by Joe Tasca on 01/11/13 at 01:59 PM ET
Steve Buffery offers his take on what's wrong with the NHL:
The truth is, the NHL continues to be a weak cousin on the North American professional sports scene. Some suggest it’s fourth in the pecking order, but an argument could be made that NHL hockey, in terms of real following, has fallen to sixth; behind the NFL, MLB and NBA, as well as NASCAR and golf. But that shouldn’t be. Hockey is a wonderful game. Unfortunately, NHL hockey is often boring. Sure they are good games, but there are too many low-scoring, suffocating snorefests.
Buffery's lament sounds all-too familiar. In fact, it's the same complaint hockey fans had back in 2004, which prompted the introduction of new rules and gimmicks designed to open up the game following the last lockout. Yet here we are, nine years later, and the entertainment value of the NHL has improved marginally, if at all.
These days, I very often find myself leaving the rink dissatisfied. It's gotten to the point where I've become extremely hesitant to invite prospective new fans to hockey games because I'm worried that the on-ice product won't resemble my description. The problem is, boring hockey is very often successful hockey. The 2012 Stanley Cup final may have been the most mind-numbing championship series in league history, but Kings fans won't make any apologies.
Hockey will never be popular in the United States. The lack of scoring is part of the reason. But the fact of the matter is hockey is not accessible to the vast majority of the American population. The sport is simply too expensive to play at the youth level. Other team sports, such as basketball, baseball, and soccer, command a minimal enrollment fee, and don't require personalized equipment. On top of that, parents don't have to wake up at 4:30 in the morning to drive their children to soccer practice.
The fight to turn hockey into an American institution is fruitless. The sport has no cultural roots in the States, and the astronomical cost of participation ensures the game will never cultivate enough interest to keep up with the other major sports. The leaders of professional hockey leagues should concentrate their efforts on satisfying their current crop of fans. Hockey die-hards are the best ambassadors of the sport, and they're always eager to recruit new puck heads.
The key is to make sure hockey fans are excited about and proud of the game. It's a difficult task, especially when coaches dedicate so much time to clogging up the neutral zone and nullifying offensive talent. Quite often, guys like Steve Buffery come across as whiners pining for the days of high-flying 80's hockey. But in reality, all he wants is to see the great things our sport has to offer displayed on a regular basis by the best athletes in the world.
It's not asking too much.
Add a Comment
Please limit embedded image or media size to 575 pixels wide.
Most Recent Blog Posts
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.