Wednesday, February 03, 2010


Last week I issued 5 ways the NHL could improve itself and perhaps regain some of its lost popularity. Here are some more things they could (and I think need) to do...

Versus offered the NHL a guaranteed TV deal, ESPN offered less, and with conditions. The NHL was coming out of the lockout, so I understand the need for cash right now. But in the longrun, ESPN offers so many more benefits compared to Versus.

#1: Every cable system in the country has it
#2: Every man and most women know exactly what channel ESPN is on
#3: ESPN promotes itself, so people know what will be on ESPN and when
#4: ESPN more prominently features the sporting events it broadcasts

The NHL shouldn't be worried about immediate TV revenue. Because that stream will someday (sooner than you'd think) dry up if kids don't get to see hockey on TV because their cable company doesn't play Versus, so the kids never play the game, and/or become fans of the game.


This is a bit harder to achieve. But the NHL should invest some time, effort, and money into promoting the game in hockey talent regions like New England, the Midwest, and the Rockies. Instead of trying to spread the game to the South, the NHL needs to fully utilize the potential athletes that can come out of these regions.

And the ultimate goal should be to produce an American Superstar. Who are the big names in the NHL right now? They're all Canadians and Russians. We need more Americans and one big American star.

The deal allowing NHL players to represent their countries in the Olympics ends after the 2010 Games. And the NHL is considering backing out of the Olympics. This is a mistake. The excitement of Olympics helps promote the game itself, both in North America and in the world. Having all-star teams of Finns, Swedes, Germans, and Czechs gets those countries excited about the games. Simple question really: do you think the ratings for an Olympic hockey game would go up or down if there weren't any NHLers participating?

The one thing the NHL does right these days is the Winter Classic. The NHL wants to implement a bidding process for the game, sort of like what the Olympics and World Cup do. Cities present proposals, and a committee selects the best one. That's a much better idea than a rotation system, or anything arbitrary like that.

The NHL should also considering allowing the fans up North to get in on the fun. Let two Canadian teams play each other in the Classic. But don't have it on New Years Day. Maybe have it in February. And even consider broadcasting it quietly on the NHL Network, instead of NBC or Versus. That way, outdoor games won't lose their unique appeal to the mainstream public.

82 games is pointlessly long, especially with a 16 team playoff structure. Cut it down by 10 or 12 games. Make regular season games more meaningful, more intense, and help reduce the laundry list of injuries that keep stars off the ice. I know what you're thinking: less games=less tickets=less money. Maybe. So charge a little more per game. And honestly I think what you sacrifice in upfront ticket sales, you'll regain with more TV ratings per game.

And seriously, only a few rinks are sold out every night. They'd be the only ones to lose significant money by reducing the length of the season.


The best college athlete in Boston might be a basketball player at Harvard. I've talked about him before, but he deserves repeating. Jeremy Lin, a senior guard for the Crimson, is averaging 17.1 points and 4.4 assists per game. I've been able to see him play twice, both at BC, and both times he led his team to victory.

And he doesn't just feast on lowly Ivy League teams either. Here's a sample of what he did against UConn:

He had 30 that day.

He's listed at 6' 3" and 200 pounds, both of which are a bit generous. He may or may not bust into the NBA Draft. Even if he doesn't, he might end up on some team somewhere.

The Ivy League does not offer athletic scholarships.


I went to this game last night. And I wore my Vladislav Tretiak jersey. Tretiak was a revolutionary goalie who won 3 gold medals for the USSR in '72, '76 and '84. Why does Evgeni Nabokov wear the #20? Because Vladislav Tretiak wore it fist. Tretiak was awarded the Order of Lenin, which was a big deal in the USSR. He's also the first player inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame to have never played a North American game.

So I wore this jersey because USSR=anti-capitalism=anti-Capitals=fuck Ovechkin. Get it? Kind of a nerdy joke. Plus it's one of my favorite jerseys ever. And I wore a Bruins shirt underneath it, along with a Bruins scarf, and my Zdeno Chara bobblehead pin.

The Bruins played an inspirational 2/3 of a game. Jose Theodore was "on" and by that I mean he stuck his glove and his stick in random, disjointed locations, and the puck just so happened to find it. I'll never respect Jose Theodore, he's a primitive and savage netminder, and if the Bruins were more sophisticated shooters, they would've been able to take advantage. Or if they'd been able to insist enough of a presence in the crease.

It's closing time for the Ryder-Krejci-Wheeler line. Sobotka and Bitz were healthy scratches tonight. I'd much rather see them out there as opposed to Wheeler and Ryder. Krejci can fall in line with other players, maybe skate with Recchi and Satan. But Wheeler's ineptitude and Ryder's unwillingness have become more than just annoying. It's detrimental. These two clowns sabotage the Bruins' offense.

Wheeler, because of his size and the fact that he tries, could maintain himself on a 4th line with guys like Sobotka and Begin. Focus more on solid defense, being physical, instead of trying to be Wayne Gretzky.

But there are some good signs becoming apparent. Krejci finally scored, albeit seemingly by mistake. And the team's playing with more energy and life.

Bruins host the Canadiens Thursday.

Back to my Tretiak jersey, some guy on the Orange Line gave me shit for wearing the color red. As if he were a Crip or something.

I asked him if he had a problem with me, then aggressiveness ensued. By the time I changed trains at Downtown Crossing, 5 people were throwing haymakers over nothing. Utter insanity, all because I chose to wear my Tretiak jersey.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo