Wednesday, March 30, 2005

How come all the NHL news makes me cringe?

I'm not only talking about the labor news and the lockout. I'm not only talking about the loss of one season and the likely waste of next season if the NHL brings out replacement players. I'm talking about the changes the NHL wants to make to the game when it does come back.

Blue ice? Larger nets? Form fitting uniforms? Shootouts? Why?

In part to try once again to market the game of hockey to the people in the markets that have thus far rejected it - thus leading the NHL braintrust to institute this lockout and cost us the season, and also because in order to sell the lockout, the people running the NHL have been running a propoganda campaign about how the game is broken and needs to be fixed.

Hockey is a great game. It sells very well on a regional level. In many NHL markets, tickets have been very hard to come by and TV ratings for games are good. Its not a national game in the US. So what? It never has been. Many people have made lots of money without trying to force hockey to be a national sport. It has stood for generations as a great game.

The future looks dim. Who knows how long it will be until the labor situation is solved. By then how much talent will be lost to Europe or possibly othe North American leagues? The NHL will no longer be the league with all the best talent in the world. And its new gimmicks (like larger nets) will turn off a lot of the traditional fans that have been taken foregranted (and in some cases lost) during this lockout. Its the glow puck and the Fox robots all over again.

I don't think it is hyperbole to say that Gary Bettman's vision of the NHL is literally the worst thing that has happened in the history of hockey. It has the potential to ruin the game that has been built for generations. Even if he gets his way with the NHL and completely wins the rest of the labor dispute (whatever win means at this point), the league he wants to build sounds more and more stupid everytime a new proposed rule change comes out.

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