Sports 56 WHBlog Q

April 25, 2008

Don’t Miss Out on the Best Playoffs in Pro Sports

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — patmcdermott @ 3:19 am

It may not be the war of the worlds over Bucky Covington, but there’s been alot of talk recently over whether hockey is relevant or not. To me, it’s a pretty easy answer, of course it is. For anyone who doesn’t think hockey matters, I have two suggestions. First of all, give it a full opportunity, go to a game. Second, if you saw the sport years ago and wrote it off, give it a second chance. The NHL is arguably better now then at any point in the league’s history.
Even though its not my favorite sport (that would be football), I’ve always said hockey is the most exciting sport around. As a lifelong New Jersey Devils fan, I’ve been to games with plenty of people who had never been hockey fans, or even been to a game before. Not one of them walked out of the arena without becoming a fan. The nearly constant action, high speed, and amazing talents required in the sport makes it too exciting to not enjoy, even to someone who has never seen it before. To hear someone say that hockey is boring in a country who’s “national pastime” is baseball is appalling to me.
Unfortunately, like baseball, hockey doesn’t really translate well to TV. The speed of the game, and the importance of action across the entire ice surface mean it can be tough to watch on TV for casual fans. But of course, there is a simple solution to this, don’t sit at home and watch the game on TV, go see it in person, the way it was meant to be seen. Unfortunately, the closest team playing at the highest level is a 3 hour drive away in Nashville, but we do have the Riverkings playing just down in Southaven. Keep in mind that the Riverkings are playing at what would be considered the AA level in baseball, but go check out a game at the DCC and I think you’ll come away a fan. Worst case scenario, you spend a night out with friends or family for just a couple bucks more then going to a movie.
As I said earlier, the NHL is better now then perhaps ever before. History will show that hockey’s strike a few years is the only strike is sports history that was good for the sport. First of all, the league got lucky and had two great talents go pro at the same time, just after the strike. The Penguins Sidney Crosby and the Capitals Alexander Ovechkin each made their NHL debuts upon the NHL’s return to the ice in 2005. 20 year old Crosby won the Hart Trophy last year, as the league’s MVP, and 23 year old Ovechkin likely will win it this year. Having the best player in the game be under 25 is nearly unheard of in sports, but to have the best two guys in the game both be under 25 is something I don’t think has ever happened before in professional sports.
The second reason the strike was good for the game is that it forced the league to
make rule changes in an attempt to bring back fans. Even sports’ worst commissioner could tell the game needed changes, and Gary Bettman made them. The league returned with a salary cap, but just as important were rule changes to open up the game and bring more excitement to an already exciting sport. Two line passes were now legal, bringing even more speed to the game. Clutching and grabbing were enforced much tighter, allowing players more freedom to move on the ice. Ties were broken with shootouts, making the end of games even more exciting. The result is that hockey is a much different sport then it was even just 5 years ago, and fans have responded.
Some people love to rip the NHL for pathetic TV ratings, but that has much more to do with the games being on Versus then America’s lack of interest in the game. Attendance at NHL games is higher then its even been before, not only in total attendance, but in average attendance as well. In fact, average attendance in the NHL and NBA were within 100 fans per game for the season just completed.
A few days ago, Tyler McClellan asked here if you are missing out on boxing. I have to ask the same about hockey. The best playoffs in pro sports are going on right now, with the NHL competing for sport’s best trophy. The crop of young talent in the league means it will be great for years to come. Imagine being able to rewind the clock and catch the NBA in the early days of Magic vs. Bird. That is what we have now in the NHL. If you miss it, don’t say you weren’t warned.

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2 Comments »

  1. Would go to the ends of this earth to defend Bucky Covington!

    Comment by Kerri — April 26, 2008 @ 2:18 pm

  2. Unfortunately too many people miss out on this action.

    Comment by NHL Videos — April 29, 2008 @ 1:08 pm


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