Saturday, June 18, 2005

 

Why They Don't Talk Hockey

Before I begin a little CBA news on this pleasant day.

From a good source, "After talking with people close to the talks I feel comfortable in saying that even though there is much work to be done, the two sides are now working on a time-line. In other words they have a really good idea when they will finish, set up the big meeting with the teams to go over the CBA, and ratify it. They aren't specifically saying when that it is, but when I ask 'Is it prior to July 1,' I was told, 'I'd say,'yes'."

Now for my rant....

As many of you know I attended the Calder Cup clinching game this past week in Philadelphia. There were 20,000 screaming fans, and after the game the party spilled into the streets with horns honking, chants, and guys sticking their heads out of the window screaming. As I drove home I did what all sports fans do. I turned on the local sports talk radio station to hear people calling and talking up the game.

What I heard was pathetic, Not surprising in the least, but pathetic. The station in Philly is WIP, and is the official, "Home of the Flyers." But the word "Flyers" hasn't been uttered since after Game 7 of the Tampa series last year. The station is really, "all eagles, all the time." However driving back from the sold-out Wachovia Center you would expect there would be a little hockey talk. Instead, hockey talk was actually banned by the host Gary Cobb. Cobb is an entertaining ex-NFL linebacker. I could not believe that the station would have this guy on the air following a potential Calder Cup game. Despite trying to screen calls, people were getting through by saying they would talk about the Eagles, and then quick saying they wanted to talk Phantoms on the air. One asked Gary if he even knew who the professional hockey team from Chicago was? His response was just to belittle the Phantoms and their accomplishments...I actually felt bad for the guy...he never should have been on the air at all that night, especially with guys who work at the station like Al Morganti, Keith Jones, and Jim Jackson.

There we were, 20,000 people driving home from a Cup winning game, and all we could talk about was if Owens would play against Atlanta on Monday Night Football in six months.

Who do I blame? My answer might surprise you, but I actually blame hockey. A good reporter friend of mine was forced to cover alot of NBA this year. He is a top hockey writer, but like so many others he has had to cover other sports. We talked yesterday at length about the experience. He said, "NBA players get it. The NBA gets it. The guys who cover the NBA love it. It was very refreshing."

We talked about how the NHL player is still the most down-to-earth of all athletes, and that modesty makes them great guys to get a beer with. But we also talked about the fact that NHL players and the NHL has failed in a larger sense. The NHL players are so humble they don't realize they are not only athletes...they are entertainers. A few get it (Jeremy Roenick, Brett Hull, Tie Domi, Rod Blake, Jeremy Roenick) but not enough. The NHL is far too closed off. They act like a dysfunctional family that is afraid to let their secrets out. I know I try to get those secrets. How many times I have said sto someone, "This only hockey! You really need to let people in. "

Let them in on the soap operas. If there is one reason the blog I write has gain so much popularity, it is solely because the anonymity of myself and my contributors has let people in to the soap opera that is the lockout. I will have some very exciting sections on the new Eklund's Hockey website that will bring you inside the game, and allow you to talk to people inside the game like never before...look for an announcement soon detailing the new website.

Why is reality TV so popular? And look at Nascar. Without the soap opera, it is just a bunch of left turns.

That is why hockey wasn't talked about as I drove home from the game that night.

Finally, I am really excited about the future of this sport. As we move forward we have a golden opportunity. "A Whole New Game," should be accompanied by a whole new outlook. This game has, over the years, survived despite itself. It is that good of a game. I have talked to the people at the NHL who are molding the future, and I am convinced they are going to take this sport to another level as far as marketing goes. The NHL has taken its lumps, many deserving, but the NHL staff is full of brilliant people, and they are hiring many new innovative people as well...This time next year, I believe hockey will be talked about in an entirely new light. The hockey world is about to explode onto the sports landscape...This is just the beginning...

NOTES: This was the best week by far for people joining up to become insiders...thanks!



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