January 23, 2007

Constructive Criticism: "When you burn the village to save it once, people come back. When you take out part of the village, rebuild it, and then napalm it over the course of a bitterly public, year-long firefight, people leave...With all due respect to the NHLís more fan-friendly policies, Chairman Mao seems to forget that you canít make a Great Leap Forward when your foundationís sagging."

posted by garfield to hockey at 11:31 AM - 16 comments

I'm not sure how others feel, but I'm a die-hard fan who is losing interest. Alot of that has to do with the gross mismanagement and misguided corporate goals of my favorite team, but alot of it has to do with my frustration with the league as a whole. This frustation is turning to apathy, and that scares me.

posted by garfield at 12:03 PM on January 23

Sadly enough that is a hell of an article. I have been envolved with hockey since I was 5 years old. There is nothing that I love more than the smell of the ice and the sounds of the game. Since moving down south I have realized many facts about the NHL and hockey in general. People dont care. Why not shell out some money and put hockey on a real channel that people can watch, rather than the outdoor network. Where are the marketing genuises that have catapuled the NFL and MLB into profitable enterprises. Bring me Mark Cuban, because at the very least he has the ability to creatively think. Cuban buying the Penguins may be the best thing to happen to the NHL in years. We need passionate owners not crooks like the adelphia brothers. Gary Bettman has got to go. He is so complacent and unable to effect the game positively. Instead of collecting money, why not invest that into earning new fans. I feel very strongly that if someone were to attend a game with an educated fan, there is nothing not to love. Hockey is a very expensive sport to play. Between the ice time, the travel (thanks mom and dad) and the equipment, it is an investment. You can't go to a free field and throw a ball around. Why not have NHL teams get involved with teaching kids the sport, having equipment swap events before games, and take an active role in cultivating new fans. As a former goaltender, I think making the nets bigger is a travesty! All that will do is destroy hockey history and make the incredible records set null and void. I think that it would be beneficial to make all the rinks olympic size. Although you would have to forfit seats (and therefore money) you would really be able to see guys wheel and deal, make things happen, most likely increase scoreing, and keep the speed of the game up. Watching Jagr with the puck during a 4-4 is spectacular. A larger ice surface would allow those moments to happen all the time. I may sound like i am anti-new NHL but that is the furthest from the case. I am a lifelong NY Ranger fan. I bought the center ice pkg so that i can watch my beloved team. I try and get my friends into it (i feel like i am the NHL's own grass roots campaign) but I need help from the guys at the top. Stop messing with the nets, the obstruction calls, and shrinking the goalies pads. Let then game be and start putting some effort into your job (and im mean you Bettman)!

posted by NYRBeeker16 at 12:52 PM on January 23

Great article. A passioned plea for some kind of sanity. I don't think there was a point where I disagreed once (well, except for soliciting fan advice for equipment, video review and injuries). The NHL sure does like to crap on it's existing fan base as much as possible. And it really needs to scrap the alignment and schedule it currently employs. Just a bad idea, as it turned out. We need to keep the new cities constantly hosting (and being hosted by) the old established teams. The passion in NY, Toronto, Montreal, Colorado, Dallas, Edmonton (especially Edmonton) can be contagious. Garf - you can't give up hockey. Stop playing.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 01:08 PM on January 23

Agree with Beeker about the size of the nets -- I want to see more scoring chances, not higher shooting percentages. I also agree with the general point of the article that the NHL (esp. under Bettman) has spent most of its energy and creativity chasing a mythical fan base that it doesn't have, at the expense of the one they do have. Of course, all pro sports leagues do this, but none to the same extent. And in the NHL's case some of the results have been pretty crazy. However, I don't get the general sense of disillusionment about the "state of the game." I'm watching more NHL hockey than ever. Maybe it's because I live in a non-NHL city, so high ticket prices don't concern me. There's a truckload of hockey on TV, and I just have regular cable. I'm enjoying the "new NHL," still better than the "old NHL," although I liked the old NHL just fine. The re-emergence of a trapping strategy neither surprises nor alarms me. People in the US don't care much about hockey? So it has always been. I'm not losing any sleep over it.

posted by Amateur at 01:18 PM on January 23

I want to see more scoring chances, not higher shooting percentages. Thirded. How is that so difficult to figure out?

posted by yerfatma at 02:13 PM on January 23

There was a time when hockey,like baseball,could have been considered a "working man's sport". Here in the Big D,now, ticket prices at the AA, even nosebleed are stratospheric. People love the Stars and the fan base seems to have plenty of ready cash. However they don't sellout like they used to.This is partly a legacy of the strike,and also the Stars are not doing all that well. The NHL should look hard at the product it is offering for the price.Otherwise it could find itself in a few years with several "Pittsburghs".

posted by sickleguy at 04:14 PM on January 23

Surprised none of the sports leagues with weaker attendances haven't embraced the priceline model for ticket sales, or some other reverse auction- you tell the stadium 'I'll pay $X for two tickets on the 10th', and if they haven't sold them for >$X the day before the game, they call you and tell you the tickets are still available for $X. If for some reason you pass, they call the next person (who presumably bid $X-1), etc. Ensure a full stadium without necessarily having to drop prices all that much. (Alternately, surprised more new stadiums haven't embraced the Cameron/Fenway model- keep the stadium small so that there is always a shortage of tickets, never an empty seat, and hence they can charge pretty much whatever they damn well please.)

posted by tieguy at 04:36 PM on January 23

As a kid growing up in Chicago, I used to be a big Blackhawks fan. Now I have become apathetic. Bill Wirtz is to blame for my indifference. As long as he owns the Blackhawks, I feel I will remain this way. I also know that I am not alone; there are many others in Chicago who feel like I do. How do you fix that?

posted by danjel at 04:56 PM on January 23

danjel, Here's an idea.

posted by chicobangs at 05:15 PM on January 23

laughing my head off! nice chicobangs:P

posted by bavarianmotorworker at 05:37 PM on January 23

chicobangs, hmmmmmmmmm..............

posted by danjel at 05:43 PM on January 23

For the record, and just to be sure we're clear: I'm not advocating murdering anyone. The Blackhawks finally getting on free TV won't do you any good if you're doing 25 to life. There aren't many hockey fans in maximum security, unless by some luck you wind up in a cell with Mike Danton.

posted by chicobangs at 10:19 PM on January 23

Bettman is terrible. He severely crippled the union, which was his primary objective, now get someone in there with some charisma and energy. Bettman doesn't make anyone want to like anything. Does anyone really support bigger goals? Why does this always keep coming up? To hell with bigger goals, if you must do something wouldn't the simple answer just be SMALLER EQUIPMENT. Make a goalie move, like they used to in the good ol' days. Remember kick saves? And I've argued in the past to keep the schedule the way it currently is to cultivate more local rivalries. (However, I do absolutely agree that the Orignal 6 have to see more of each other.) My personal feeling is, I can't get all that excited to see the Flyers play the Kings, but a regular season Flyers-Rangers (or any of the old Patrick Division rivals) game has me all tingly all day, almost like a playoff game. Even when the Flyers suck toes like they do right now. But, bottom line, I absolutely agree with the general premise of the article. Maybe hockey just needs to take a step back and admit it will never be the NFL. Stop with all the bullshit and cater to the hardcore fans that you already have. They're far and away the most loyal fans in North American sports. but even they're getting tired of the bullshit.

posted by SummersEve at 06:16 AM on January 24

For the record, and just to be sure we're clear: I'm not advocating murdering anyone. Don't worry, I clearly understood the humor in your comment. If I have to go to jail, it won't be for Dollar Bill.

posted by danjel at 07:22 AM on January 24

I like to consider myself an "avid" hockey fan. I can't afford going to a lot of games, because my wife won't let me put another mortgage on the house. I find it sad that I have to take out a small loan just to go to a game. That is my number one bitch -- the all-mighty dollar. The NHL is alienating its main fan-base, us! A large percentage of the seats in Joe Louis are bought up by businesses to cater to their customers. They have the money to do that. I don't. I'm tired of going to a game and being surrounded by "corporate seats." How can a working man like myself let loose and go crazy at one of the few games that I can afford, when there are snooty uninterested stiffs all around me?

posted by wingnut4life at 05:25 PM on January 24

For the record, and just to be sure we're clear: I'm not advocating murdering anyone. Of course not...we just need it to look like an accident.

posted by willthrill72 at 09:03 PM on January 24

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