Friday, October 05, 2007

This Week's Sign of Hockey's Demise

I always thought Hockeytown was merely a self-proclamation worth little merit, but taking it at face value, it's worth pointing out that the Red Wings opened the NHL season Wednesday. So you would assume they played to a sellout crowd loaded with octopus and good cheer, right? Not quite. There were more than 2,500 empty seats. Similarly, Colorado didn't sell out in its opener against the Stars, and Dallas likewise is expected to have empty seats in its home opener against the Bruins tonight. The former trifecta that dominated the Western Conference, and in part the NHL, in the late '90s, can't seem to attract 18,000 fans at the start of the season.

5 comments:

The Franchise said...

There seemed to be a little bit of hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing about the situation in Detroit - I'll forgive that crack about Hockeytown for the moment. The general consensus seems to be twofold:

1) The Wings are still good, but boring the 90's teams. We've replaced classy Yzerman, quotable Brett Hull and fiery Darren McCarty with talented but lower-profile players like Zetterberg and Datsyuk. Lidstrom is about as soft-spoken as a captain gets. We also seem to be missing some spunk - I think I saw that no Wings topped 100 penalty minutes last season. In any case, I think the Stars are also suffering from not being all that interesting, with lots of foreign players who don't connect with the fans, plus a good but boring (read: low-scoring!) style of play.

2) Economic factors seem to be playing a part too, as Detroit is, well, Detroit. I think hockey may have missed a golden opportunity post-lockout by failing to slash ticket prices and kiss the fans butts to make them feel loved. Remember when we went to see that Hawks game in the Georgia Dome after the NBA labor strife? That was the worst place ever to see a game, but damn, I felt like the NBA really wanted me back. I feel like the NHL just assumed we would come back, a fact made much harder by the fact that the TV coverage is so poor.

It's a distressing state of events because I really think the NHL felt like they would rate higher in the sports consciousness this year. Maybe if Crosby and the Pens are as good as they hope...

SportsGal said...

Funny- it's just the opposite here in the 'Burgh. Penguins sold out season tickets for the first time this year, plus had the genius marketing stroke of actually having Sidney Crosby deliver some of the tickets to people's homes. Also, they just sold out this Ice Bowl (outdoors) in Buffalo in half and hour. Maybe it's just all the former Pirates fans, fed up after a mere 15 consecutive losing seasons...

The Dude said...

Sportsgal!!! Welcome back!!

The Franchise said...

I remember there were people who thought the NHL should fix the draft to send Crosby to New York to revitalize the league, which of course would have been the dumbest thing they ever could have done. Instead Crosby singlehandedly saved the Pens, and with Alexander Ovechkin in D.C. there is even optimism for another sorry franchise.

Too bad there aren't enough of them to go around for every team, or that the league hasn't been able to parlay that into something like, I don't know, actually being able to see them play on TV...

The Dude said...

What Franchise, you don't have Versus? or Outdoor Life? or whatever channel hockey is on these days?