Hockey Regionality

May 29, 2009

playofflogo_3001So my boss got all up in my grill a few weeks back in Chicago for not writing about hockey more.  I told him that my honest answer is that I don’t really know anything about it.  Therefore, it would be unfair to the players, league, fans, and teams for me to write, give opinion or outright bitch and moan about it, since, well, I got nothing.

So, I guess I do know one thing.  Hockey, although its considered one of the big 4 sports(NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL), it will never gain the same popularity as its other three brothers because its really only played in pockets all over North America.  I grew up in Northeast Ohio, which is very much a football and soccer dominated area.  Baseball and basketball come next, then probably golf and tennis if you had to keep things in general terms.  In fact, my high school didn’t pick up hockey at all until after I graduated in 2000.  So my exposure to hockey was very limited.  The most hockey I played was with a crappy plastic stick in Gym class.  That the 4-5 kids that ever played hockey dominated because they knew how to scare the crap out of us with a wrister.

What people don’t know is that much like baseball, things happen a lot quicker in person.  The television really kills the game.  I’ve been able to attend a handful of collegiate and pro hockey games, and there is no doubt about it, those guys are really athletic.  You can tell right away that their skating technique is so much different then Joe Blow who skates for fun.  It’s a powerful lunge that stems from their hips, not just a step-and-glide like your parents taught you.  Most of the defensemen look like lumberjacks carrying their sticks, and most of all, they’ll bash your face in whenever they want, and you’ll like it.

The NHL does a poor job marketing and exposing their game.  They can’t get a network to pick it up for more then a year.  Their teams in non-hockey markets don’t get the viewership they need, and corporate sponsors know all of that.  Not to mention that people, just aren’t compelled to watch.  The stars aren’t visual and aren’t in  your face.  I actually find that quality a little endearing.  There is to much me first and look at me going on in the other leagues.  The NHL needs to look at exposing thier big match ups and making us care. I want to care about hockey. 

Not to mention that youth hockey isn’t the cheapest thing going for people.  Kids grow out of equipment every year.  You grow out of a baseball mit about two times depending on your position.

They recently just had one of the best match ups in the play offs they’ve seen in years, that brought their two best young players in a long time to prime time center ice, Pittsburgh’s Sidney  Crosby and Washington’s Alexander Ovechin. Crosby, who’s drawn comparisons to Wayne Gretzky is the golden boy of the league.  Ovechin can flat out play, but is stuck in a bad market.  Each played extremely well, and duelled each other to the bitter end.  But the NHL left it up to ESPN to create the chatter about the game.  That to me is a tragedy.  Heck, people think there’s more drama in the Little League World Series and they don’t even know the kids.

Bottom line for the NHL, its time to step up and take your game seriously.  Work on your salary cap, get a great marketing campaign and network partner involved, expose the match ups and get tickets sold.  Easier said then done I know, but no one seems to want to say it.

Just an FYI if you don’t know, a great rematch of last years cup is set to get going. The Detroit Redwings and the Pittsburgh Penguins will look to get the rivalry fired up again.  The Wings are a little banged up, and the Penguins are far and away better then that “deer in headlights” team that skated last year.

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Never ending story

May 7, 2009

Favres Future FootballI never thought that I’d say or think this but, Brett Favre needs to retire.  The little experiment with the New York Jets was nice, as every great quarterback deserves another shot, but now we are just getting silly.  This week Vikings coach Brad Childress spoke with, and even had dinner, with Favre.

Why Brett, why?  We all know that you love to play the game, and we all enjoyed the fun while it lasted, so don’t ruin your legacy.  Your probably already one of the top 10 of all time, who is adored by so many.  This is his opportunity to start on his road to Canton, where everyone wants to finish their career.  Allow the National Football League to start playing your highlights and let the era end.  Why risk the chance of having another 20 INT season and everyone saying that you”played one too many.”  Just let us remember the gun slinging QB, that probably should have played linebacker, that won multiple MVP’s and a Super Bowl.  Don’t let the record keep playing.

Sure, Montana had a nice run with the Chiefs after he left the 49ers, but he wasn’t there long.  He was in and out, and we’ll remember him as a 49er forever.  In addition to that, it looks like you are just circling the wagons so that you can take two more shots at the Packers again, the very team that helped you get to the status you are at today.

I’ll admit, the Vikings do look like a nice fit on paper.  Good defense, play in a dome, Adrian Peterson, now Percy Harvin, did I mention Adrian Peterson.  I’m sure that Childress would do his best to protect Favre with lots of carries for AP and not so many deep throws down field.  The game is won and lost on third down though, and his completion percentage there was less then stellar.  I heard that on ESPN so it has to be true right?(The research department has been cutback here at Frankly Sports) Not to mention, he’ll still have to play outside eventually in the play offs.  Which is where he looked terrible last year.

So, Brett, please take what the league has given you.  Put it in your boat, and go fishing in Mississippi.  You’ve earned it, and all your fans will love to miss you.