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The Malik Report

Selling Wings fans short via conspiracy theory

From the land of virus fun: a certain coworker forwarded me a column from Yahoo Sports' Greg "Puck Daddy" Wyshynski involving serious criticism of WBBL's Bill Simonson's...Well, serious critique of the 2-game suspension Justin Abdelkader received from the NHL for his high hit on Toni Lydman, and, well...I'd prefer to let you read what Simonson had to say for yourself:

The NHL's mindless cronies loved watching the Los Angeles Kings win it last year. The Red Wings — like most teams from Detroit — get no national media love or attention from the NHL. Bettman is hooked on the big markets. He thinks his sport should be on the same level as the NFL and Major League Baseball in the U.S. He is so wrong.

Beyond the few hockey diehards — and bandwagon fans in the playoffs interested in the Red Wings — ask yourself, what does the NHL do to draw you in? They have no clue how to market the sport in America. Name five stars in the league not in Detroit?

The Red Wings know how to market and run a franchise better than the NHL can run their own business. If it weren’t for the Red Wings, I couldn’t care less for the league.

Bettman is by far the worst leader of a sports league to ever walk this earth. He let the league expand when it it was stupid to expand. The NHL has a blind arrogance from the league office that makes you think they have no idea what they’re doing.

If Canada didn’t like hockey, the NHL would be out of business. Please don’t tell me about the number of minor-league teams and people who play hockey. I love minor-league hockey and those who play, but if there weren’t cheap tickets, cheap beer or cheap hot dogs, there would be no minor-league hockey. It’s entertainment and player development.

Simonson continues at some length, and while I tend to agree with at least Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond's suggestion that Abdelkader's suspension was...Let's say inconsistent, and penalized results over intent, especially given that Abdelkader received a 5-minute major and game misconduct...

I think Simonson's selling American hockey fans, Michiganders and Red Wings fans short in a near Valenti-esque manner, and it's just painful to read Simonson--who really is an excellent radio host, regularly giving the Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins a very long shrift in a sports radio marketplace that more than occasionally forgets that hockey exists when the flagship station isn't broadcasting it--offer such a myopic take on both the level of interest in hockey, period in the U.S. and the intelligence of we, the tinfoil-hat-wearing members of Red Wings Nation.

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Comments

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

Well, he makes some good points.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 05/07/13 at 01:09 PM ET

Surfer Ken's avatar

Spot on in my opinion.

Posted by Surfer Ken from San Clemente on 05/07/13 at 01:18 PM ET

Avatar

Hockey, more than most sports, is entirely parochial.  People who watch hockey tend to watch their team play hockey and their team only.  Especially when their team is any good.

I mean, it’s not like the NHL Game of the Week drew a big number in Atlanta, just nobody watched the Thrashers.  Nobody watched hockey at all because the local team was junk.

In other words, there’s a bigger difference between ‘NHL fan’ and ‘Hockey fan’ than there is between those terms for the other major sports.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 05/07/13 at 01:22 PM ET

Chris from NOHS's avatar

Huge is a huge douchebag who is increasingly irrelevant these days.

Posted by Chris from NOHS from Columbus, OH/Grand Rapids, MI on 05/07/13 at 01:37 PM ET

Primis's avatar

I tweeted at WIIM earlier that I had absolutely no idea who Simonson even is.  I’ve lived in southern Michigan all but 3 years of my life, I not only listen to sports radio daily I *WORKED* in sports radio in southern Michigan for a couple years in the past decade or so… and I have never heard him, or of him.

Reading the Yahoo article I see I’m not the only one in Michigan that way.

To extend things a bit further here, I think this instance is a really good example of the hidden separation of Wings fans aside from the obvious transplants living in different state and the like.  I mean I live in southern Michigan, but in an area that can’t pick up Detroit or Grand Rapids radio stations (and he’s apparently out of G.R.?).  So when you guys are railing against someone on 97.1 I’ve never heard, or a guy in Grand Rapids I’ve never even heard of… it’s completely alien to me and I have no idea what’s being talked about at all.  They’re not even options I choose to not listen to or watch, they’re just not even options period.

Sounds like it’s a good thing they’re not options, too.

Posted by Primis on 05/07/13 at 01:39 PM ET

Tracy from T-Town Hockey 's avatar

Hockey, more than most sports, is entirely parochial.  People who watch hockey tend to watch their team play hockey and their team only.
Posted by HockeyinHD on 05/07/13 at 01:22 PM ET
^^^^
Agreed Football is on my T.V. on Sundays/Monday nights regardless if my team is playing or not.  The only time I can say that about hockey is durring the play offs.

Posted by Tracy from T-Town Hockey on 05/07/13 at 01:39 PM ET

cowboycoffee's avatar

ugh, just what we need.

Posted by cowboycoffee from San Francisco, CA on 05/07/13 at 01:40 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Hockey, more than most sports, is entirely parochial.  People who watch hockey tend to watch their team play hockey and their team only.  Especially when their team is any good.

In other words, there’s a bigger difference between ‘NHL fan’ and ‘Hockey fan’ than there is between those terms for the other major sports.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 05/07/13 at 01:22 PM ET

Couldn’t disagree with you more.

Hockey fans watch the yearly WC’s, WJC’s, etc…  I bet most basketball fans don’t even know that FIBA holds tourneys, or watch them if they’re televised.  Nobody was watching the WBC, not even the hardcore American MLB fans.

The vast majority of MLB fans would not have the slightest clue what prospects are in their team’s farm system I bet.  A decent chunk of hockey fans know some of what’s in their team’s system though.

Posted by Primis on 05/07/13 at 01:47 PM ET

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Hmmm ... I’d have thought proud tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorists who capitalize Red Wings Nation like the ex-chief and his merry band of 19 who used to dominate this website would love this article.  He’s playing to YOUR fanbase, Malik, not the realist Wings supporters here who barf at such self-righteousness.

Posted by jkm2011 on 05/07/13 at 01:51 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

George you pretty much identified the problems I found with Simonson’s comments (relative to American hockey fans), but as for the rest of his words I don’t see much to disagree with. 

It’s undeniable that Bettman (a) won’t accept that the NHL is a niche product, (b) has cut off the league’s nose to spite its face relative to the sunbelt experiment, (c) takes an active role in promoting teams/players out of proportion to their market value.  I mean, how many American fans really like the Pens outside of Pittsburgh?  If you believed the NHL you’d think the Pens were the New York Yankees.

The NHL’s growth strategy has been totally unorganic since the mid-nineties.  Just for example: How many fans hate Crosby more because of the advertising blitz they had to endure for the first five years of his career than they do for his on ice performance?  I know I’m one of those. 

I’m also annoyed that in the wake of the ‘94 lockout, the Red Wings were the team that kept the NHL brand alive in the US.  The Wings are the marquis US franchise, but you wouldn’t believe it by the constant fawning the NHL has done over the Hawks and Pens in recent years.  I get marketing stars and the Wings only really have one high profile star right now… but beyond that, one team puts more asses in seats around the league than any other.  It’s been better recently, but there were a few years where it was easy to feel snubbed as a Detroit fan.

As for Wyshynski’s take on Simonson, I’ll agree that the perception of Detroit fans would improve without so much of the woe-is-us and tin foil hat stuff.  But over all his reaction seemed like he was reaching, more like a bullet in search of a target than directed criticism.  Simonson gave him an excuse to hate and he took it.  Haters gonna be haters.  It was almost a nice cover Wysh.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 05/07/13 at 01:53 PM ET

Surfer Ken's avatar

Hmmm ... I’d have thought proud tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorists who capitalize Red Wings Nation like the ex-chief and his merry band of 19 who used to dominate this website would love this article.  He’s playing to YOUR fanbase, Malik, not the realist Wings supporters here who barf at such self-righteousness.

Define realist Wings supporters please.

Posted by Surfer Ken from San Clemente on 05/07/13 at 01:56 PM ET

Surfer Ken's avatar

and what makes The Chief ex?

Posted by Surfer Ken from San Clemente on 05/07/13 at 01:58 PM ET

Avatar

Hockey fans watch the yearly WC’s, WJC’s, etc

Oh sure, some do.  What I’m saying is that generally speaking Wings fans don’t also watch other kinds of hockey, or even many (if any) other teams at the NHL level.

Also, you’re running into a little bit of apples and oranges here.  If you compare the dropoff between pro sport interest for football and basketball and hockey to the college sport interest in those three, you’ll see what I’m talking about.

A Football fan watches his team.  And then whoever is on the other game.  And then the Monday night game.  And then the Sunday night game.  And then the draft gets a huge number.  And then college football.  And then and then and then.

That’s less true in other sports (basketball is #2, then baseball) but even in baseball’s case it’s more true than in hockey, although the spread there is pretty minimal IMO.

So sure, there are some few NHL fans who experience ‘hockey’ as opposed to ‘NHL hockey as demonstrated by their own local team and whoever they are playing that night’, but they are a tiny slice of the pie of NHL viewers that’s already a really small pie to begin with.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 05/07/13 at 02:07 PM ET

Primis's avatar

I’m also annoyed that in the wake of the ‘94 lockout, the Red Wings were the team that kept the NHL brand alive in the US.  The Wings are the marquis US franchise

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 05/07/13 at 01:53 PM ET

This goes back to the media talk I had in the liveblog after the game last night.

Detroit is NOT considered by the rest of the country to be the US’s flagship.

The NY Rangers are.  Sometimes the Bruins and Blackhawks as well, but the Rangers are #1 to everyone else, because… well, New York.  Wyshinski is a Devils fan.  The reality is that outside of the midwest, DET is seen as a hugely-successful team, but not a huge market or a flagship market.

The Wings fans *do* come out in force in other markets unlike any other US team.  We see it all the time, year after year.  We put butts in the seats,we put ratings on the TV’s, we sell tons of merch… but everyone else looks at Detroit as a market that has shrunk even, and that’s it.  Nevermind that the Red Wings are basically king outside of DET’s MSA (Metro Statistical Area) and throughout the entire state, and bleeding into Ohio and Indiana even… the rest of the country can’t get past Detroit, the market.

I think next year though some might finally get it.  Places like ANA, DAL, PHX, NAS are going to take hits with no Wings fans coming in for games.  Places like TB and FLA will see a bit of a bump or boost.  And DET will finally be a team eastern media types watch more than once or maybe twice a year as their teams play them, and I wonder if then they finally won’t start to get a bit more consideration… 4 of the Original Six in one division is going to be a bigger narrative than we probably think.

Posted by Primis on 05/07/13 at 02:07 PM ET

Avatar

Paranoia will destroy ya!

Posted by timbits on 05/07/13 at 02:08 PM ET

FranzensMouthguard's avatar

ugh, Huge is the WORST, thanks to this ass for making all us logical Wings fans look like morons.

Posted by FranzensMouthguard from Chicago, IL on 05/07/13 at 02:09 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

Detroit is NOT considered by the rest of the country to be the US’s flagship.

The NY Rangers are.  Sometimes the Bruins and Blackhawks as well, but the Rangers are #1 to everyone else, because… well, New York.  Wyshinski is a Devils fan.  The reality is that outside of the midwest, DET is seen as a hugely-successful team, but not a huge market or a flagship market.

You point is well taken.  I guess I meant it in term of brand strength if that makes sense.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 05/07/13 at 02:16 PM ET

SYF's avatar

ex-chief
Posted by jkm2011 on 05/07/13 at 01:51 PM ET

He’s still active Navy.

Posted by SYF from Zata's Epic Viking Beard on 05/07/13 at 02:24 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

It would be interesting to see what the numbers are for subscribers of NHLCI, and the other sports’ versions of the product. Obviously the numbers for the NFL, MLB, and NBA will be larger than the NHL, but what those numbers correlate to as far as a percentage of the actual fan base would be interesting.

I am a diehard Wings fan, but I also subscribe to CI every year, and have four of five teams I try to watch each week.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 05/07/13 at 02:28 PM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

Huge is a huge douchebag who is increasingly irrelevant these days.
Posted by Chris from NOHS from Columbus, OH/Grand Rapids, MI on 05/07/13 at 01:37 PM ET

Bill Simonson is a colossal douche nozzle. You really shouldn’t give the guy any pub, George, it’ll make his head grow larger than it already is. Literally and figuratively. I work a block away from him and see him downtown G.R. a lot. He truly thinks he knows what he’s saying. It’s sad…

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 05/07/13 at 02:37 PM ET

IwoCPO's avatar

As someone who genuinely believes Gary Bettman has made decisions based, at least in part, on his dislike for the Red Wing organ-I-zation—-or his unending pornographic-like quest for parody—I take offense at Simmonson’s article. It’s stupid.

As for this…

ex-chief and his merry band of 19

In a sense you’re right, we are merry.  But I’m not an “ex”, well, I am..but that’s a different story. I’m not an “ex-Chief”, although find a “former” Chief and call him “ex”...just for fun.

Anyway, I’m still active, still a Chief, and still enjoying frolicking with you and your pals, Richard.

Posted by IwoCPO from Sunny San Diego, bitches on 05/07/13 at 02:53 PM ET

Zqto's avatar

It’s not even game day, and I have probably hit refersh on this site about 30 times, today… That’s not a jogke, sadly

My production at work is null right now
I can only wonder/shiver at how Im gonna fare tomorrow.. I bet it will involve vomits and a few hours spent staring at the computer screen, but not really…

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Posted by Zqto on 05/07/13 at 03:10 PM ET

Zqto's avatar

Btw, not even banding together against Gary.ass or blog trolls are helping…  I might be needing medical treatment!
lol

Posted by Zqto on 05/07/13 at 03:11 PM ET

Avatar

Oddly, Gary Bettman is easily among the BEST commissioners this sport has ever seen. Not because he’s good, mind you, but because most of the other guys were outright criminals.

Posted by larry on 05/07/13 at 03:57 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

Don’t let’em take that Master out of your Chief.  Respect.


Posted by jkm2011 on 05/07/13 at 01:51 PM ET,  I LOVE that you don’t see the irony of your last sentence.. especially following the rest of your post.

I can see humility and self-reflection are clearly your strong suits /sarcasm.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 05/07/13 at 04:45 PM ET

perfection's avatar

i think the article is an embarrassment and shows very little hockey knowledge. Puck Daddy tears apart this article surgically and accurately. Just because everyone hates Bettman, they don’t see this article for the uneducated, patronizing, drivel it is.

but then again, I’m one of those hockey fans that DO watch the sport even when the Wings aren’t playing.

I think this article is just MLive’s way of showing us that Ansar is way better at his job than we give him credit for. in other words. THIS article is the alternative.

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 05/07/13 at 05:17 PM ET

Figaro's avatar

He’s still a better writer than Drew Sharp.

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 05/07/13 at 05:33 PM ET

Hockeytown Wax's avatar

I agree with Surfer Ken ... Simonson is dead on correct.

He sounds a bit bitter & whiny while making his points, but everything he brings up is correct.

Did Shanahan suspend Abby because he’s a corporate kiss-ass or did he do it to make the officials decision more credible ??

Either way, that crew won’t see the next round.

When the numbers some out, I’m betting the Ottawa Montreal series will have the highest ratings in the first round… and I think you know why.

Posted by Hockeytown Wax from West Bloomfield, Mi. on 05/07/13 at 07:26 PM ET

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About The Malik Report

The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.