitting (there seems to have been a lot of unhelpful changes that haven't helped the entertainment value a whole lot), I don't think it's fair to say that Nashville won't work under any scenario. I mean, if their were effective rule changes that led to more creativity / puckhandling / scoring chances, that I think would be something that could change how outsiders view the sport (and I don't think would be unwelcome necessarily among the already-fans).

I do believe that someday hockey will get back to odd-man rushes and edge-of-your-seat play; eventually fans will demand it. It will be a shame, I think, that Nashville will never get a chance to test that sort of game.

I think a woman stole a baby. The woman and the real mother were brought before kind David, and he proposed that the baby be split in two as a crafty way to know who the real mother was.

It was a biblical story of wise king Solomon, but the rest of your premise is accurate enough.

Zanstorm said...

Wow, Rudy. I will tip my hat to you for having the "set" to post something like this. But it reeks of American ignorance, yes it does. Even your stereotypical jokes do. It's amazing how the accent of eastern Canadians gets generalized for the whole country.
Do I hope that Nashville fails? No. I just don't care if they do. If the team got moved to another American City like Seattle for example, then I'm all for it. Wherever it will thrive.
I do not hate Bettman either. He is trying his damndest to make hockey work in multiple locations. If Nashville cannot survive even under the Cap rules, with the contending team it had, then fuck it. Move the team elsewhere.
Who cares how many Californian players get drafted in the 1st round? Work on your hockey programs then. Last time I checked, 10 Americans got drafted in the first round in 2007. So the rest of your country is doing something right.

spade-in-victorhell said...

hehe entertaining thread for a monday morning...no one like my ideas for increased scoring AYE? u bastards!!!

p.s.speaking of canadians what happened to the Labat Blue commericals with the bear?

p.s.s. sum 41 sucks dick..sorry had to throw in that canada bash

Megalodon said...

There is no HBO to save a struggling NHL. If it were to recede and become a niche sport in Canada and the Northern U.S., like some people here seem to be okay with, then it would cease to be the premiere hockey league in the world.

With less exposure and less money, it will not attract the greatest players as it does now.

RudyKelly said...

"Do I hope that Nashville fails? No. I just don't care if they do."

Christ, dude, that seems harsh. Did you care when Winnipeg or Quebec failed?

Teebz said...

Rudy, your overall ignorance is only fuelled by the fact that you're overlooking the major reason for hockey in the south failing: if no one cared about it before, and suddenly they got a team, why would they care about it now?

The only people who are going to games in Carolina, Atlanta, Nashville, Miami and Phoenix are those fans who have discovered the niche sport. Those fans cannot support a franchise that requires hundreds of millions of dollars to operate.

Your argument of blaming Canadians for Americans not going to games is ridiculous. I suggest you read these two articles I wrote:

http://hockey-blog-in-canada.blogspot.com/2007/03/part-of-our-social-fabric.html

http://hockey-blog-in-canada.blogspot.com/2007/06/revisiting-that-social-fabric.html

Just so you know, I am all for hockey in non-traditional markets, but only if they work to make the league better. If no one goes to games and no one knows you exist, you'll remain irrelevant. And that's precisely what the NHL doesn't need if it hopes to grow the game.

Earl Sleek said...

As much as people hate to admit it, I think Nashville is more a barometer for this league than an anomaly market. It's just a market that responds more quickly to the quality of the product (in econ, we call this 'elasticity of demand'); if the hockey sucks people stay away and if the hockey's good presumably they'd fill the arena.

The more hockey fans see Nashville's attendance numbers as irrelevant to the health of the sport, I think the worse off the NHL becomes. I'm a guy who became a hockey fan without ever playing, and I think there is something uniquely captivating about hockey, but with all the power plays and blue line defenses the attraction is definitely diluted.

I think NSH's attendance struggles can show us this reality more than Canada's full houses, but I think people are way too eager to slam U.S. southerners and Bettman's vision to take the warning seriously, which I think is a shame. I think we'd all be better off (even Canadian fans) if NHL hockey was played in a way that Nashville residents found appealing. If the NHL plans on only being watchable / tolerable in its hotbeds, well we probably all lose. ('Plans' is definitely the wrong word when it comes to NHL strategy, but whatever.)

Mike said...

I'm a born and raised Californian myself. And I would still be a diehard fan even if the Sharks got contracted tomorrow. But my problem with the Bettman plan isn't that he's trying to put teams in new markets, it's just that the league seems to be more interested in franchise fees than anything else. What exactly led Bettman to believe that hockey would flourish in Nashville or Florida? It wasn't because there are successful minor league teams there, because there ain't. They looked a big map of the US, found the empty spots, and picked the nearest city to put a team in.

To me, the way to keep the NHL growing and successful is to put in places where it makes sense, not just places where you can make money for a few years.

There's a bajillion ways for people to spend the entertainment dollar these days. Thinking you can just plop down a team and people will come when there's no hockey culture or a ready fan base is the ultimate in hubris. Hockey needs to be built a bit at a time in my view- build rinks, start a youth program, high school teams, college teams, minor league teams, then you do the due diligence to see if the city would support a team for 30 years. Finding some rich guy and an empty arena in Kansas City and saying "there!" is a recipe for failure. THAT is what will kill hockey in America- people pointing at a series of failures and asking (reasonably) "Look at all these places where it's died - Isn't hockey dead?"

Anonymous said...

Also drawing young local talent might not have anything at all to do with having a local team in a sunny market.

Here in Socal, a season of Ice Hockey will cost me around $600.00, but the roller is $125.00. I love the hell out of hockey, but I can not afford to play Ice, let alone my 2 boys, So we play roller (at around $400 every 2 months).

Not many roller hockey players get drafted to the NHL.

The kids up north just go outside and skate on a frozen pond with the rest of the block, for FREE.

Hell people around here do not even leave the house when it gets near 40 degrees.

Mike said...

It's just a market that responds more quickly to the quality of the product (in econ, we call this 'elasticity of demand'); if the hockey sucks people stay away and if the hockey's good presumably they'd fill the arena.

Isn't one measure of a successful market being that a team can keep fans even when the teams sucks? All expansion teams suck at first. Some will get better quickly, some won't. If an expansion team needs to make the playoffs for the first 15 years they're in the league to remain solvent, then I would argue it's not a suitable hockey market.

Earl Sleek said...

Isn't one measure of a successful market being that a team can keep fans even when the teams sucks? All expansion teams suck at first.

Like Rudy, I probably have to be clearer here: I wasn't referring to the Preds' on-ice success, but rather the watchability / entertainment value of NHL hockey.

Maybe my point boils down to this: if we hockey fans believe that today's version of power play hockey is as entertaining as the NHL will ever get, then yes--let's get the fuck out of Nashville. If however (and this is a huge 'if') we believe that there is a more entertaining or exciting version of NHL hockey somewhere on the horizon, then I don't think we should be so quick to judge NSH's response to 6-man-defense hockey; it says very little about how they might respond to a better, more creative version of the sport.

BTW, I don't judge individuals for deciding not to spend their money to watch their team suck on the ice (I know I'd spend less money to see a shitty team); I don't think I'm going to get in the habit of judging entire markets for that suckage-response.

Mike said...

Maybe my point boils down to this: if we hockey fans believe that today's version of power play hockey is as entertaining as the NHL will ever get, then yes--let's get the fuck out of Nashville. If however (and this is a huge 'if') we believe that there is a more entertaining or exciting version of NHL hockey somewhere on the horizon, then I don't think we should be so quick to judge NSH's response to 6-man-defense hockey; it says very little about how they might respond to a better, more creative version of the sport.

I might be in the small minority here, but I think hockey is entertaining and exciting as it is. Trying to reverse-engineer some opiate for the masses is a fools errand. The public is fickle, and you'll drive the hardcore fans away.

BTW, I don't judge individuals for deciding not to spend their money to watch their team suck on the ice (I know I'd spend less money to see a shitty team); I don't think I'm going to get in the habit of judging entire markets for that suckage-response.

Agreed, but wouldn't you agree that if the crowd was composed of diehard hockey fans instead of just Preds fans, it might be different?

RudyKelly said...

Why can't Preds fans be diehard hockey fans?

Earl Sleek said...

I might be in the small minority here, but I think hockey is entertaining and exciting as it is.

Sure, I'm sure there are many that think hockey today is the shit; for me, I think it's gone downhill--too much referee presence, not enough prioritization of 5-on-5 scoring, and the preferred scoring play du jour seems to be throwing it to the point and seeing whether the puck can pinball in.

But I think it is important for the viability of the sport that we do think about the question: is it even remotely good if you are indeed in the small minority entertained by the modern-day PP parade?

I still say there's plenty of improvement to be had, and again, I look at markets like Nashville as a good barometer of that. Rather than looking at NSH attendance and saying, "What's wrong with Nashville?", I'm more inclined to say, "What's wrong with NHL hockey?" Maybe it's because I'm from a non-traditional background myself, but I was once won over by a sport I didn't grow up with; it is kind of depressing (and telling) that the ability to win over non-fans seems to be dying.

Zanstorm said...

No Rudy, I don't care if Nashville fails. If they can't hold a team there, then move it. Big deal. A failed market. Dog-eat-dog, man.
I wouldn't even care if the NHL went back to 20 teams. Works for me. As long as there is good hockey games on tv, not some dilluted hockey that some corporate jackoffs decided would be more appealing to the masses.

I like the more wide open style of the game, but we really need more fighting in the NHL, yes we do. More blood and guts. People eat that shit right up.

I don't like your post, Rudy. It reeks of BS. It makes me dislike Americans. Good for conversation though!

PS: Hey, ever ridden on a dogsled? It's fun! We do it 365 days a year.
You should see the Xmas tree I have going in my igloo right now.

Meg said...

While I don't entirely agree with Rudy, and I do think there are certain markets--Southern or otherwise--that won't support NHL hockey in the forseeable future, I also think that there are plenty of Southern markets that will support pro hockey and that people in traditional markets are often too quick to condemn them. Winning is part that, of course, but so is the cultivation of a grassroots hockey culture and involvement with the community. I think there are certain Southern teams that prove that and their entry into hockey culture via NHL teams is a good thing for both the sport and the league.

It seems to me that it's something that will require a lot of patience--maybe more than Nashville's been met with--but eventually growth into new markets can only help to bring the league both new fans and new talent. I think there's also been an awful lot of schadenfreude surrounding the Nashville sale and most of that has been coming from traditional hockey markets. It's too bad, because the way I see it, there are kids watching hockey in those markets who will grow up to be diehard hockey fans and supporters.

spade-in-victorhell said...

another comment goes by and still no one has told me what happened to the Labat Blue Bear. He was real crafty with making that beer dispenser and with the chics...

Zanstorm said...

I actually had to go to YouTube to watch those commercials. They weren't very good. Odds are that bear got poached by some drive-by shooters in a 1977 Chev pick up, and he's now a rug in front of someone's fireplace.

spade-in-victorhell said...

thank you zanstorm...I can now check that off my list...next up...what happened to the Bud Ice "Doobie Doobie Due" Penguin

p.s. U sure you didnt like when he made that self serving beer contraption. He was suppose to make a book shelf...anyways

Zanstorm said...

his baseball skills were pretty good...

Mike said...

Why can't Preds fans be diehard hockey fans?

Of course they can be. My point is when you just slam down a new sport in a market that doesn't show a propensity to support that new sport, I'm not particularly surprised when they have trouble filling the barn. The novelty of hockey and civic pride in being awarded a pro franchise has worn off, and now people are starting to realize the foundation of the Preds is built on sand.

I'm not trying to disparage NSH here, any more than I would disparage Albuquerque for failing to support a new cricket league.

Megalodon said...

Canadian Population : 33,390,141
Population of U.S. Southern States: 109,083,752
(Rough and out-dated numbers, of course. I didn't just go out and count or anything)

I'm the first to completely dismiss the opinions of anyone who enjoys NASCAR, so I hate to have to point to the South as an important part of hockey's future, but the numbers are there. That's a market that the NHL can and MUST strive for. They can't just write it off.

Hockey can survive as a sport and as an idea just fine without anyone south of the Canadian border giving a damn - but as a business and as an international entity, which it is and which it must be, the NHL needs to be on the lookout for exploitable markets. It's worked in California and other places, as Rudy has already pointed out - there is no reason to give up on other non-traditional markets and the millions of dollars and countless fans that may be out there.

spade-in-victorhell said...

intresting post

Doogie said...

one suggestion I have is not allowing the goalies to play the puck at all...make the defenders think twice about standing up at the blue line

Because the trapezoid has done a fucking lot of good, promoting dump-and-chase and preventing swift transitions from the defensive zone (and comical goaltender puck-bobbling) as it has. How about we duct-tape the goalies to the crossbars, Eddie Shore style, to keep them from wandering or dropping into the butterfly? It makes about as much fucking sense.

And look, I understand people want more attacking and rushes and whatnot, and I do, too (though I don't think that particular problem is nearly as bad as some), but it's not going to happen. The 1980s were a perfect storm of circumstances that served to promote offence (and demote defence), and you're not getting it back. You just won't be able to convince 30 coaches that abdicating all defensive responsibility in favour of GOALS GOALS GOALS is going to win them more hockey games. Most coaches give their offensive stars a wide degree of latitude in the offensive zone, so long as they don't do something so mindbendingly stupid even the guy who's never seen a game in his life is asking his friend, "What the fuck was that?" I think at this point it would take such a fundamental change in the nature of the game that you wouldn't really have "hockey" as such anymore. It's not like 75 years ago, when the game was still being developed, and allowing the forward pass reignited offence. I'd love to be wrong, but I'm not convinced.

Now, if you're talking about more flow, I'm all for that. Get rid of the second referee, give the first some leeway in calling obstruction, especially in the attacking zones, and kill the retarded new delay of game penalties, and you'll cut down on chintzy power-plays dramatically. The best part of Saturday's VAN-EDM game, for example, was the first period, when there were almost no whistles and only one power-play.

With less exposure and less money, it will not attract the greatest players as it does now.

Even though most of the money right now comes from Canada and the northern US?

I think we'd all be better off (even Canadian fans) if NHL hockey was played in a way that Nashville residents found appealing.

I've been to Nashville. I've been to a game at the Sommet Center. I don't think they're particularly special in terms of what they like in a hockey game: speed, finesse, and a healthy dollop of violence, just like all of us. All I'm opposed to are radical, artificial alterations that fly in the face of tradition, style, and logic.

What exactly led Bettman to believe that hockey would flourish in Nashville or Florida? It wasn't because there are successful minor league teams there, because there ain't. They looked a big map of the US, found the empty spots, and picked the nearest city to put a team in.

Exactly. Houston has a history of major-league hockey, with the Aeros. The northwest has over 100 years of supporting the pro game, and a few Stanley Cups from the Lester and Frank Patrick days to back it up. Phoenix had a history of pro hockey, at the WHA and IHL levels. Hell, I'd have given KC another try before Miami. Some cities made sense -- Ottawa, Minnesota II, Columbus -- but many others did not. I'd like to have seen one of those teams go somewhere like Seattle, personally. (Medium-sized Canadian cities didn't make sense in the late 90s, due to the state of the dollar, otherwise, I'd have advocated for the usual suspects north of the border, too.)

therealdeal said...

I think you've missed the point. It's not that Canadians don't want the NHL to succeed, but it pisses us off when the NHL is trying to sell a great product in a place where people aren't interested in buying while ignoring places that are desperate to buy.

The NHL did nothing while Quebec city and Winnipeg were tossed aside, but has made tremendous effort to keep Shittsburgh and Nashville alive. It's a little painful to see.

Jay said...

The choice is yours: do you want to keep hockey and watch it sink into an abyss shared by lacrosse, soccer, and paintball...

I mean, if that isn't the perfect coup de grace of an outstanding blog post, I don't know what is. Hahahahaha...Jesus Fucking Christ forbid that hockey "sink into the abyss" of the most popular fucking sport in the entire world, played and followed religiously by billions of people. That is just awesome stuff. Please post more - as much as I like Earl's cartoons, I think you really have some powerful insight to share.

suze said...

I'm Canadian and thought this was a great post, though like the above I don't agree with every point. Come on everyone, we dish it out all the time about how our southern neighbours don't get hockey - remember when they were trying to superimpose a big circle around the puck on televised games so that American viewers could follow the action better? I think we can take a little teasing in return.

cupster33 said...

Great post! and i ohhhhhh so agree with you about jim rome (i can't stand the dude)