Wednesday, January 26, 2005

NHL TALKS BACK ON

Well it was pretty hilarious listening to the radio to all these radio sportscasters who were trying to find out where representatives from the NHL and NHLPA were meeting in Toronto. They were scrambling from hotel to hotel, office building to office building, trying in vain to find these guys. Anyway their meeting broke up tonight around 6PM and they plan to meet again tomorrow.

I think this is all a positive sign. I am cautiously optimistic that something might get accomplished. Rumor was floated on the radio that the NHL might consider a higher payroll cap number (around $50 million) and even consider naming one player per team as a "franchise" player who'd be exempt. Surely the union wouldn't be opposed to THAT. But then this could all be a load of bull, made up by some executive somewhere.

Surely, as well, all these people must be seeing the comments in the papers and elsewhere about the NHL's unpopularity with everyone. Nobody in the United States of Basketball cares right now ( it's basketball now, since football season's pretty much over.) And apparently nobody in the Dominion of Hockey cares either. The National Post published a poll that stated that 70% of Canadians claimed they do not miss the NHL at all- and the sporting media claims to be surprised by this. They shouldn't be. Really, they could even poll ME and I'd give them that same line of bull, that I don't miss the NHL. I mean, we have lives, we have other things we can do. I tuned into those movies last Saturday, and frankly, they were GOOD. TVO ran Ocean's Eleven, so I tuned into THAT. If you really want good movies, forget Ron MacLean and Movie Night in Canada and go watch TVO. TVO actually gives you an A effort, and there's no commercials either.

The next day was the NFL anyway, and who freaking cares about the NHL during the NFL playoffs. You think anyone in Philadelphia or Boston misses the NHL today? Maybe they miss the NHL in Pittsburgh today, but the Penguins suck anyway.

Which is my point entirely: now that the NFL's over, NOW we care about hockey not being there. We've got two weeks of nothing until the Super Bowl- nothing but basketball. And don't think for a moment that this isn't going to drive absolutely every sports fan in North America crazy. That's why we need hockey around: to keep us sane until baseball season begins. And basketball doesn't cut it. It's simply not violent enough. And who cares about basketball's regular season- especially in the NCAA, which chooses its playoff tournament teams by committee on the final weekend! It's ridiculous! I agree with all the detractors of that esteemed sport of hoops, I just can't get excited about watching guys shoot hoops on TV on Sunday afternoons. Midweek, yes, I can watch basketball, but not weekends. It is just not the same as watching football or even hockey, with these guys knocking each other's brains out. Basketball, yecch!!

Frankly, I'm surprised how little I've missed the NHL. But I don't miss the actual GAME of hockey, because I've had plenty of opportunities to follow the other leagues and the international game. And junior hockey has been fun to watch and the junior leagues have some big personalities of their own, people like Sidney Crosby (who got roasted by the press for skipping the CHL Prospects Game). So really, I can't say I've missed the trap-and-fight NHL at all.

What looks apparent to me is, if there is going to be some deal done, it will probably be some shotgun deal that will get a season started and which will not solve any of the NHL's problems. Really, they have a lot of work to do to make the game more exciting, to get ticket prices back to a reasonable level, and to make this sport generally more fan-friendly. But it sure looks like nothing of that sort will get accomplished, deal or no deal, and if there's no deal the sport will set itself back years anyway. Already the Edmonton Oilers are announcing that they'll fold their franchise if there's no salary cap. So who knows, we could get a deal that satisfies nobody and solves none of the league's problems. And how happy are the fans going to be about that? All these fans who sat through "Armaggeddon", thinking things were going to improve? That this sacrifice of their beloved NHL Saturday Night tradition and the rest of it was for the good of the game? Tell that to Oiler fans if that team folds!

Anyway, we'll see what happens tomorrow. Tomorrow is the critical day for these NHL talks. We will likely have our answer on the fate of the NHL season, tomorrow.

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Apprentice 3 resumes tomorrow and the Apprentice chumps are all going to be stuck renovating buildings- usual lame task- and on the promos they are saying that one of these contestants is gonna walk out on the show!

I'd love to see that happen.
"You can't fire me, I quit!"

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