Day by Day

Friday, February 06, 2004

The NHL is in trouble

Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News has a great column about the NHL today. It's a column that hasn't been written about nearly enough. The NHL is in serious trouble. The dumbfucks in charge of the league keep denying it, and so does the Disney family of networks, who keeps on funding it with lucrative TV contracts, but the league is really in trouble. The lack of scoring is destroying this sport, and nothing is being done about it. According to the article, the NHL lost a whopping $300 Million last season. I'm not at all surprised -- I wonder how much money ABC and ESPN have lost paying to broadcast it.

I grew up watching stars like Wayne Gretzky, Mike Bossy, and Mario Lemieux. These stars have now completely disappeared from the game, and all we are left with is variations of the Neutral Zone Crap. Potential superstars like Teemu Selanne and Alex Mogilny, both of whom topped 70 goals one year, now are happy to get 30. At most, maybe one guy a year tops 100 points. It's unthinkable to try and imagine how bad other sports would be if they followed this trend. Imagine if the NFL only had one 1,000-yard rusher every year. Imagine if nobody hit 40 homers in baseball anymore, or if football couldn't produce a 3,000-yard passer. Imagine if every NFL game ended 10-7 or 14-0, with all of the scoring coming on a punt block or fumble recovery for a touchdown. That should give you an idea of the level of shittitude that the NHL has reached.

Hockey used to have so much more character too. When the league cracked down on fighting, they allowed the game to get more dirty. 20 years ago, if you injured the other team's star player, you risked getting the living shit beat out of you by the other team's goon, or even worse, you risked getting your own star player injured. We never used to see so many guys injured on hits from behind like we do nowadays. Teams used to have so much variety in styles. Some were offensive juggernauts (i.e. The Oilers and Penguins), and others were scrappy defensive teams (i.e. The Bruins and Canadiens). Watching two contrasting teams like this play added so much drama to the game. You would want to watch to see who's style would win that night. Low scoring games are exciting when the low scoring actually represents some kind of accomplishment. Low scoring games are not exciting when every game is low scoring, because the two teams are playing Neutral Zone Crap and Dump And Chase all night long. That's the way that it is nowadays.

The worst moment in the history of the sport happened in 1995, when the New Joisey Devils won the Stanely Cup by defeating the star-laden Red Wings. Ever since then, other teams have mimicked their shit defensive style, and now scoring has dropped 6.29 goals per game to 5.04 goals per game -- in less than a decade! The playoffs have deteriorated just as bad. Last year the Western Conference finals pitted the Minnesota Wild against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks for Christ's sake. Did anyone actually watch? I didn't. I didn't even watch the finals either. The other time that I didn't watch the finals was in 1999, when the Dallas Stars played the Buffalo Sabres *yawn*

The league needs to do at least three things to change the game, and return it to where it used to be:

1. Make a rule that forbids goalies from playing the puck behind the end red line. Goaltenders have become too adept at playing the puck and passing, and that's why so many defensive strategies succeed by clutching and grabbing attackers in the neutral zone. Goalies playing the puck on a dump in adds nothing whatsoever of value to the game. It's about as much fun as watching a fumbled snap in football. Make goalies stay in the crease, and make forechecking a viable part of the offense again.

2. Make all of the goalie's equipment smaller. You say scoring is down just because the goalies are better? I say bullshit. If you don't believe me, then watch a game on ESPN Classic, and look at the equipment that those goaltenders used to wear. Those guys are still armored like tanks, despite the tiny changes in the rules this year.

3. Most importantly of all, get rid of that worthless pile of dogshit Gary Bettman. Gary Bettman is nothing but a pimple on the ass of this league. He is as useless as a used condom. The NHL needs someone who will address the league's problems seriously, not some moronic asshole fuckstick who smiles and denies that they exist. No other major sport has a dumbfuck like this at the helm. Remember about 10 years ago when the NFL tweaked pass interference rules to address a drop in scoring? That's an example of smart leadership, something that the NHL, tragically, has not had. No commissioner in the history of professional sports has seen his league go to shit as fast as Bettman.

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