Tuesday, May 29, 2007



If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life
Never make a pretty woman your wife
So from my personal point of view
Get an ugly girl to marry you

-- Jimmy Soul, "If You Wanna Be Happy" (1963)

You can't have your cake and eat it too.

-- old proverb

The NHL should be on ESPN, with maybe a few winter games and some of the Finals moved to ABC... naturally hockey highlights would be prominent on SportsCenter through the whole season... let's have the Disney Corp. use their mighty marketing power to vault the NHL back up to the first tier of American sports, while of course ensuring that Canadian fans aren't boned with things like Saturday afternoon games involving Canadian teams... then, once they're hooked, they'll really be ready to finally shell out the big bucks... etc.

-- Typical hockey pundit/blogger

Well, I'd like a pony that poops PS2 games, but I think everyone's out of luck here...

-- Evan Kirchhoff

Everyone likes to pile on the NHL's Ad WizardsTM for their media savvy. We like to be snotty about Versus/OLN/the Bull Riding Channel, and then also be horrified and outraged when NBC cuts off Sens/Sabres after regulation to go to other more lucrative programming.

We -- and when I say we, of course I mean you, although probably not you specifically, unless you are a sports talk guy on The FAN960 -- really need to think hard about this issue and acknowledge that there are trade-offs to be made, and then pick one.

I'm not defending the NHL here; they really haven't settled on a strategy yet either, and there probably is a 3rd (or 4th, or 5th) way to go -- I may do a piece on this over the summer. But at the very least for the time being: if you're embarrassed at the NHL's ongoing contortions to gain a national footprint in the USA, whether in a media context (see Erin Nicks' good piece here) or in a rules-of-the-game context (Mike W says it well here), you really ought to shut the hell up rather than sniff at the US network that is willing to both make the NHL its flagship property and pay good money to do so. That is all.

[Postscript: er, almost all! Ironically, pace Jimmy Soul, marriage is the one area where you really can have your cake and eat it too, and find someone both lovely and devoted. Hi Dear!]


I love the wags (Dave Pratt, are your ears burning?) that say that the NHL should be on ESPN because then we'd get more coverage. Well when the NHL WAS on ESPN, the highlights and scores were always on the bottom of the roll. When ESPN had an INTEREST in promoting the NHL they didn't. Now with Disney/ABC/ESPN covering the NBA you think hockey would get any kind of visibility on ESPN? Please. Versus is not perfect but they're paying 60mil/per for the rights. Now maybe when the Poker fad dies down, ESPN might want to strangle Versus in its crib and throw some money at Bettman et al, but until then Versus will do. The NBC deal is a pure infomercial by the league, they're basically giving away free content to NBC. All the people that are bitching that we're not on ESPN should be happy as clams that there is ANY american network coverage.

The postscript is my favourite part.

Living in hockey oblivion (L.A.), I've never had a strong take on the matter. I get Versus, so that probably has 100% to do with my issues.

Do I care that the NHL doesn't fall on ESPN random eyes? Not really. Maybe we're missing some converts, but I'm kind of the opinion that people don't really watch anything inadvertently any more; nobody's really going to stumble on a hockey game, I don't think.

At any rate, if you're trying to solve your popularity problems by exposure, that seems the second-best way about fixing your problems. Making the product more appealing would accomplish a whole lot more.

Even with the new NHL junk, it's not the compelling or charismatic product it used to be. I still see plenty of junk games. I really wish sometimes the NHL provided more incentive to score goals; then I don't think the marginal rules would matter that much.

Well, if you want an incentive for scoring, there's always bringing back GF (not GD) as your first tiebreaker. Of course, the led to some embarrassing stuff around 1970 -- like the Habs spending half their final game with the goalie on the bench -- but it might do the trick.

Or don't reward teams for bogging down the games so they can get their precious loser point. You know, make a loss a loss. Encourage opening up in a tied game.

Better still, make a tie a loss. Sure, keep the 4x4 OT. Even keep the Wack-A-Mole Contest if it makes people happy. But if you end up on the wrong end of the tie/loss, you get zero points. Rewarding failure is so...CFL.

I really wish sometimes the NHL provided more incentive to score goals; then I don't think the marginal rules would matter that much.

Scoring goals is never the problem. The problem is passive play. JMO, but I think providing as many incentives to forecheckers is the best strategy to fix the game.

They can start by killing the trapezoid and forcing goalies to stay in the crease and then work from there.

Rewarding failure is so...CFL.

Even the CFL leaves a loss as a loss.

I agree with Earl. There are so many choices in regards to TV watching now, that it shouldn't really matter what channel is broadcasting the games. Putting the NHL on ESPN wouldn't do much to encourage more Americans to take up watching the sport. If they aren't into watching it on Versus, they'll probably just turn to MTV and watch Real World or something. As long as it is available for the people that are interested in watching it, the channel its on is irrelevant...

Get interesting colour and play-by-play guys and find a way to encourage more hustle, and you've got yourself a product...

They could put it on PBS for all that it matters, just give people a place to watch it...

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