Saturday, August 14, 2010

NHL Advanced? A Reader Makes the Case

A reader named Jeffrey Benson wrote me a note asking whether the NHL might be Advanced. Actually, he wasn't so much asking as making his case. Here it is:
1. You Must Have Done Great Work For More Than 15 Years

The NHL has been around since 1917, and NHL teams play for the most historic and prestigious trophy in professional sports, the Stanley Cup.

2. You Must Have Alienated Your Original Fans

The Lockout of 2004 ...cancelling an entire season is literally the most alienating thing a sports league can ever do.

Coming back from the lockout with rule changes like the shootout, goalie trapezoid, and 4 on 4 OT that did not go over well, and still are not popular with old school, original hockey fans.

Losing ESPN and National TV contracts, going to "the Outdoor Life Network," now known as Versus, made it so fans couldn't even watch games if they wanted to...also pretty alienating.

3. You Must Be Completely Unironic

Two words: GARY BETTMAN

4. You Must Be Unpredictable.

As a sport - I think the NHL certainly qualifies as unpredictable. Constant upsets in the playoffs, random fighting, feuding, trading, season ending injuries, and over long periods of time, the NHL as a business has had a great deal of franchise-moving and expansion. Up-and-down surges in ratings and popularity (think the huge interest in hockey during the olympics) along with rule changes, equipment changes, and etc I think all help qualify the NHL as being somewhat unpredictable. Also, the random suspension process (some people getting suspending for headshots, some not, the whole Sean Avery suspension) also helps the case.

5. You Must Lose It. Spectacularly.

The "glowing puck" - remember this? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FoxTrax This might be the best example of a sport losing it ever.


The major expansion movement into "non traditional" hockey markets, specifically, Atlanta, and Nashville, having THREE teams in California, and two in Florida. Not to mention a team in Minnesota moving to Dallas, a team moving from Canada to Phoenix, and a team moving from Hartford to Carolina.

I think a major sport going from national broadcasting on channels like Fox, NBC, and ESPN to a network people have never heard of, called Versus, is certainly losing it....can you imagine if the NFL moved to the Oxygen network?

The inane CBA, that allowed crazy-long term frontloaded deals, until recently, the Devils signed 27-year Ilya Kovalchuck to a SEVENTEEN year deal, which the NHL then decided to reject even though it fit all the rules. A pretty good amount of the legal rules and issues could be used to further this argument, but those are a little more boring...
I reminded him about the high frequency of mullets among hockey players, and he added:

I can't believe I forgot the mullet....that and the whole complete disregard-for-front-teeth thing are clear examples of advancement.

The idea you had that got me thinking was the whole "perception" argument you make, which I feel backs up the NHL theory. The same way people can't understand later-day Lou Reed, Sting Wind-chimes albums, Geoge Lucas or Orsen Welles, and write them off due to low commercials sales, reviews, popularity, etc...its not because the art is bad, it's because it's advanced and beyond average consumer comprehension. Reminds me of the NHL always being mocked for low ratings and people not understanding the rules...it's not because the sport is bad, it's because it's advanced.

Also - I'm sure something about the old school NHL goalie mask turning into something worn by a famous movie serial killer can somehow be used to prove advancement.
Keep those emails coming!

2 comments:

chicago_chris said...

god this stuff honestly hurts my head. especially when i'm high.

Jason Hartley said...

then you are clearly not high enough.