Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Publish Day - hockey lessons

My column in today's London Free Press is entitled Knights make our hearts swell. I wrote it after the hometown hockey team won the Ontario Hockey League championship. In light of the NHL's cancelled season and uncertain future, I thought the London win was a refreshing example of sportsmanship and community involvement.

Given my longstanding cynicism toward team sports in general, I was pleasantly surprised with the direction that this piece took. I'm hoping it will be similarly well-received by proud Londoners.

I've got a few questions for you in light of this:
  • Does the Knights win change your perception of hockey in general?
  • Can a positive regional league experience influence the so-called big league to get off its duff and solve its problems?
  • Given the success of so-called smaller-market sports franchises, are we better served by having no "big leagues" at all?


Spencer said...

Well, being from Kelowna, the hometowm of the Western Hockey League Champion Kelowna Rockets, I feel I'm in a unique position to answer these questions.

I'm not sure if my perception of hockey is changed with the Rockets' success. Although, I don't consider myself embittered by the lack of an NHL season, only saddened.

I'm not sure that anything the smaller leagues do or experience will change the NHL situation. The NHL (both owners and players) sees itself as "bigger and better" than all other hockey leagues, answerable to no one but themselves.

This third question is very debatable. On one hand, the attention each of the other leagues and championships is getting is tremendous for both the teams and the locals in each home town. But most of these leagues exist in either an attempt to mature young players or to keep backup NHLers sharp. Losing the NHL completely would change each of their structures beyond recognition. "Younger" leagues would extend their maximum age. Farm leagues would become the new upper market. In the end, it would be just like the NHL without the big arenas and without the current star players. Inevitably, the farm leaguers would move into the now-vacant NHL arenas because arena owners would want to make profit on their facilities and big city folks still want hockey. This would be *very* analogous to the "replacement players" (pronounced "scabs") that Gary Bettman has announced he will not use.

The other possible scenario would be the European leagues replacing the NHL entirely and slowly adding teams in vacant NHL arenas, in essence forming a more truly international professional league in which the same NHL star players would inevitably get paid less. In short, I don't know why the players have become so stubborn because they are the ones who will lose the most if this situation continues. And that's not even taking into account the fact that most have a limited time for their careers to flourish.

Sad. So sad. GO ROCKETS!

Mellie Helen said...

Not being a hockey fan, I did come across this on the net (which you Canadians have probably already seen on TV), but seems fitting for this post: Molson Canadian Ad.

Rhodent said...

Well, some years ago I never would have thought that Tampa Bay would have a hockey team. I love hockey... but FLORIDA?

Suzanne said...

I would comment Carmi only I know nothing on the subject of I'll just say hello for today!

thequeen said...

hmm not sure how to answer any of those questions. I love hockey, I don't know beans about it, but I love it, I hope it comes back, big league, not so big league, who gives a *%&#( JUST PLAY ALREADY!!!!