Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Welcome baaaack 

I don't sing for Mr. Kotter, my friends. No. I sing for the return of the National Hockey League. The new CBA still needs to be ratified, but it seems like a formality at this juncture. It seems like the players' association finally realized that the league can't exist under the old salary structure. Conversely, Gary Bettman has done his best to drive the NHL into the ground in every possible way and I still resent him bitterly. To give him any sort of credit for helping get the sport back on ice would be a little short-sighted. But first, the league has to sign it's players!

The first order of business after the deal is ratified will be to get a majority of the players signed. The belief is that last season's contracts will be wiped from the books, leaving many players without deals.

Those who are still under contract will have their salaries reduced by 24 percent, a concept first proposed by the union last December.

This could be incredibly interesting. I've got fantasies of a sort of, well, fantasy draft floating around in my head, but it's probably likely that most players stay put.

I imagine that unlike the cold reception baseball received when it returned from the '94 strike, hockey will be readily welcomed back by it's fans. After all, hockey fans aren't your typical sports fans. It's strange in any sport to find that the majority of it's fans are die-hards. Yet, there-in lies the failures of the NHL. The inability to convert the casual fan is what put the league in trouble in the first place. But what's done is done and it's time for a complete reboot. If you're the NHL, first you embrace your returning hockey fanatics, drop ticket prices considerably, and promote promote promote the hell out of your American stars. Want Joe Casual to identify? Then show him a native product.

And now, I make a promise to myself: go see a gaggle of LA Kings games this coming season. Anyone care to join me? I know you do. For one, its me and two, ice hockey is the best, most kinetic sport to attend live. Period.

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