Kukla's Korner

Petshark: Talking Stick

Falling out of touch

I had my television service disconnected a couple of weeks ago.  It was at my request.  There is no NHL in the offseason, there may be none in October.  There is nothing I need to watch live.  It is set to restart in a couple of weeks, unless I request otherwise.  At first I was nervous, started missing shows I had wanted to watch.  I made sure I had watched everything on my DVR, as if I wouldn’t have another chance to watch it.

It only took a couple of days for me to be glad I did it.  While talking to my horseshoer, I learned that many people had told him the same thing- they had turned off their cable and were glad for it.  I still watch DVDs of old shows I liked, or go to movies, or even rent movies.  I still like to watch things but it is nice to not have any time pressure or DVR memory limit pressure to watch anything right now.  My viewing material will wait forever.

I went to a family dinner last night.  I don’t think I mentioned hockey once.  There simply isn’t anything to say unless I want to go off on greed and selfishness and bickering.  Of course union negotiations are something any sports fan can relate to, in the sense that every big league that goes through them throws the fans overboard, one way or another.

It reminds me of the very worst kind of government, the sort that has no fear of the governed.  Even the French, who once resorted to lopping off government heads, even they have slipped in their attention to accountability.  But I didn’t want to talk about that, about how the top league in the sport won’t even blink before locking us, the fans, the tv viewers, the ticket and fangear buyers out.

How do we follow hockey or our favorite players if there is no NHL this Fall?  Don’t go to Sweden.  They won’t take players without a full season contract, so don’t plan a trip there.  KHL teams, while always a possibility, can only take so many under their quota for non-Russian players.  So there won’t be a mass player exodus to Russia.

The minor leagues will have to do.  Here, we’ll have the nascent San Francisco Bulls.  Back in Massachusetts, the Worcester Sharks might be better than they have been in a long time, with access to any players eligible to be sent down.  How does that work?  Apart from contract specifics, what is there to limit player “eligibility” if there’s no CBA?  The AHL’s veteran limit?  Is Braun a “veteran” yet?  AHL teams have caps too, can or will NHL teams pay their players to play there?  Can a player just sign with the AHL team while his NHL contract is on hold?

I thought some NHL teams were struggling.  That’s the justification for the cap and revenue sharing changes, and the desire to limit player free agency, right?  Do those teams really want to see their numbers slip even more when hockey starts again?  Do they really want to wait half a season or more before they can even sell tickets?  I wonder what Greg Jamison thinks of all this.  I wonder how much harder it must be to get the Coyotes’ ownership situation strapped down with an economic twister on the horizon.

“We recovered last time because we have the world’s greatest fans,” Bettman said. The commish meant this as a compliment, of course. An honest reading of this beauty is more like: “If you fans weren’t such doormats, I might be worried.” -Bruce Dowbiggin, The Globe and Mail

The NHL needs to remember: “out of sight, out of mind.”  Sure, the audience came back after the last lockout and it has grown since.  That doesn’t mean it won’t take a hit.  The growth will be set back.  They have their NBC contract to guarantee that whenever they feel like getting back to work their work will be on tv for all to see, live.  A whole lot of people have not deactivated their Directv or Dish or cable accounts.  A lot of them are watching other sports, they will bump into a hockey game if it’s on.  Calling us the greatest fans or the worst dupes will probably have very little impact on that. 

Losses happen, you don’t need to go looking for them.  Fan enthusiasm is not like roses, it doesn’t need to be cut back.  Besides, even roses only need to be trimmed if you actually want to limit their size or shape.  They will grow out of control, untidy and big if you feed them and let them be.  Does NHL want a fanbase that fits neatly in its allotted space?  I would dream bigger.  I would want a wild, sprawling fanbase, one that crowds neighbor sports, but I don’t own an NHL team.

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About Petshark: Talking Stick

Native of Northern California.  Hockey fan since 1998... sort of... there's a hiatus in there that I still can't explain.

I want to know about anything and everything related to the sport and the spectacle.  I watch, I react, I write it down.

My interest in the Sharks was initially a matter of geographic convenience and regional loyalty because that seemed to be how it worked.  I had no prior interest (at all-- AT ALL) in professional sports of any kind.  When I met hockey, it might have set off a chain reaction of general sports fandom.  It hasn't, I don't think it will.  At all.

Since then, that interest developed into full blown (mostly sort of usually almost completely) exclusive loyalty to the Sharks.

I started blogging a couple years ago on wordpress. I still occasionally put things there that I don't think fit here because they are not about the Sharks. Wherever my words wander, here on Kuklas Korner, they will (usually) hang on to a teal thread.

I can be found in cyberspace on Twitter @petshark47, or emailed at talkingstick@petshark.net