…Starring Gary Bettman as Macbeth

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KHL (that’s Russian) hockey is on ESPN2 right now. This is a revalation to me for many reasons.

For one, the whole broadcast is a little strange; you have ESPN’s only television hockey guys, Steve Levy and Barry Melrose, are in American watching a game taking place in Prague between Dynamo Moscow (with Alex Ovechkin) and Lev Praha (featuring Zdeno Chara) and calling the action. I’ve seen this odd disconnect before; incidents where Fox Soccer analysts have to kill time while technical difficulties keep the broadcasts teams in Europe off of American TV. It is always sort of strange when there is no continuity between the action and the people calling it.

More importantly, hockey is on ESPN2, a property of ESPN. This is in stark contrast to what the hockey universe has long believed: ESPN hates hockey, and they won’t talk about it. The facts and figures are there, and we have all accepted it.

So, now what? Now, it’s time for us to look at the NHL, and time for the NHL to look at itself.

The NHL is currently on hiatus, in it’s second lockout in 8 years. The league CBA expired, they locked out, they resolved, they played for the length of the CBA, and they locked out again. This is not a healthy business model, though I cant say the model they operate under is working (it isn’t). My beloved Devils are to blame; they had forsaken the league with Ilya Kovalchuk’s 17 year vanity contract (the guy loves the #17). Suddenly everyone is getting the same Rick DiPietro-style contract that was lampooned for years, and the owners cant pay them out because teams are losing money. So they locked out again, since it solved all their problems last time.

Except it didn’t. All it did was install a salary cap that these contracts are now circumventing, devalue the product to America (and in turn major media outlets like ESPN), and sell TV rights to NBC Sports, who finally got their act together after 5 years to present a decent product last postseason. And now it’s happening all over again.

Last postseason was highly rated in relation to previous years’ Stanley Cup playoffs, but they were still clearly 4th place numbers. The Kings opened up a bandwagon, and I’m sure if the NHL season were starting in 4 days the bandwagon would be firing up again, but nothing is certain now, including whether the games will be played at all.

A lost season is the last thing the NHL needs right now, and the one thing they are providing. Maybe one day Commissioner Bettman will stop killing his sport and make a decent decision for the good of the game, and more importantly, stick with it.

Until then, enjoy all the wonderful NFL news that fills your weekdays.

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About jgweiss

Trying to find a job, trying to start a blog.
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One Response to …Starring Gary Bettman as Macbeth

  1. Harris Barenburg says:

    As much as I dislike Gary Bettman and a lot of what he has done to this sport, I do not think it is fair to solely point the finger at him. He is hired by the owners and if the owners did not want this lockout, there would be no lockout. I hate saying this but you also have to point some of the blame at the players. The players checks are being signed by the owners and if the owners are not making money, and yes some of them are not, they do not have to sign those checks.

    It is also not like the players are making life easy and smart with the negotiations. They are asking for revenue sharing, which as baseball has proven is bad for the game. It is bad enough there is a salary cap (I do LOVE a salary floor though), there should not be revenue sharing. If there are owners/teams that can not make money, go away. I am all in favor of contraction.

    Who this hurts the most is the fans. What would make me the most angry is if at the end of this they end up deciding to split revenue 50/50. That is the obvious outcome and if it takes them half of a season, a whole season, of even a quarter of a season to finally decide that, it is just stubborness on both end.

    After the last lockout the NHL needed a MLB and steroid scenario to bring casual fans back and they did that with the shootout and as much as to this day I hate it, it crazily worked. I wonder what circus act they will bring to the ice this timeto bring back casual fans.

    I have a lot more opinions on this topic from the KHL, to rule changes, to the owners vs players but I do not have the time to type it all right now. Hopefully other people will respond to this well written piece by Josh and we can have a good conversation/debate about it. I just hope we have hockey sooner than later and I point my finger at everyone involved, equally.

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