Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Season's Over

Today, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman officially announced the cancellation of the 2004-05 season, making the NHL the first major North American league to lose an entire season. I am a lifelong hockey fan, born and raised in the Detroit area, who grew up watching Hockey Night in Canada. You would think I would be devastated by this news, but frankly I just don't care all that much. If anything, I am relieved to have been spared the farcical spectacle of the rump 28 game plus playoffs "season" that would have occurred had a last-minute deal been struck.

Personally, I sympathize with neither owners nor players. The people I do feel bad for are those unable to earn a living due to the lockout, such as the ushers, ticket-takers, and other team employees. I also regret that Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman will now almost certainly be denied the opportunity to end his career in a proper manner. A great player and class act, Yzerman deserves better.

I blogged at length about my problems with the current NHL last June. Essentially, the NHL I knew and grew up with is gone, having been replaced by an NBA on skates. Under Bettman's reign, the league has cut itself off from its roots, choosing to ignore its core Canadian and Northeastern US fan base, and instead become high-priced corporate entertainment. As I wrote previously, the league is the sporting equivalent of the bubble. Until that bubble bursts, and the league stops trying to pretend that it is on a par with the NBA and NFL, the NHL's financial and other woes will continue.


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