North of the 400

North of Toronto, South of a championship

Why should I bother?

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I was arguing with a friend of mine about the Ducks/Oilers series (he claims that the referees are biased towards the Oilers, I say that maybe the Ducks should stop emulating the Flyers of 1975) when he dropped a bombshell: “But you haven’t even been watching the series, have you?”

It came out of the blue, hit me between the eyes and was – worst of all – completely, 100% true. I haven’t been that keen on the playoffs this season, even though I had been looking forward to it.

So this morning I asked myself why I haven’t been interested – and I was able to come up with four big reasons that a NHL fan like myself just hasn’t been watching the playoffs this year…

1) The presentation
First off, OLN is not doing an especially good job – I keep hearing my friend (the same one from above) complaining about how they mis-pronounce players names left, right and center -,they’re simply not big enough to get anybody interested and from my (somewhat limited) exposure, I still think that maybe OLN is learning as they go along (they already dropped their old bug for the bar, for example).

And it’s not just them, either: NBC, CBC and TSN’s broadcasts are not much better. Bob Cole and Harry Neale are fast approaching time to consider joining Mickey Redmond and Dick Irvin in semi-retirement, whereas Pierre McGuire needs to restrain himself at times – he commonly keeps talking through breaks in play and often doesn’t stop when play resumes. Yes, he knows what he’s talking about, but one of these days, he’s going to talk over a significant play. John Davision, Don Wittman and Chris Cuthbert are maybe the only people who are doing a good job in hockey broadcasting these days.

2) Wait, who’s playing?
For Edmonton, this is the first time since 1990 that they’ve been in position to make it to the Cup Finals; for Anaheim it’s 2003; for Carolina it’s 2002; for Buffalo it’s 1999. Three of these teams have never won a Cup and the one that has (Edmonton) hasn’t done so in 16 years.

And they all play in small-market areas – and only Edmonton could be argued to have any kind of fanbase outside of their market.

It really seems like the Rams/Titans Superbowl a few years back: Yes, it may be a good – but who cares? When you don’t have teams that people all across the continent have opinions about (Detroit Red Wings, Dallas Stars, Toronto Maple Leafs, New Jersey Devils, etc) nobody’s going to care. That’s why TV ratings are dropping (for the first time ever, the viewership has dropped to less then 1 million in Canada) and that’s why interest is waning.

3) The Competition
Right now, speaking in terms of classic games, there has been little of note in the NHL playoffs – at most, there are maybe four or five games that will ever re-air on ESPN Classic.

But in the NBA Playoffs, we are just getting off of what has been called the “Best first two rounds of playoff basketball ever” by ESPN’s Skip Bayless; for even the person who had almost no interest in basketball (such as myself), it’s been completely fantastic, and I have found myself completely hooked on the NBA. In terms of quality, it’s not even close: the NBA playoffs have shown to be just as, and in most cases more, exciting and fun to watch then the NHL playoffs.

4) Post-Lockout Blues
Last spring, we all found out that there is indeed life without the NHL playoffs… Yes, maybe TSN and ESPN Classic rebroadcasting old games helped, but it just seems to me that the playoffs just don’t have the same “pull” that they used to – and I may just have reached the point last spring where I realized that the NHL doesn’t care about me, the typical fan (after all, Toronto was the first team to remove the “Thank you fans” slogan from it’s ice surface), so why should I care about it? Thanks to the Jays starting to compete with The Big Two, the NBA having a fantastic postseason, the CFL just getting ready to start (and with the Argos pursuing Ricky Williams) and the World Cup starting soon I have to make room for the NHL now – and if I can’t, I’m not sure that I’ll miss it.

5) Phoenix Suns / Dallas Mavericks and Detroit Pistons / Miami Heat
It’s been one of, if not the, best NBA playoffs ever – and we haven’t even gotten to The Finals yet, or even finished the conference championships. Why should I stop watching now?

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Written by M.

May 26, 2006 at 5:16 pm

Posted in Hockey, nhl, playoffs

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