Point-Counterpoint

Sometimes I read things, and, like “Stir of Echoes”, they keep bouncing around in what passes for my brain until I either have to write something or implode. Things have been pretty slow on here, especially since the trade deadline only lived up to part of its name (the “dead” part), so……

Recently I read an article on here that touched on a lot of points. Normally I can find at least some common ground with this person, but….

The gist of the part of this article that I have a bone of contention with was that, “There’s nothing wrong with the game of hockey”.

Horse pucky; meadow muffins; road apples.

Not only are there things wrong with the game of hockey, there are huge, San-Andreas-fault-like cracks in the BUSINESS of hockey. And, like it or not, that is the part that really matters. The GAME is what you play out on the pond. The BUSINESS is what makes sure that everybody gets paid. You may love “the game”, but without “the business”, there’s no game.

The point of view that “nothing’s wrong”, especially in light of the fact that there will most likely NOT be a season next year, resulting in mass defections and early retirements, is akin to covering your eyes with your hands and telling everyone, “You can’t see me, because it’s dark in here”.

Let me throw out a few examples of what’s wrong with both “the game” and “the business”:

The Game

1.) Average player size has increased approximately five inches and forty pounds since the inception of the NHL. Both rinks and nets are still the same size. This is like trying to drive eight tanks along a one-lane road. You can “clog up the neutral zone” just by standing still.

2.) America will not pay attention to a low-scoring sport. Why do think soccer is the most popular sport in the world, except here? And, like it or not, your financial salvation lies in the lower forty-eight.

3.) You complain when you get media attention (Bertuzzi). You complain when you don’t get media attention (ESPN). Make up your mind.

Those are but a few examples. We won’t even get into the minutiae of instigator rules, red lines, etc. They’ll be plenty of time for that over the next year, since we’ll have nothing else to do except wave good-bye to all the Swedish players.

The Business

1.) Marketing sucks. Period. End of story. If you don’t expand the fan base, the sport dies a slow, painful, cyanotic death. And you cannot expand the league (Europe), without first expanding the fan base. No one in America is going to watch European hockey if they already won’t watch North American hockey.

2.) The NHLPA is taking cues from the MLBPA. Hard line, no salary cap. The problem? Baseball makes money. Hockey doesn’t. Bob Goodenow is starting to bear an eerie resemblance to Donald Fehr. Problem is, neither of them is looking out for the best interests of “the game” – or the players. They are tending the best interests of “the union”, which is “a business” in and of itself.

3.) If you lose a full season, almost all of your “casual fan base” goes out the window (and probably over to lacrosse, which is higher-scoring and, at least in Denver, has an excellent marketing campaign). All you’re left with is the hard-core psychos (like us), and that’s not enough to sustain either “the game” or “the business”. Plus, it leaves you in an extremely untenable situation as far as re-negotiating an already pathetic television revenue contract.

Again, just a few examples. Now, we can sit around and pretend that nothing is wrong, and be sitting on the porch watching the bug zapper for entertainment when the cruise missiles hit, or we can try and come up with some constructive solutions, and pass them on to the appropriate parties.

I leave it in your capable hands to decide.

D-Strate