Now that we’re a few days into the season, it’s time for a few quick observations.
1) Even though pro hockey is more defensive than its ever been, there are some match-ups that offer up incredible entertainment almost without exception. Tampa Bay/Washington is one of those match-ups.
Anyone who watched Monday night’s tilt between these two clubs enjoyed 65 minutes of terrific hockey. It was a see-saw affair that featured great skating and a bit of sandpaper, as well. The only bad part about the game is that it was decided in a shootout.
Outside of a Game 7, it doesn’t get any better for a hockey fan than it does on opening night. The anticipation of the greatest game in the world returning to the forefront for another nine months is a tantalizing thought, to say the least. On top of that, the league always presents several showcase games.
Should the NBA lockout continue deep into the winter, it’s quite conceivable that hockey will be the only major sport in operation come early next year. Let’s just say I’m not particularly broken up about that possibility. The NHL will cross that bridge again this summer.
Damien Cox thinks hockey fans should focus on the re-birth of the Winnipeg Jets and the eventual return of Sidney Crosby as we begin the new campaign. It’s a lovely suggestion, albeit a fruitless one. There’s little doubt that the debate over head shots and fisticuffs will continue to dominate the headlines, especially if another star player gets his bell rung early in the year.
October is finally here, and with it comes the start of another NHL season. And while I’m looking forward to watching the game I love on a nightly basis, I have this overwhelming feeling of trepidation as we close in on opening night.
A few months ago, I was talking with Wayne Norman, a broadcast colleague of mine who’s not particularly fond of hockey. For one, he can’t understand the rules of the game. But second, he told me he can’t stand how the players slam each other into the boards, engage in physical contact, and sometimes drop the gloves. He thinks it’s silly.
I basically told him that the main draw of the game, from my perspective, is the physicality. Yeah, we all appreciate a tic-tac-toe goal, a nice give-and-go, a slick deflection, or a word-class deke in close quarters. But the primary reason we watch hockey is because the game perfectly combines that incredible skill with a modicum of violence. If you take that violence out of the game, you don’t have hockey as we know it. Imagine pro football without tackling. Would you watch it? No friggin’ way.
As a radio personality, I’m used to hearing people accuse the media of deliberately stirring the pot. It’s a common complaint, and a difficult one to refute, especially when you read columns like the one written today by Damien Cox regarding the future of the New York Islanders.
As you know, the Islanders’ request to bond money for a new arena was decisively shot down by the voters of Nassau County on Monday. According to Cox, the vote result was a clear indication of Long Island’s disdain for the team’s owner, Charles Wang:
It’s hard for an owner to become this toxic in a community, but Wang seems to have accomplished that. Fans won’t come to his team’s games — the average attendance of 11,059 was worst in the NHL last season — and the manner in which he has operated the club — signing Rick DiPietro to a 15-year contract, hiring a university to do radio broadcasts of the team’s games, selecting the team’s backup goalie to be the new general manager — has alienated many hardcore supporters….
Wang needs to excuse himself from the picture. The NHL may or may not work any longer on Long Island, but it certainly can’t work with him as the owner.
About Tasca's Take
Tasca's Take is written by Joe Tasca. Born and raised in Westerly, Rhode Island, Joe works as a broadcaster for seven radio stations in southern New England. Whether that's a testament to his on-air ability or because he has a desparate need for money is debatable.
Joe spends his summers playing golf, enjoying the beauty of Misquamicut Beach, and wining and dining girls who are easily awed by the mere presence of a radio personality. During the winter months, he can usually be found taking in a hockey game somewhere in North America. In the spring, he spends much of his time in botanical gardens tiptoeing through the tulips, while autumn is a time to frolic with his golden retrievers through piles of his neighbors’ leaves.