Saturday, July 23, 2005

Blarg!

Well, it's Friday and I'm slightly drunk, and yet compelled to post something, although I can't say it will be either insightful or interesting ...

Of course I ended up going to work early today, only to gather round the TSN webcast with a veritable office sausage party of guys from different cities wishing for different things coming from the lottery draft. Most of them laughed at me when the Oilers somehow, against all the odds, gained the 25th pick. I will destroy them one day, this I promise. A lot more of them went silent when the Leafs went 21st, and another made a pained sound when Detroit went down late-ish (I can't say I knew many people from Michigan when I lived in "E-Town"). The Ottawa guy seemed pleased with himself, as if he had something to do with their 9th pick. But to a man, all of us we're in unison checking off our most hated Favourite Sons of the NHL, the Columbuses and the Nashvilles and Atlantas, so that when it came down to Anaheim or Pittsburgh there was some measure of tension and ultimate relief when it went to Pittsburgh.

I guess you could call it a Sun Belt bias, and rightly so, as such bigotry only has it's last socially acceptable refuge in sports, really. I have relatives in Carolina and of course they could care less about hockey there, those jackasses. I realize it's irrational, this knee-jerk anti-Americanism, and yet one feels annoyed with these Sunbelt markets -- it's as if they've received enough concessions and breaks, in the form of breakout players and All Star Games, that if hockey isn't working then we should amicably split altogether and call it a day. And maybe one day that will be the case, but the new CBA wasn't designed to make that happen anytime soon. A shitty ass Carolina Hurricanes following is still better than a robust Winnipeg following, at least if you're chasing the Holy Grail nationwide TV contract, and the fact simply is new revenue sharing isn't going to Canadian teams. I guess the question is whether it would have been more likely to see a Winnipeg jets team under the old CBA or the new one, or if at all...

2 comments:

collin said...

Hey,
Now that I've had a chance to read every single NHL story on the Canadian Press wire (there are plenty, trust me), I'm starting to wrap my head around this, frankly unprecedented, attempt at transformation.
This CBA is a little like the release of Hello Nasty by the Beastie Boys, it provides the proof that they'll never return to earlier style.
Evolve or die, but still, the shear number of rule changes, the snazzy (and complicated!) new math, the group of sure-fire hall of famers who'll be left on the outside after this is staggering.

Whether it will be successful is another matter, and the NHL's track record on evolution, or sticking to their guns, isn't good.

PAST HISTORY
Previously, the NHL always hedged everything it did and looked impotent because of it.
They took a halfway approach to everything trying to be all things they satisfied no one and it's partially due of its disparate fanbase.
Remember the term unwritten code. This is one such cop out,
At the two extremes of the fan scale, one side wanted WWII vets skating around original six buildings in leatherpads redressing fouls with an enthusiastic form of dentistry -- Old time hockey.
The otherside envisioned something more like Tron -- metal-padded supermen blazing around moon stadiums, navigating half-pipes and blasting pucks with such force that extreme air friction would literally cause combustion.
Neither is attainable, but I think we're clearly headed forward in one direction.
But will the NHL start flip-flopping again? Note here the decision not to televise the draft lottery, then reversed that decision, then finding a middle.
Shootout? Awesome! But there's no fucking way you're putting that in the playoffs.

THE NEW RULES:
This is the largest single docket of rule changes ever proposed in any league in a single swoop. Imagine the NBA bringing in the three-point shot, the shot clock, the no-zone-defence rule, an expanded court, and the salary cap.
It'll be a mess, but it's fairly Machiavellian. Do it all at once when people are desperate for the pro game.
On the ice, the hockey's going to be strange, but since the players are actually involved in the competition committee, I think it will last longer than the old try-it-in-the-pre-season idea.
Fans always said they wanted a faster game, until they realized that enforcing obstruction rules actually slowed the game down more than the actual obstruction, and also hurt their home team in some way.

THE PLAYERS:
For ten years the league has been ruled by a group of superstars that started out during the 21-team NHL. They created the free agent market and their time is over.
Scott Stevens, Al MacInnes, Chris Chelios, Lindross and Mark Messier will likely retire.
Too a lesser extent, Brett Hull, Mike Modano, Neiuwendyk/Roberts, Owen Nolan, John LeClair, Ed Belfour will all be discounted, and begging for jobs by September.
Part of this is age factor, but still, there's 11 hall of famers who just fell out of the castle window.
At the same time, there clearly is a new cast of lions emerging. Iginla, Heatley etc.

THE NEW MATH
If there's one thing that hockey fans hate, it's whiny superstars. This past year, the owners were bolstered by the fans' need to see these rich assholes put in their place.
Unfortunately, when this all shakes out, superstars will actually have much more power.
Eventually superstar X is going to top out in the salary cap, and therefore only be swayed by the amount of power he has inside an organization. Vince Carter got GM's and coaches fired every other day as a franchise player with the Raptors.
If hockey fans hated the idea of Ilya Kovalchuk cashing a big cheque, they'll love it when he starts telling his coach what to do.

It's a new world for sure, and I'm interested to see how it pans out.
Only, will it stay on the rails long enough?

Collin

Collin said...

The answer is John LeClair and Tony Amonte.
The question was who were the first players bought out of their contracts in the new NHL. Bobby Clarke announced his previous and possibly on-going stupidity Saturday morning by paying out LeClair for the final $9M final year of his contract and Amonte ($5.82M).
The whole thing saves Clarkey $7.5 million against the cap.