Is hockey finished as a big league sport?. A columnist for Nashville’s Tennessean paper says that the end of the Stanley Cup tourney may mark the end of the NHL as a major pro sport.

An NHL lockout is imminent, the sides incredibly far apart on the fundamental issues.That’s just the financial end of it.

The league, led by blindfolded commissioner Gary Bettman, barely acknowledges the problems with the game. Because the high-ranking guys don’t like to be on the hook for altering the status quo, and because they fear tinkering with anything that might upset the Canadian hockey fanatic or the Original Six, they can’t see it’s more than finances that are killing the game:

The low scoring, the lack of personalities, the monstrous influx of players from outside North America, the overly long schedule, the drawn-out playoffs.

And the Stanley Cup was a ho-hummer for most of America. ABC Sports reported that, “the average rating for the five Stanley Cup final games on ABC were the lowest since the network began broadcasting the finals again in 2000.” [One Hand Clapping]

I watched several of the Stanley Cup games this year including the last two games. My son plays hockey but neither of us are avid fans. Despite the ratings I enjoyed the games. So here’s my rebuttal to the comment:

  1. Low scoring is a result of great defense and is a successful strategy to win games in football, basketball, and hockey. If you want to watch some guys passionate about winning the greatest hockey prize, watch a Stanley Cup game. If you want to see high scoring and all of the popular players, go watch the all star game.
  2. The lack of personalities is a result of the youth of both teams and the parity in the league. In the next couple of years several players will be known for what they did or did not do in the 2004 Stanley Cup. They become the personalities of tommorrow.
  3. I have heard all of the rest of the complaints before. I have heard it for baseball, basketball, football, etc. It typically occurs at the end of the season. By the time the next season starts, everything is new and exciting again.