Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Canada v. USA: Media edition

Oh boy — let the sniping begin.

What began with a column by the L.A. Times' respected hockey guru Helene Elliott drew a response from the Toronto Star's Damien Cox on his hockey blog, and a follow-up from the venerable Globe and Mail scribe Roy MacGregor.

And, who knows, others may be lining up as we speak. (Given the mass of puck pundits north of the border, Ms. Elliott is probably going to be outnumbered in this war of words.)

So, is California "cool" to the Stanley Cup finals being played in its backyard?

Probably. But to me, the bigger story would be if a statewide hockey party suddenly broke out in the midst of Orange County.

That no one — or at least the large majority — cares?

That's not a surprise. Or a story, even.

But here is what's worth noting from all of this:
  • The Ducks have sold 14,000 season's tickets for next season
  • Tickets for the Stanley Cup finals sold out in a matter of minutes
  • Despite the fact that the Anaheim Ducks romped through the Western Conference and have been one of the best teams in the NHL the past year and a half, more than 90 per cent of the so-called hockey 'experts' in this country picked the Ottawa Senators to win this series — and most said they would do so in fewer than seven games.
What that tells me is that a) there's enough interest in hockey that Anaheim will be one of the more successful American franchises at the gate this and next season, and b) the level of Senators love in Canada, among the media and fans in general, had gotten out of hand and it seems to have extended into bashing the opposition.

Let's give the market and its team the respect they're due — while also realizing that this is the land of palm trees and Hollywood, and even if the Ducks win the next 48 consecutive Cups, there will always be a majority of the population that's indifferent to hockey.

Finding and quoting those misguided souls isn't going to get you a Pulitzer.


At 6:31 p.m., May 29, 2007, Blogger sager said...

Agreed... it's just the height of laziness to go out quoting people who aren't into hockey.

You could go out and find people in any Canadian major city who don't know what teams are left in the NBA playoffs. Why don't we ever read that story?

At 6:35 p.m., May 29, 2007, Anonymous Lyle Richardson said...

Well said, James. Anaheim isn't getting the respect it deserves from the Canadian hockey media, but running down one of the American teams in the Cup Finals has been par for the course in recent years by some in the Canadian media.

Some Canadian pundits also derided the Ducks back in 2003 (as well as chirping off over how the Devils were in a terrible hockey market).

Some also slammed Tampa Bay in 2004, and were downright insulting toward the Hurricanes and their fans (derisively referring to that market as "Mayberry") in 2002 and last year.

I picked the Sens to win in six but it had nothing to do with my nationality. The Ducks were my favourite of the "Final Four" going into the Conference Finals but the Wings exposed some weaknesses in their game that I believe the Senators could exploit. Time will tell if I'm right or wrong, but I certainly won't think less of the Ducks if they prove me wrong.

At 6:35 p.m., May 29, 2007, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

I'm not a huge Helene Elliott friend or foe, but I gotta say, in a few ways she has been stepping into her own traps.

First she gets Detroit all riled up about how it doesn't deserve the name "Hockeytown" any more, and now this slight against Ottawa? Brazen, she is.

Maybe what's getting her in "trouble" (and really, is there any real trouble in being read and discussed for a hockey writer?) is that she seems to suggest that Anaheim deserves the titles she likes to strip other teams of.

Good for her, I guess, at writing some provoking pieces, but I think she still deserves a lot of the backlash she is getting. She might want to focus in the future on commonalities between fanbases rather than "who's doing the name calling now?!", but if she's selling print, maybe I'm way off.

At 10:13 a.m., May 30, 2007, Blogger Mike Thompson said...

What a big to-do about nothing. I can't believe it's that easy to rile up Detroit and Canadian fans. For what it's worth, Elliot may be right about the Canuck media spinning the Sens as Canada's team when most of Leaf Nation actually is pulling for an Ottawa implosion. But that's neither here nor there. The real tragedy in all of this is the complete lack of competent journalism on both side. Quoting 9-year-olds and skateboarders in SoCal in order to prove they don't know anything about hockey? That's laughable.

I also like Mr. Cox's assertion that the sellout, raucous crowd at the Honda Center is more likely displaced Canadians than passionate Left-coasters. That smacks of some serious egotism on his part. Where does he get that idea. His underhanded comments about knowing when to cheer for the home team and others was another notch in his High-school-journalism belt. It's also blatently obvious that the Canadian media will never embrace a US-located team. The Ducks, 'Bolts, and 'Canes have all had great playoff atmospheres, but because they don't have gridlocks of honking cars, banners, and riots after losses, they must not be a 'true' hockey city. Again, if that's the best Canadian journalism has to offer, I'll be reading something else for coverage.

At 12:42 p.m., May 30, 2007, Blogger PPP said...

You shouldn't have been reading Cox to begin with. Stick with The Hat and you won't be disappointed.

At 1:41 p.m., May 30, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The amazing thing is that I find many of my Canadian friends are less into hockey once they move down to the States and are not submerged in the everyday banter. Hockey fans in Canada don't realize how easy it is to be a fan back home. It takes a lot more effort to be a dedicated fan of the game in the US. Its a slap in the face that any hockey fan can be disregarded when they are the most passionate fans there are regardless of nationality.

At 3:43 p.m., May 30, 2007, Blogger desdemona said...

I'm not rooting for either team and have predicted an Anaheim win. Ducks, Canes, Bolts - expansion, expansion, expansion - no history, no history, no history. (Yes, I realize that Ottawa's also an expansion team, but they do have a history.) Lack of history is why I have a had a hard time rooting for any of these teams. Of all of them, the Anaheim Ducks are by far the best on all levels. Maybe after their team has a few stories to tell, I'll be able to root for them.

Is that Canadian bias? You decide. I know American fans who feel the same.


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