Thursday, January 10, 2013

The NHL Rebirth - Is It Really "Too Little, Too Late?"

For most hockey fans, Sunday was practically the second coming of Christmas Day (or Hanukkah) as it was announced that the NHL owners and players had agreed to a new deal and they will begin their season (albeit shortened) very soon.

The hockey world looked like this when the news broke Sunday morning.
Like a bunch of Beatlemania fans.

A couple of days after the fact, I will admit that I am very happy for the NHL players that were wanting this season to start. I'm more than certain that they were getting rather irritated that the talks had begun right after last season's Stanley Cup Finals and a real deal couldn't be reached until recently. It must have been an unnecessary hassle to find a way to stay in shape at last minute. Some men played in Europe and Russia, and others stayed home to train with minor league affiliates and/or help their fellow player representatives to fight for a deal. After a four-month lockout, the players are willing to take any kind of season whatsoever. The fans are ready and willing to do the same.

Here's my issue on this: Is it really worth it now?

It's almost as if the damage has been done in many ways. Of course, we can all be thankful that the season wasn't canceled and such, but it seems like the NHL has yet again lost a lot of steam after what had happened last year. A lot of money has been lost in revenue in the areas of ticket sales and advertisements, and although they're going on with barely half of a season, I don't think it will gain enough momentum to help the NHL regain ground lost over the past four months. While I don't necessarily think it's "too little, too late," there's going to be a lot of explaining and fixing up to do.

Why do I think this way? It's kind of easy.
Hockey is one of those sports in the United States of 'Merica that isn't exactly as mainstream (for the lack of a better term) as they come. I remember when the NFL started their lockout a few years ago and once they started canceling preseason games so many people were about ready to wet their pants and cry for days if they couldn't reach a deal by the time Week 1 rolled around. Truth be told, they "cut the flow" to say the least. It's like you're waiting for a season premiere of your favorite show and then you see Breaking News about a cops chasing a white Bronco show up on your TV screen. It just ruins stuff for you. You have so much hype and then it gets cut off. People will get frustrated at it. Although there's the relief that something has returned, half of your stomach is missing from all of the ulcers that showed up when the debacle first started occurring. And to be frank, you don't ever want to put up with it again. Unfortunately for some people, this is the second time we've put up with it in about eight years. And we're obviously still upset about it.
This was my face when the NHL lockout started and I had nothing to write about.
My second reason is the steep curve in momentum when the season gets started. Once the honeymoon phase of the season ends, that fire has to catch on to the casual watcher, and that's when you rake in the ratings and infect that audience with the excitement of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. When the NBA was in a lockout last season, it took them quite a while to get started. A lot of the teams weren't in the best of shape, and a lot of interest was lost until the NBA Playoffs came around. Believe me, I tried getting into the season last year and it just wasn't happening. The fact that the Heat finally won something didn't come as any shock to me either, but that's okay; it's sports and entertainment, after all. While the NBA has a raging fanbase in various sections of the country, it failed to gain the casual watchers and failed to get positive results from a CBA ratification. Now that it's a new season, they're in good spirits again. Hopefully the NHL can follow suit.

It isn't necessarily too late, but I just hope that all the stops are pulled out when it comes to the official restart of the NHL 2012-2013 season. It's great to see it back, but now that there's the possibility of the lack of damage control and issues involving re-acquisition of full team rosters after the fine-tuning of the CBA that could prove to be a problem. Hopefully the teams and owners are going to be smarter this time around and learn to play nice. It was bad enough that there was the stigma that "the rich will be richer and the poor will get poorer" around this time--can we not put up with that again? The league was hurt enough because of this crap. We all want some hockey this Spring, and it better be meaningful.

Cheers to the season, NHL.


[Side Note: I feel like the Toronto Maple Leafs had an "Oh S--- Moment" once the deal was made. They went and fired their GM this week and apparently made national headlines with it. I guess they don't want to be as terrible this year as they have been in recent time. Ha ha ha.]

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