Sunday, January 18, 2009

"N" Does Not Stand for "New York"

We've long ago become accustomed to Larry Brooks thinking that the world of hockey ends at the Hudson River, but in a column he penned today, he's really jumped the shark...
"Now that it has a hit on its hands, the NHL should whenever possible use the Winter Classic as a vehicle to help needy markets and franchises. Which is why next season's Winter Classic should be played in New York between the Islanders and Rangers..."

You read right...the Rangers and the Islanders. Teams with about as much buzz as a flat beer.

But hey, what did you expect? It's all about New York with Brooks. And he doesn't even try to paper it over...
"We understand. The rest of the country might yawn. The NHL wouldn't be able to crow about the ratings. NBC might not like it. This is all irrelevant, and most certainly the part about NBC, or at least until the network actually, you know, pays rights fees to the league. But a New York-New York Bowl would benefit the league's most important American market."

Guess it might have escaped notice that a game like this -- highlighting venues, teams, and star players -- might help the franchises of the NHL locally. If someone in one of those small markets Brooks sneers at sees this spectacle, perhaps that viewer might be more inclined to go to a game in his market or tune in a bit more often to his team.

But in Larry World, the only franchise that needs help is the Islanders. Never mind that the franchise has been run into the ground by management that might be charitably described as "strange." Or that the team has finished dead last in attendance in two of the last three seasons, and seems destined to finish there once more. Or that the team -- 1-8-1 in their last ten games and dead last in the league standings (nine points behind 29th place Atlanta) -- seems to be in a hellbent rush to draft John Tavares or Victor Hedman.

One game on a winter's day in January, whether it is in the new Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, Central Park, or Brooks' living room isn't going to rescue a moribund franchise, not given the deeper structural problems it faces -- inept management, an old facility, lack of talent with the parent club, a lack of depth in their farm system. Giving a slot in this game to the Islanders looks an awful lot like rewarding bad behavior. And when the game is over, the folks who stand in charge of the wreckage that is the Islanders will still be there.

The National Football League can afford the occasional (or even the frequent) dull Super Bowl game because it is the biggest event on the North American athletic calendar. The NHL doesn't have nearly so much good will banked with fans to afford a "Stinker in the Bronx" that a Rangers-Islanders game might provide.

Larry, the "N" in "NHL" doesn't stand for "New York." doesn't.


Hooks Orpik said...

I think it will be (and should be) Washington vs. Rangers next time.

I think it'd be great if they could somehow find a way to play the game in Central Park, but I have no idea if that is logistically possible.

breed16 said...

After the hit that was Wrigley, and considering the newfound young juggernaut that is the Bruins, I'd put a pretty penny on next year's WC being at Fenway. Bruins vs. Caps/Rangers/Flyers. The Northeast has long been the core of the US hockey world, and this just seems like the logical fit.

Then again they might want to save Fenway for a later date instead of running through the two classic ballparks in a row. But it's definitely gonna happen soon.

The Peerless said...

I believe Fenway is undergoing major renovations that would prevent it from hosting a Winter Classic next year.