December 09, 2005

Mystique of Original 6 Fading.: This story is slanted due to fact it only speaks of the attendance figures of Blackhawk games against Original teams. I can only think that is becasue Wirtz has absolutely ruined this team during his ownership and could care less about putting a quality product on the ice. Hawks attendance sucks regardless of who their opponent is. I am wondering if this is a league wide phenomenom or simply Hawks fans not showing up? Do the fans in the other 5 Original cities show up in droves? I think maybe this author is generalizing because of the plight of Chicago's hockey team but I can't speak for the other cities.

posted by willthrill72 to hockey at 09:46 AM - 20 comments

I've always seen the "Original" 6 as more of a marketing tool to entice nostalgic baby boomers than anything else. I mean, the true original teams of the NHL in its inaugural 1917-1918 season were the:

  • Montreal Canadiens
  • Montreal Wanderers
  • Ottawa Senators
  • Quebec Bulldogs (although they were shut down for most of the season)
  • Toronto Arenas
But I guess if you have the same six teams for a few decades in the middle of your league's life, yeah, okay, it's got some significance.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 10:21 AM on December 09, 2005

DrJohn is choosing to overlook a few things in his treatise here. I believe that what Willthrill is looking for is whether or not the other five teams on the NHL's list of the Original Six (whether or not it agrees with DrJohn's interpretation) have problems filling their arenas. You assuredly will not find that to be true in Detroit, Montreal, Toronto, or New York. I am unaware of the facts for Boston, due to my non-interest in their team after they let Thornton go last month. Attendance at most of the other venues of the Rangers, the RedWings, the MapleLeafs, and the Canadiens are reasonably difficult to get in to the house with a paid admission, most are pre-sold. And there may or may not be a good reason why the NHL does not consider the group to be seven teams, along with Ottawa, but they did not play in the first year the others did, and that in itself is a reason. But if someone wants to acknowledge teams (3-4 of them) that no longer exist, or haven't existed for 60+ years as the original ones, I guess the problem would be elsewhere.

posted by mrhockey at 10:44 AM on December 09, 2005

Toronto hasn't been to the Stanley Cup finals in almost 40 years. They've never had an attendance problem at any point during that time. I'd be fearful of Boston's attendance, since they've been spinning their wheels for a while now. It was fine when the city was chock full of losing the past 15 years (Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots), but since two of those teams have recently won championships, it looks bad on the Bruins. Throw in the fact that they have one of the worst owners in pro sports...

posted by grum@work at 10:56 AM on December 09, 2005

The question isn't whether the Original Six fill their arenas, but whether fans still think it's a big deal when one plays another. I'm an NHL fan from 1995 onward, so the six don't have any mystique with me. It seems a bit unrealistic to expect rivalries to survive 40 years in a sports league unless the involved teams are good for most of that period. To me, holding on to a rivalry between the Six is like getting psyched for a 49ers/Cowboys game. Their rivalry was great for 15 years, but too many bad teams have suited up for them since 1995 for it to be anything more than a footnote.

posted by rcade at 11:10 AM on December 09, 2005

One : Fans aren't showing! Two : The Hawks should be a better team than they are showing! And Three : Wirtz is a cheap ass bastard who believes by not playing the home games on tv will make people fill the seats! With all of these in mind, there are a lot of fans here in Chicago who cheer for the hawks. Unfortunately, they do it from the papers the next morning after a home game. Wirtz has already stated many times that no matter how bad attenance is, he will NOT allow the home games to be televised. It doesn't matter the opponent, the Hawks at some point will either have to televise or fold. Wirtz has many financial things in his bag and to lose the Hawks is no problem for him. I have always believed that any sports team should be owed and operated by a person or people who are actually fans of the sport and he could care less for hockey as I seen in many interviews without him having come right out to say. The original six will be five somewhere down the road. What a crying shme for those of us who have always cheered for the Chicago Blackhawks.

posted by melcarek69 at 11:23 AM on December 09, 2005

I gotta agree with rcade. Rangers-Islanders is bigger than Rangers-B's, Wings-Hawks vs Wings-Av's, no contest (who can forger the blood bath) I still think Leafs-Habs could be good (both are payoff calibur teams, both fan bases fucking despise each other) I think the battle for Alberta (Flames-Oilers for those who are out of the loop) is a good rivalry, see also Flyers-Devs. Geography and playoff series against each other are a better indicator for a good rivalry.

posted by HATER 187 at 11:29 AM on December 09, 2005

rcade- I see point but look at the Bears-Packers. That's has to be one of the biggest rivalries in professional sports and it's been going on for decades, regardless how poor the teams play. And believe me, the Bears have had some piss poor teams. However, they always fill the stadium, whether it's Lambeau or Soldier Field. But I agree age might have something to do with it. I get psyched when the Hawks play the Wings, but other than that none of the matchups really get me. With the expansion of the NHL, what are some contemporary rivalries, if any. Disregarding the newest additions to the league, have teams such as the Sharks, Coyotes, Panthers, etc. been around long enough to develop any rivalries of their own?

posted by willthrill72 at 11:29 AM on December 09, 2005

You mean to tell me that Leafs-Habs or Leafs-Wings (or Habs-Bruins or Wings-Hawks, especially at the Joe) holds no extra magic? When Boston (or, and this is stretching things but hell they've been around for almost four decades, Philadelphia or the Islanders) comes to Madison Square Garden, it's a madhouse. And from what I've seen, the Rangers draw most other places, the way the Leafs & Habs do most places even in the American South. I agree the Original Six isn't as important now, but that's just because there are other teams with a few generations worth of fans under their belt. I think a lot about St. Louis in this context, actually. At least the Leafs and the Hawks won Cups at some point in the distant past. The Blues are the universal cross-sport apitome of always-good-never-great. It would almost behoove them to tank for a couple of years and hoover up a few high draft picks and make a real push. Not to wish ill on anyone, but I really hope Bill Wirtz finally loses his stranglehold on the Hawks, so they can finally join most of the other teams in this century.

posted by chicobangs at 11:34 AM on December 09, 2005

There are natural rivalries in hockey based primarily on historic confrontations, but mostly based on regions. Montreal vs. Toronto will always be a big deal (as with Ottawa) - same for Islanders/Rangers and Philly/Pittsburgh. But I agree with rcade that this stuff isn't getting better with age. Since expansion in the 60s a lot of the original 6 have been floundering and the mystique is non-existant for newer fans. Not a big deal in the big scheme of things. Wirtz is not doing the Blackhawks any favours. It's terrible to watch a classic team like that be treated so badly. There's a lot of history there that isn't being well served.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 11:47 AM on December 09, 2005

It's not even the rivalries that are in question here to me. There are rivalries between two teams in every sport no doubt. Some are bigger and more intense than others. Here We have the Blackhawks and Red Wings, Cubs and Cardinals, Bears and Packers and that applies in other towns everywhere. My problem is with the Hawks and Boston {although they are coming on a bit lately} playing so bad and the owners doing little to fix that problem. These are the type of owners who run a team into the ground before they are given a chance to prove anything. Trent Yawney may be a good guy and all but how does he become a head coach of a "big" team like the BlackHawks without provong anything first? I'm sure there were better choices out there before Wirtz decided on him. It is very obvious that opening up the pocket book and spending a few bucks more was just for the benefit of keeping talk like this from happening but Wirtz needs to realize that this is a sports city and the fans here crave a winner from all of our sports teams. He doesn't care nor will he ever if the hawks have any success. Just because an owner spends the cash doesn't have to mean a team will be a winner, but would it kill Wirtz to actually try to back up the team he owns?

posted by melcarek69 at 12:34 PM on December 09, 2005

would it kill Wirtz to actually try to back up the team he owns? Hey, whatever works. (Did I say that out loud?)

posted by chicobangs at 12:59 PM on December 09, 2005

Blackhawks vs. RedWings, as well as Bears vs. Packers, are two noted and ancient rivalries. Tickets for those games can approach the thousand dollar mark when the box office has none. I know, I paid that for a Wings/Hawks New Years eve game once. Age contributes to rivalry, especially when they have been rivals for most of their existence. I won't debate whether Chicago's owner is contributing to the team's failures. It's continually obvious. But Mike Ilitch has owned the RedWings through a long losing stretch in the seventies, and nobody questions him, because for the last ten years they've been excellent. But I lived through the DeadWings era and still am a fan, although I think they should at least hang a RedWings Winged Wheel in Little Caesar's. But that's another issue.

posted by mrhockey at 01:33 PM on December 09, 2005

So mrhockey, do you really believe there's going to be a Wings-style renaissance in Chicago before Wirtz relinquishes his hold on the team? He's killing that franchise. Killing it.

posted by chicobangs at 02:11 PM on December 09, 2005

I'm done with the Bruins. The owner's a jerk and a joke and the Thornton trade was the final nail in this fan's coffin.

posted by Venicemenace at 04:02 PM on December 09, 2005

Just glad to see Bobby Clarke not getting reamed. Seems as though the Flyers are stepping pretty lively. Every home game a sell-out, even though you need a bank loan for seats, thus is life in the NHL noiwadays.After instituting a salary cap, no team should be complaining about talent or a lack thereof. Citizens of Chicago(and elsewhere) should sue their owner.

posted by GoBirds at 05:38 PM on December 09, 2005

Venicemenace, hang in there. You don't have to go to games, but take it from one of the Leaf fans here who lived through the dark decades of Harold Ballard: it ends. In other news, they just announced tonight's Capitals game as a sellout. The Red Wings are in town, so that's two pieces of purely anecodtal evidence that supports some of the hypotheses in this thread. (I'm watching it on inDemand. They're pretty raucous, too. This makes me happy.)

posted by chicobangs at 07:06 PM on December 09, 2005

No. I don't. The people in Chicago have to do something to Wirtz himself, more than likely, before he will relinquish a hold on the team that has seen them suffer so badly that they actually let them trade their captain to Detroit five years ago (Chris Chelios) and the fans still didn't stop going. They have now, though, but it should take less than that to get an assh**e owner to give it up. And they are more than likely going to have to do something in Green Bay, too. The Packers have been crapping their pants on the field this year, letting a Hall-Of-Fame (future) QB look like it's his fault, and do nothing about a coach who is singularly responsible for the whole shit. But I gave up on the Packers after they discontinued their band and let a newspaper publisher tell them what to do for 6 years. They still have to do a lot to restore that franchise, but my RedWings are not being screwed like that and for that I am grateful.

posted by mrhockey at 08:47 PM on December 09, 2005

I'd really like to see the Red Wings get to play an original six team instead of some crap team like the Blue Jackets...

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 01:57 PM on December 10, 2005

Let the Wings beat up on Columbus all year for all I care. Go Wings!!!

posted by Fade222 at 06:54 PM on December 10, 2005

But they aren't beating up just on the Blue Jackets, although they play them on New Year's Eve. I first met R. Scotty Bowman on New Year's Eve 1982 after a broken shoulder ended my playing days (although I still play adult league duty at age 51). The Wings are going to have to (I suspect) revive their classic left-wing lock defense system if they are going to re-overtake the teams they have been confounded by this year, viz, Calgary and Vancouver. As fot YingYang, the RedWings have played the Blackhawks in three hom-at-home series dated October 27,29, and November 1, and beaten them by a collective score of 13-5 (5-2)(4-2)(4-1). The unfortunate relative stature of this does not change much, due to the new CBA of the league, which dictates that, for the majority of the schedule, Western Conference teams play mostly Western Conference teams, and the RedWings and Blackhawks are the only Original Six teams in the Western Conference. Boston, New York, Montreal, and Toronto are all Eastern Conference teams. Of course, geographically, all 6 Original Six teams still in existence SHOUL be in th EASTERN Conference, as the dividing line of the USA is generally considered to be the Mississippi River, and all 6 are east of there. Go figure. But in a technical sense, when one divides the teams equally by number and geography. one of two things becomes apparant. 1) The Eastern Conference has too many teams as per population and economic basis. 2) The Western Conference has far too much investment capital for the number of teams in existence. This would be exacerbated by, for example, if the Pittsburgh Penguins would move to Kansas City (unlikely due to NHL regulation prohibiting teams within 125 miles of one another) there would be a necessity to move the Columbus Blue Jackets to the Eastern Conference to balance the teams (either they or Nashville, but logistically it's Columbus). Again, go figure. Something is amiss with the map,as Dr. Who once said.

posted by mrhockey at 01:01 AM on December 13, 2005

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.