Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Memo to NHL: be who you gotta be

Why doesn't the NHL just give up on trying to get a big network TV contract? I mean, that's been its stated goal since Gary Bettman came along in the early 1990s and the league has actually regressed in that regard.

To make an analogy, it's like trying to beckon a cat: you end up yelling it's name ("Come here, Snickers! Snickers!... Snickers...Come - hey, Snickers, come here. SNICKERS?") while it looks at you like a total loser, folds its ears and walks away to rub up against a banister. Total humiliation. As we all know, the trick is to act like you don't give a fuck, pretend like you have your own thing going on, and just wait for that pussycat cat to come rolling in.


The NHL has never bothered to have its own thing going on, so to speak. We've thrown all sorts of bells and whistles at Americans, whether it be FOX Sports lazer pucks or drastic rule changes, and to no avail. Total humiliation.


Why do I bring this up? Because the New York Times, which almost never writes hockey stories anymore, ran a story by Dave Anderson with the headline "Playoff Overtime: Its Drama Is Incomparable," a long piece on how great playoff hockey is, especially with dramatic second and third period overtimes.

No other event can match it. Not the Super Bowl, which has never had an overtime game. Not the World Series, where there is no time element. Not the N.B.A. playoffs, which has complete overtime periods. Not soccer's World Cup, which can dissolve into a penalty-kick shootout.
Now, as you may remember, our extended overtimes have been the subject of hand-wringing here in Canada lately. Commentators on CBC's Satellite Hotstove worried about how these long, unpredictable games might ruin our chances for a primetime spot on network TV.

What I'm saying is: forget about it, we have no shot and the league blew its chance a long time ago.
Time for the league to show some muscle, be distinct as baseball, embrace tradition, love the sport and stop tailoring the game for a big network TV contract that's never going to happen.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bettman's gotta go!!!

http://www.FireBettman.com

Anonymous said...

Well said Mr. W.
That last paragraph is the solution, plain and simple.

Craig.

McLea said...

be distinct as baseball

What the hell does that mean?

mike w said...

What the HELL DO YOU MEAN?

McLea, always keeping me on my toes.

McLea said...

Fine. I'll leave your absurd post about how the NHL should resign itself to being a fringe sport alone.

Things not going well? Give up!

Great advice sage.

mike w said...

Fine. I'll leave your absurd post

The freedom of the internet is a beautiful thing.

Par said...

Things not going well? Give up!

Giving up = Not constantly changing the game?

Altering the game to fix hypothetical reasons that there's no big TV contract hasn't worked before, so don't. Let hockey live or die in that world by being hockey.

If getting rid of or changing the format of OT in the playoffs is better for the game, fine. If you have to change hockey just to appeal to an end-of-the-rainbow TV contract, don't.

Why is that so hard to grasp?

Anonymous said...

Just to extend your metaphor a little, I think I'm one of the cats you're talking about. I'm American, and I only discovered hockey the year before the Stars won the Cup. I wasn't even a sports fan before then, but now I'm obsessed with hockey.

But I'm a cat that is begging to come sit on hockey's lap and be petted a while, but Bettman is only interested in the cats that give them the attitude.

So even those of us who are new fans are not respected any more than you lucky ones who have had hockey your whole lives.

I agree wholeheartedly that the NHL should just be proud of what a great game they have and stop begging for approval from people who couldn't care less.

-Patty in Dallas

garnet said...

Last graf, Mike: nip the apostrophe in "it's chance" -- see the relevant Bob the Angry Flower strip for guidelines:

http://angryflower.com/aposter.html

suze said...

The same Times that recently ran a story called "8-armed cephalopods, 2-armed cretins" on how un-classy the Islanders have become, with Ryan Smyth as the poster child for its statement?

Zodiac said...

Anybody watching the Buffalo NY series care to comment on the NHL's handling of the two disallowed goals that were clearly goals?

Sigh.

mike w said...

Last graf, Mike: nip the apostrophe in "it's chance"

Sigh. A typo and nothing more. No need to wave Notley's comic in my face.

Stuey said...

I love extended overtimes. When watching a series I'm neutral about, I want to see goals. I want a goal or a great save very time someone crosses the blue line.

As soon as it gets into OT, I don't want goals. I just want it to go on and on and on.

There is plenty of hand-wringing about this south of the border, too. The VS studio guys (Bill Clement, Keith Jones, and what's-his-face, blond mullett former Hab) have all stated they want to see 4 on 4 starting at the 2nd OT period. Clement actually said he wants 4 on 4 to start after 10 minutes of the first OT!

LittleFury said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LittleFury said...

There is plenty of hand-wringing about this south of the border, too. The VS studio guys (Bill Clement, Keith Jones, and what's-his-face, blond mullett former Hab) have all stated they want to see 4 on 4 starting at the 2nd OT period. Clement actually said he wants 4 on 4 to start after 10 minutes of the first OT!

They should decrease the number of players as the OTs go on. Four on four after the first OT, then three on three and down until its one on one. If the game goes on long enough, it goes down to just the goalies lobbing the puck at the other net. That's entertainment.

Black Dog said...

They should take Clement and all the other numbshulls out to centre ice and behead them.

With hacksaws.

That, I would find entertaining.

Julian said...

about how the NHL should resign itself to being a fringe sport alone.

who gives a fuck about the NHL being a fringe sport.
oh, the owners. right.

Frankly, I figure people in places where the team isn't very popular should be happy, they get to go to games for less money than it costs me to go to an OHL game.

McLea said...

who gives a fuck about the NHL being a fringe sport.
oh, the owners. right.


Call me crazy, but I rather watch a team that has a fan base that actually cares about their team, over an apathetics one that has to give away tickets just to get some butts in the seats.

Large, rabid fan bases make a significant contribution to the sporting experience. See the Red Sox/Yankees, the Cubs, playoff hockey played in Canadian cities, the freaking Golden State Warriors! Having a crazy fanbase that treats every game like it is life or death makes makes the games seem bigger than they really are, like there is something significant at stake....like it's more than just a stupid game.

I mean is there anything worse than beating somebody who doesn't care? Do we not have a selfish interest in getting people in Nashville interested in hockey so that when we beat them in a series we'll know that there will be a million people going to work in a bad mood the next day, and that the local media will spend the next two weeks talking about what went wrong?

Red Sox fans don't hate the Yankees, they hate Yankees fans. I don't have anything personal against Trevor Linden, but God knows I can't stand Canuck fan. I mean Christ, knowing that someone on otherside cares about the outcome is the most underappreciated part of sports in my humble opinion.

McLea said...

So don't kid yourself. If we resign ourselves to accepting that 2/3 of the league doesn't give a shit about hockey, then fans of hockey as a whole lose.

Stan the Caddy said...

I'll leave your absurd post about how the NHL should resign itself to being a fringe sport alone.

Context my friend. It's a fringe sport in the US perhaps, but so is Soccer, the most popular sport in the world.

So don't kid yourself. If we resign ourselves to accepting that 2/3 of the league doesn't give a shit about hockey, then fans of hockey as a whole lose.

Valid point, but wouldn't it be easier to have teams in regions where people care about hockey than try and guess how they (the ones that don't give a shit in the large regional TV markets) would like to see hockey played?

They should decrease the number of players as the OTs go on. Four on four after the first OT, then three on three and down until its one on one. If the game goes on long enough, it goes down to just the goalies lobbing the puck at the other net. That's entertainment.

Love the idea but I'd rather see this as an alternative to the shoot-out during regular season games. The shoot-out, while exciting for a split second, takes FOREVER to get started. Why not take a player off the ice every minute after the 4 on 4 period? The game would be over faster than it takes for the Zamboni to do their two passes for the shoot-out. Plus it would at least somewhat resemble the game they play for 65 minutes before that.

They should take Clement and all the other numbshulls out to centre ice and behead them.

With hacksaws.


Be careful what you wish for, with those idiots out of the way, VS would probably steal Ferraro from us.

This whole discussion is really "grinding my gears." I can't, for the life of me, remember which tv analyst said thi, but it was something along the lines of:
"they need to end these games sooner because it can't be good for TV ratings."
McFly! How would it HURT ratings to have your show on for longer? Let's say it's 3 am and a game is in it's 3rd OT and I say, "fuck this, I don't want to sit, sweating, on the edge of my seat with every swat of the puck, I'd rather watch infomercials!"
Ok, so there's a good example of losing TV ratings, but I wouldn't have been watching the game anyways if it had ended a few hours before. So what kind of an argument is that? I know these guys are smarter than that, so the only explanation for broadcasting that BS is that they think WE are stupid, and I don't appreciate that. The fact is, long OT games are bad for the league because there aren't TV time outs, hence large networks wouldn't want overtime hockey anywhere near prime time as W has pointed out. But has this argument ever been brought up by the "pundits?" Not that I've heard.

McLea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julian said...



I mean is there anything worse than beating somebody who doesn't care? Do we not have a selfish interest in getting people in Nashville interested in hockey so that when we beat them in a series we'll know that there will be a million people going to work in a bad mood the next day, and that the local media will spend the next two weeks talking about what went wrong?


Yeah, losing is generally worse than beating someone who doesn't care.
I don't derive pleasure out of my team's win by how much pain and suffering the other team is experiencing.

It'd be nice if everyone cared about the fortunes of their local hockey club, but it doesn't look like it's happening, and I don't need my love for hockey validated by people in nashville or phoenix.
And i certainly don't like the BOG changing the game to make it more appealing to non-fans.

LittleFury said...

I mean is there anything worse than beating somebody who doesn't care?

Yeah, I hear you, man: winning totally blows.

So don't kid yourself. If we resign ourselves to accepting that 2/3 of the league doesn't give a shit about hockey, then fans of hockey as a whole lose.

To coin a phrase: what the hell does that mean?

Do rule changes and marketing ploys that alter the character of the game serve hockey fans any better? If growing the game and satisfying mclea's need to watch others suffer means more crap like the FoxTraxxx Puxxx, then I and, I'd wager, most other fans (y'know: the large, rabid fan bases who make a significant contribution to the sporting experience?) would just as soon pass. I like my fringe sport just fine, thanks.

McLea said...

Oh man, you guys should hear yourselves. So it doesn't make any difference who you beat, just as long as you win? Do you seriously believe that? I think 100 years of sporting history would run smack into the face of that ridiculous statement. It's hard to build a rivalry with a team that has a fan base that doesn't care. In fact, it's impossible. In order for there to be a rivalry, it has to mutually acknowledged on both sides.

More rivalries = more big games = better product.

Andy Grabia said...

Oh man, you guys should hear yourselves.

That just made me spit up my drink. Best. Idiot. Ever.

LittleFury said...

I love mclea's reflexive contrarianism. He's always in such a rush to be disagreeable that he often doesn't bother figuring out what he's disagreeing with.

So it doesn't make any difference who you beat, just as long as you win? Do you seriously believe that? I think 100 years of sporting history would run smack into the face of that ridiculous statement.

I think 100% of sports fans not named mclea would agree that winning is always, always better than losing. Since your statement was:

I mean is there anything worse than beating somebody who doesn't care?

...the blindingly obvious rebuttal is "Yes there is. Losing is worse than beating someone who doesn't care." It's a really stupid answer to a really stupid question.

By the by, losing to someone who doesn't care (see, Flames, Calgary c. 2004 and Oilers, Edmonton c., 2006) is the worst fate of all.

McLea said...

I think 100% of sports fans not named mclea would agree that winning is always, always better than losing. Since your statement was:

I mean is there anything worse than beating somebody who doesn't care?


Fuck you're annoying. You knew what I meant.

LittleFury said...

Fuck you're annoying. You knew what I meant.

You know, for a guy who distilled the original post about how the league shouldn't alter its product in pursuit of a elusive national TV contract down to

Things not going well? Give up!

...you've got some nerve whining about your statements being misinterpreted. Especially since the misinterpretation you're boo-hooing about involved simply taking your words at face value. Dink.

McLea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
McLea said...

Hey littlefury remember when, following a post where Schremp had his hat on sideways at a bar, you went on some hysterical rant about how all hockey players are gut spewing douche bags?

Why are hockey players such deplorable sacks of shit according to littlefury? Because they have their picture taken in bars, often in the company of women. The horror! I mean could you imagine? Going out to a bar, having a few drinks, and hanging out with women? Fucking guys are the scum of the earth right littlefury? Getting laid and having a good time. Who the fuck do they think they are acting every other fucking 23 year old guy on the planet?

So yah, after that performance I pretty much decided that you were an insecure, whining little bitch. Especially considering what triggered your hysteria was an innocent picture of Schremp sitting at a bar. Not Schremp licking some girl's ear. Not Schremp doing Keg stands at a frat party. But fucking Schremp, sitting at a bar, smiling, with his hat on sideways. Congratulations littlefury, you're the fucking worst.

Allan said...

http://hfboards.com

LittleFury said...

Dude, I totally remember that from Hot Oil. As far as rants go, that was just kinda alright. It was short, wasn't particularly vehement and it certainly wasn't the paroxysm of rage you characterize it as.

It sure had nothing on your highlight reel hissy fit on this very blog a couple months back. Remember that? When you went to great lengths to position yourself as the righteous defender of Truth and Intellectual Integrity, but came out looking like a petulant child who just spent a solid hour sitting in his own runny shit? I'm sorry to say that, compared to that epic apoplexy, this latest little turd-flinging episode of yours just isn't up to snuff. I mean, really: you couldn't work a mention of Grabia in there somewhere?

I could go on about how one who, again, styles himself as the Blog Cop extraordinaire should probably be prepared to defend his knee-jerk dribblings instead of changing the subject to something completely unrelated. Or I could mention how one with your track record of petulance and anger-management issues should really be careful in directing terms like "insecure, whining little bitch" anywhere but at a mirror. But I won't because I just could never hope to embarrass you as much as you embarrass yourself.

McLea said...

You're right, we shouldn't have wavered from your reading comprehension seminar that you graciously put on for us at no cost.

And I may have said some outrageous things on these comment boards, but I've never gone to the length of suggesting that excessive drinkers should be rounded into camps. God only knows what sort of "camps" you were referring to, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt only because I don't think it's possible for anyone to be that deranged.

said...

I don't see why you guys bother arguing with mclea, he obviously just does it to get a rise out of people; apparently that's what floats his boat...just ignore them.

The fact that he posts at all railing against all the detritus that everyone else has written in their blog should tell you all you need to know; especially since he seems to read those same blogs closely. Apparently no one cares about his blog enough to even bother reading it so he can't be his own self righteous indignant self there.

mike w said...

Waitaminute, forget all this: Danny Sabourin is starting in net for the Canucks in OVERTIME???

Stan the Caddy said...

Waitaminute, forget all this: Danny Sabourin is starting in net for the Canucks in OVERTIME???

What was that all about? How horrible would it be to see their season end with their back-up goalie in net? Oh, wait a minute...

Now he's back, it looks like their season might end on a delay-of-game penalty. How exciting!

mike w said...

I can't believe I'm staying up to find out what the hell that was about....

Fuck this Eastern time zone!