by Joe Tasca on 11/24/12 at 11:00 AM ET
Don Brennan thinks it's time to hire replacement players:
Open the doors to people who will truly appreciate the job, guys who won’t mind fixing the problems your mismanagement will inevitably create.
They’ll work for less, so you can charge a lot less for tickets.
The truth about fans is most cheer for the logo. I’m sorry, but many of them wouldn’t know good hockey from a notch or two below. That’s not a terrible thing. They go to games to support the local team and have some fun. That won’t change.
It looks like Brennan has run out of interesting things to write about during the lockout, because he's clearly trying to stir the pot here. To suggest fans can't tell the difference between NHL-caliber play and minor league competition is ludicrous, to say the least. Those of us who follow other levels of hockey know there's a huge gap between the average NHLer and your standard AHLer. It's not even close.
There's no doubt that a hard-hitting, end-to-end minor league game is more enjoyable than a slow, defensive NHL contest. That's because the entertainment value in a hockey game has nothing to do with the the quality of players on the ice. If two minor-league teams that like to skate hard and trade chances square off on any given night, the end result will be top-notch entertainment for everyone in the stands.
With that said, the first problem with Brennan's suggestion is the trickle-down effect. The quality of play in the minor leagues would suffer greatly if the NHL brought in scabs. There just aren't enough skilled players to go around. As a result, the AHL would come to resemble the ECHL, and so on. Brennan fails to explain how such a development could possibly be good for the sport.
On top of that, there is some evidence indicating the fans of current and former NHL markets won't tolerate sub-par hockey. The AHL's Toronto Marlies sit 11th in the league in attendance, despite the lockout. The situation in Hartford is even more startling, as the Connecticut Whale draw less than 4,000 fans a game. That's good for 24th in the league. The Chicago Wolves rank eighth at the turnstiles.
Don Brennan has to fill column space, and I respect his job as a writer. But he and the alarmists need to pipe down. The whiners need to stop crying. Despite all the threats to give up on the game, the fact is NHL fans are much too passionate about this great sport to quit watching. When it's all said and done, many of us will look back at the pouting we did in 2012 and laugh at ourselves for making such emotional outbursts, thankful we once again have something to cheer for on those cold and snowy winter nights.
In the meantime, folks like Brennan have lots of hockey options on the table. He can watch the Ottawa 67's of the OHL, who happen to be playing in Scotiabank Place this season. He can cross the river and check out the Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL. If he's feeling adventurous, he could make the four-hour trek south and cover the Senators' farm team in Binghamton for a weekend.
After all, what's the difference?
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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.