January 16, 2005

H-E Double Hockey Sticks: NHL players should go ahead and accept European contracts for this year and next, the player's association president has told players privately on the group's Web site. " It's time for the moderate voices on both sides to exert their influence and save a $2-billion business that is on the verge of causing itself irreparable damage," laments Ottawa Sun writer Chris Stevenson

posted by rcade to hockey at 09:08 AM - 16 comments

I wonder if the NHL 'spodes, is that really a bad thing for hockey fans? If there is a demand, there will be a supply and maybe a new league might have a better chance of making the sport more mainstream.

posted by sexymofo at 09:27 AM on January 16, 2005

I can see taking contracts for this year, but next year as well? 2 seasons without hockey will end the NHL as we know it. There will be a demand for hockey in the old school NHL cities. Unfortunately, hockey will never be mainstream. It just doesn't attract a fan base in warm weather cities. It's becoming more and more obvious that it's a regional sport.

posted by bawanaal at 11:22 AM on January 16, 2005

good news Winnipeg and Quebec...

posted by chris2sy at 01:48 PM on January 16, 2005

bawanaal, I don't believe that. Esoteric sports are marketed in places where they realistically can't be played all the time. But it will take a little extra marketing, promotion, goodwill and a little luck. The NHL has none of these going for them at the moment. And fewer and fewer Americans are going to care. At this point, the NHL coming back with an 8-team league in late '06 sounds pretty possible. Shit, shit, shit, shit.

posted by chicobangs at 03:45 PM on January 16, 2005

Translation: "They called our pointless bluff. We're fucked and have no idea how to fix it."

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 08:28 PM on January 16, 2005

both the vancouver province, and the vancouver sun are reporting that goodenow and whats-his-name are meeting over this weekend (past). but who knows.

posted by owl at 01:46 AM on January 17, 2005

chicobangs: would that be such a bad thing, other than the lost season? It'd be a lot higher quality competition for the purists, I'd think... [I don't remember who it was, but someone here at spofi suggested 8 teams here and 8 teams in Europe would be a great league. Sounds awesome to me.]

posted by tieguy at 06:12 AM on January 17, 2005

It was grum@work who suggested it, and I think it is a fantastic idea.......hopefully some flavour of it will emerge and relegate the NHL to the dustbin of history.

posted by smithers at 08:14 AM on January 17, 2005

Oh, I agree it's great from a quality-of-hockey standpoint, but not from a growing-the-game one, or even a sharing-the-game-with-new-people angle. I want to see hockey be a huge phenomenon in my lifetime. My hopes for that to happen given the rudderless Also, talk about a natural salary cap. There's only so many games and so many places, which means only so many eyeballs connected to wallets with ready access. That's my only gripe with it. Aside from that, grum's concept is a lot closer to reality now than when he put it forward.

posted by chicobangs at 09:51 AM on January 17, 2005

"...given the rudderless ship we've got now are fading fast."

posted by chicobangs at 09:52 AM on January 17, 2005

chicobangs: actually, I think it might be a much better chance to attract new people to the game than anything in the current format, at least if you're talking about USians. grum's proposal of making the league trans-continental would give the NHL something no other regular sports league in the world has, which would generate some interest, I think. The rule changes would improve the quality of the product on the ice, and as someone suggested in the original thread, it would increase the quality of play in the b-leagues as well, which would give a lot more people cheaper access to good hockey- which isn't bad for the sport.

posted by tieguy at 12:22 PM on January 17, 2005

Grum's idea is interesting but I think the location of the American teams would be extremely problematic for revenue and fan/media reach since all the teams are in the northern tier and nothing on the west coast. Not that it matters since the NHL owners would never agree...

posted by billsaysthis at 04:31 PM on January 17, 2005

Does anyone on the west coast actually watch hockey? I mean, there are two teams in Florida and no one there watches it...

posted by tieguy at 04:39 PM on January 17, 2005

From what I understand, the Sharks are quite popular in their little part of the world. Any Siliconites wanna back me up here?

posted by DrJohnEvans at 04:48 PM on January 17, 2005

Until last season, the Sharks consistently sold out the season ticket allocations for a decade AFAIK, and I even went to one game when the Rangers came to town in 1997 or 98. But my point is not just about the west coast, it's also that this proposal puts no teams south of DC meaning you're leaving a huge hole from television contract perspective. Financially I think you need an ESPN-level contract to make the league work and that seems to me to require more geographic representation.

posted by billsaysthis at 07:21 PM on January 17, 2005

Financially I think you need an ESPN-level contract to make the league work and that seems to me to require more geographic representation. I think that's where the rub is: this whole mentality that hockey needs wholesale American representation for it to "work". They tried that model already, and it has proven to be an unmitigated disaster -- in large part due to overly aggressive expansion into the U.S. What grum's model basically says is "f@ck American expansion, there are 20 proven hockey markets already in certain U.S., Canadian and European geographies." And with TV contracts moving to more of a pay-per model, it matters more to have a solid product with narrower distribution than a weak one with wider distribution. Don't worry, the TV signal will still reach San Jose from Prague.

posted by smithers at 10:42 PM on January 17, 2005

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