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Friday, November 05, 2004

Are There "Double Secret" Talks Going On?

I can't figure out the National Hockey League. Sometimes, the proverbial "they" say that no news is good news. But in the case of the NHL, the stalemate is so pronounced that the lack of any news is disturbing to the rabid hockey fan.

As it should be.

But the NHL should not be worrying too much about the rabid hockey fan. Because he will come back, lured by the bright lights, the organ music at key times during the game, the squid being thrown onto the ice, the passionate play-by-play calls of homer announcers, and the cruiserweight bouts that pepper the regular season games.

It's everyone else that the NHL should be worried about. That is, the potential fans. Because, in the sporting world, they're like the independent voters, the Reagan Democrats. They're up for grabs, and they don't have unlimited money to spend in the same way that voters don't get more than one vote in any election. They only can spend certain amounts on dish networks and cable television, and on tickets to games. And, whether because there's a hockey vacuum or because there's a different attraction, those fans are voting their pocketbooks elsewhere.

Casey Stengel was once asked about whether he was worried about his ballplayers the night before a game, especially with members of the opposite sex. The Old Perfessor, never one to waste words, replied, "I don't worry about the guys who are with women the night before a game. They'll be fine. It's the guys who stay out all night the night before a game who are looking for women that I worry about."

Well said. In a similar light, the NHL should be worrying about the guys who are out there looking to spend their entertainment dollars. They are not patient, they want the action, and they aren't necessarily hockey fans in the first place. Some will spend their money on sporting goods, some on their kids, some on other hobbies, and some on other sports. And, in the meantime, hockey loses more potential devotees.

Benjamin Franklin once noted that there is no such thing as a good war or a bad peace. The NHL fathers should take note. Because there's no such thing as a good labor action, whether it's designated as a lockout or a strike. The NHL and its players need to get together, and fast, to figure out a way to save their sport. They do not need to be at loggerheads at a time when many are starting to think that their sport is irrelevant.

Because it doesn't appear that too many fans miss their NHL teams today. College football has had some very compelling games to watch this season. The NBA has just started, and the NFL is at its mid-point. College basketball is about to start, and NASCAR has a good race going for who will win the Nextel Cup.

I can't believe that there's anyone out there who really believes that a missed season is a good thing. If you're a food company, miss a delivery to your supermarket, you lose your shelf space. If you're a services firm, fail to return an urgent phone call and your client probably calls someone else. If you provide entertainment, leave your stages dark too often and people will start to forget you.

If they haven't already.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's an OCTOPUS, not a squid!

I miss the NHL a lot, but I am getting my fill with JV high school hockey, Bantam club games and watching my almost-six year-old chasing a puck around in the amoeba-like formation that goes with team games at that age.

I miss the NHL, not because the regular season games are meaningful, but rather because the players can do amazing things.

I hope they come back, but if they don't I'll see more college games and maybe rekindle what has become only a passing interest in NCAA hoops.

Did I mention that it's an OCTOPUS?!


9:09 AM  
Blogger SportsProf said...

Shows how much I follow hockey or know, I suppose. And, I had some great calamari on Saturday night, so perhaps I had squid on the brain. Then again, if sports fans like me cannot distinguish the Detroit octopus from a squid, then the NHL has serious problems.

And NCAA hoops are really fun!


12:10 PM  

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