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1 10th April 20:14
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Default Good article about NHL in major trouble

Mike and Mike suggested this article this am on ESPN radio by Tom Boswell
and it has some really good points:

NHL On Path For Major Collapse

By Thomas Boswell

Thursday, June 3, 2004; Page D01

The NHL is not just in danger of a long labor lockout or a lost season.
Professional hockey, though it seems oblivious to its mortal risk, may be on
the brink of losing its place as a major team sport.

Last week, after a 2 1/2-hour meeting with the head of the NHL Players
Association, Commissioner Gary Bettman was asked if the NHL would open
training camp for next season without a new labor agreement. "We cannot live
under the collective bargaining agreement for any longer than its term,"
Bettman said.

That's not an announcement of a lockout by NHL owners for next season. But
it's about as close as you can get.

"While there was candid discussion, it would be misleading to suggest that
there was any progress made or to characterize our discussions as
productive," said Ted Saskin, the union's senior director. No more talks are

At about the same time,, the Post's Web site, ran an
online poll asking which teams would be in the Stanley Cup finals. The
largest response -- 42 percent of users -- was: "Didn't realize the NHL
playoffs were going on." The NHL just doesn't get it. Both the owners and
players are living in a parallel universe of complete delusion. Because they
love hockey, they think everybody cares about it. Because they can't imagine
a world without the NHL, they don't realize the majority of sports fans care
little whether the NHL even exists.

If you doubt it, check the TV ratings for the Finals From Nielsen Hell
between the Calgary Flames and Tampa Bay Lightning. If the Weather Channel
had a power outage, its ratings would still crush the NHL's numbers.

In almost every respect, the fight between the NHL's owners and players
mirrors the battle in baseball that led to the strike of 1994 and the
cancellation of the World Series. The financial issues, long-standing
personal animosity and hard-line rhetoric could hardly be more similar.

However, there is one huge difference.

Baseball is America's national pastime. Hockey is Canada's national pastime.
Yet the NHL is counting on American fans and American dollars to come back
to the NHL the way they came back to baseball. What business would take such
a bet-the-industry risk? What union would tempt such career suicide for its

No one should doubt the seriousness of both sides, certainly not the owners
who are already firing team employees or not replacing those who quit. Teams
including Washington, Carolina, Dallas, Florida, Edmonton, St. Louis,
Anaheim and Phoenix have laid off or plan to lay off a substantial number of
employees. At last count, the Caps had fired four people in hockey
operations, while seven people in other departments had quit.

After a lockout and a lost season, which is currently considered the highest
probability outcome, there would certainly still be an NHL in some form. But
what form would that be? How many teams would it contain? What would its
attendance be? Just because baseball is in excellent health after a
fundamental breach of trust with its customers, that should not serve as
some sort of subliminal message to hockey's owners and players.

Here's the kicker, the wild card, the enormous factor the NHL seems not to
have considered. The imminent danger for hockey is that if it does anything
as destructive as baseball did in '94-'95, the NHL may lose its status
alongside the NFL, MLB and NBA as a major professional team sport.

"Major" is a vague but invaluable distinction conferred in the public mind.
Some sports, some events, are major. Some aren't. There's no election, no
referendum. Nobody calls to tell you on the day you move from one category
to the other. But, over time, it happens. And for years hockey has been
slipping back toward "minor." In its most recent TV contract, the NHL
accepted terms that were comparable to the Arena Football League.

Once a major sport falls back into the pack of wannabes, it never recovers.
Once, prize fighting and horse racing were huge national sports, far bigger
than hockey has ever dreamed of being. Does hockey understand that if it
shrinks in popularity as much as boxing and horse racing that it will not
just be small, it will almost be invisible? Can you say, bowling? Actually,
that would be an insult to bowling with its large participant base.

Hockey's owners think they can freeze the sport for a year to save money,
then thaw it out in a wonderful new world with a hard salary cap, a docile
union and a fan base that will gradually f****ve everybody. Hockey players
apparently think it's smart to call this bluff. Perhaps only those in an
insular culture like hockey could believe this.

The awful TV ratings for the Stanley Cup may, in a bizarre way, serve as a
wake-up call. Before the finals, the NHL's ratings were one-fourth that of
the NBA. Now, the Lightning and Flames, two small-market teams, are further
shrinking those figures. Games 1 and 2 tied for the lowest Cup ratings on
cable since 1990. Games 3 and 4 were two of the lowest for hockey since
broadcast network numbers began.

Aside from dedicated hockey fans, how many know the Flames' best player, and
perhaps the best player in the whole sport, is Jarome Iginla?

And how many realize he's the first black captain of an NHL club? The NHL
has many nice stories like this that are worth sharing with a wider world.

But, after a lockout, how many will still care?

Pro hockey better realize what many of us understand intuitively.

Most people can do without the NHL. The sport survives off the adoration of
a relatively small hard core. After a lost season, plenty of fans might
express a preference for a less cluttered sports scene in which the NHL came
back as a much less visible game.

Sometimes a slap in the face is useful. The NHL needs to understand that, if
it goes away for a year, the sports public -- which has so many games,
seasons and athletes -- may discover it prefers a world with far fewer pro
hockey highlights on TV or NHL stories in newspapers and magazines.

With a year to think about it, we might ask whether we really needed to know
so much more about the NHL than we do about women's golf or college lacrosse
or pro soccer or NASCAR or who knows what?

Why, we might ask, is the NHL covered like a major sport? What's so
important about it? If few missed it when it was gone, why treat it as a
major sport when it comes back?

So, NHL, do you feel lucky? Go on, take a season off.

Make our day.
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2 10th April 20:14
rod gramlich
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Posts: 1
Default Good article about NHL in major trouble

we know it (or more poignantly perhaps, as the NHL players know it) is DEAD
!! The fact is (as ironic as it may seem) that greedy (or maybe,
egotistical, better describes) owners have created their own mess. They have
spoiled their underachieving employees, and now the employees somehow see
themselves as the bludgeoned bourgeoisie ....... who have it in their heads
that "they, above all, are worth it".

Turn out the lights ...... this party is over !
"truebs" <> wrote in message news:40bf788b$0$2945$




that, if



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3 10th April 20:14
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Default Good article about NHL in major trouble

Why would you post this as a 'good article'? It's a going away
present from a network that lost interest in the product. They
butchered the presentation, and now it's the tool's fault.

How can they lose a position the rest of the article claims they never
had in the first place? Read it for yourself - we couldn't make it
work, so it ****s.

Someone used crazy glue on this one. Bettman's quote doesn't tie back
to the question. And the question isn't in quotes.

It's also not news. That's been on the table since Bettman's
responses around the turn of the year.

That's incorrect. It was discussed on Hotstove - the next meeting is
planned to start after the final game.

Again, so what? Washington's been out of the mix for six months,
melted down, and ... has other things to talk about. Leonides already
stated he was headed into rebuilding. Ever been around that kind of
environment? Between the blame, the lame, and the insane ... turnover rates go up.

Back to 'sour g****s'. ESPN couldn't get it to work, soooo ....

They didn't do any homework on that one. Total numbers are way up -
HNIC is a happy puppy. If ESPN can't do their homework, maybe they
should do like they did in high school, and pay someone to do it for them.

In some ways. Saying this is that, is untrue.

That's not a difference, that's a statement. And strike or no strike,
that's not going to change.

What comeback? First they say there's nothing there, and then they
pull the nudge-nudge about the non-crowd non-coming non-back.

Again the example of melted-down Washington. How about Florida adding
a new coach and a new GM at a time when there may be less than a little to do?

Would visors be mandatory?

Baseball went through years of blizzard after the strike. Some
franchises never really recovered.

The article just spent its time explaining it wasn't ... and now it
says it could lose it.

And ESPN got that whole snowball rolling last season when it announced
cutbacks in it's presentation schedule. The problem here isn't hockey
- it's ESPN diverting attention from just how badly it presented the product.

First they noted baseball's recovery, and then they said things don't recover.

If there's a concern with shrinkage, ESPN should go look in the mirror.

I've never seen any franchise statement anywhere that states what this
article does. This is beyond fiction - it's fertilizer.

Incorrect again - the old Goebbels angle - "If you're gonna tell a
lie, tell a big one ... a really big one. Keep telling it. Even tho
people know it's a lie, they'll figure there must be some truth in
there somewhere."

Lower US ratings? U bet. Just like the mini-me World Series a few
years ago. Guess what? It goes with the territory in any sport.

This is just friggin' horrid, vile, and worthy of contempt.

After this article, I'll be checkin' to see if that sports feed has
the ESPN logo on it.

Here's the deal out of this article. Get Ted Darling and HNIC to
package the presentation technology. Export it and set it up to run
locally. ESPN can go do whatever it is they think they do best, like
.... bowling. Not real bowling, 10-pin bowling.
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4 10th April 20:14
rod gramlich
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Default Good article about NHL in major trouble

It's more than just a network losing interest in the said product !!!
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5 10th April 20:14
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Default Good article about NHL in major trouble


Does Dirk Graham know about the above?
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6 10th April 20:14
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Default Good article about NHL in major trouble

In article <ls9vb0t01nn7plbgqnel9tpandp3457oin

A Keenan appointment if I recall correctly.

The media won't let facts get in the way of a good blow smoke
up Iginla's foo-foo story.

But I'd like to know why he's considered black ? A black dad
and a white mom, where's the rule book on this ?

Woods was particularly offended, and as a result offended many
blacks, by the notion that his mom's heritage was ignored when
he was labeled black.

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7 10th April 20:14
kurt sims
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Default Good article about NHL in major trouble

I don't think it would be that bad for the NHL to have a "major
collapse". Hockey has been a fantastic game for well over 100 years
with or without the broad American audience. IMO hockey has
deteriorated since they expanded last, I don't know whether it's
because of a dilution of talent or just too many teams to keep
interest. We should dump any team in a region that can't be bothered
to support them and use their players to restart the Winnipeg Jets and
Quebec Nordiques.

Instead of begging the American networks to carry the games they
should play them in the local markets and people can pick them up on
NHL Center Ice packages or Pay Per View. The local station team
coverage is fantastic. ESPN/ABC downright ****s when it comes to
coverage, partly because they don't know the teams they cover. If you
want good coverage for local teams you don't have to go far. NESN
covers the Bruins with people that know the team and the players
inside out. YES covers the Rangers and Islanders almost as well. I
still remember Ed Whalen and the Flames on 7, it was homer coverage
but you couldn't argue with the passion. Kurt

To reply by email remove the two copies of spam
in my return address
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8 10th April 20:14
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Default Good article about NHL in major trouble

A major strike is going to be a major setback. Hockey is in the
singular position of driving the majority of its revenue off
turnstiles. In the what-if scenario of a year-long strike, there will
probably be a recovery season to follow it.

Both those are part of the recipe. Add to it the growing frequency of
major injuries tied to spiraling contracts. Throw in the 'era of good
goal-tending'. Add to it older players sticking around cuz the money
is irresistable. Do your own check on how often you recognize the
names and faces, and how often the best-known players aren't in the lineup.

If there's any attrition at all let it be for business reasons, and if
that's the case, let the League contractt. ( I really wonder if
there's a future for hockey in Pittsburgh). But skip the movement of
franchises to locations that didn't work before - some of the best
reasons are in your post - swarms of names you don't recognize. And
don't force the downsizing - the League could end up burying itself in buyout costs.

Excellent suggestion. Get the guys who are stakeholders to step in
and show their product. If you want something shared league-wide,
share the technology and technique to put on a good game.

I had less of a problem with their knowledge (and I found some of the
unusual terminology worth a chuckle or two), but the visual was a
nightmare. Washed out, dysfunctional, and either long stretches of
just plain boring top-views or jumping around the camera selections
like a one-armed bandit readout.

CBC does a 5-star job. It's almost 50 years of working at it. They
should get a contract to do the skills transfer to kinds of outlets
you've suggested.
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9 10th April 20:14
martin p.
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Default Good article about NHL in major trouble

Isn`t that why he came up with "cablinasian"?
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10 10th April 20:14
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Default Good article about NHL in major trouble

Yes. It's had a bit of difficulty catching on though. :-)

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