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09-12-2004, 01:12 PM
  #39
barrytrotzsneck
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Nashville, TN
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Puckhead
I think not worrying about the southern markets, is short sighted. Gary Bettman says lets not worry about how we got to this point ( the labour problems ), lets just concentrate on fixing the game now. Well Gary, if a little more thought was given before handing out a franchise to every city with beach front property, yeah we wouldn't have to worry about how we got here, because we may have averted the current problems. The real problem with the States in general, and more specifically the southern states, is that the NHL has not given those fans the chance to grasp the sport. It trickles down from the teams themselves. Rather than teach the game to these new fans, they just give them enough to like their team. Being a fan means more than watching your team, it means learning the game, knowing the players, and being aware of other teams aroung the league. The Broadcasters are lacking, as are the colour man, the beat writers, many of these people don't know enough about the sport to be in a position to comment. The American people are not stupid, nor is the sport of Hockey to complex. You need to teach the game and get them to buy into the NHL, before they truly buy into the Blue Jackets, or the Thrashers.

I think you're asserting things without really knowing the background, though. A lot of the markets that people are quick to write off...have only had hockey for a shade over five years! Having spent a large chunk of my life in Nashville, and coming up through the Nashville hockey program...I can honestly say that since the Predators came to town, hockey is up BIG TIME in the youth. When I started playing in Nashville at the age of nine(after having played for 3 years in my previous home in upstate New York,) the youth hockey program existed only due to the affluence of the sport and the fact that the Saturn plant had transplanted a great many midwesterners to the area. By the time I was playing high school hockey(the Predators came to town my junior year), it had grown..but not substantially. However..in the six years since...I'd say the youth hockey(both ice and in-line) has more than quadrupled. The younger kids had a team to follow and players to emulate. For a while, you couldn't go in a sporting good store without seeing toddler-sized Ronning and Walker jersies..and even now, there's a popular season ticket holder who is no more than six..and wears a Sully(from monsters inc) costume to every game with his Sullivan jersey over it. That's the key. Expecting a bunch of never-been-exposed to hockeys to convert overnight is unrealistic. However..reaching the youth..getting them to love\understand\play hockey is not only realistic but it's the current situation. And what happens then? Their parents get into watching them play..and end up taking them to more hockey games. And from there? Their friends and THEIR parents get into it, as well. At the rate that kids are starting to play hockey in the Nashville area at all ages...some patience is due to Nashville..because if the current labor situation straightens itself out...in another 5-6 years..you could see hockey as second only to football in Nashville. And while I speak of Nashville, since it's what I know..I'm sure the situation is similar in other "non-traditional" markets. People are quick to write these markets off...but there was a time when cities like Vancouver, Winnipeg, Calgary and even Detroit that attendance was pretty dismal, as well. The on-ice product is improving..fans are being won...and in time, the results will be obvious.

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