Sunday, July 24, 2005

Forget Weird Wednesdays

Hey peeps, and anyone else checking in.

Week 1 of the vacation is down and was pretty damn good - which is why I've been negligent in posting...especially the Wednesday entry. Given the events of the last week...Weird Wednesdays may now give way to F'd up Fridays. Where to start? Where else but...

While some hockey fans rejoice, I have one question "Can this league be taken seriously anymore?" There are so many reasons that "we" as hockey fans should ask ourselves this question...and in turn, question the level of our commitment and interest in a game whose principle figures have little or no regard for the people paying the freight - that would you, Hazel and every other fan of the game.

I can't stand seeing Gary Bettman talking about the owners and players building a partnership - I'm tired of hearing about how they had to get back on the ice for the good of the game and "for the fans" - they did it for the good of their wallets. The "partnership" means that players have a vested interest in helping NHL owners get every single cent they can from the fans - its all about revenues - remember what Roenick said "that he wants the fans who spend the money to go to the game" - the rest of them (us) can kiss his ass. The fans are an afterthought to this new brotherhood of dunces.

I saw Ed Snider talking today about how the league had to come back to reality - that believe it or not...even the Philadelphia Flyers lost money. Oh, ok Ed...Eddie...Edward - you and the Philadelphia Flyers need a cap because you lost money - why not think about running your team like a business or even a quality hockey operation and FIRE Bob Clarke. What has he done to keep his job? Bob's Clarke's accomplishments include a number of bad trades, free agent signings, and spending money recklessly and without a lot of thought - but you are going to tell me that a General Manager, whose incompentance has only been eclipsed by Glen Sather...your GM is not to blame for the bad decisions, its the NHL environment. Now with "cost certainty" or "salary cap" or whatever Bod Goodenow was calling it to save face...are GMs going to have any excuses any more?

Will Bob Clarke be fired if the Flyers don't do something of note in the next two to three years?

Will Glen Sather lose his job if he can't build the Rangers into a contender? (even with all the buyouts - he can almost start from scratch)

What about John Muckler? I heard him on the radio the other day...he's putting all his faith in Dominik Hasek...a 41 year old goalie who hasn't played in three years.

What about our guy - John Ferguson? he mortgaged the future for a shot at the cup...this new round of free agency might help him....but if it doesn't...does he get canned?

How could we talk about GMs that maybe could/should be fired without talking about Mike Milbury - he of the Alexei Yashin deal.

While some of you maybe be looking at this and asking - "what does this have to do with a salary cap or the current state of the NHL" - good question. It has everything to do with it - they let the NHL get this way...they expanded too fast and too much...the talented was watered down to the point that big money was being thrown at (and commanded by) guys who hadn't done enough to pull in that kind of cash. The money got ridiculous in some instances...all in the hopes of building a winner quickly (hello Glen Sather) or adding a piece of the puzzle (Hello Bob Clarke, John Ferguson Jr., John Muckler - yes..for adding guys like DeVries and Bondra)...or teams like St. Louis who have spent outrageous sums of money for nothing. So rather than admit that they messed up...they use the expiry of the collective agreement to lock out the players and blame the state of the game on the money being spent and salaries being out of whack, and the difference between big and smaller market teams (funny when teams like NJ and Tampa Bay have won cups and NY, Toronto, Philly, Boston and Chicago are dying for a Cup).

How does this address the quality of the game? - It doesn't. I said it a few days ago...the deal is about EXPANSION - cost certainty means that they owners aren't going to lose money...and this means that they can start planning to sell more franchises. Laugh all you want...but the process has started.

It started with the rule changes...these rule changes "to make the game more appealing" is but another way to cover up or gloss over the lack of true calibre NHL talent. The goalies are going to wear smaller equipment and will have their movements restricted; the red line is going to be eliminated to increase the flow of the game; there is going to be a shootout at the end of a tie game because the fans want it (who are these fans? I have not heard Canadian hockey fans talking about it); everything and they mean EVERYTHING is going to be called...

All this...rather than admit that the problem with the NHL is that there are too many teams...too few players...too little interest...and too few sources of revenue. They argue that the rule changes will make the game more appealing - that it will be better for the fans...better for TV...just plain better. Well, that remains to be seen - I still think they are trying to pass mediocrity off as parity. The NHL is going to be something like the NBA...NBA teams have 5 very good players...3 more players to fill in...and four who rarely see the floor. The NHL is going that way...NHL teams are going to follow the blueprint of the Chicago Blackhawks of the late 80's and 90's where they had a great starting six - and then a very mediocre supporting cast...The Blackhawks would horsewhip those six guys and ride them to great regular seasons (ask Chelios and Suter...ask Roenick, Amonte, Denis Savard, Steve Larmer...ask Eddie Belfour)...but by April they were dead. Most NHL teams are going to look like that...maybe two forward lines (big maybe) - two defensive pairings...and one goalie..everyone else is interchangeable.

They are also going about it in a very clever way - divisional play...building divisional rivalries. The Eastern Conference won't see much of the Western Conference - so fans won't really get to see that the whole damn league is watered down. Let me get this straight...the NHL wants to promote the "great game of hockey" but fans won't get to see teams in the other is this good for the game? You don't want some of the great stars of the league to travel across the country...all in the name of divisional rivalries.

If they can get us to buy this...look for expansion to start in Quebec City and's heartland...followed by Tulsa, Houston, Milwaukee and maybe Indianapolis.

Everyone seems to be really excited about what this week of free agency will bring - I'm going to take a wait and see approach...but my gut tells me that the NHL will be a lot different by next Saturday...and some of the small market teams will still be complaining that they can't compete on the ice...Uncle Gary will tell them to shut up - that they should be happy that they have a deal in place that lets them turn a profit...and THAT is what is good for the game.

Thanks again for checking in...peeps...Hazel (if she's peeking) and "you" for spending the time to read another crazy rant...but I gotta ask..."What does Hazel think of the NHL these days...I'd really like to know"

More to follow tomorrow...probably hockey trades...etc.

Song of the Day on Hazelspeeps at yahoo for the NHL Partners

Money - Pink Floyd.
"Don't give me that do goody good bulls**t"

Peesth out gang.


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