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Friday, February 4

Truly, the NHL is doomed  

Taking a break (or submitting before he went) from his Superbowl festivities, Bill Simmons takes the time to look over the bed the NHL owners made but now refuse to lie in:

Even hockey diehards — a dying breed right up there with Eddie Murphy fans and handlebar-mustache fans — seem to agree this lockout is for the best. And that's a little weird, because we're not talking the WNBA here, where only a tiny segment of people will pay to watch the games. People like hockey. Sure, most of them live in Canada, where Bryan Adams is an icon, but there's still an audience. And we are all victims of a once-likable league that screwed itself up beyond repair, the same way you screw up a relationship by drunk-dialing too many times. The NHL made two unforgivable mistakes: expanding more recklessly than Krispy Kreme and paying their players way, way, way too much money. It was a lethal combination of greed and sheer stupidity.

This was a blue-collar sport for middle-class fans — a quality dive bar with one good TV, a few solid beers on tap and a ballbusting bartender named Fitzy. Then they tried to retool into an upscale joint with $15 beers and bartenders in bow ties. Suddenly, the price of NHL tickets rivaled that of the NFL and the NBA. Does that make sense? … Tragically, the owners lack the resolve and leadership to undo the damage. Basically, they need to bring on a hockey apocalypse and start over. Since that will never happen, hockey is doomed.

My current thoughts on the impending season cancellation is that the league is waiting until after the close of business today to announce anything. Timing this thing to be totally swept under the rug by the Superbowl is crucial for them. Once the sports stations are wall-to-wall Superbowl, they'll have enough cover to slip the announcement in and not have any coverage for almost a week. At that point it will be essentially old news and they'll have had several days to prepare their talking points, etc.

It's not out of the realm of possibilities that, once Bud Selig is firmly ensconced as the new owner of the Washington Lobbyists Nationals, baseball will go through many of these same death throes. It won't be pretty, but baseball is nearly as broken as hockey and neither league understands that the product is the league itself, not any individual team.



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