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DALLAS… Are you as big of an Olympic fan as I am? Whether it is the Winter or Summer Games, I began watching them as a kid since they were on the tube at my house when I was growing up from start to finish. The opening ceremonies with all of the athletes from all over the World to the competitions to the close, this is a once every four year treat for any sports or cultural fan of any magnitude. But next year, when the Olympic Winter Games commence in South Korea, the NHL has announced that they will not be sending their players, the best hockey players in the world to the Games. In a way I am not surprised, but at the same time I feel like I just lost something or someone close to me. This spectacle of sport is truly amazing and now….
I’m a bit stunned at the finality of this news. As I am still analyzing it, anger has not set in yet. Who can I blame? Who can I point a finger at? Commissioner Gary Bettman would be an easy target, but on the other hand he works at the behest of the owners, he represents their positions to the players and he says that they feel it’s too much of a hardship and disruption to the season to attend this time around. I can get that, I understand that. But the goodwill that occurs from the leagues participation at the games just might be immeasurable. Sometimes goodwill can translate financially and sometimes not. But I believe that with the game and the league at a high level of popularity at this point in time, why would you dare tamper with that? It has been harder for this sports business, much harder, then the others to elevate to their current level. Why would you risk alienating some of your fans and losing some of your newfound popularity?
Do the owners lose money? I would think not, they still get to play their full compliment of 82 games. They say they do, but hey, show it to me on paper. Does a lot of extra work go into putting the league on hiatus and getting the stars along with their families and friends to the game site? Absolutely. The actual logistics involved would probably be staggering in their scope. Do the league and the owners get to share in the spoils of this Super-tournament? No, and they have had to do a lot of wiggling and horse trading to even get their expenses covered. On the other hand, if you are weighing the games out from a long term viewpoint, what is the equivalent worth and value of getting global exposure for your brand, league and it’s players for a 2 week timeframe at a vastly discounted cost when compared to retail advertising and marketing costs?
Well, all of that is better ferreted out by folks who do that for a living, which doesn’t include me. There is also this little thing gnawing away inside of me that is saying to me that what this really is, is a continuation of the leagues and even Bettman himself, showing the players once again who is really in charge here, and it’s not them. The strong possibility exists that this is little more then the extension of the elitist owners hovering over the (working class) players and putting them and keeping them in their place. It’s the Robber Barons of our time over the peasant-serf like players. That’s their approach to negotiating CBA deals and Bettman is one of the best at getting what the owners want out of the players. Now, the league and owners have never done better, and the players are right there with them, but just don’t forget who signs the checks. When the players balked at the leagues ludicrous offer to go to the Olympics if they agreed to extend the current CBA by 3 more years you had to know things were going south. Neither do I see an 11th hour deal to still go to South Korea. I think this bad boy is toast and I’m not happy….
THE FROZEN FOUR IS HERE and I will make this quick, quite a few “experts” I have heard over the past week aren’t high on the UMD Bulldogs and they aren’t giving Notre Dame much of a chance either. They see a Denver-Harvard final, and lo and behold, several of them were picking Harvard to win the title! They cited The Crimsons overall speed game and roster strength as the keys to their chances. Well, just a minute there Baba-Looie! On last Saturdays Hockey on Campus radio show, on SiriusXM Satellite radio there was plenty of Eastern love going around the airwaves. Host Bernie Corbett was non-committal to a favorite.
Can Notre Dame beat a really good Denver club? Probably not, so that gets the Pioneers to the Final. I see the overall strength and grinding game of UMD persevering over Harvard. Harvard probably is slightly faster then the Dogs but I think the Dogs have a better first unit and will overpower Harvard over three periods. UMD and Denver in the Final? I’m going Dogs. It just has to be. The title is coming back to Minny…..
THE MINNESOTA WILD HAVE survived the month of March, but there is no joy in St. Paul over the current Wild fortunes. They just put up a 4-10 March and looked fairly poor in so doing. Last week the club had a spirited OT loss to the Capitals, beat a struggling Ottawa team, lost to a strong Nashville team and looked lethargic to boot and then yesterday beat the hapless Avalanche. Nothing within the teams last 5 weeks would lead me to believe they are on to nothing other then a quick first round playoff exit. On the other hand, in their disaster of a March they weren’t blown out in any one game save for the Tampa tilt. They are still 3rd in Goals For but have dipped to 8th in Goals Against, they are 10th on the PP and on the PK and unless they totally collapse in the final week of the regular season will finish in 2nd in the Central with at least 100 points.
They have dropped only to 4th in the Sagarin NHL rank, which surprises me after their recent slide. The regular season ends on Sunday and then…. The greatest sports tourney of all kicks off! Will the real Minnesota Wild please stand up? PEACE