Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Versus goes on

So, we get disconcerting news last week when the NHL All-Star game drew less than 500,000 viewers on versus. That the game that is to be the showplace of the sport, where Rick Nash and Brian Rolston, American, have monster games, but not monster enough to knock Daniel Briere's 5 points from the MVP status isn't even able to draw more than a .7 share. That viewership is down on both sides of the border. All this is such solid news that the NHL renews their contract with Versus through 2011.

2011!?! Hockey is stuck promoting itself on channel 185 of most cable systems until a year AFTER Sid, Alex, and the other big guns play in the Olympics in Vancouver?? The NHL is on Versus until 3 years into the next Presidential term? The guy (or girl if we get Pres. Clinton, part two) who holds that office will be starting the re-election process before the NHL gets to negotiate a deal with any other channel?!?!?

Personally, I have no problems with the Versus production of the game, or their handling of the game. My issue is with the exposure, or lack there of, that the NHL receives by being aired there. If you want a sport to gain popularity, you need to get it in front of the fans. The couple years experiment with Versus was nice, but they're network isn't growing like they or the NHL had planned. Bass fishing, climbing, bull riding, cycling - it sounds like ESPN's line-up on Sunday mornings between 6 and 9.

Why not stop with the exclusivity crap, Gary, and go the way of the NFL and the NBA - get your sport on as many channels as you can. Go back to USA for a bit, a natural since it's in the NBC family of channels. Hit Ted Turner and the boys up to carry a few games. Grovel at the feet of Mickey Mouse to get a game on Wednesday nights at 10PM on the dEuCe. Do something, ANYTHING to expose the sport to more people.

And another thing, while I'm tossing out brilliant ideas, stop running the Ovechkin commercial only during hockey broadcasts. As it turns out, the 400,000 or so people south of the border that tune in to your broadcasts know who Alex is. Pay the NFL a couple bucks, air it there. Buy a slot during 1 vs. 100. During Deal or No Deal. Put AO in front of people who DON'T know who he is.

You shut us out for a year to make the game better. Well, in this fan's opinion, the game is better. But apparently me and roughly the population of Mesa, AZ are the only ones tuning in.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

World Juniors to a shootout

I tuned in today, via the USA Hockey audio feed, to the US v. Canada at the World Junior Championships. What a game. Back and forth, excellent goaltending, both teams playing as hard as they could play and after 60 minutes they were tied at 1 each having converted a power play.

So, on to overtime, which is played 4 on 4 for 10 minutes. Here, the US seemed to take it to Canada a bit, outshooting our northern friends 12-2 in the extra frame, helped in part by a power play when Jack Johnson took a high stick to the face. But, Price stood on his head and kept the score tied.

And then it happened...they went to a shootout.

Now, regular season NHL games and even the round-robin games at the WJC, the shootout is exciting, no doubt. I've witnessed them in person at Nationwide, and don't think anybody sits. They are without a doubt fun for the fans.

But, today, a trip to the gold medal game was on the line, and these two teams who had played a phenomenal game, got to skate one on one with the opposing goalie to settle the tie. I just can't agree with that, it's the medal rounds, after all. An individual display to settle a team game for a medal on the international stage? Who came up with that grand idea?

So, in the shootout, the two teams continued their exciting play, and Carey Price stopped one more shot than Jeff Frazee, so Canada moves on to play Russia for the gold medal. I seriously hope THAT game doesn't go to a shutout, it would just be wrong. (If it does, and the Russians pull it out in a shootout, that noise you'll hear coming from the north will be a clamoring for this to be the one and only year the shootout is used in the medal rounds.)

So, I'm a bit let down that the US didn't win, and have a somewhat empty feeling in the manner in which it happened, but I'm happy with the way the boys played. It was their best game of the tournament, by far. They finally played up to their rather lofty resumes, and gave Canada all they wanted.

But in the end, one on one, Peter Meuller couldn't get that last shot past Price. So, the US plays for bronze on Friday vs. Sweden.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Another timely entry...

Hmmm, let's see what what's happened in Jacketland since my last post griping about the Zherdev contract situation...
  1. Zherdev signed a contract, for one.
  2. The Jackets started solid in their first three games and then, well...
  3. Gerard Gallant was fired.
  4. Ken Hitchcock was hired...and things began to look up almost immediately.
So, in my timely manner, here we sit at the beginning of '07 with the Jackets headed west for three games. At this point, I'm pretty happy with the team. I have a couple gripes - mainly named "Malhotra" and "Eriksson" - but happy with how things have come around. Now I wonder if they've come around enough. Will my credit card bill explode in April? We can only hope...

Have to see if I can get a bit more regular at this whole blogging thing...it seemed like a good idea at the time...