1167 for publication June 24, 2016
Hey, we have a new team in the NHL. What a surprise!
Geez, the only way Wednesday’s announcements would have been shocking is if the Las Vegas bid came up “snake-eyes,” or Quebec City was thrown a bone with some meat on it.
As was often explained, the Canadian dollar is QC’s road block for the foreseeable future. Also with their population being only 520-thousand, they seem aggravated that they are considered a “small market.” Unfortunately, to use NHL terms, they are also in the “far east.” Now at 16-15, it’s a battle to be left for another day, at least until after a quick second western team is in the fold, making the East-West a 16+16 balance.
Either way, Quebec City is in for a wait, and that fading background music you hear is the old refrain, “build it and they will come.”
The NHL is presently currying favour for anywhere called Seattle. They aren’t biding their time, they’re pushing it. The present owners would prefer a new recruit formal application, they will resent an existing team simply setting up on different turf.
So the only surprise is, the Las Vegas Black Chips being the first pro anything in town. In fact the NHL looks very progressive, but before they start strutting the peacock walk, they must understand, their coming NBA partner in the T-Mobile arena will steal their thunder whenever they choose to, and the NFL will eventually be the All American king of the hill when they shelve their “fear of gambling.” We’re all aware how betting the spread accounts for much of the attention given to football.
One thing was in evidence. Once the door is opened, the other two sports won’t be far behind. It will be incumbent on the NHL to make use of their early toe-hold, and that means winning. If you were searching for a compelling reason behind the League’s largesse in the drafting arrangements presented Las Vegas as opposed to those who went before them, look no further. There’s a need and advantage to being quickly competitive.
Yet one question I’ve voiced before is the “watering down effect.” One more team might make the divisions balance, but it also needs another 30 NHL calibre players. In hockey’s case, growth comes with a price.
In case you weren’t aware, the minor hockey population in Canada is dropping, not increasing. Fingers often point to Europe, or Russia and participation numbers, but those aren’t encouraging either, even if you agree with their figures. The result will be a decline in the per-team talent pool, plus the level of play, and it’s never a good idea to slide backward in the competition level. But it’s a concern for the future.
As for something the NHL can do immediately, I’d like to make a suggestion. Stop attempting to ingratiate yourself in the Vegas approach to your awards show.
I wrote a column five years ago, #802, June of 2011, same subject, same observations, same results with my comments on the NHL Awards presentation. Nothin’s changed except the winners.
For starters, call a moratorium on obscure celebrities and acts, showgirls with microphones, and actors/comedians/writers who only think they know the game and its environs. That or increase your “talent” budget.
Geez, even the new owner was talking about his days in Ottawa, playing “shiny hockey.” Not shinny. Shiny, as in polished shoes.
I also think it’s about time the detail people in the NHL, led by their five-star General, Gary Bettman, should insist on installing guidelines governing NHL public appearances for their star players.
First, they’re all making big money, and as such the first three in each award category should be required to wear tuxedos. If they can’t afford a tux, one must be provided by the League out of their player-fines account. Besides, there’s a tuxedo rental store in every hotel along the strip.
Patrick Kane was great in a tux, and looked like a winner.
Secondly, all players, all candidates, and fellow hockey-playing attendees, should be mandated to wear all their teeth. Specifically while at presentation ceremonies, however long they last on the big day.
So, upgrade the show-biz performers, find ones that have an understanding of the league and the game, and present your best players in the best way possible.
After all, they are “the stars.”