Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Larry Brooks Is An Idiot

You know, you got to hand it to Union-thug mouthpiece Larry Brooks; he does not give up easily in his constant bashing of the "new NHL" and Gary Bettman. While I am no fan of Gary Bettman myself, Larry Brooks's latest steaming pile of garbage deserves to be carved up like the Christmas Turkey that it is.

The hard cap was supposed to solve everything, remember? But now there is the fiasco in Pittsburgh with the Imperial Commissioner desperately attempting to keep the Penguins from relocating to Canada, even if he doesn't care if they move anywhere in the United States.

The hard cap was supposed to solve everything, remember? But Slap Shots has been told there are serious financial issues within the Nashville ownership group. Indeed, according to a pair of sources, the Predators may soon become a candidate for relocation to Kansas City.
Uh, no. I don't think so Ol' Lar. The hard cap was supposed to bring about cost certainty. It was left up to the owners as to whether or not they wanted to spend $4.5 million on both Paul Kariya and Jason Arnott. The Penguin Scum were in dire need of a new arena BEFORE the lockout. I don't believe that anybody was selling the Salary Cap as a way to save the Penguin Scum.

Oh and considering Ol' Lar's track record, I would take his "inside information" about Nashville with a grain of salt. This was the guy who famously said the day before Jagr was traded to the Caps that then Penguin Scum GM Craig Patrick had no choice but to take the Rangers' offer.

These are the Grinches who have stolen hockey. These are the people who not only have no regard or respect for the history and heritage of the league - which, Ms. Mansur, began operations in 1917 and not 2005, and is in its 89th season, not second - but spend every waking moment attempting to eradicate any connection between this game and these players and the great tradition established long ago by the hockey warriors who came before.


Bettman doesn't get it. The history of the NHL - the history that began in 1917 and not last year - is one of marquee and dynastic teams and of snarling rivalries. People wanted to see the Rocket, but they went to watch the Canadiens. People were drawn to Mike Bossy, but they went to see the Islanders. Bobby Orr was the greatest ever, but people went to see the Big Bad Bruins. Wayne Gretzky had star power like no other hockey player before or since, but people wanted to see the Oilers. Through the late '90s, people wanted to see the Red Wings and the Avalanche.

Mike Babcock, coach of the Red Wings, was talking the other day about how the NHL needs to find the way to sell the game to the mainstream fan, and he mentioned the Yankees and Red Sox as examples of why baseball is so popular. Sam Flood of NBC was talking about how ratings would be helped if New York and Detroit could go deep into the Stanley Cup playoffs.

No Ol' Lar, it is YOU and the rest of the Ultimate Fighting On Ice fans who don't get it. As you astutely point out for us rubes, the NHL is in its 89th season. We're now two seasons into the "new NHL" and what that means is that you had 87 seasons of doing it the Larry Brooks way.

87 seasons of Ultimate Fighting On Ice (UFOI).

87 seasons of unrestricted spending on player salaries.

And just what did the NHL get in those 87 seasons?

Well, by all measures from UFOI fans to even novices, a game that got more boring and unwatchable over time. The single worst reputation of any major professional sports league in North America. TV ratings in the toilet bowl; so bad that the NHL had to get a US National TV deal with NBC akin to Arena Football and lost its spot on ESPN to the World Series of Poker.

By any respectable standard Ol' Lar, we tried it your way and failed. Failed miserably if you ask me.

Why don't you give us at least a tenth of the 87 chances you had to get it right? Because it wasn't as if the old system created all sorts of storied Rangers-Red Wings Stanley Cup Finals. It wasn't as if the old system had the TV networks fighting with each other over who will send the biggest pile of cash to NHL for the TV rights. It wasn't as if the UFOI packed the buildings night-in-and-night-out. It wasn't as if the old system prevented relocation and contraction.

I like to point to the history of the NFL. People forget that the NFL used to be as wild and wooly as the NHL was back in the 1950's. Back when "the warriors who built the league" played. Clothesline tackles, late hits out of bounds, tackling wide receivers at the line of scrimmage, and shots to the head were all a part of the game. There was even a point in time when "facemasks were for sissies." Are you even aware that just because the ball carrier's knee touched the ground didn't mean that the play had ended? You had to not only tackle the ball carrier, you also had to hold him down on the ground until the referee decided to blow his whistle or the ball carrier could get back up and continue to run.

But the NFL did away with all of that rough and tumble stuff. And I don't hear people complaining about how "soft" the NFL is. I don't hear people complaining about how the NFL is boring. The NFL basically prints its own $$$$$ now. The NFL doesn't have a hard time selling out its stadiums. The NFL has the TV networks fighting over who will broadcast the games. The NFL also has a salary cap.

Who remembers the XFL? They tried to be everything the NFL wasn't in the violence department. That didn't work out too well now did it?

Better yet remember what NASCAR used to be like with the crashes? Cars flying through the air and flipping over multiple times? Well, NASCAR developed the flaps that keep the cars from going airborne during a crash. They mandated the use of restrictor plates to slow the cars down on the Superspeedways. After the tragic death of Dale Earnhardt, they mandated more safety harnesses. Is it any wonder that NASCAR has exploded in popularity?

I'll give Ol' Lar credit, at least he wonders why Canadian Diving Team Captain, Secondary Assist Cindy Crosby, is playing Pittsburgh (for now) instead of Canada. Ol' Lar usually wants all superstars on Broadway. But I have to wonder why he thinks the Canadian franchises need a boost? Only Edmonton is playing to less than 100% capacity at home of the six Canadian teams. It just shows you how stupid Larry Brooks is.

But the point of the matter remains the same, Larry, you had your chance. We ran the league your way for 87 years and it failed miserably. The causal fans did not like the league and the "hardcore" fans were not large enough to sustain it by themselves.. So what the fans in the building cheer wildly for the fights? By your own admission, there aren't many fans in the building to begin with so what does that tell you? Besides, nobody in the stands booed when Miami and Florida International and the Knicks and Nuggets had their little brouhahas. Yet they were seen as a black eye on their respective leagues and the players involved were harshly disciplined for their lack of it. Maybe, just maybe the NHL should look into doing the same thing.

Teams were declaring bankruptcy all over the place and somebody felt bold enough to declare that they would lose less $$$$$ during a lockout in 2004-2005 than if they actually played the 2004-2005 season. The economic system just flat out did not work and a salary cap won't stop teams from offering stupid contracts to players.

While there are some kinks that need to be worked out and some changes that need to be reversed (get rid of the gimmick), something clearly needed to be done. Let's give this more than less a season and a half before we call this as big a failure as the old way was. Because we already know, the old way did not work and going back to it is not a realistic option.



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