The NHL got itself into a dumb fight over the all-star play, and then Gary Bettman kicked up a rain in Calgary. The league needs to reconsider its commitment to fans
Its become an annual tradition every springtime that, when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman steps on the sparkler to present the Stanley Cup-winning team with its prize hardware, those followers present in the arena let fly an enormous chorus of boos. It perseveres partly because of its longevity its done because its always the case done. This time, nonetheless, when that time comes, we are going to be able remember this past week as rationale other than tradition to breeze grudges. For, the NHL has managed in a matter of daytimes, thanks strictly to its own arrogance, to throw itself into wasteful gossip and alienate its devotee base.
The first issue was weeks in the making. Back in December, the NHL once again launched its online love vote alternative for the January 31 all-star activity in Nashville. Within 72 hours, John Scott, an enforcer from the Arizona Coyotes, led the voting tally. Scotts role is a succumbing one in what numerous term the new NHL, one that has altered its rules to underscore rapidity, science, and goal-scoring, thereby naturally weeding out the usually slower, less skilled guys who in past have been on the ice to physically stick up for the adept participates. In the last eight seasons, Scott has tallied five goals, but racked up 521 retribution times. Not genuinely all-star material.
At first it looked like a speedy gag internet users were playing on the NHL skewering the idea that the struggle( which this year boasts 3-on-3 recreations) is at all a serious affair. But as December turned to January, and Scott still produced the voting counter. Voting closed. Scott was still on top, the presumptive captain of the Pacific Division. Such was the case as recently as January 6, when a berth on the all-star website noted that Scott produces the veteran contingent of Pacific participates. By that time, Scott had morphed from simply a joke to a rallying point people started to like the feel-good vistum of a fib about a person who otherwise would never share the all-star ice. He hugged the role, even creating T-shirts to hand out to his teammates that did: Thanks for believes in me. Love ever, The Captain.
The league, meanwhile, seemed amazed as to what to do about it all.
Then, suddenly, Friday, Scott was traded to Montreal, in the Atlantic Division, which in turn almost immediately apportioned him to their American Hockey League affiliate in St Johns. Later that same day, TSNs Bob McKenzie tweeted that Scott was previously asked by both NHL and Arizona Coyotes to bow out of NHL all-star recreation. He denied. Trade likely takes care of that.
Not quite. On Tuesday, the conference announced Scott would be allowed to take part in the all-star tournament. But surely nobody can really be happy about how all this proceeded and the splits it sowed.
Hockey Night in Canadas Don Cherry timed the thumb at the love for breaking everything. You jerks who set him up to be in the all-star play, youve taken this minor who was doing pretty good with an NHL contract, what youve done is set him in the minors and hes building American League money, Cherry scolded.
But hes in the minority communities. The more popular opinion is that the NHL deep-sixed Scott out of malice. The NHL miscarried Scott, Pat Iversen wrote in a widely shared SB Nation post. They took a surprisingly heartwarming minute and storey for the sport and eliminated it out of pettiness and dignity for a bogus hockey game.
This last-place spot is critical. This is an event for which Alexander Ovechkin once wore sunglasses and a silly hat with a pennant pointing out of it. The all-star game is meant to be for children , not to be run by adults playing like them.
Its possible the Machiavellian machinations that put Scott in the AHL were not wholly constructed by the NHL, and not signify as a slight to fans. But it examines bad. And rising as it does on the heels of hitherto Bettmans stay to Calgary earlier in the week, it starts to look like the NHL has forgotten its followers.
Out in Calgary, the Flames are still playing in the Saddledome, which is pushing its third decade as the two teams home rink. As other teams have done, the Flames organization has proposed a new realm/ football field hybrid stadium to be build on the west area of the downtown core. The region in question used to host a railing garden, and the infected clay has made its been underused( theres a bus depot and a few car dealerships) for some time. The catch, however, is the price tag: $890 m much of which would be funded by taxpayers.
For Bettman, relevant proposals is a winner, and the stakes could not be higher. In the city last week, he told a business group that it is not an overstatement to say the future stability, viability and continuity of the Calgary Flames, and perhaps the city of Calgary, remains on the achievement of CalgaryNEXT.
It was stunningly tone-deaf. Calgary and Alberta, generally is currently smarting from plummeting high oil prices: errands are being cut, home prices are falling, food banks are struggling to keep up with requisition, and suicide rates are climbing. This is not a region thats ready to hear menaces that nearly a billion dollars is needed to save its beloved hockey society. Its why many acclaimed Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshis sarcastic rebuttal: I know that Calgarians necessary exceedingly wealthy people from New York to come and tell us what we need to do in our community, because they understand vibrancy better than we do.
The NHL has long perpetuated a sentimentality-based sell strategy a firebrand of plays nostalgia based on the values of tenacity and teamwork. With the help of its broadcasting spouses, it rotates wools about humble beginnings and family and local hockey arenas as second homes. There is some truth to all that of course, which is why its plausible, but its manipulated all the same.
Most importantly, the NHL promotes hockey, the play, as a stand-in for community which is something that these two escapades are eventually all about. Thats how it obliges its fund. Thats how it establishes its money. Thats how it persuasion families to pay exorbitant fees for tickets and merchandise, and to keep occupy the organizations of the system with young players. Thats how it, a relatively small major league, still survives.
In the cover of a single week, the NHL has left devotees wondering if this is still a community they want to be a part of. Gary Bettman might expect a louder chorus of boo this spring, and if thats the lawsuit, he should take it as solace. Boos imply people still care.