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Hockey certainly hasn't died because the NHL does not equal the sum total of world hockey. Its just a league where the arguably best players used to apply their trade. Furthermore, it is a league that has abandoned its hotspot a long time ago with the Quebec Nordiques and Winnipeg Jets leaving to Colorado and Arizona, largely as a result of Bettman's ambition for an 'exciting' gladiator sport that could engage the new southern American market. This is an issue of movement of capital that has finally failed. RIP NHL... "professional Hockey", we love you, time to come back home.
Chris Inkster, Yellowknife, Canada
And so the NHL season ends before it begins, not with a bang but a whimper. I share my fellow writers' concerns that the league expanded too quickly and never got a chance to grow a fan base by attraction, but tried too hard to impose one through marketing.
I hate to say it, but one team that should probably be contracted is the Washington Capitals. It was pathetic to see half of the arena filled with Detroit Red Wings fans when the Red Wings finished their four-game sweep of the Caps in the 1998 Stanley Cup finals, and then to hear Gary Bettman proglaim, "Washington is a Hockeytown!" Nothing could be further from the truth.
If you asked the average Washingtonian about the Capitals, he or she would probably say, "The who?"
Nice going, NHL. You turned your ice rinks into latrines. Now use them.
Paul Turner, Frederick, Maryland, USA
It is very discerning to see this actually happen to hockey. I remember, as a kid, thinking that pro-hockey players were above all the greed and gold that you see with many American athletes. That the noble, love-of-the-game, Canadian spirit was far greater than any pay-cheque. Sadly, I was mistaken.
Both sides should be ashamed. Who has suffered? the fans. Who would get paid if there were no fans? N.H.L. hockey fans were held hostage... I'm watching Extreme sports now. I'm moving to Canada, hockey died in the U.S. thanks to greed.....rest in peace.
screamin0, Northern California
Britain hs always had a problem getting to grips with sports that owe more to fast-paced action than tactical thinking. That just seems to be the british way. Individual challenges such as Darts, Bowls and Snooker do well. Tactical ames like Rugby, Football, Cricket and speedway where there are clear structures to how, when and how many tactical changes and substitutions may be made do well.
I think it's all about identity, the british public wants to be able to identify with their sportsmen and women. It is very hard to do that when half the time you struggle to realise who is on the field of play at any one time. I think that is one of the reasons that Ice Hockey has cotinually failed to make the grade on TV. Using this one lockout season to boost the games in theUK league is pointless becasue very few people outside of the (already) hockey fan community have even heard of these players.
Ieuan Johns, Port Talbot, UK
In Detroit/Hockeytown, I see NHL Players all the time. Me personally I am not a hockey fan. These guys need to remember that hockey is a sport that the majority of americans don't care about. They need to realize they are playing a game and getting paid. The greed is what sickens me. I know plenty of guys that could hack it in the NHL if only for the chance. Hockey's become too much like football. A glamour game. It's more now about money than hard hitting and having fun.
Chris, Detroit, MI
Why should the average fan care about millionaires fighting over more money? Both sides stopped caring about the fans long ago when ticket prices rose above the affordable level. I can't take my family to a game unless I save for a year in advance. Both players and owners can drown in their own greed.
Ice hockey, like football (soccer to American's) will never catch on in the USA to the same degree as US football, Baseball & Basketball so both the owners and players have to see themselves as a niche sport there. I think it would be good for hockey to contract into fan base area's that support hockey. Although Tampa Bay won the Stanley Cup, it is not a hockey town. All it would take are a couple of losing season's and the team would be in trouble. The same is already true in too many cities. Just look at the NASL. Pele was responsible for putting the league 'on the map' as was Gretzky with hockey but enthusiasm eventually evaporated. As a side note other sports are following the NHL with concern. Professional sports might have reached a point with ticket cost, fan loyalty (which has been eroded through free agentcy etc), can no longer sustain giant salaries (payrolls). Certainly the NHL will be very different from now on and that may be to Europe's benefit. No longer will the NHL gleen the best of the crop.
Stuart Haines, Calgary
The debate between players and team owners is ridiculous. First of all, the players are much overpaid. Often, without a single game played on the NHL, players that performed well on the Junior league are awarded millions to join a team. Everybody's seen the absurd of this when many of these 'fresh' players performed poorly for the rest of their carreer on the NHL. The sad thing about NHL hockey is that most players are there nowadays not for the beauty and enjoyment of the sport, but rather to make money out of it.
Hey, NHL players, wake up, you behave as spoiled kids! Many young players would be more than happy to have a chance to play in the NHL for a tenth of the salary you get, and probably with more heart! The solution is to give a salary based on performance. A base salary for beginners (eg. 100 000$ is plenty enough), which would raise from year to year, and to which you would add very rewarding bonuses for every goal and assist obtained, could be the solution.
On the other had, there should be a way to limit abuses on the side of the owners. With a reduced salary mass for a team, there's no reason why the ticket prices shouldn't drop. I personnaly hope that the hockey fans all across North America won't be fooled by either the players association or the owners, and will continue to express their disapproval of the situation by showing, as they did so far, total indifference towards it.
As a transplanted Scot living and working over here in Canada I can fully understand the media coverage of the NHL lockout. This is Canada's game and they are as passionate about it as us Scots are about football(soccer for our North American readers). I have regularily attended, with my kids, American Hockey league games here in St John's over the past few seasons and have always enjoyed the sport and the family atmosphere of these games. But as with any business its all down to profit and loss and the St John's Maple Leafs (Toronto Maple Leafs Feeder team) are closing up shop in St John's and moving to Toronto.
The average attendance at games here is around 3,200 and this can easily be doubled in the Toronto area. It looks as if the new state-of-the-art facility in St John's (city owned) will not have any hockey played there next season. cash Flow has now deprived the province of any Major or Junior hockey for the next year but the love of the game here will not deminish and if it has to be watched on the TV, so be it. I sure cant afford flight tickets evry week to watch the game live!
Local Amateur Hockey - I'll be supporting and watching next season !
Moray Honeyman, St John's, Newfoundland, Canada
I am outraged that 300+ NHL players will gladly play for fans all over the world for $1000/week, or less, but they won't play for me in the US unless they average over 2 million dollars per year.
Peter O, California, USA
I can't actually believe that the NHGL season has been postponed. It's the players that disgust me. They get payed fortunes that men and women who genuinely work only dream of to play a sport they love and travel all over the country. Yet they demand more money. I'd love to think this is symptomatic of a country which craves money over anything else. However, all you see in the English press is greedy footballers demanding higher wages. Is modern sport actually sport at all?
Sean Williams, London, UK
I am originally from Canada, so hockey is in my blood. It disheartens me very much to learn that the entire NHL season has been cancelled for this year. Sad... The only hockey action I will be seeing is with EA Sports NHL 2005. Nice game, but not like the real thing. Greed has got the best of the hockey game that I love so much.
James Rhodes, Los Angeles, USA
Sad to say- the NHL is dead and gone for this season - inevitable really, you can't determine a Stanley Cup champion on 28 games or less. Anyway, I guess as I am a subscriber to NASN, I can watch the AHL games, but yes I would like to see coverage of the GB game, so it is raised to a higher level. Having spent 6 years in Toronto, it is sad not to be able to see Tie Domi and others playing(and beating as usual the Sens in the playoffs)
Tony Troop, Eaglescliffe
Scott Nichol lays the blame with the NHL Owners. I lay the blame squarely with the players. These guys command an AVERAGE salary of $1.2 million, and yet the League is haemorraging money. Maybe the owners are to blame for handing out such massive contracts to certain players, but the players need to be realistic. If there's no NHL at all, they won't get any salary!
What NHL? We could never afford a ticket anyway. Our local hockey arena is packed with players and spectators, our kids play hockey twice a week. For fast paced professional play we go watch the National Women's Hockey League . Maybe all sides of the NHL labour dispute have something to learn from real hockey - the one which is alive and well and plays all season.
This season is a disaster. Hockey is a game that by far requires much more talent than many other professional sports. Anyone who has ever played the game knows how gruelling a shift can be. The players fight hard to win and resort to blows yet they still respect each other after the game. My son played hockey most of his life.
I have always been astounded by how many NHL and AHL players would donate their time to hold clinics for the kids free of charge out of a pure love of the game. These players are some of the hardest working and lowest paid of all of the professional sports and it is time they get what they deserve. Corporate America has spoiled another one for everybody.
Tim Withington, Connecticut USA
It's unfortunate that it was the NHL that now has the claim of being the first major league to lose a complete year due to a strike. I say unfortunate because compared to Baseball and Basketball, in particular, the players generally are the sort of honest, give it their all types.
However, as salaries have crept ever upwards, we have seen the prima donnas come to the fore. When Alexei Yashin refused to play for the Ottawa Senators even though he had a lucrative contract, fans could only wonder at the greed.
The expansion of the NHL was a mistake. It brought in some short term income to the existing clubs but the expansion was into non-hockey playing, small city markets. St Petersburg, Phoenix, Raleigh and so on. They didn't have a history of hockey, didn't play hockey and the competition from the other major sports is intense.
Nonetheless, the league does have a financial problem and with a finite amount of TV revenue it is all on the backs of fans in the form of ticket price increases.
The players think there is an endless pit of money and don't care about the average joe who wants to see them play or the kids who look up to them as heroes. Heck, they all go off to Europe to play and take money away from existing players while they are on strike.
The players are claiming the owners are greedy but frankly, if I invested my hard earned money into a business, I think I should have some rights to make a profit off that investment. If it meant I had a bunch of whining prima donnas to deal with and had a choice between losing more money to feed these prima donnas or shut up shop for the year, I would shut up shop. And so would every fan if it were their money.
But because its a sport and highly emotional and alluring, especially in Canada, the public scrutiny is huge and what becomes a simple matter of employees wanting more money than the business can afford gets overly complicated by all the pundits who want to have a say.
In the end the biggest losers will be the players and not the fans. The fans get to keep some hard earned cash and spend it elsewhere. They get to realise life goes on and there are other activities to occupy their time.
The owners still have to pay some bills with limited income from the stadia, but lose less money than if they gave in.
The players on the other hand now realise that they blinked and lost. Certain high profile players have caused a rift in the ranks. They gambled and lost everything and there is no road back other than an even bigger cut or continued years of strike and eventual abandonment of the league.
Well done players. An institution that's taken a century to build has been destroyed in one year.
The NHL and the NHLPA need to sort this out now rather than later, otherwise there won't be a next season and if that happens there may not be a later. Trouble is, judging by the reaction of the locals in Orlando last season when the closest NHL franchise (Tampa - go 'bolts!) won Lord Stanley a place in the sun, few Americans will notice its passing.
When a Brit and a Canadian are the only two making some noise in a busy sports bar whilst watching game 4, the NHL marketing dept. definitely have a problem!
To a point, this situation has echoes of UK hockey back in the 50's/60's where too much money being paid out caused a collapse of the league which took years to repair. As an aside, the long term fall out from this could be a problem for UK hockey; the potential surplus of even average North American and European players looking for work next season. Giving them a jersey is all well and good, but money spent on them is more money not spent on youth development and improving the standard of our future Hands, Coopers or Longstaffs.
As a relative newcomer to Toronto, I was taken aback by the sheer intensity of minute-by-minute media coverage of the NHL lockout. Here in the great white north, hockey is by far the most popular sport. To understand the impact, imagine the cancellation of the top-level football season and its effect on the general population of the UK, or Italy, or Spain.
Now that the season has been cancelled, we have some degree of closure. Fans will be forced to think hard about their commitment to a sporting organization that treats fans with such disrespect. Much discussion has ensued regarding the pro leagues (NHL, NBA, NFL, MLB) and their role in society.
Tribal instinct that ties us to a specific team (or "franchise" as is the case here) is no longer the fundamental driving force behind group loyalty. Sport is simply entertainment and we as consumers can change the channel, or pick another pastime of the multitude available.
Hockey goes on in many other places at many different levels. Children and adults continue to play each week in the rinks and on the ponds and they love the game and they love spending time with their friends and family who play the game. This does not necessarily translate into a strong desire to troop back to the arenas or to turn on the TV to watch pro NHL players.
Immense damage has been inflicted on the fan base who have responded by expressing anger at the players and management. When that anger turns to indifference the NHL becomes irrelevant.
Andy W, Toronto, Canada
Regarding hockey, Sally Jenkins had a great point in a column in today's Washington Post. She essentially pointed out that players and owners are now arguing over money that isn't even theirs, it's the fans--and after this negotiation debacle there may not be any more fans. I for one think that the players are too greedy and need to understand that even though
I am a huge Bruins fan, most people are not NHL fans and don't care if the league survives. Through the players' greediness they might just seal their fate, which probably means finishing out their careers in the minors or in special appearances. I once moved furniture with a former pro hockey player...
Annandale, Virginia, USA
The Pats played a good game and Tedy Bruschi is a man among boys out there for the Pats, but frankly the Eagles gave the game away. The blame is not on their defense who played a fantastic game. Props to Owens. Not an entirely admirable human being but an incrediblly gutsy player. Why did they lose to an eminently beatble Patriots squad? A) McNabb made mistakes that a high school sophomore QB would be embarassed about. B) Andy Reid and staff mismanaged the clock in the fourth quarter in a manner that would embarrass a high school coach. C) Alienating Duce Staley to bolting for the Steelers in the off season finally came home to roost. No power running whatsoever. Will the Eagles make it back next year? If the NFC is as stupefyingly mediocre as this year, well, yeah. Maybe then they'll have solved their problems. Congrats to the Pats.
Cullen Guzik, Bullhead City, Arizona
Congratulations to the Patriots. I do not agree with all the hype about them being the best thing since sliced bread. I will always remember the Patriots defeat against the Chicago Bears 46-10 and yet I am certain the current Pats Defence would not cope with either Perry, Payton or the quaterback Jim McMahon. Dallas and the 49ers will always the best teams for me in my time of watching the sport. Tom Brady needs to beat one of the better NFC teams to be considered a great.
Pete Anderson, Birmingham
To answer Trevor for Brixton's question. Yes the Super Bowl is always played on a "neutral" site. The site is picked over a year (sometimes two) in advance. Next year's Super Bowl will be in Detroit. Although the sites are supposed to be neutral, it is possible for a team to play on it's own field, for example had the Jaguars made the Super Bowl, they would have been playing on their home turf in Jacksonville. Typically because it's played in late January or early February the game is usually held at a stadium with a warm climate, which is why you see Miami, Tempe AZ, New Orleans, etc have the lions share of the games, they do make exceptions if the stadium is domed hence that's why it will be held at the SilverDome next year (below freezing outside...70-75 degrees inside)
Shawn, Cambridgeshire (via Tennessee)
Got to say, Mike Wilbon in the Washington Post summed up SB39 perfectly when he described it as a unanimous 15-round boxing decision. This was nothing like as good as either of the Pats' other two wins, if only because the Eagles simply weren't as competitive. Donovan McNabb was way short of Tom Brady's efficiency and was this the first game (including those when he broke his leg) that he had zero rushing attempts and zero yards?
Ellen MacArthur has achieved a circumnavigation of the world at mostly high (southerly) latitudes. Why is the agreed route what it is? It betrays a very Euro-centric view of the world. Surely the north-south and south-north parts of the voyage (i.e. in the Atlantic) are irrelevant for a global circumnavigation? Why not simply set off westerly from, say, Cape Town.
What she has really achieved is a circumnavigation of Antarctica. A more genuine circumnavigation of the globe would follow the Equator as closely as possible, using the Panama and Suez canals. Of course, then you'd be in the Doldrums most of the time. I don't care much, really ... I don't know what all the fuss is about. That's not her fault, of course ... it's the bloody media. And why does her achievement make people proud to be British? What's it got to do with them?
This is a truly outstanding achievement by Ellen. She is all set to break the record, but in any event to sail single-handedly around the word is amazing and we should all be proud that Ellen is British
John , Oxfordshire
Once again Britain has a skier doing very well on the international circuit...and there is no media exposure for him! Finlay Mickel has had FOUR top 20 finishes in the FIS World Cup this season and no one is shouting about it...not even SnowsportGB who are meant to represent British snowsports. The British contribution to winter sports will eternally be associated with Eddie Edwards until our successes are promoted.
Nigel Brockton, Dundee
Another masterclass by Taylor versus Dudbridge in the Premier League to follow his success in Holland. In Holland he beat Barney 4-0 and 5-2 and Fordham 4-2 and 7-1. At least they took sets off him; that's more than Stompe and David managed.
For those who compare the BDO/WDF with the PDC you should bear in mind one thing: the BDO boys don't have to endure the regular morale-sapping beatings from The Power and so are able to play with far more confidence. To prove yourself you need to be in the PDC and live with Taylor. That must be why 'Dazzler' Fitton and 'Silverback' O'Shea have entered the PDC.
Neil Smith, nottingham
Alan from Rotheram, how can you say the top 20 in the PDC would be too good for Barney? Look at the players who did nothing in the Embassy and then have gone to the PDC and are known as top players...Dudbridge, Scholten, Baxter, Painter , Mason et al. I follow the BDO but am an avid viewer of the PDC also. Lets face it Taylor is on another planet, Barney would be the second best player and the rest would all beat each other on their day
The baseball season was really great. Though, I was impressed when the Red Sox won, though my Yanks' deserved it more. I was really impressed by the Red Sox.
Also, to all the people that think the curse is over, well think again. As long as Babe Ruth was on your team for a long time that curse will never be broken. Red Sox won by luck. It was good to see the Red Sox win only because they haven't won anything in 86yrs. Go Yankees!
Carter C Rios, Los Angeles, California
well done to allan Iverson for his all-star game performance. it's great to see the NBA over shadowing that awful piston/pacers brawl with an excellent all star weekend
ronal, Bristol, UK
I believe we should draw a line under the Artest discussion, it is all settled now, and I for one feel he got off lightly.
Back to the NBA action, I would like to say how impressed with both the Los Angeles teams I have been so far this season.
Firstly, who would have predicted the clippers 9-6 start, especially without Kerry Kittles, it is without doubt a testament to Mike Dunleavy's outstanding coaching abilities, that they have made such an impressive beginning.
Also, with many people claiming the Lakers would be struggling to make the playoffs this year, they are going well too at 9-6, and not making any headlines, just going along nicely. Considering this team has been entirely restructured in the off-season, it seems the Lakers are exceeding many people's predictions; I would not be surprised to see them win close to 50 games this year. What do others think?? GO LAKERS/CLIPPERS!
Andrew Morrison, East Grinstead, England
With regard to the brawl/altercation involving Ron Artest and his teammates and the Detroit Pistons fans at the Auburn Hills Arena the athletes deserve the fans they get and the fans deserve the athletes they get.