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12-14-2012, 11:14 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Mahopac, NY
Posts: 897
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Everywhere hockey has expanded to, there are youth leagues and a hard core of rabid fans. In almost every case, where teams have struggled it is because of poor management, poor player development, and poor marketing.

You can't expect to build a strong fan base, aside from the hard core, if you have bad teams that struggle and don't make the playoffs year after year.

Many of these places will never be NY, Toronto, or Detroit, but they can succeed if the team does well.

We heard the same tired argument about contraction in baseball. The hockey talent pool is incredibly deep and expanding all the time. Even 50 miles north of NYC, where I live, 20 years ago, there was very little high school hockey. Now, every HS plays.

While Bettman has made made a stupendous mess of this impasse and his idea of negotiation comes from the beat-em over the heads playbook, I give them all the props for expanding the sport's footprint.

Sometimes I think there are only two kinds of people in the world: includers and excluders. As an includer, I support hockey everywhere, do not want to see contraction. In fact, I want expansion to the Pacific NW, and to places in Canada that deserve teams.

Every sport has big market and small market teams, big revenue streams and small revenue streams. Hopefully, if there is ever a new CBA, increasing ownership share to 50% and some sort of revenue sharing will help all teams thrive. But I'm not confident, not because it can't work but because some of the current ownership has not shown that they are the sharpest tacks in the box.

I love the Original Six, became a fan during its last years and remember it fondly. But I don't want to go back to it. Hockey cannot contract: it must find a way to make the current system work. Having the right people as owners is of utmost importance. Though I support the players 100%, I do believe that a 10 year CBA is essential. This sport needs stability to grow, to garner new TV contracts, and to widen its appeal.

More than anything, that is what is maddening about the lockout: the damage done is fast approaching the point where it will become permanent. If we lose another season, hockey may never recover. It will never have credibility beyond us, the hard core crazies.

Someone needs to sit down with these people in the next week and shake them hard. I am as hard core as they come but if another season is lost I will be tempted to cancel my Hockey News, my subscription to XM (the only reason I have satellite radio is to listen to hockey talk, something we never hear, even in the best of times, in the NY area), get rid of the NHL Network on TV, stop checking the boards, etc. etc.

I'm angry. Don't they get it? And that is my rant for least until another day passes and we come closer to oblivion.

alkurtz is online now