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CBC Doesn’t Care If You Chastise Cherry, Just That You Care Enough to Watch

October 23, 2011 2 comments

[originally post for www.betonhockey.com on October 20/11. Link here]

I’m nearly convinced that if Hockey Night In Canada didn’t feature Coach’s Corner with Don Cherry and Ron McLean, CBC would probably lose hockey broadcasting contracts to superior stations like TSN, Sportsnet, et al, and possibly fold as a network altogether.

"Ron, my head hurts from too much crazy."

The main reason being, if Canadians didn’t have Don Cherry’s over the top, stubborn, biased, bipolar opinions to either champion or string him up for, the public would call for the end of their tax-dollars to fund the public network.

Take his recent comments for example:

On the October 6th broadcast of HNIC’s Coach’s Corner, Cherry (who hadn’t lambasted anyone since last season) went on the offensive, saying Brendan Shanahan is bringing hitting in hockey to an end (citing Scott Stevens in particular, and questioning how many games he would be suspended for after his hits on Paul Kariya, Eric Lindros, etc), which I agree with; made a point about everyone jumping on the link between fighting in hockey and depression/suicide, mental illness, drug & alcohol addiction, etc., saying it’s not just fighters who have these problems (a recent study confirms this) and saying that everyone who’s against fighting should be ashamed of themselves; and then throws three former fighters (Stu Grimson, Chris Nilan, and Jim Thompson) under the bus after apparently quoting George Laraque (according to Ron McLean, who coincidentally has a new book out to promote), calling them pukes and turncoats for not supporting fighting in hockey.

As much heat as he got for the comments, I agree with the first two points (the end of hitting, and issues only happening to fighters).  The third was where things went sideways, and those 3 players he singled out threatened legal action against Cherry for what he said about them.  I’m sure I don’t need to read a Nielsen ratings report to tell that HNIC was heavily viewed and talked out the whole time.

Then on October 8th, Cherry said he only regretted saying the word “puke” while kids were watching, because it’s rude.

Then on the October 15th broadcast, Cherry decided to apologize to everyone, and the group of 3, saying some of his comments were erroneous.  He also mentioned about how awesome all three of the guys are, and probably called them all beauties at some point.  A bit of a turnaround from just being worried about kids hearing him say a bad word on television.  The group then dropped their legal threats.

This is the same guy who makes Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em DVD’s every year, which prominently promote big hits, fights, and a little bit of hockey in between.  Don’s an old-school cat, and that’s all good.  But I find his stance on fighting a little odd.  Cherry’s a guy that will go out of his way to stand up for fighting in hockey, and even go on TV and tell everyone how both Canadians and Americans want to see fights at hockey games, and how it’s a main part of why fans come to or watch hocke games on TV at all.  But while preaching to this UFC, WWE, boxing, fighting-as-entertainment brainwashed crowd, he’s the first to send guys like Arron Asham, Tie Domi, and Donald Brashear to the gallows the minute after they mime some sort of taunt after winning a fight.  So what’s the message Cherry and other hockey “traditionalists” are trying to convey to these “outlaws”, exactly?  Ok toughguys, go out there, hit each other as hard as you possibly can as many times as you can, beat each other’s brains out, entertain bloodthirsty fans and make them scream and cheer, BUT DON’T YOU DARE appear to be happy with yourself afterwards if you emerge victorious.  We won’t tolerate that kind of behaviour.  We all know that they best way to teach a player not to take cheapshots at your star players is to go and fight the other team’s toughguy, who was completely removed from the incident you’re trying to bring justice to.

At the end of the day, here’s all that matters:  the fact that you’re watching.  The fact that you’re talking about Don Cherry, searching about the incident on the internet, have an opinion either way, care enough to formulate an opinion at all.  All these points go to prove valuable when CBC tries to negotiate a new sponsor.  If CBC (or any television station for that matter) cared about whether Don Cherry was a politically correct character fit to appear in front of a national audience, odds are he would have been fired years ago, around the time he wore earrings, put on a Conehead, or bicep-curled an octopus on TV.  Don Cherry is a sideshow, not much different than Sean Avery, or Jeremy Roenick in his latter years.

The monkeys are dancing, so just enjoy the show(or hate it.  Whatever you do, just don’t not watch)!  Besides, I’d take Don Cherry over Pierre McGuire any day.

Stuff That Sucks 5: Limited Edition Food, Pay For Air, Fat-Pants Accomodation, C’Mon Kumon, and a Future Shop FAIL

October 20, 2011 1 comment

Welcome to the 5th Edition of “Stuff That Sucks”, where I post pictures of the most asinine things I’ve seen lately.  And make fun of them for being ridiculous.

Limited Edition Strawberries and and Tomatoes, hey?  Let me guess: limited to as many as you can grow, import, and sell each season?  Clever marketing pitch, but how stupid must we be to think that we’ll never see strawberries or tomatoes like these again after they’re gone?

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Well, they’ve finally done it.  After years of being gouged by billion-dollar oil companies on the price of gas, they’ve chosen a new product that we can’t live without to pillage us on.  Yes, the fine people at Shell (and some others too), have decided to now charge us for AIR.  You know, OXYGEN, the element we all depend on to breathe and survive.  I’m sure the argument is that it’s to offset the price of operating their little machine, but come on now.  So the next time you have a flat tire, or feel that the air you’re breathing around you at the car-exhaust-laden refueling station isn’t clean enough for you to ingest, you’ll have to pony up 50¢ to get your fill, taxes included.

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Attention Wal-Mart shoppers:  have you noticed yourself become to fat to fit your pants from eating at our in-store McDonald’s too often, but don’t want to buy new pants based purely on pride?  Your days of living in shame are over — pick up the Perfect Button beside the check-out aisle, and EXTEND THE WAIST OF YOUR PANTS to quench your blood-flow-restricting issue.

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I don’t know about you, but if I was a kid who was having academic trouble in school, and could benefit from the assistance of a tutor, I can’t imagine that Kumon, the one whose name looks like it’s pronounced like “c’mon“, as in “c’mon, idiot, why don’t you get this, it’s easy“, and features a confused happy-face-like caricature as it’s logo, would be at the top of my list as comfortable choices.  These kids are probably not exactly swimming in self-confidence already; is this really what you want to call your business?

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I mean, why even put this sign up in the first place?  You’re better than that, Future Shop.

 

 

 

 

If Fan Support Could Earn You Regular Season Wins, The Winnipeg Jets Would Have a Great 2011/12 Season.

October 13, 2011 Leave a comment

[originally post for www.betonhockey.com on October 10/11. Link here]

Now that all the Winnipeg Jets’ hype and nostalgia has worn off, and they’ve got the tributes, name and jersey speculation, and that season opener out of the way, I think it’s time someone said what a lot of hockey fans have been afraid to say for fear of lynching via Winnipegers….. The Jets might be really bad this year. 

Before I dive in here, let me iterate that I am very happy for the fans of Winnipeg to have their team back, and that their loyalty makes the MTS Centre a phenomenal venue for a team to play out of.  After getting throttled 5-1 by the Montreal Canadiens on October 9th (all the Habs had to do was raise the puck to beat Andrej Pavelec 5 times), fans were still standing and cheering in the final minutes, whereas most fans of most teams would have left early to beat the traffic and get home at a reasonable hour.  Winnipeg Jets fans are a special breed, and I dig that. 

"Man, it'd be great if we could just do stuff like this all year instead of playing, and get points for it. We'd make playoffs for sure!"

But let’s objectively look at this team and assess their odds:  The Thrashers finished 25th out of 30 teams last season.  The Jets’ were only a .500 hockey club through 7 pre-season games, where they were middle of the pack in Goals For (18), and near the bottom in Goals Against (19).  Their franchise players are probably Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, and Nik Antropov; who, while all good players, aren’t exactly known to be mentioned in the same discussions as Crosby, Ovechkin, Stamkos, Toews, and the rest of the NHL’s elite.  Besides some draft picks, Tanner Glass and Kyle Wellwood would be the team’s only major off-season acquisitions; and neither of them earn more than $800,000, a fair indication of how valuable and talented the Jets feel they are (compared to the majority of NHLers, whose contracts all contain at least 7 digits).  Jets’ owner, Mark Chipman, has mentioned that Winnipeg will not be a team that threatens the financial upper boundaries of the NHL’s salary cap, so we shouldn’t expect any major signings either.  As I alluded to earlier, between Andej Pavelec and Chris Mason, their goaltending is suspect at best.  And to top it all off, they’re being led by AHL absorption/call-up coach, Claude Noel; questionably ready to be coaching at the NHL level.  Also, this band of players has a habit of having one or two of them randomly faint during games (Pavelec, Meyer). 

The only real “Ace In The Hole” that the Winnipeg Jets have is that fan base.  The MTS Centre will be loud and proud every night, no question.  But the problem is that they only play half of their games at home.  Subtract a few games where Jets fans may drive to (Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, and snowbirds vacationing in Phoenix), and that intangible becomes null and void.  Combine that with the team’s Southeast Division travel schedule that contains multiple trips to Florida, and 2011-2012 may be one heck of a long season for the Winnipeg Jets and their fans.  My Stanley Cup predictions don’t feature Winnipeg in the equation.  For their sake, I really hope I’m wrong.

Why The NHL vs Europe Exhibition Experiment is a Bad Idea.

October 4, 2011 3 comments

 

As mentioned last blog, The NHL’s New York Rangers, Anaheim Ducks, LA Kings, and Buffalo Sabres play a total of 7 exhibition games against teams in Slovakia, Switzerland, Germany, Finland, Sweden, and the Czech Republic before the NHL regular season gets underway. 

I think it’s a good concept; letting European fans see how their home teams stack up against teams from the best hockey league in the world.  But after EV Zug of Switzerland beat the New York Rangers 8-4 on October 3, I wondered, how can this possibly benefit the NHL at all?

The Swiss National League A (which EV Zug plays in) is no pushover of a pro hockey league; many former NHLers dabble in, or finish their careers there.  So you can make all the excuses you want – the Rangers played 4 games in 5 nights in 4 different countries (which they did, and that would be tough) and the other teams were well rested, jetlag, they played their pre-season roster, the European ice is too big (it is.), yadda yadda yadda; but at the end of the day, you have a team from the league recognized as the best in the world, not just beaten but routed, by a team from a relatively unknown league, comparatively.  All of a sudden, the best league in the world can’t be all that great because its teams are getting beaten by teams that are even lower than the NHL’s supposed European equivalent, the KHL.  And it doesn’t even matter that NHL teams win the other 6 games, because that’s what they’re expected/supposed to do.  Losing one game over there is a far bigger deal than sweeping every game they play and maintaining their hockey dominance.  The NHL has nearly nothing to gain (besides some minor fan support and merchandise/advertising sales, and having the players enjoying seeing the other side of the world or returning to their homeland) by playing these games and a lot to lose credibility-wise; European teams had nothing to lose and everything to gain.  The loss unnecessarily dropped the NHL down a few pegs on the international hockey landscape, and European hockey just gained a lot of cred in return.

And how in the world do some people from the NHL argue that they don’t want to send NHL players to the Olympics because of roster depletion, injury potential, and other nonsense; yet they won’t even blink an eye about sending 4 entire rosters of NHL clubs to Europe and exposing them to the potential of the very same pitfalls?       

Let’s be honest, as much as fans would like to believe professional sports leagues just want to treat them to competition featuring the best talent in sport, the league is in it to make money and sustain the multiple billions of dollars it has to hand out in player and staff salaries each year, bottom line.  I just don’t see how subjecting NHL talent/franchises to the potential of losing to teams in lesser leagues can be good for business.  The only way it really makes any sense is if the NHL has a serious plan to expand to Europe in the future.  If the NHL doesn’t plan to do this, the only reasons for them to be there in this capacity are either to:

1)      Crush European teams, and assert NHL dominance in hockey.

2)      Break the hearts of European fans as NHL clubs roll-over their hometown heroes.

3)      Milk all the merchandising and advertising sales possible out of a one-month promotion and playing schedule from a market that the NHL fears is cornered by European leagues. 

If an NHL club loses to any of these European teams, then all 3 points of this hat-trick attack plan are compromised.  After all, why would a hockey fan residing in Switzerland purchase an NHL pay per view broadcast, or plan a North American vacation and buy NHL tickets if they know their Swiss teams are better than NHL clubs?  And what Rangers fan is going to get more excited about cheering for his or her team knowing they get beat by Swiss teams?  What hope does that give them of their hometown team every winning a Cup again?   

As a fan, I think the European experiment is fantastic, and great for the growth of hockey, globally.  But let’s not kid ourselves, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman isn’t overly concerned about doing much for the game of hockey as he is making sure the NHL breaks into the American television market and makes a ton of money.  From that perspective, this move is quite a head-scratcher.   

 

    

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