Thursday, November 06, 2003

My Stab at the F4

Who will be the first coach to get fired this season? Could be Martin, since Ottawa has had a really slow start and GM John Muckler is threatening to make changes if things don't turn around. So Martin, despite his being a Jack Adams finalist every year, it seems like, could be fired. That'd be almost as insane as the Avalanche firing Bob Hartley. When Hartley was fired and they hired Tony Granato, I still thought Granato was playing in the league. He was literally one year out. To chose Granato over Hartley seems pretty silly. But I guess it could shock the Senators into playing well. It's just too bad that the players can't be punished as harshly as coaches can, since the onus is on them as well. Do you think there will be a lockout next season? Unfortunately, I don't think there will be a 2004-2005 nhl season. The NHLPA will not budge, because they honestly think that NHL players are worth the millions they are paid, and a lot of agents also have clients in the NBA and NFL, so they argue that NHL players are underpaid. I really don't think so. It is not realistic to place the NHL at the level of the NFL or NBA because the NHL is largely unpopular. I'm sorry, but this is the reality in the US. I live in the Detroit area, in what is supposed to be Hockeytown, and have an extremely hard time finding people who "know" hockey. I'm not talking about the fans who say they support the Wings but ask you "what was the score last night?" --ie the fair weather fans. I know few hard-core Wings fans who live and die with the team each and every game, or even half of the time. I could count them on one hand. NHL players can't expect these top dollar prices in a league that loses millions/season. I see players like Lidstrom , Forseberg leaving to play in their home-countries in the lockout, meaning the league will be in big time trouble. There are many problems with the NHL. Bettman needs to realize that expansion has done nothing for the league, and has probably been a reason for loss of dollars. He invested too heavily in the idea that sending hockey down to the tropics will excite people down there. Oh yeah, it excited Miami (ie Panthers) for the one year they were good, and then it's suddenly an empty arena the next season, treating hockey like a fad. And hockey should never be on the same level as Beanie Babies, in my opinion. Same with Phoenix. That's not a hockey city. Wings fans make it a hockey city when we play them and fill up their arena, but they can't do it themselves. Much of this can also be said of Nashville, and Columbus. Atlanta could be the exception, but I'm not certain of this yet. The only good expansion was the Quebec Nordiques moving to Denver, since, love them or hate them, the Avs haven't sucked the talent out of the league like most expansion teams and have been consistently good. But that's just because the Nordiques had Forseberg and such on before they headed south, and were only an expansion team by technical definition. In addition, Bettman has decided to strictly enforce rules rather than make the game enjoyable for fans This pretty much closes the game out for borderline fans and prospective new fans, since it takes a lot of understanding to follow all these "penalties" refs are calling these days. And it frustrates hard-core fans. I'm not saying we dumb down the game, but make it a little bit more accessable for others. I almost feel like the NHL hockey world is a cult that most people don't get to experience. Expansion didn't change this. And respect needs to be taught at a young level in hockey leagues. In many kiddie leagues, they don't allow htting or much physical play. This means that players don't have experience with how/when to slash or check or run on a guy on the boards. So we see dirty play at times. And I totally forgot what the question was... Who do you think will make the playoffs in the East? Who will be on the outside looking in? I see Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Ottawa, Toronto, Boston, Jersey, Philly, and Buffalo making the playoffs, with Buffalo as my least likely pick. How about the Western conference? St Louis, Detroit, Colorado, Dallas, Vancouver certain. Anyone else would be the team that rallies in the final weeks...maybe LA, Anaheim, Edmonton, or Chicago.


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