Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Stands on soapbox, shakes fist at MSM sky

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun offers five potential ways for the NHL to “Reduce the Grind” of October-to-June hockey, and while I adore LeBrun, every time a MSM’er brings this suggestion up, I want to find a hammer:

2. Cancel All-Star Weekend. Well you know how I’ve felt about the All-Star Game for a long time. But the three-to-four days that the NHL pauses for this meaningless and boring event could be better used to help spread out the regular-season games. Why waste those days on an event few people care about?

He continues, of course, but this…This just pisses me off so damn much, because while yes, the All-Star Game is a glorified no-hit, exhibition-style game where—gasp!—the players are simply having fun playing with incredibly skilled peers and are trying not to get hurt, but for Monkey’s sake, the players enjoy it, the people who pay overpriced tickets to attend the skills competition and game seem to enjoy it, and, put bluntly, there is no way in frickin’ hell that the NHL is ever, ever going to cancel an event that is its best in-season opportunity to wine and dine its sponsors.

 

It’s not gonna happen. The All-Star Game is here to stay, and for Pete’s sake, if the media that gets paid to attend the weekend and be forced to interview superstars hates it so damn much that it continually tries to convince fans that it’s the worst event in the history of mankind, why don’t they simply ask their employers if they can take the All-Star Break off and go to Florida instead of being part of the 8.5 billion members who over-cover the event and then bitch and moan to the rest of us about how terrible it is to be chained to a job which requires them to chit-chat with Zdeno Chara or Pavel Datsyuk, watch some of the NHL’s brightest stars goof around like kids, and spend time in cushy hotels and get fed and paid for their time?

If the All-Star Game is pulling teeth for these poor, beleaguered media members, don’t go. Yeah, it’s a mixed bag, but it’s never going away, and the sooner the MSM—which, yes, does an incredibly difficult job, working against staggeringly tight deadlines and pumping out inordinate amounts of content, mostly on their own, while engaging in a grueling travel schedule—at least pulls the reins back to a gentle gallop in terms of telling us about how the All-Star Weekend is nothing less than having your toenails pulled out with a pair of pliers, maybe some of the fans who buy the concept hook, line and sinker might either choose to tune in and enjoy the game for what it is, or simply guiltlessly turn the damn TV off for the weekend and take a break themselves.

I know it’s June. I know that the media members who’ve been working since early September desperately need their summer vacation to begin as soon as humanly possible. And I completely understand that well into what has become a 10-month season for them and us, the last thing they wanted is to have to scramble to book flights and hotels and fly red-eyes to New Jersey, but this particular tale of burnout yielding a list of laments strikes me as plain old unrealistic.

Pierre, Scott Burnside and Craig Custance are absolute warhorses, never mind workhorses, in terms of their dedication to and passion for the game, but if they can’t stand going to the All-Star Game, I don’t think that ESPN’s coverage would suffer if they played rock-paper-scissors to decide which one of the trio would have to attend the game and which pair would receive a welcomed weekend off.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

Avatar

“...while yes, the All-Star Game is a glorified no-hit, exhibition-style game where—gasp!—the players are simply having fun playing with incredibly skilled peers and are trying not to get hurt, but for Monkey’s sake, the players enjoy it, the people who pay overpriced tickets to attend the skills competition and game seem to enjoy it...”

My thoughts exactly, but I’d save the hammer for this waste of a suggestion:

3. Shorten the second round of the playoffs to a best-of-five series. The first round of the playoffs is the most compelling of the postseason. The conference finals and Cup finals are the most important. I say squeeze the second round so we get from eight teams to four teams a little quicker. Just another little wrinkle to help ease the physical and mental burden on our eventual Cup finalists.

Absolutely ridiculous.

Posted by NathanBC on 06/07/12 at 05:42 PM ET

eyesris's avatar

This is exactly how I feel when I see one of those guys bitch about having to get on a red eye.

Posted by eyesris from Asheville, NC on 06/07/12 at 05:45 PM ET

Avatar

George, search “bluntly” or “simply” in the KK search engine.

Posted by I'm just sayin... on 06/07/12 at 06:13 PM ET

Avatar

I have a better idea than LeBrun’s.

eSCHEW THE REGULAR SEASON ALTOGETHER. DIVIDE 30 TEAMS INTO 15 PLAYOFF PAIRS AND DECIDE THE WINNERS BY HEADS OR TAILS.

But in all seriousness, in the new parity NHL regular season has to be shortened because every team is as good as any team.

Posted by Alex on 06/07/12 at 06:15 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

My simple sentences are never simple, and blunt requires me to limit my comments to three or fewer clauses raspberry

Seriously , if the media doesn’t want to go and get paid to watch a game they think is boring, fewer MSM’ers wouldn’t hurt the event. There’s nothing wrong with a website’s pundits saying, “Look, we’re tired, we’re taking a vacation, see you after the ASG!” and then going to Florida and chilling out on the beach. They work more than hard enough and I have no problem whatsoever with their desire to have some time off.

But the ASG’s just not going to go anywhere, and as an “it-is-what-it-is” event, it’s frustrating as can be to keep reading people who get paid to attend it insist that they’re being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, over and over and over again.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/07/12 at 06:22 PM ET

Avatar

1. I agree with starting the season in September.  It just makes sense on so many levels.  I would also go a little further and organize the preseason a little bit better.  The split squad games are kind of pointless and kills whatever interest there was in the preseason.  Maybe have a set amount of bonafide preseason games which are treated just like regular season games except they don’t count in the standings.  Use the superstars sparingly to minimize injury risk and put the focus on bubble guys trying to win a job.

2. I completely agree with cancelling the All Star game.  Its a boring and irrelevant game.  Let the Winter Classic be the showcase game where the sponsors are wined and dined.  Just for fun, keep the skills competition and perhaps expand it a little and hold it on the Winter Classic ice before the game.

3. This is just an asinine idea, but in the spirit of improving the playoffs, I’d like to see smarter scheduling.  i.e. if the 2nd round is still underway and a 3rd line matchup is set, go ahead and play the series.  I hate the way there always seems to be a week-long gap between rounds.  Casual fans lose interest and move on.

4. Not sure I like the idea of a 2-3-2 because it can be construed as an advantage to either team but I can maybe see going to a 2-2-3.  Make home ice advantage really mean something.  It clearly isn’t the scale-tipping advantage its made out to be.  Lower seeds advancing is starting to become the rule rather than the exception.

5.  Like he said, This would never happen, but I wouldn’t mind seeing the regular season being reduced to 72 games.  82 is just too long, look at all of the injuries, plus the fact that hockey really shouldn’t go into June.  Perhaps an improved preseason might bring in enough revenue to offset the loss of a handful of regular season games.

Posted by Chris on 06/07/12 at 06:45 PM ET

perfection's avatar

I am apparently the minority here, but I think the All-Star “weekend” is an utter joke. It’s really horrible. The skills competitions is totally forced, not very applicable to actual hockey, and really isn’t even that fun to watch. But the game itself is the biggest snoozefest. I’d rather watch alumni games where there’s no hitting or effort. Seeing the best players in the game loafing around is not my idea of a good time. In fact, if the game of hockey wasn’t by definition one of the most intense, physical, fast, gritty, balls-out, games on the planet, the artificial bastardization of it wouldn’t piss me off so much. In fact, it’d be like the baseball all-star game, which is managed a little differently, but not that far of a cry from a regular game. The NHL all-star game is essentially the OPPOSITE of a real NHL game. I could definitely do without it. I really don’t care if the players enjoy it. I bet all of the players who aren’t in it and are on Caribbean vacations also are enjoying themselves. So what? 

I’m far more excited for the Olympics which is real hockey on a big stage. In comparison the All Star game is just a commercial for the NHL. Basically, a dog show. I know American audiences need their pro athletes to be turned into “personalities” but honestly, seeing Datsyuk and Corry Perry hanging out with eachother shattered my illusion that Pav hates his guts. That’s the NHL I want to believe in. Where the rivalries are so real that even in game one of the season, a lady-byng winning Russian will throw down with one of his mortal enemies if it comes down to it. Seeing the two of them playing office-picnic style relay games with one another just ruins the illusion.

Whatever… it’s not like I care if the All Star game stays or anything, I’m not leading the charge to get rid of it. I actually just try and ignore it, but if it really would help the players or something, I sure wouldn’t miss it if it’s gone. Just my opinion.

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 06/07/12 at 06:52 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Eh, I’m entertained by All-Star weekend.

I wouldn’t exactly tear at my own bosom if they stopped doing it, but I’ll watch it while it’s fun.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/07/12 at 07:01 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

...the players are simply having fun playing with incredibly skilled peers and are trying not to get hurt…

Well, that’s certainly a compelling reason for having the ASG – guys making millions of dollars a year putting their team-oriented spirit aside so they can have “fun” with their rivals (all while trying not to get hurt). Brilliant.

...seeing Datsyuk and Corry Perry hanging out with eachother shattered my illusion that Pav hates his guts. That’s the NHL I want to believe in. Where the rivalries are so real that even in game one of the season, a lady-byng winning Russian will throw down with one of his mortal enemies if it comes down to it. Seeing the two of them playing office-picnic style relay games with one another just ruins the illusion.

Perfection said it perfectly.

Forget the ASG. It’s a joke – and anathema to everything hockey is all about. Instead of “fun time” with their rivals, just give everyone a four-day mid-winter break. Let injured players heal up a bit. And let everyone else recharge their batteries. It’ll make for much better hockey in the final three months of the season.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 06/07/12 at 07:50 PM ET

Hootinani's avatar

I’m entertained by ASW, too.  It means I get to catch up on other shows because I won’t be watching hockey for 3 or 4 days.

The game is a joke, and worst of all, the skills competition has become so low budget and disorganized its unwatchable.  Throw in having to listen to Pierre McGuire and Gary Bettman interviews all damn weekend, and the event becomes an atrocity.

The only thing that keeps that horror show going is the fact that it is a giant corporate smoozing weekend for the league.  And for that reason alone, Bettman will never let it die.

However, I’d schedule ten ASW if it meant we could get rid of the Winter Classic as a regular season event.  It is absolutely ridiculous to me why teams would be forced to play for 2 points that could be the difference between a successful season and a complete disaster on the worst ice conditions they will encounter all year.  And that doesn’t even take into account the high winds, rain/snow and blinding sun glare they might run into.

Make the Winter Classic the new All-Star Game, with no significance for the season, but still a ton of fun for players and fans alike.

Posted by Hootinani on 06/07/12 at 07:52 PM ET

Avatar

But the game itself is the biggest snoozefest.

So take the weekend off if you don’t like it.

The stands seem to be full and there are also a ton of fans at the festivities.

But god forbid the NHL do something that doesn’t cater directly to the hardcore fans but rather the younger set.

Apart from the atrocity that is the NHL’s attempt to do make their version of the slam dunk competition, I don’t mind the All-Star game.

Posted by Garth on 06/07/12 at 10:05 PM ET

Avatar

It is absolutely ridiculous to me why teams would be forced to play for 2 points that could be the difference between a successful season and a complete disaster on the worst ice conditions they will encounter all year.

This might have a little credence if anything even remotely like this ever happened.  The only negativity I have ever heard from anyone involved in a WC game is from some coaches not liking the “all access pass” that is HBO’s 24/7 series.

And if the All-Star game is so awful and unwatchable, why would the Winter Classic be any better if it were nothing more than an outdoor giant corporate schmoozing weekend for the league?

Posted by Garth on 06/07/12 at 10:11 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

If those of you who don’t want to watch the ASG feel guilty about feeling that way, please don’t! It’s perfectly reasonable and understandable!

Turn off the TV, close the laptop, just enjoy the weekend. No hitches, no, “Shame on you’s,” none of that Catholic School Guilt, just…Tune out, chill out and relax.

The All-Star Weekend isn’t for everybody. If you want to take a peek at the web to see if a Wing said anything interested and then play video games or hang out with the fam or engage in a fine night out at the bar or go to Florida, too.

If you don’t enjoy it, by all means, it’s fine, just take a nice break and enjoy some R&R.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/07/12 at 11:06 PM ET

Avatar

The All-star game is, by and large, a joke.  I rarely watch it, nothing terribly interesting or relevant happens in it, and there are almost always 3-7 other things on TV sports-wise that are far more interesting.

Fortunately, it’s not really a TV event as much as it is an in-person fan service event, so it being wholly unpalatable to a TV viewer like me is meaningless.

The larger problem I have with some of these journalists complaining about having to cover the ASG is that as a whole they already do a pretty shabby job covering the NHL as it is.  I don’t really get the impression we have too many serious sports journalists penning op-eds about the NHL.

I mean, if those doofuses were out there breaking stories and doing hard-hitting investigative stuff once in a blue moon instead of just sitting in a pool and asking stupid questions, writing down the answers and performing no follow-up… maybe I’d be a bit more willing to let them, as a group, slide a bit on covering other stuff.

As far as I can tell, right now all the NHL has are a bunch of dudes who slide on a scale somewhere between Rick Reilly and Woody Paige.  As a whole they seem content to just gasbag it up rather than going out there and finding a real story, even if that means it makes the NHL a bit uncomfortable.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 06/07/12 at 11:23 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

If those of you who don’t want to watch the ASG feel guilty about feeling that way, please don’t! It’s perfectly reasonable and understandable!

I don’t feel the least bit “guilty” about not wanting to see a bunch of “stars” put their team-oriented attitudes aside so they can have “fun,” George. Turning off my TV doesn’t change the fact that the NHL puts Corey Fairey on Pavel’s wing and expects the two to somehow “bond” for the sake of entertainment.

Screw that. This isn’t baseball where everyone seems to think their opposite number is a “good guy.” This is fricking hockey. And I don’t want Pavel to think for one lousy second that a prick like Fairey is a “good guy.” I want him to take the ice every single fricking game thinking of nothing but ways to drive that punk’s ass through the boards.

Forget the “fun” crap, George. These guys are paid millions of dollars to win games. They’re not being paid to have “fun” with other “skilled players.”

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 06/08/12 at 12:39 AM ET

Avatar

Just call penalties like they were calling a few years ago and shrink the goalie gear a bit. This way we can stop hearing all these stupid ideas to make the game better. Its fine when players are free to create and it would be nice to see a couple more goals. I miss the drama of lead changes. Just a couple of goals would be nice. And leave the ASG alone, my kids love it.

Posted by Patrick Oneill from Yonkers NY on 06/08/12 at 12:50 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

Sorry, I’m with LeBrun. The ASG is a waste of time and energy.

If the grind is too much, there are three real solutions… anything else is just a band-aid on a bullet wound:

1) Shorten the season - yep, you’d have to sacrifice either the “rivalry” aspect of teams playing 6 times per year, or sacrifice the ability for all teams to play each other

2)  Contract the league - fewer teams inherently allows the season to be shortened without sacrificing the number of divisional matchups or the ability to have all teams play each other

3) Realign the conferences - aligning the conferences more like “leagues” the way MLB does it wouldn’t inherently eliminate or lessen the grind of the season, but it would make it FAIR to all clubs as it would help eliminate the travel disparity. Obviously, a few teams will still travel quite a bit more than others, like Vancouver and San Jose, but there is quite literally nothing that can be done to fix that. At the very least, you make the Rangers and Bruins and Flyers travel out west as much as the Sharks and Canucks and Kings travel out east.

I would like to see the season start a month earlier, as has been suggested, but that doesn’t change the length of the season. So, good idea, but that addresses a different problem.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 06/08/12 at 10:27 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

One more…

4) Have “interconference” play - realign the league and only have some interconference play, like the soon-to-be old MLB interleague system. Basically, you’d only play teams nearby except for one or two weeks of the season, until the playoffs.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 06/08/12 at 10:32 AM ET

Avatar

And I don’t want Pavel to think for one lousy second that a prick like Fairey is a “good guy.”

Well it’s not really up to you to tell Pavel who is or isn’t a good guy either.  And if your good buddy Pavel isn’t complaining, who are you to tell him he’s wrong?

They’re not being paid to have “fun” with other “skilled players.”

But you’re absolutely wrong, they absolutely are being paid for that.  They are expected to play in the game if selected and they are punished if they try to skip it.

They’re not being paid to hate the other players.  They’re paid to play a game on a sheet of ice in front of an audience.  That’s why you hear of fist fights outside of the arena after games, and it’s why Ruslan Salei played on the same team as Mike Modano without Modano ever taking revenge for Salei’s hit.

Posted by Garth on 06/08/12 at 11:44 AM ET

Add a Comment

Please limit embedded image or media size to 575 pixels wide.

Add your own avatar by joining Kukla's Korner, or logging in and uploading one in your member control panel.

Captchas bug you? Join KK or log in and you won't have to bother.

Smileys

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Feed

Most Recent Blog Posts

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.