Thursday, July 21, 2005

Where could Sidney Crosby do the most good for hockey?

Well, the announcement is coming tomorrow, but I did promise the faithful that I would weigh in on where I where I think Sidney Crosby could do the most good.

1. New York.

As much as I personally wouldn’t like to see it, the young hockey phenom would be able to do the most good for hockey by going to its biggest market. I wracked my brain to think of another American market in which his profile would be the highest, and there simply isn’t one. Only by going to New York’s team will Crosby have a chance at making the cover of Sports Illustrated and be infused into one of the world’s major media markets. Should he live up to his billing — something that is becoming more unlikely as the hype continues to grow — Crosby being in The Big Apple could even have a global influence on the game.

That said, I don’t believe the draft is rigged as some of my more skeptical cohorts do. I’ll go out on a limb and say Crosby doesn’t end up with the Rangers.

2. Buffalo.

I did say my picks would be a bit of a surprise. Why Buffalo, you ask? Location, my friends.

Without a doubt, Toronto has the greatest hockey-hype machine in the world, and Crosby’s presence in the win-starved city would generate a buzz unlike any other. That said, how can the prevalence of the game be improved in Toronto? The building will be full every night, regardless of who fills the jerseys, and every game will be front page news.

Plunk Crosby in Buffalo, however, and it would automatically prop up one of the league’s struggling franchises much more than it would by shipping him down south. The major media in Toronto would invade the Queen City (or, as it’s more commonly called here, Barfalo) as would countless hockey fans from Ontario, anxious to see hockey’s next Great One. Crosby in Buffalo would ensure that a) he’s in an American city, b) he receives great access by Canadian teams and c) the Sabres will remain a viable team for at least the next decade.

3. Vancouver (or Calgary or Edmonton).

Regardless of your opinion, it’s my belief that all three of these teams can use whatever breaks they can get. The rabid fan bases in Western Canada could use some more star power, especially the Canucks, who continue to count Pavel Bure as the team’s greatest offensive threat in history.

With such paltry Canuck scoring records historically, Crosby as a Canuck could shatter the team record books and perhaps give Canada’s most beleaguered team a chance at a Stanley Cup. The team’s free-wheeling style would also allow him to showcase his talents, much as he did throughout junior hockey in the offense-first QMJHL.

Besides, Edmonton already had one Great One, Calgary has Jarome Iginla and both teams have won the Stanley Cup. Vancouver, on the other hand, have been in the league longer than almost any other team without a Cup.

Let’s keep in mind, however, that I am from the heartland, so perhaps my perspective is more than a little coloured by these thoughts.

If I had to guess, however, I bet Crosby goes somewhere entirely unexpected. Look for him to end up in San Jose or New Jersey or Minnesota or any of the other markets that no one (save for those team’s fans) have picked him to go to.

The only teams I hope he doesn’t go to are the Western Conference dynasties of the last decade: Colorado and Detroit. I’m afraid all of the Canucks’ losing to them over the years has made it difficult to wish for the rich to get richer.

In any event, let’s hope that wherever he goes, the game benefits.


At 12:13 p.m., July 22, 2005, Anonymous David said...

Woah. James, you need to travel south of the border - and fast. Canada may need some NHL PR boosting, but we need to break out the defibrillator down here.

re: Buffalo - Toronto's media does has almost zero influence in the States. The only people who even know anything about the TO media are the ones who have the NHL Center Ice package, and we obviously don't need to reach them.

How does Crosby being easy access for Canada help hockey at all? Hockey's going to be fine in Canada, and Crosby will probably be followed by the Canadian media wherever he goes, even if it's Carolina.

We need Crosby to help create a new rabid fan base or greatly expand one where there's not one already - not have him go somewhere and just make the locals happy and keep them in a frenzy for a while.

Crosby to Canada is simply a waste. The game will recover and thrive there.

The NHL has a chance to get US-hype, I hope they take it.

At 1:39 p.m., July 22, 2005, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Dave, that's exactly why I kept him out of a lot of American cities. There will be a collective yawn if he goes to a Southern market.

Look, Crosby isn't going to light the game on fire the first time he steps on the ice at 18 years old. He's not going to lead a terrible team to the promised land, at least not for 4-5 years. Granted, he's a great player, but how much further ahead of a Kovalchuk or Rick Nash is he?

The only way the hype machine will be sufficiently felt is in a very large, hockey-based American market, or in Canada, or close to Canada. I do know this much: Buffalo's attendance would increase by 1,000-2,000 fans a game just from Ontarians making the trip south.

At 9:18 p.m., July 22, 2005, Blogger Michael said...

I told you that Crosby was coming to the Penguins a long long time ago.

Deal with it.

At 12:47 p.m., July 27, 2005, Blogger James Mirtle said...

As did fans of all of their own respective teams.


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