Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Bettman no hockey man

Steve Ovadia at Puck Update and Eric McErlain at Offwing dig up a point that seems so obvious that it bears repeating:
Indeed, when the dust finally settles, Bettman's course in forcing the lockout may prove to be the correct one (though I have my doubts). But there shouldn't be any doubt that the stewardship of the game itself, and the entertainment value of the product on the ice, has suffered over the last ten years.
For all of the flak I get as a Bettman lackey — unfairly I might add — you're never going to hear me espousing on how great the on-ice product has been under the current commissioner. It makes perfect sense that Bettman — and by extension the ownership groups — not have control of what happens with rule changes and other on-ice improvements (or, as in recent years, degradations). Says Ovadia:
Otherwise we're going to be watching NHL games on UHF stations at 3 in the morning. And guess what? The score will be 0-0.
I think he's discovered a better sleep ailment than crappy infomercials. Although, those do make for stiff ratings competition for the NHL these days.


At 2:57 p.m., February 23, 2005, Blogger Sea Otter said...

Blaming Bettman for the trap is really lame, IMO. Using that logic, you should credit John Ziegler for the high scoring '80s.

The trap did not come from Bettman, or even from expansion. (The Swedes are the masters of boring defensive hockey over in Europe, for example.) It came from more sophisticated coaching, better use of videotape, and better skaters who can cover more ice.

At 3:02 p.m., February 23, 2005, Blogger James Mirtle said...

It's not that simple to say I'm placing blame for the trap on Bettman. But the entertainment value of hockey has slipped, for a variety of reasons (including those you list), and this is one of the most entertaining games in the world. Of course Bettman didn't create the trap — that doesn't mean it's not part of his job description to deal with it.

Sport is big business, big entertainment business, and even superfans like myself can see why people are turned off hockey. Scoring is at an all-time low... and someone has to take responsibility for fixing these issues.


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