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#31

zenner

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Posted Feb 27, 2004 @ 10:53 PM

Yes, but. Those other sports are a lot more popular than hockey. There are a lot more potential players for those sports, too.

The NHL was demanding $50 Million per franchise. Worth it in Canada. Not in the States.
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#32

cronox5

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Posted Feb 27, 2004 @ 11:35 PM

Football actually isn't overexpanded at all. The only team that has no hope is the Arizona Cardinals, and that's mainly because of their awful ownership. Otherwise the Revenue Sharing with the TV Networks and the Salary Cap give hope to every team in the league each year.

Hockey and Baseball are however, extremely overpopulated. When the strike is over, you will easily see 8-10 teams out of the NHL.
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#33

Glark

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Posted Feb 28, 2004 @ 10:00 AM

We are very much off topic here.
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#34

Hasbro

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Posted Mar 8, 2004 @ 5:08 PM

Tommorow is the second greatest event of the Hockey Season, the Trade Deadline. again I must express my envy at Canada for having a network that drops eveything to cover the flury while I'm stuck rechecking the net and listening to sports radio updates (ugh!) I get repetative stress disorder after about three passes through ESPN news. However with the thing I don't know how this swap meet is going to stack up to others and it also seems like teams aren't waiting for the last minute to get things done. Case in point the Rangers and Caps have already dismantled their rosters with only a few pieces of bait left. Being an Avs fan it's alway a pregnant pause around here considering Lacroix surprises us with some deal about this time.

You can't really tell if hockey is a success in Colorado yet, Hasbro. The team was built in Quebec and the Avs have never been supported through bad years yet, because they've never had any. If the fans support the franchise through tough times, you may be right. Most American fans won't, though, because they have too many other options. Vide Dallas. Same situation, but the franchise is now slipping, and isn't drawing.


Well in our deffence our youth hockey programs have tripled, our college programs are getting a boost the Univesity of Denver moved into a new arena restablished itself as a national power and has a TV deal now too and there is a new minor league team in Ft Collins. The Denver market also had the highest ratings for the 2002 Olympic hockey in the US, so I get a bit incredulous at all of the "three times before the cock crows" talk. I think the team would have to deliver a massive insult upon the city for there to be a massive exodous, like the Nuggets did when they decided to rebuild a second time and only got going this year.
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#35

selkie

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Posted Mar 9, 2004 @ 4:14 PM

ESPN News channel did have a nice hour long show for the last hour before the deadline. They also carried a press conference from Pierre Lacroix- mostly talk about l'affaire Bertuzzi and Moore's medical condition, but a couple questions on the trades as well.

It's now 4:12 est, and I'm really a bit surprised that no one has announced a Kolzig trade yet. (at least it hasn't shown up on tsn.ca yet)
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#36

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Posted Mar 9, 2004 @ 5:47 PM

Iwas watching the Avs Van game last night and it was one of the more vicous things I have seen in my hockey life. The local announcers were broken up about what happened to Moore and were having a hard time finishing the game.

I'm a real draft pick/ prospect head when it comes to hockey and always liked Moore so seeing him get three vertibre broken in real time was absolutely heart stopping. I knew Bertuzzi was a jerk, but this. On top all of this Moore was apologetic about the hit on Naslund, Naslund forgave him, Vanco didn't take up this issue during the last game in Denver, Moore fought in the first period and the thing about that Naslund game not getting any press about the game that started this mess is Peter Forsberg got injured in that game in because of being mugged by Jarko Ruttu.

Coach Mark Crawford and Mike Keane are utter hypocrites in my eyes. The were members of the Avs during the infamous brawl with the Red Wing over retribution of Claude Lemeuix's hit on Kris Draper (ironicaly czar of discipline at the time was Vancouver GM Brian Burke.) Detroit like Vancouver sought retribution at a home game after forgoing the opportunity to do so in Denver. Keane called the Wings "A bunch of gutless homers" that night.

Well the NHL is left to salvage it's reputation as a it's been branded as a thug league again. A bunch of pundits who never watch the sport are sure to come out of the woodwork to scold the climate of violence. Yet NASCAR, boxing, and wrestling are popular in this country.
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#37

Strickland

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Posted Mar 11, 2004 @ 6:30 PM

Well the NHL is left to salvage it's reputation as a it's been branded as a thug league again. A bunch of pundits who never watch the sport are sure to come out of the woodwork to scold the climate of violence. Yet NASCAR, boxing, and wrestling are popular in this country.


Not to mention football. Which relishes showing hard hits, unless someone get paralyzed.

As a huge hockey fan (more specifically, the Islanders) I was disgusted by Bertuzzi's cheap shot. The guy was a gutless puke when he was with the Isles and I'm glad the real Bertuzzi showed through. ESPN showed a great piece which showed, even in the context of "Hockey Justice", how uncalled for Bertuzzi's hit was.
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#38

zenner

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Posted Mar 14, 2004 @ 6:12 PM

Did anyone else see Cherry on HNIC? Jesus. He looked like a plaid Rubik's cube.

So hockey makes the NBC nightly broadcast. Oh, look how violent and creepy hockey is, and just in case you missed all the details, let's repeat the tape 7 times! Excuse me? A NBA player is being tried for murder, another for rape, and numerous others for assault, dealing, etc., and hockey's terrible. Ever seen a soccer riot? A Nascar crash? The NFL is so punishing that many of the veterans are permanently crippled, but everybody is shaking their heads over hockey. What a bunch of idiots.

That said, Bertuzzi was dumb and got what he deserved. But there are very few people in hockey who haven't done something not exactly kosher. That includes Granato (a notorious stick man when he played) and Moore himself (he was used by the Avs as a hitman for other team's stars. He mugged Martin St. Louis of Tampa not too long ago, as well as Naslund.)

Edited by zenner, Mar 14, 2004 @ 6:13 PM.

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#39

Hasbro

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Posted Mar 14, 2004 @ 8:57 PM

That includes Granato (a notorious stick man when he played) and Moore himself (he was used by the Avs as a hitman for other team's stars. He mugged Martin St. Louis of Tampa not too long ago, as well as Naslund.)


I think that's overstating it a bit. Moore was a checking forward without great skills or speed who had to get out there and finish his checks and played the obstruction game like everyone else unfortunately. We certainly have dirtier players on the Avs, Foote, Forsberg, Hinote, Worrel (depending on your feelings about the Hip check) Rob Blake and the recently acquired Matthew Barnaby. Alumni include Bryan Marcment, Darius Kasparitus and possibly the worst ever Claude Lemeiux. Martin StLouis is 5'9" and a speedster ao unfortunately he's prone to that sort of thing (I've seen it alot this season with Kariya.) The Naslund hit is debatable and I have heard alot of people outsode of Denver say it was clean, so six on one hand. My contention is that if Steve Moore had been Scott Stevens everyone would have been talking about how lucky Naslund would have been to escape with his life.

the blovating before hand by Marc Crawford, Brian Burke, the Vancouver media, et al about Moore being a marginal player was tragicaly out of line here. He got two degrees from Harvard and even for a "student" athlete that's nothing to scoff at. He spent two years in the minors and took three call ups from Hershey this year to earn a full time spot on the roster. He was genuinely apologetic towards Naslund and Naslund forgave him. I would also like to see some mention in the Vancouver press about our star Swede being out from injury from the Naslund-Moore game due to being mugged by Jarko Ruutu and Matt Cooke.

I'm a real prospect/draftnick and I always liked Moore. The Ned braden and Harvard jokes abounded. So it was odd to see how he got transformed from a slug targeting stars to an assualt victim. Bertuzzi really couldn't have picked worse target, a 25 year rookie who worked his way from the minors and a easily identifyable as a Harvard Graduate. Whereas all of Bert's past sins on the ice come home to roost.

Considering the other scandal going on in sports. Since apeculationis enough to attach a baseball player's name with steroids, I'm surprised (not accusing or speculating just surprised) no one started saying the same about Bertuzzi being a power player who is prone to irrational penalties. Which would have made things even worse. I guess since it was two Canadians in Canada the US government had little juristriction.

Speaking of making things worse, Canuck GM Brian Burke holding a press conference and complaining about the suspension and fine was just awful. It's not like it's a surprise the guy is a major league whiner, particularly in regards to the Avalanche and he used to have Colin Campbells job and did a piss poor job at that and has since started whining about officiating since he took over in Vanco.

There is this Burke quote "despite a few seconds on the ice during which you might think he acted inappropriately." Yeah that's just my ethics about not punching guys in the back of the head and riding them into the ice. He also tried to meely mouth the punch talking about the pile up that unsued causing the damage. I've watched the punch about a hundred times and once Moore hits the ice you can see Bertuzzi flex his arm out like he's going to keep hitting him and that's when Nikolishin comes in, so I don't think we can blame him for trying to pull Bert off Moore under the assumption he's going to keep pummeling him. And the key thing is that Moore would not have been in a pile up if BERTUZZI HADN'T HAVE SUCKER PUNCHED HIM.

as for Bertuzzi's apology, yeah ok, you had to. My pet peave is false acts of contrition used as get out of jail free cards that don't ever result in a change of offending behavior. The thing that steamed me was Bertuzzi saying "I had no intention of hurting you." What were you trying to swat a bee off of him? I'll write it off as poor articulation.

There are a few people who think he hould be available for the playoffs. A small minority of canuck fans held a Bertuzzi rally. With all of the bad press the NHL has gotten can you imagine what would happen if Bertuzzi had to face the Avs in he playoffs after the refs had gulped down their whistles?
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#40

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Posted Mar 15, 2004 @ 12:40 AM

Surely Bertuzzi should be worrying about jail time rather than being allowed to play in the playoffs? Do the same thing in a bar and he'd already have been charged. Hell, he could have broken Moore's neck and then it could have been a manslaughter charge.

A soccer player over here called Duncan Ferguson was charged and convicted for a vicious headbutt that occurred on the field of play, and for something as vicious and unconscionable as what Bertuzzi did I see no reason for him not to be charged with assault.
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#41

SaskBunny

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Posted Mar 15, 2004 @ 1:57 AM

Actually, Richyy, he did break Moore's neck, it's just that the spinal cord wasn't severred.

People have been charged, and convicted, of assault in cases like this, Marty McSorley being a prime example. In Canada, the law on this tends to be that you do consent to some degree of force, as long as it is within the normal scope of the game. This clearly wasn't within the rules, and Moore certainly didn't consent, but I still don't know if I like the idea of Bertuzzi being charged for this assault. I'm torn between worrying about the dangerous precedent it may set, and thinking that a person really should be accountable for his actions in cases that are this extreme.
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#42

MrsIke

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Posted Mar 15, 2004 @ 10:11 AM

McSorley's "conviction" was a joke at best - 18 months probabtion and the conviction doesn't appear on his record.

This

Did anyone else see Cherry on HNIC? Jesus. He looked like a plaid Rubik's cube.


made me spit milk out my nose.
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#43

Hasbro

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Posted Mar 16, 2004 @ 12:07 AM

McSorley's "conviction" was a joke at best - 18 months probabtion and the conviction doesn't appear on his record.


I don't know how much Uncle Marty's conviction will play into this case as a precident. If I recall his charge was weapon based since he used his stick to go upside Donald Brashear's head, whereas Bertuzzi used his hand. However Bert dropped his stick in order to grab Moore's jersey and drag him into his punch so that could play into it.

Plus the Canucks bounty on Moore, the fights previous in the game, and Bertuzzi's admition of trying to get a fight started with Adam Foote earlier in the game prove some premediatation unlike McSorely just snapping.

Media perception of the assalants and Victims in the incidents will probably play into this. I think alot of leniancy was extended to McSorely based on the fact that he was Wayne Greztky's body guard, a servicable deffence man despite being slower than mollases and a good guy off the ice. Brashear is an ass anyway you cut it. Whereas Bertuzzi has a poissonous reputation with the Vancouver media, a reputation for taking dumb penalties, a lengthy rap sheet in terms of suspensions, became the face of hockey thuggery. And we all know the angle "All-Star assualts Ivy-Leaguer who worked his way up from the minors."

I'm a little apprehensive about a legal case, but I think this is an "if there were ever..." type scenario. Plus I doubt anyone would face a manslaughter charge for an errant puck hitting a fan.

Nice of Commisioner Gary "the Douchebag" bettman to come out and garner the NHL some extra bad press by telling the law to stay out of the matter, rather than let the case run it's course. It would have been nice if he used this as a mandate to clean up the game of obstruction, stickwork,fighting, anything really... okay we can all stop laughing.
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#44

MrsIke

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Posted Mar 16, 2004 @ 8:43 AM

Very well put, Hasbro.
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#45

cheesesteak

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Posted Mar 16, 2004 @ 4:15 PM

I know it's a different sport and happened a loong time ago but was Kermit Washington charged with or convicted of anything when broke just about every bone in Rudy Tomjanovich's face?
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#46

zenner

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Posted Mar 18, 2004 @ 12:18 PM

Look at the Philly/Ottawa incident. Bobby Clark tries to break into the Ottawa dressing room? Ken Hitchcock vows revenge at their next game? The NHL did precisely nothing about that. Mainly because they think it creates media interest and in fact have encouraged it. So when they fine the Canucks they are being disingenious.

I think, though, that the Avs exploited the situation thoroughly once it happened. That has Lacroix's fingerprints all over it. Not that it will do them much good. The East should win this year, and if they don't, it'll be a mid-pack Western team: Dallas, San Jose or Calgary.
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#47

Hasbro

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Posted Mar 18, 2004 @ 2:04 PM

I think, though, that the Avs exploited the situation thoroughly once it happened. That has Lacroix's fingerprints all over it.

That's another proof of this story not getting the background it deserves. Most people think this is just "Moore hits Naslund, Canucks vow revenge, Bertuzzi goes crazy." There is a pretty acrominous history here. I'm sure you know most of this zenner if you even know Lacroix's name.

Canucks coach Marc Crawford was the Avs first coach when the team moved here and was behind the bench for the first cup. After getting tossed in the playoffs in the first round by Edmonton, Lacroix eased off on extending Crow's contract saying he wanted to "wait for the dust to settle." Crawford more or less walked and got replaced by Bob Hartley who was sneered at by some wags as a Lacroix puppet. Crawford and Pierre were growing apart in opinions. So Crow was working as an analyst when Mike Keenan got shitcanned in Vancouver and they hired Crawford. Lacroix said since Crawford walked and still under contract he was entitled to compensation from Vanco, which was a second rounder. Since then crow as an emotional guy has gotten pretty bitter and Lacroix? He never says shit. A couple of the local guy who are trustworthy said Crow has forgot he had any friends left in this town, and as of two weeks ago he doesn't anymore. He has also stated publicaly that he'd like to end the Avs Division streak (last year tying the record, this year the breaker.)

Brian Burke I think loves to promote Lacroix as a free spending boogeyman to vent at sometimes (which is not accurate.) After his press conference last week I think he cemented his reputation as a whiner. He's a capable GM and and has gotten reconition as such from Denver scribes, before war were declared. and another angle that's been missing from this is that he was head of Discipline. And furthermore during L'affair Lemeiux Burke made some bizzare rulings that didn't endear himself to the fans here and I'm sure Avs management. In the 1996 he gave Claude Lemeiux the infamous 2 game suspension, and made him sit another game in the Wings-Avs series, but he didn't enforce any suplemental discpline on Slava Kozlov for throwing Adam Foote face first into the glass. (A ref just watched that as a huge gash was opened up on his face and the on-ice mic picked up Foote saying "you saw that?!") And here is the parallel we draw in Denver Lemeiux came back from an injury with two games left between the Avs and Wings the first, in Denver, passed without settlement and the second in Detroit resulted in a line brawl in which (the hometown opinion) Darren McCarty jumped Claude and pummeled him, and then scored the game winner in OT. After the game Mike Keane, now a Canuck labeled the Wings "gutless homers." And another paralel the Detroit papers were printing wanted posters of Lemeiux and several players made their intentions known beforehand.

Burke reviewed the game, having had the ref in charge say he screwed up not tossing McCarty after the fight, and didn't suspend him. Even being a perepheral player in the Wings rivalry is enough to get your name mud here. Since he left the disipline job, Burke started whining about the officiating in a series against Detroit.

On the ice since Vanco got going again, the Avs have had a few bloody classes with them on the ice. In 2000-01 Adam Deadmarsh got a concussion in a fight with Ed Jovanowski and Cris Drury was injured in a knee-on-knee hit in a game vs Van. Brashear also had a goon rivalry with Scott Parker, complicated by his get-the other-guy-to-drop-the-gloves-and-back-out move, his prefference to fight Greg DeVries and his hand dusting gesture after even a draw. When Vancouver came back to Denver, another fight marred game ensued Deadmarsh took on Jovo, Brashear vs Parker and the Avs won, which was analogous to the last game until Moore/Bertuzzi. There has been a pretty big rivalry since.

Keep in mind Lacroix's rep amoung Avs fans is the greates a front office or coach has had in this town.
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#48

zenner

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Posted Mar 18, 2004 @ 3:07 PM

He is a good GM, please don't misunderstand. However, I don't think the choice of Tony Granato as coach is a good one. I thought Hartley (who was an excellent coach and is proving it with Atlanta) was much better. I am a Canucks fan, but I have never liked Crawford, and I suspect the Canucks have zoned him out. Might as well fire him now. The Canucks under his regime have shown no ability to weather adversity and so they are toast this year. Neither Colorado nor Detroit will go very far in the play-offs, the Avs because they seem to be having chemistry problems (which I noticed prior to l'affaire Bertuzzi) and possibly goaltending and Detroit because of their age and goaltending. In the West, the clubs with the good goaltending are the mid-pack ones: Dallas (depends on whether Turco wilts in the PO this year); San Jose or Calgary (bet on the latter for an Anaheim-like run; very well coached, hard-working, good goaltending.)

In the East:

New Jersey: Excellent goaltending; injury problems; aging
Philadelphia: Ken Hitchcock is a good coach if you can get over the fact that all his players hate him. Bobby Clark is not a good GM and all his players hate him (always wondered what he had on Ed Snyder, because he screws up incessantly). Goaltending is the problem.
Ottawa: Great offence; lots of talent; no heart; no grit; questionable goaltending. I don't think Jacques Martin is the right coach. The Canucks East--though Ottawa has much more talent.
Tampa: Great goaltending and momentum could take them a long way.
Boston: Haven't seen much of this team recently. Inexperienced goaltending.
Toronto: A big question mark. Lots of injuries, and some players aging. Goaltending very good but not great. The Toronto press make the coverage of l'affaire Bertuzzi look civilized.
Montreal: They've improved, but the hockey culture of Montreal is fierce and often consumes the players and/or coaches.

CBC shows all rounds of the play-offs (all 7 games) right to the final. Dunno about the American coverage. I understand that ESPN doesn't want to renew their hockey coverage---is that true?
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#49

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Posted Mar 18, 2004 @ 3:55 PM

I don't know that ESPN wants to abandon the NHL completely, they just want the next TV deal at a Yuooge Discount. For whatever reason, Hockey just doesn't bring in the TV ratings. SI has an article in this weeks issue about Violence in hockey and one of the sidebar stories is that ABC/ESPN doesn't want to shell out for a product that just doesnt sell to the American viewer. Their example is that the NHL All-star Game was out watched by an Arena Football game.

Of course I think that ESPN/ABC is waiting to see what happens with the upcoming labor problems. They aren't going to sign a contract with gauranteed money, if there's even a possibility that next season will be a washout.

The League has to do a few things to improve the game, before any network will give them a big TV deal again.

1.Eliminate the goon mentality and frontier justice that is rampant in the NHL. These are professional atheletes, not a beer league. They should act like it. I mean there are fights, and then there are "fights" like the crap that Bertuzzi pulled. The League can't stand by and watch as players cripple each other.

2. Contract at least 2 teams. 15 years ago there were 23 teams, now its what? 30? 32? 64? Contract the teams, put the players in a draft pool and the remaining teams fill their rosters with real NHL's and not glorified AHL'ers. They need to do it sooner rather than later, cause if they wait too long, it'll be 10 teams folding and not 2 or 4.

3. Figure out a way to increase scoring. It's cliche, but most American viewers love scoring. Make the ice surface bigger, elimnate the redline, increase the goalsize, elimnate the chuck and chase offense that 90% of the teams use. Any or a combination of these would probably do the trick.

And as a personal peeve- Home team wears WHITE, Road team wears Dark. Not the otherway around, f'n Betteman. And the Third Jerseys have to Go. Now. And there should be a rule that if you change your team logo/colors, you have to stick with it for at least 5 years.
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#50

Hasbro

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Posted Mar 20, 2004 @ 9:40 PM

Since the NHL is pulling only about $4 mill per team off of the national contract, the loss of revenue would not be devistating. The NHL gets most of its cash off of the gate anyway. Paradoxicaly widely publicized problems getting a decent tv contract will probably help in CBA negotiations as the League will be able to point out to the union and everyone that there is somewhere where less cash is coming in.

In any event they aren't going to get a great deal anywhere and they need ESPn so they might as well take what they can get and work on rebuilding hockey's profile after the lockout. The time to make the tv contract better has long since past.

Of course if you believe Bettman's recent pronouncement (and believe he believes it,) the union will want to negotiate well before a lockout.

CBC shows all rounds of the play-offs (all 7 games) right to the final. Dunno about the American coverage.

American coverage of the playoffs is local for the first two rounds and national for every game of the conference and cup finals. ESPN picks up some of the out of market games in the semis and first round, but they get blacked out regionaly. And of course the Blackhawks home games aren't televised in Chicago.

Edited by Hasbro, Mar 20, 2004 @ 9:40 PM.

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#51

Metaluna

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Posted Mar 24, 2004 @ 11:19 PM

Hey, nice to see a hockey thread on here, even if it's a tad slow.

Anyone here watch The Score? The other day they had a feature on Clint Malarchuk, and it was quite possibly the most disturbing thing I've ever seen. Really drives home just how dangerous this game can be.

Look at the Philly/Ottawa incident. Bobby Clark tries to break into the Ottawa dressing room? Ken Hitchcock vows revenge at their next game? The NHL did precisely nothing about that. Mainly because they think it creates media interest and in fact have encouraged it. So when they fine the Canucks they are being disingenious.


ITA. They fine a team for not doing enough to prevent a violent incident -- after the fact. Why not take preventative measures instead? Doesn't that seem a little simpler? Recently, there have been, IIRC, two coaches promising retribution, plus that crazy Clark incident. And yet, no fines. Not even any warnings, as far as I know. If they are as committed to cracking down on violence as they claim to be, then this just doesn't make any sense to me. Don't wait until something punishable happens in cases like Philly/Ottawa or Calgary/Nashville, or throw around tough suspensions with abandon, because, to me, that won't improve an already tarnished image at all.
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#52

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Posted Mar 25, 2004 @ 2:16 PM

There is some bad news about the ESPN negotiations. NHL 2nite's crew has been told they aren't coming back. Again if the NHL had any sense it would pay for that show out of it's own pocket. I'm sure between the money the league spends on unwatchable fluff-fest Cool Shots and the the player's association spends on fluffer Be a Player they would be better served by funding NHL2Nite.

Steve Moore left the hospital, but he's going to be in a brace for a while and his concusion is still an issue. Resuming his career is still at doubt. So Brian Burke's "four to six weeks prediction" was off, but he is always the pie-eyed optimist.

The best thing would be if the Avs and Canucks met in the playoffs and had a clean hard fought series. They typicaly are entertaining, skating games when they play.

It would help hockey's image problem if some of the recent suspendees in the violence crackdown would handle the situation with a little more class. Wade Belak landed a two-handed chop on Ossi Vannenen's head (and his visor saved him from serious injury, fuck you Don Cherry) and Belak has whined about his eight game suspension since saturday. Now granted, he plays for Toronto and before L'affair Bertuzzi he was used to refs helping him dump a body if he commited manslaughter on ice, now... you might want to lay a little low.

They fine a team for not doing enough to prevent a violent incident -- after the fact. Why not take preventative measures instead?

In deffense of the league office Bettman and Campbell did attend the first Avs-Canucks rematch to send a message they didn'twant a circus like in Vancouver. And Campbell called before the third period to warn both benches during the Bertuzzi game. But yeah the league ain't doing near enough to take control of the situation. And I think everyone here agrees this whole fighting arguement would be moot if the refs would handle their job with half the dedication of a teamster.

Some positives, Avs vs Red Wings in a home-and-home. The greatest rivalry in the sport.of course we have to whether the cut-and-paste spate of "the rivalry isn't what it used to be" columns, meanwhile our fans will be cnhanting at eachother and the teams will be playing fantastic hockey for first place.

The Frozen Four regionals are starting this weekend. I've got tix to see a double-header Denver (my favorite) vs Miami and North Dakota vs. Patsy Holy Cross. If the expected happens next year college will be a decent substitute around here.

Edited by Hasbro, Mar 25, 2004 @ 2:21 PM.

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#53

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Posted Mar 25, 2004 @ 3:39 PM

NHL 2nite's crew has been told they aren't coming back.


Well, hell. Time to get Melrose back behind a bench because I need my Bubba fix! (A few years ago, I never thought I'd say that. How things change...) I guess we should've known, though, which doesn't mean we (well, I, anyway) can't be pissed.

Which leads me to report some speculation a friend and I were tossing around this weekend while watching a tape of Game 7 of the 2001 Cup finals (reminiscing about the good times, you know) and marveling at how different the sport and the players look between then and now: Is NHL-on-TV doing enough to bring in the newbies? We decided on "no," because the American broadcasts seem almost overwhelmingly targeted at existing and even hardcore fans who do know what color the blue line is and so on.

I say "American" because we further decided that Canadian broadcasts do a better job of explaining the game: overall strategies, specific plays, ideology, etc. They also have more and better interviews, hockey-themed commercials (I had to go to Vancouver to see that Näslund-Kovalchuk Nike one on daily TV), and just a general heightened awareness and insight of the sport, as you'd expect from, well, Canada. I mean, I'd like to see NHL highlights leading off SportsCenter during the season, but I understand why that doesn't happen down here in the States. But the other stuff, especially the in-game analysis? We could do that!

In fact, we have done it. Didn't ESPN try to bring in new fans with interactive questions, glossary definitions, and what-all with Web simulcasts a few seasons ago? I thought that was great, and I think more couldn't hurt. But, I suppose, TPTB have already decided, based on the numbers, that pro hockey's a marginal sport in this country and nothing anyone can do will change that fact. Just look at what gets hyped in sports-highlights shows and the news: fights, not goals; violence, not sport, at least as it might appear to someone channel-surfing by.

It's just ... frustrating. Perhaps I'm preaching to the choir in this thread, but what do you all think?
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#54

Senor Audacity

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Posted Mar 27, 2004 @ 4:38 AM

Illusio, I'd like to think I'm answering your question head-on, but this is how I approach the NHL's "problem." Not content with steady growth, the league in the nineties thought that since they were a "major sport" they could run with the big boys, and thus expansion and growth (not just with the league but with players' salaries) would firmly and permanently put them alongside the NFL, NBA and MLB. Expansion fees and skyrocketing ticket prices could only buoy them so far, however, and the ratings failed to translate into what any league now needs to not only survive but thrive: a television contract.

Why is that? I'll throw out several theories. As I've stated in this thread before, there must be nationwide exposure to this sport from the grass-roots level for at least a generation before people see it on TV. (I don't know if the NBA, which didn't blossom until the Magic-Bird years of the eighties and went into hyperdrive with Jordan a decade later, is a good analogy. Hadn't people across the US been playing b-ball forever already?) You have pockets of success in Minnesota and Massachusetts, but that doesn't make an national sport. I have dismissed the point of view that "hockey doesn't translate well to TV," but I learned that in general, television does slow down real-time action; when you go to a game and see grown men zip up and down and actually make plays at that speed, you'll see some of that lost on the idiot box.

Also, it doesn't help that hockey players are not known, marketable quantities; if you go up to 100 people and ask them to name a hockey player, I'll be most of them will say Wayne Gretzky. That's a problem. (Aside: while I'm satisfied that the "Hockey Rules!" strategy was a way ESPN bent over backwards to sell the sport, I think many hardcore fans felt it was condescending to see their sport patiently explained to the uninitiated like it was Sanskrit.) Finally -- and I don't think I've heard this one yet -- I don't know if you can analyze hockey and its players like you can other sports. For example, Greg Maddux is the greatest location/finesse pitcher of his generation; Brett Favre still has the strongest arm in the league but is apt to take too many risks; Jason Kidd is a fantastic rebounder for a point guard. How do you describe a hockey player's skills, or how they contributed to what happened on this or that play? Oftentimes, doesn't a goal get scored simply by a guy throwing the puck at the goal and some other guy having the tenacity to jab at it until it goes in?

And this is coming from a hockey fan! I would've loved it if the NHL were just as it was before the nineties began: a niche, "major-sport-in-the-same-way-Shemp-was-one-of-the-Stooges" that had a loyal cult following. But this is the huge and maybe fatal mistake the NHL, probably MLB and maybe all sports make: In pursuing growth and thus more money, they increasingly need to attract and, consequently, rely on the casual fan who has no understading of what made the sport so great in the first place. We all bemoan the bad play, the multimillionaires who don't do their job on the ice or the field, the increasing disparity between teams, the reliance on the home run and the bench-clearing brawl, etc. But that is the price we pay for more fannies in the seats, more eyeballs in front of the TV, and more money in their wallets. Except that might not be working.

I think all sports are pricing out the average fan, so it's good if the NHL shuts down for one or two years and comes back with (ideally) 16 teams and a 50% decrease in ticket prices and salaries. Then Disney Corp. will be willing to give them a contract and we will still see games on TV. Until then, I have high school hockey here in Minny. And you know what? That's good enough for me.
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#55

zenner

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Posted Mar 28, 2004 @ 12:18 AM

I frankly all this talk of changing the game to attract American viewers is codswallop. All the game needs is:

a. the rules actually enforced (no clutch and grab allowed);
b. trapping forbidden (should be a penalty);
c. ten less teams (my candidates for oblivion: Carolina, Nashville, Florida, Tampa, Dallas, Atlanta, Anaheim, San Jose, Phoenix, and Washington). These are all southern teams. Put teams in Portland, Winnipeg, Hamilton, and Atlantic Canada.

Hot News Flash: Hockey will never be a mainstream sport in the USA. No matter what, and these constant attempts to change the game to attract people who will never be interested is insulting to the fans it has.

For instance, I hate basketball. A bunch of tyroid cases running around in short pants, playing the second most boring game in the world. Yes, I've played it myself, and I understand the rules. I still think it sucks, though it isn't as dull as soccer, which is the most popular game in the world. The moral is: just because a game is popular, doesn't mean it's worth a damn, and the NHL should stop worrying about it.
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#56

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Posted Mar 28, 2004 @ 6:24 PM

ten less teams (my candidates for oblivion: Carolina, Nashville, Florida, Tampa, Dallas, Atlanta, Anaheim, San Jose, Phoenix, and Washington). These are all southern teams. Put teams in Portland, Winnipeg, Hamilton, and Atlantic Canada.

Maybe they could saw off the southeast division like a gangrenous limb.

The NHL found more bad franchise locations than Kenny Rodgers Roasters. They should have been concentrating more on manable growth instead of becoming another major league. Five teams in the south instead of zero? LA a two team city? Three in New York (if the Devils can't sell out for a 3 time cup winner can you imagine what will happen if they start lossing?) And they were doing this while other teams were having to move. I know Bettman wanted to promote marketshare, but he's got alot more people not watching. Case in point, (I followed this because I was a Whalers fan in the Rockies-Avs tweenis, it got heavy on the irony real quick,) Peter Karmanos is a hockey guy and went out of his way to buy a team and there was no way that team was going to be able to stick in Hartford. So when he's shopping around for a home he turns down Minnesota because Carolina is making him a better lease deal (in two years.) I'm sure Minnesota's bad lease looks alot better than his good lease with 5,000 showing up.

the expansion/movement boom should have really been shepparded along. Portland, Oklahoma City (sounds crazy but they are an insane minor league city,) Minnesota (earlier,) and Milwaukee deserverve mentions on the previous list.

It would help if the players (AND THEIR AGENTS DIDN'T) go Worthington's Law. They all want as much as the best guy at their position, so when some idiot team makes a above market offer (read: the Rangers,) everyone else had to match it. The players also wanted to be paid like other athletes, so try selling them on being the fourth sport in terms of salary. Money is also the only issue, aside from contesting richly deserved suspensions and remaining intractable on safety the NHLPA is at all stringent about.

Anyway enough of that shit, went to the NCAA West Regionals in the Springs and had a hell of a time. Some of it was from the joys of college hockey that are quaint in comparison to the pro game and college B Ball. Cheap tickets ($60 for a double-header,) and I wasn't ten rows from the ice (when you heckled a guy he heard it,) five factions of fans tossed together, an olympic size ice sheet and none of the arena marketing experiance. However there was the great advatage of no-red-line; I know when you broah this subject with any NHL official they cover their ears and go "LA! LA! LA! NOT LISTENING!" but there was alot more flow through the neutral zone and, saints be praised, forechecking. If even Don Cherry, who gets turned on when he sees a fifty car pile up, says having to tag the puck on icing is dangerous then why is it even staying around for another day? The college guys weren't risking their health and energy chasing after the puck, it would be like if baseball players had to retrieve foul balls from the stands. Yeah, there's alot that won't fly in the pros, tons of 5-8 guys (but they really should be let back into the NHL once the mugging stops,) and stupid shit like our d-man scoring into our own net trying to clear up the middle.

Speaking of the Other tourney it's rare that I will sing the praises of Comcast, but they did put about eight hockey games on this weekend through a syndication deal with ESPN. It was on some crappy info channel they have, but I was able to find The DU-NoDak game last night and a couple more today. The Frozen Four will be on ESPN2 starting the 8th. GO DU!
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#57

zenner

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Posted Mar 29, 2004 @ 12:31 AM

I am skeptical re the red line. And what works in the minors doesn't always work in the bigs, for a variety of reasons. I know they think they will entice tv networks with the like. I think they're dreaming.

Yes, Cherry comes across like an idiot. It's mostly shtick. He knows a good deal about hockey despite the clothes, the dumb palooka mannerisms, etc. I thought his take on l'affaire Bertuzzi was one of the more balanced ones. HNIC trying to muzzle him is hilarious. I thought this was a democracy. Once upon a time.

There are a couple of northern USA cities who should have franchises but don't. Don't know about Milwaukee. Don't know about Oklahoma City, either. Minor league interest doesn't translate into major league interest, at least not always. The first Colorado team is a case in point. In fact, we don't really know if Denver is a hockey town. The Rockies died the death in about two years. The Avs were already a successful franchise when they moved from Quebec City. A hockey town is one that will support a rotten team. My suspicion is: Denver is a football town.

You were a Whalers fan? Jesus. That's a true hockey fan, anyway.

Add at least one of the three NY franchises to the 'To Go' list. The Islanders, probably, though New Jersey is also completely extraneous. When they have a Stanley Cup parade, they do it around their stadium parking lot. I rest my case.

Tony Granato really gets along with his assistant coaches, doesn't he? God, he's stupid; I saw one of the Avs games on tv and I couldn't believe the dumb moves he was making. Joel Quenneville will be coaching the Avs next year; you can bet on it.
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#58

Illusio

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Posted Mar 29, 2004 @ 2:03 PM

Think we could get Coach Q for tonight's game, zenner? A friend of mine has a theory that the 9-2 Vancouver blowout saved Granato's job when it shouldn't have; he should've been gone by now. Feh. At least I know Colorado's in the playoffs for sure -- maybe only for a round, but at least I'll have that to watch on TV. [/lame segue back onto topic]

Thanks for addressing my question(s), Senor Audacity (great name, by the way! Do you want to come coach these %"$! Avs?), and I agree with all of your points. I was thinking especially about the marketability issue this weekend while watching all the puff pieces during the NCAA coverage. I know a hell of a lot more about Romain Sato and Nick Horvath, say, from those pieces and in-game stories the commentators tell than I do even about most of the players on the team in my town. You have to poke most of them with a sharp stick to get any good quotes, let alone genuine, interesting personality. Not every player is (or should be?) Brett Hull or Jeremy Roenick, but how much does that failing fall on the NHL and TV? I don't get why no one seems particularly interested in marketing the stars, the roleplayers, whomever -- does it go against the grain of "team first," "don't stand out or above your fellows," whatever?

I want NHL puff pieces! NHL 2Night does its "Minute with...," and there're some during the playoffs, but I've seen a lot more on Canadian TV: during games, on SportsCentre, on the networks in general. I like the sit-down interviews, especially, but there doesn't seem to be much call for it down here. Either you're a fan or you're not. The Lords of Hockey and their television enablers have spoken. As zenner said above:

Hot News Flash: Hockey will never be a mainstream sport in the USA. No matter what, and these constant attempts to change the game to attract people who will never be interested is insulting to the fans it has.


I guess it's foolishly optimistic of me to think that's not true, to think that hockey could go mainstream here, or at least be more popular (without sacrificing its roots, traditions, or appeal!). Damn.
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#59

zenner

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Posted Mar 30, 2004 @ 1:04 AM

Interesting theory, Illusio. That'll teach Lacroix to hire his kid's buddies.

In the Vancouver Province on Sunday, Tony Gallagher wrote that the Avs were suffering from 'Rangeritis.' That is, overpaid floaters and aging and injury-prone veterans; bad coaching, uncertain goaltending, and trouble in the room. I think that's a lot of wishful thinking, but certainly Selanne has been an inexplicable bust. At least he didn't cost a lot. And I do agree that Granato is toast unless by some mischance he wins the Cup.

Steve Moore is all over the airwaves again. I wonder if he's tired of being exploited by Lacroix.
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#60

Senor Audacity

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Posted Mar 30, 2004 @ 5:14 AM

Illusio, I will make a very fastidious difference: Hockey players may not be the most mediagenic athletes (that would arguably be basketball), and they may not be the smartest (that would be football), but from my limited experience and from the opinions of my friends in the business, they are the nicest people to deal with when you need an interview. Win or lose, getting some sound bites from hockey players is relatively easy compared with other team sports.

The problem? Simple -- approximately one-third of them speak with an accent. Hockey and baseball are similar in many disparate but important ways: they each are regarded as pastimes in a North American country; their college counterparts aren't the sole pipeline for the leagues' talent and so don't attract huge crowds or ratings or TV money; and the players have a heavy international contingent. It's great for the health of the sport on a global scale, but you won't have American sports fans follow the ascendancy of the Next Big Thing if he's emigrating from Slovakia or the Dominican Republic to sign with a club when he's 18. Lebron James was the most hyped underage player ever. But who the fuck is Marian Gaborik? Or Rick Nash, for that matter?

So I don't think it'd matter if you forced these guys to be made over by the Queer Eye Fab Five to get attention. And you can promote the hell out of a hockey player that has the cure for cancer and solved Fermat's Last Theorem till the cows come home. (Aside: I'm not sure that Romain Sato or Nick Horvath are wild and crazy guys, and I'm not sure because all profiles and puff pieces make me change the channel.) If you haven't been following a guy's career since you saw him play college ball on TV -- or if he's not playing an "American" sport, like baseball -- you're not going to care. I think the league is doing all it can to highlight the best players on the best teams, but inevitably the general fan reaction is, "Who?" You might be a star in the NHL, but you're probably not one in the American sports world.

By the way, I'd love to coach the Avalanche. But since I'm a rabid enemy of franchise relocation (a pox on the Dallas Stars, forever!) I'd rather be the owner and move them back to Quebec City, where they belong. But I reckon that wouldn't go over so well with you, would it?

ETA: Who's watched the NHL on ABC? Don't they allow three hours for coverage where they inevitably have about a half-hour at the end they have to fill with studio time with Saunders and Melrose? What do you think of it? Weren't hockey matches three hours until the 2002 Olympics, before the league instituted the hurry-up face-off rule? How shorter are games after this change?

Edited by Senor Audacity, Mar 30, 2004 @ 5:22 AM.

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