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07-13-2005, 02:22 PM
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I've felt for a long time that the NHL under Bettman went after the wrong fan and in the wrong direction. Hockey by design is a winter sport. Why do we have the Stanley Cup Finals in late June? Speaking from experience and choice, people in warmer climates have better things to do than sit at home on a nice evening than watching a hockey game, or any televised game for that matter. Moving down to Atlanta I spend a helluva lot more time out doors, especially in the evenings. It's too damn hot to go out during the daytime!
On the contrary hockey might be the best time in many of those warmer climates. In the southwest (my home base), you REALLY don't want to do much outside during the summer. However the games are also on earlier out here.

I dont think the months of the season are a factor. Otherwise the "proper" hockey season would be all of 3 months.

Having said all that, what bettman should have done was look to europe to sell the TV rights to. Kinda like a Fox Sky Sports Soccer Network in reverse. Just as soccer fans here in canada and the states subscribe to that network to see the top soccer players playing in the top leagues, so too will russians, czech's fins, swedes, etc. it may have even made sense to have a division overseas comprised of Stockholm, Moskow, London, etc. He a moron, plain and simple. He took a league that was finally breaking through and through a series of gross miscalculations he ruined a fine sport. Instead of exhancing the exciting parts of the game, he tried to change the fabric of the game. He did so through ignorance. He didn't understand the game and still doesn't. He appealed to the politically correct crowd, as if they gave 2 _hits about hockey.
This is where we agree and disagree. I agree about what you said about Betteman. But i also think it's more than him. Hockey is just not the sport it once was in terms of the on ice product. That just as much as any TV deal hurt. People were willing to watch hockey, when it was exciting. What people wont do is sit through 2 hours of people clutching each other.

I think its a compound effect. Several bad things that dont help each other.
I have nothing against NASCAR and I'm sure the millions who go to it and the milllions more who view it find it exciting to watch a car go around and around and around a few hundred times. To me that is not an Athletic Event. It's an engineering event. Same with poker. Yet, under bettman, both have gone from not on the map to leaving us in the dust. Which is fine by me. I know that I will always have a NYR's team to root for. The same can not be said in many of the other NHL cities. Canada could end up with just 2, Montreal and Toronto. All this lockout stuff is just about increasing team values and selling the teams off to the next sucker in line who wants to own a sport's team. Under Bettman the NHL has become more of a business and less of a sport. Whether a team wins a cup becomes irrelevant so long as the profit margin and the product tie ins meet expectations.
Unfortunatly all those factors are direct resort of what people see. The elements that drew people to hockey arent there anymore. I think Betteman could have marketed certain things better, but the product itself has changed. The entire dynamics of the sport have changed. The lack of scoring and excitement have a direct impact on the ability to present the sport IMO. In that regard, I agree Betteman didn't do the best job. But i also have to say that hockey let hockey down. Especially in NA, many of these kids just can't play. They don't know the fundamentals of the game. It affects the product. Basketball is already going down that path.

The problem is that the executives, the owners and the players were more interested in protecting their financials interests in the sport that none of them stopped to look at what was happening to it. That's not and isn't Betteman's fault alone, that is EVERONE's fault. GB is certainly included in that group, but he isn't alone. The difference is he is face, and people (like presidents, ceo's, spokespeople) love to look at the face. It makes things nice and simple.

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