June 12, 2006

"the Pearl Jam of sports": I shit you not, that is a direct quote from Greg Wyshynski's article "The NHL's Quiet Rebellion", which has an interesting take on all the NHL-bashing usually focused on horrid broadcast ratings. [via]

posted by garfield to hockey at 05:02 PM - 48 comments

The article isn't archived yet, so just remove the date from the end of the address if the link doesn't work for you.

posted by garfield at 05:02 PM on June 12

Excellent piece garfield. 1st class FPP...... Hockey Fans like Futbol Fans don't need the kudos from the likes of the Morons who run ESPN or any other so called Sports Guru Media Expert.... Not so sure about the PJ analogy but I think I know what he means........

posted by skydivedad at 05:26 PM on June 12

This article seems like it was written with Buccigross in mind. Wonder what he thinks?

posted by Samsonov14 at 06:25 PM on June 12

Oh, that Pearl Jam. Hockey will stay strong even after the move to the Sun Belt markets evaporates. It will never rival basketball in the nation's attention, but it will maintain a steady fan base. Soccer, baseball, and hockey will stay in a popularity tier below basketball, foorball, and auto racing. They could do better, but those second tier sports need to market as well the top tier. All sports are still looking for monster numbers. Those days are gone -- except the Super Bowl. As a nation we have too many options and the seasons stretch too long to maintain a truly high level of excitement. Personally, I'm waiting for professional lacrosse to take off.

posted by ?! at 07:13 PM on June 12

The Pearl Jam thing is a philosophy they co-opted from the Grateful Dead, which is to ignore the media transom and build a relationship directly with the fans.

posted by the red terror at 07:24 PM on June 12

Excellent link garfield. I have a question for our resident puck-heads: I often hear how hockey doesn't translate well to TV. What can be done during broadcasts to encapsulate the energy of the live game? When you are watching the game at home vs. in person, what are the most jarring differences (beyond your surroundings of course)? And also, we need more FPPs that lead in with "I shit you not".

posted by lilnemo at 07:24 PM on June 12

I really wish I could believe that the switch to OLN was about giving ESPN the big middle finger. The fact is OLN was willing to pay more money than ESPN. Like skydivedad says, us hockey fans don't need the approval of the media or billions of Americans. I love my hockey and as long as Center Ice is available, I will be purchasing it.

posted by MrFrisby at 07:27 PM on June 12

The link doesn't seem to be working. Who gets to be Eddie Vedder?

posted by jerseygirl at 07:28 PM on June 12

Soccer, baseball, and hockey will stay in a popularity tier below basketball, foorball, and auto racing. I'm not sure where you get the idea that baseball is a "second tier" sport. The oldest professional sport in the USA (Civil War era), continued attendance growth, a major presence in the 5 biggest attendance areas (North East (NY/Bos/Wash), South East (Atlanta, Florida), Texas, Mid-West (Chicago, Ohio, St. Louis) and California), a strong TV contract (Fox, ESPN), great playoff ratings and it owns the daily sports news cycle from June to October. Throw in the fact that more books, movies and television shows are made about baseball than any other sport in America, and I don't think the MLB has anything to worry about in terms of being "popular". To rank it with soccer and hockey is very disingenuous.

posted by grum@work at 07:33 PM on June 12

Gary Bettman is Eddie. Colin Campbell is Mike McCready. Bob Goodenow can be the drummer that left right before Ten came out. I forget his name. Fun game: Match the team with the PJ song... Red Wings - "Black" ... Really good but you just get sick of hearing it (or them) all the time. Flyers - "Corduroy" ... Always a contender to be one of the best, but ends up getting overshadowed by other songs/teams. Carolina - "Last Kiss" ... Poppy, flavor of the month, but not much staying power. Also solen from somewhere else. Mighty Ducks of Anaheim -"Hey Foxymophandlemomma That's Me" ... Really annoying name. Blackhawks - "Glorified G" ... Good song/team but just got dated.

posted by SummersEve at 07:50 PM on June 12

Well - I for one, am sick of people who obviously have no interest in hockey bad-mouthing it in some vain attempt to appear current and with it. The Sports Guy is one of these guys that is constantly nodding his head to these pea-brains who haven't seen a hockey game since Gretzky played in Los Angeles (you know, when it was 'cool' to like hockey). I mean, ESPN owed the rights as of 2004 and now it's a punchline? Whatever, see you again in a few years when it becomes viable again. Remember - the NBA was a laughing stock when the ABA came out, and as recently as 1994, Sports Illustrated was proclaiming hockey the next big thing. So what I've learned from all this is - most big sports media organizations are about as imaginative as razor-blade companies. As far as televised hockey goes, I have never understood why it's any less interesting to watch on TV as a basketball game. With the net-cams, the power play cams and the overhead - along with the usual tracking cam, I don't think its bad TV at all. I guess it's just the atmosphere that is so great at the games and can't be reproduced - but that's hardly exclusive to hockey.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 07:56 PM on June 12

the NBA was a laughing stock when the ABA came out So the NHL is Pearl Jam and the NBA is ABBA??

posted by SummersEve at 08:05 PM on June 12

Bob Goodenow can be the drummer that left right before Ten came out. I forget his name. Dave Abbruzzese.

posted by jerseygirl at 08:07 PM on June 12

Jersey its Here for now, but will move to garfields link once archived. I guess it's just the atmosphere that is so great at the games and can't be reproduced - but that's hardly exclusive to hockey. Exactly. The exact same distinction can be drawn for any of the vaunted "Major" sports. The problem isn't the game, or how its represented (er, broadcast) its in how it is reported. Be that to the common sports fan or to the masses at large, hockey is treated as unpopular because those who could do more to extoll its positive values find it easier to lean on the crutch of ridicule.

posted by lilnemo at 08:09 PM on June 12

So the NHL is Pearl Jam and the NBA is ABBA?? No. The NBA was threatened by a rival league the ABA, as was the NFL by the AFL. and you're an ass.

posted by lilnemo at 08:11 PM on June 12

The fact is OLN was willing to pay more money than ESPN. True, but to the general sports-viewing public, which network is likely to wield greater viewership? ESPN thought they could get away with low-balling the NHL with their offer just because they're the "name" sports network. The NHL looked at how much ESPN's pub had done for them during their prior agreement, and promptly agreed to enter a contract with OLN. Assuming the OLN/NHL partnership reaches some form of critical mass over the span of their contract (the waves crests so to speak), who's to say the NHL couldn't bend ESPN over a barrel when the next window for broadcasting rights comes up.

posted by lilnemo at 08:18 PM on June 12

I'm thinkin' that kobe could be the dancin' queen. I spit my coffee summers!

posted by tommytrump at 08:26 PM on June 12

And now we have confirmation.

posted by lilnemo at 08:30 PM on June 12

That you take things too seriously?

posted by tommytrump at 08:43 PM on June 12

That you take things too seriously? There is nothing funny about vaporlock.

posted by lilnemo at 08:50 PM on June 12

You do know that ABBA is a band right?

posted by tommytrump at 09:00 PM on June 12

You do know that ABBA is a band right? Really?! Shmuck.

posted by lilnemo at 09:01 PM on June 12

Don't beat yourself up over not knowing everything there is to know, even if you do try to project that image.

posted by tommytrump at 09:04 PM on June 12

Baseball, basketball, football and hockey will soon be overshadowed by the next two major sports in the nation. It will be a close race between paintball and mud bog racing.

posted by joromu at 09:06 PM on June 12

Don't beat yourself up over not knowing everything there is to know, even if you do try to project that image. Condescending much?

posted by lilnemo at 09:09 PM on June 12

I always considered NHL hockey to be more like The Tragically Hip. Incredibly popular in Canada but JUST unable to make the huge break in the excited states of america. It's ok though, we Canadians just feel more smug and superior this way, knowing that we know something Americans don't know.

posted by tommytrump at 09:15 PM on June 12

I don't recall this much negative publicity for the NHL when Gretzky and Lemieux were in their primes. Methinks many media members are a bunch of starfu**ers who only appreciate covering sports when transcendent stars and/or teams are involved: Magic/Bird/Jordan/Shaq in the NBA; the Yanks/Cards/Red Sox, etc. in MLB; and the Bears/Steelers, etc. in the NFL.

posted by curtangle at 09:40 PM on June 12

Also I've read/heard much negative coverage of "non-traditional" teams making the Super Bowl--Seahawks, Chargers, etc; and comments about "boring" teams--Spurs, Pistons, Knicks, etc.-doing well in the playoffs/making the NBA Finals. If the NHL hype machine stays well-oiled and doesn't malfunction, then perhaps Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, or Ilya Kovalchuk could be those media darlings (well--they might need to play for different teams too.)

posted by curtangle at 09:48 PM on June 12

Is Pearl Jam pissed?

posted by Bud Lang at 10:31 PM on June 12

If the NHL becomes (or is) the Grateful Dead of sports leagues, I could live with that. And if San Antonio, Texas can become a basketball hotbed, then I don't want to hear about hockey not being able to work anywhere.

posted by chicobangs at 01:22 AM on June 13

I always considered NHL hockey to be more like The Tragically Hip. Incredibly popular in Canada but JUST unable to make the huge break in the excited states of america. It's ok though, we Canadians just feel more smug and superior this way, knowing that we know something Americans don't know. ditto, tommytrump, ditto

posted by Spitztengle at 01:58 AM on June 13

No. The NBA was threatened by a rival league the ABA, as was the NFL by the AFL. and you're an ass. posted by lilnemo at 8:11 PM CDT on June 12 OOOH, the ABA. Jeez, nemo, lil sensitive today? It was a joke. Lame, perhaps, but a joke. Forgive me if jokes aren't allowed. I'll be sure to be 100% serious next time... Especially when the conversation starts with "I shit you not" and compares Pearl Jam to hockey.

posted by SummersEve at 05:45 AM on June 13

Great link. I think I'm in love with Jennifer Floyd Engel, from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "Bashing hockey is apparently en vogue again. I keep reading sports writers smarter than myself giggling about how they do not watch and how TV ratings suggest that something is amiss. I have a suggestion for them: Watch the damn games. Or donít. Just please stop ripping a sport that you obviously know nothing about. The hockey going on in the Oilers-Sharks series is really great. This has been a pretty exciting postseason, with just about every game a sellout." I hate it when the talk shows who say they don't talk about hockey because it lacks popularity, talk for hours on end about how low the hockey ratings are right now. It doesn't make sense.

posted by 86 at 07:23 AM on June 13

chicobangs And if San Antonio, Texas can become a basketball hotbed then I don't want to hear about hockey not being able to work anywhere. Indeed. San Antonio is the 29 largest metropolitan area in the U.S. and has one major league sports franchise: The Spurs. The city is /was starving for major league sports, and the only league with the foresight to locate there was the aforementioned ABBA, er ABA, and the fact that the Spurs have always been competitive certainly has not hurt. Hockey itself does quite well here in the Lone Star State, witness the Stars transformation from money losers (in Minneapolis) to moneymakers (in Dallas), and a healthy fan interest in 7 (!) Central Hockey League cities that one would think would be more likely to support team rodeo events. This, despite virtually no youth hockey programs anywhere in the state. Are we as rabid, or as knowledgeable as our neighbors up North? No, but I think that hockey, if given the chance and if marketed properly, can certainly find a niche here in the States, if not just in Texas!

posted by mjkredliner at 08:48 AM on June 13

Bob Goodenow can be the drummer that left right before Ten came out. I forget his name. Dave Abbruzzese. Actuall it was Dave Krusen who left before Ten. Abbruzzese left after Vitology paving the for Jack Irons who played drums all the way up to Yield. He left before the tour ushering the Matt Cameron age.

posted by HATER 187 at 09:00 AM on June 13

Funnily enough, inasmuch as I don't care whether hockey lives or dies in some markets, I am extemely pleased that Dallas has become such a groovy supporter. But I think Dallas, by and large, is just a good sports city. Atlanta is pretty much the same way. "Sports towns" are always the exception to the rule. Pittsburgh used to be a great sports town, but sadly I think the local economy has kinda rendered that null and void. Fans only have room for the Steelers in the pocketbook (not to mention the fact the Pirates suck and the hockey arena is AHL quality).

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:14 AM on June 13

Krusen... I think that's who i was thinking of. Maybe it would be more appropriate if Goodenow were TicketMaster.

posted by SummersEve at 09:14 AM on June 13

Weedy, I'm not picking a fight. Let's get that clear off the start, and i am slightly off topic. "Atlanta is a good sports town?" Explain please. By the way, you are one of the best, most insightful, and humourous contributers to spofi, I love reading what you have to contribute.

posted by tommytrump at 11:23 AM on June 13

It seems to me that whatever super-marketability (as opposed to supermarket-ability) the NHL is viewed to be lacking does them a service, and would wear well on the other "more popular" sports. As far as I know, the NHL isn't losing the highest quality players because of their level of popularity -- they're just making less money (and maybe being prevented from expanding, and diluting their talent pool). Isn't that just fewer dollars in the pockets of owners and players. As long as the sport is being played at the highest level, who cares how popular it is? Forgive me if jokes aren't allowed. I'll be sure to be 100% serious next time... Be not discouraged, SummersEve. I thought the joke was top-notch. I think you were just being drowned in assumness.

posted by BullpenPro at 12:16 PM on June 13

tommy - I think any town that can support a basketball team, baseball team (though they've been spoiled beyond belief), football team and a hockey team is a sports town. I think none of these teams is really threatening to go anywhere and the Atlanta fans I know are all pretty committed and gung-ho. Don't get me wrong - I don't actually like Atlanta. Something about Coca-cola and that airport just rubs me wrong, (not to mention the breakfast buffets there always include a great big pile of yellow shit that has yet to be indentiifed - even by the people I see eating it) but I do think it should be included in the "good sports towns" discussion... Which I'm having with myself today. Also - sometimes I don't think about these things all the way through before I type 'em. So I might be wrong.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 01:53 PM on June 13

grum@work: As I am not "pretending to be unaware or unsophisticated" nor am I "not straightforward or candid; insincere or calculating" I am not disingenuous. Nor do I have time today to more fully explain my position. I'll write something up at my first opportunity. I'll welcome your critique.

posted by ?! at 03:09 PM on June 13

Gary Bettman is not Eddie Vedder. I will not allow it.

posted by garfield at 04:26 PM on June 13

Okay then. As per Garfield's orders, Gary Bettman has been demoted from Eddie Vedder and is returned to his status as "The Count" from Sesame Street. "Von! Von plate of cheese grits, ah ah ahhhh!!!"

posted by SummersEve at 04:44 PM on June 13

great big pile of yellow shit that has yet to be indentiifed Grits, perhaps? They're heavenly if you melt some cheddar cheese in them and add some jalapenos. I don't know that I'd necessarily call Atlanta a good sports town. Yes, they do have a basketball team, baseball team, football team, and hockey team, but what kind of support do those teams get? Atlanta Braves playoff games don't even sell out. The Falcons are a hot ticket right now, but before Michael Vick (and after injuries prevent him from running and expose his weak-ass quarterback skillz), nobody really cared. I don't follow hockey or basketball closely enough to comment on the Thrashers/Hawks. Except that I know the Hawks are a laughingstock. Do they draw the crowds? And regarding the article: good on the NHL for trying something different. I've been to exactly one live hockey game in my life (a division II college game), and it was crazy fun. I could use more hockey in my life.

posted by rocketman at 04:48 PM on June 13

Whether they know it or not, everybody could use more hockey in their life.

posted by MrFrisby at 05:04 PM on June 13

Whether they know it or not, everyone could use more grits in their life :)

posted by mjkredliner at 05:53 PM on June 13

Re: the OLN vs. ESPN debate; according to virtually every personality on The Fan 590 in Toronto, ESPN was putting the screws to the NHL, demanding revenue sharing *and* a seat at the Rule Change Committee. Don't know if that's true, but that's the way it was reported.

posted by the red terror at 05:56 PM on June 13

No this stuff isn't grits. Or if it is - it's some sorry ass grits. This is like, well, like opaque custardy jello. I call it mung. Doesn't look like food. Mung.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:00 PM on June 14

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