A blog by an American expatriate living in the heart of New Europe

"It's a lateral transfer" -- George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States
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Thursday, February 10, 2005

Iraq tension?

The New York Times reports that underneath all the brownnosing yesterday, Warsaw and Washington are wrangling over Polish involvement in Iraq, which most Poles hope will end this year. Of the 2,400 troops stationed in Iraq, 800 are set to leave this month.


Blogger Redneck Texan said...

I think your NHL Lockout clock is going to be running for a long time Gus.

How do you see it being resolved?

Which group of millionaires garner your sympathy?

2/14/2005 05:23:00 AM  

Blogger Redneck Texan said...

Hey, I like bloggers upgraded comment system.

It seems to be a lot faster loading.

2/14/2005 05:25:00 AM  

Blogger Gustav said...

I'm still deciding if I'll take it down once the official announcement comes, or if I'll leave it up until the boys are back on the ice.

Which set of millionaires? If I have to choose sides, I'll take the players. They're the ones putting their bodies in danger 82 games a season, plus playoffs.

I don't know how they're going to resolve it. Looks like they'll hire replacement players until the real pros have had enough and come crawling back.

But it seems to me that the NHL is in a lot of trouble generally. Whatever deal is struck now won't change the fact that they've got an expensive game with too few people watching.

It was an interesting move to go into places like Arizona and Tamapa Bay -- it was worth trying to drum up interest in the warmer parts of the country by putting teams there, and it seems to me it worked to a limited extent (Tampa really got into their Stanley Cup winners last year).

But simply put, hockey isn't bringing in the dough, and that's not the players' fault. They play great hockey.

But the league works in such a fashion as to reward making the game worse. Teams filled with goons barely make the playoffs, but somehow make it to the Cup. The Wings experienced some of their worst injuries in the playoffs -- and when they made it to the finals, they often didn't play the best Eastern Conference team: New Jersey, ok; Philly, maybe -- but Washington and Carolina?

And Canada is going to have to lower its taxes -- at least for hockey players -- if any of those teams are going to be successful (Ottawa and Vancouver have made runs -- but no Cup). Players jump at the chance to make more money in the States.

And that means that many of the best players are leaving the locations where they're most watched. Of course ad revenues and attendance won't keep up.

The league has also got to change its reputation. I'm not in favor of banning fighting -- I agree that it's a part of the game -- but more of the skill and razzle-dazzle of the league has got to be shown to the greater public. I would be in favor of a huge marketing campaign to show how fun hockey is to watch. But that's expensive, and may not be effective.

Maybe they should consider simplifying offsides? I think the audience can be frustrated by this confusing rule which seems to stop play just as it's getting exciting.

Finally, the league will probably have to contract. Too many teams, not enough talent. If we're going to have a salary cap that keeps teams from loading up on talent, then we're going to have to increase the "talent density" of the league.

Of course, a big scandal could get people watching too.

As I'm sure Wafflestomper would no doubt point out, I'm no expert. I'm not familiar with the details of the NHL's financial problems.

But the NHL needs money to survive, and resolving this dispute seems to me a preliminary step: a step needed before the NHL can solve its real problem -- an audience that's too small.

I don't care so much really whether there's a salary cap or not, etc. I just hope they come back soon, because I love watching and following hockey.

And I don't understand why more people don't.

Who bears the responsibility for that? Not the players, not the owners, and certainly not the game.

Too bad, 'coz the game is what is losing out the most.

P.S. -- I really like the new comment system too. Love the gravatars on your site RT. Hope Blogger will allow them here soon.

2/15/2005 05:53:00 PM  

Blogger Gustav said...

That's not my gravatar at the top, that's my profile pic. Same thing though, more or less. Cool feature.

2/15/2005 05:54:00 PM  

Blogger Redneck Texan said...

You must have tweaked your css, as the middle stuff starts at the top in IE now.

I concur with your assessment on the NHL. Except of course I side with management. I did think the players plan of a luxury tax is better than a salary cap though, and they were offering like a 20% rollback in payroll. I just don't think the players should have the right to dictate anything to management.

I hope they do bring in replacement players next year and lower ticket prices to minor league prices. I wish our local Fox Sports channel that usually broadcasts Stars games, would televise all the local minor league teams until the millionaires get their shit straight.

I personally think free agency has screwed up all sports. When I was growing up you could identify a team by their players, now when someone says "Vinnie Testeverde" you don't have any idea who he is playing with. And when ever a franchise builds a good team all the players get ridiculous offers to leave. You cant keep a good team together.

I know its not in the cards, but I would like to see the NHL go to a true union scale, with incentive bonuses based on performance. I hate to see a guy excel in his "contract year. Like say a 2nd line winger makes $X per game, and a 3rd line center makes x amount. Then give them a bonus for goals, assists, etc. And have the NHL kick in a bonus to the best performer of the month. And have the playoff money be what really makes them rich.

Ken Hitchcock did not believe in carrying a goon on the team, he pretended that "team toughness" was a substitute, and it wasn't. Other teams goons were kicking our pretty boys ass's with no retaliation against their pretty boys. I like a goon on the payroll just to keep everybody honest. Thats why I really hated to see Hatcher leave. He was the heart of Dallas, and could play good defense as well as break Roenick's jaw when he needed it. There again thats why free agency sucks.

As far as why most people don't care for Hockey...I cant imagine why gladiatorial bloodsports don't have broader appeal. ;-) Everyone around here grew up playing football, Basketball, baseball, and soccer in the streets. It was virtual impossible to play ICE hockey down here until recently, when I was a kid there wasn't but 1 rink in Dallas, now every suburban High school has a team. I think when digital wide screen television becomes mainstream it will add to the enjoyment of watching the game on TV as well.

2/16/2005 03:35:00 AM  

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