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May 19, 2006

Comments

NHL teams are still playing hockey? I thought the playoffs were over!

Seriously, I'm joking at Gary Bettman's expense here. The fact that OLN can only be seen in what is it, a third of the homes that ESPN can sure was a swift move on Mr. Bettman's part.

BTW, I'm looking forward to watching the Buffalo-Carolina series. It should be fast and hard hitting.

Have to agree about the ratings.

However, I think we're in for some fantastic hockey.

I don't understand the point of the headline or the entry. It's like saying the sun will rise tomorrow. That's the nature of the universe.

Who set up the league? You've got 10 franchises located in no-snow areas counting D.C., which with the exception of perhaps Dallas would be considered "small market" including LA. You've got four franchises in places that don't have MLB, counting the two New York area teams, definition of "small market" except in the anomalous case of Green Bay in the NFL. You've got six in Canada which are off the radar as far as most Americans go, although two are "big market" by any standards. That leaves 10 "big market" franchises in the US of which one, Chicago, is a basket case, a second, Boston, is comatose, and a third, Pittsburgh, is in limbo.

Maybe when to be located in a big market translated into bigger bucks for better players, the probability of one or more such US teams getting into the semi-finals could be expected yearly. At this point it's almost pure mathematics, three to one against having a big city US team competing for the cup. You could have 10 consecutive years of Ottawa vs Toronto, and Edmonton vs Calgary; or subsitute small market US franchise for one or more of the above. If the league were depending on the Stanley Cup playoffs to build national TV ratings they should have constructed the league differently, how I don't know.

Hockey will find its following, which I believe is wider and deeper than TV ratings show, just as the original Star Trek was. But it will take time and there is no quick fix. It took 40 years to make a go of six teams (not counting the original inflation to 10 wiped out by the Depression), and they were still having ownership problems as late as the 50s; and then two of the first three forays in the no-snow zone, Oakland and Atlanta, failed. It may take another 40 years before the game sets down deep roots everywhere. Dallas is a model, a cup helps, but they developed hockey programs among the youth. On the other hand if Chicago were located where the ice doesn't freeze, they wouldn't draw two homeless people with free tickets, and so you can't depend on good management. It will just grow by itself generation to generation as it did with the original six.

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