Monday, June 19, 2006

Nothing could be finer...

Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina, right? Well I suppose that could be said Monday night. The Duke LaCrosse scandal has been a black eye on “The Triangle.” You’re familiar with “The Triangle” aren’t ya? Its that area in North Carolina which is anchored by Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. It is NCAA Basketball Mecca, home to the NC State Wolfpack, Duke Blue Devils and UNC Tar Heels.

Monday night though, was all about hockey, eh? The Carolina’s Hurricanes won their first ever Stanley Cup in Raleigh tonight by defeating the Edmonton Oilers 3-1 in the seventh game of the series. Ya gotta hand it to the Oilers though. They lost their starting goalie Dwayne Roloson in game 1. Roloson had been the key to the Oilers improbable run through the Stanley Cup Playoffs. After Game 1, hockey pundits everywhere were declaring the series OVER.

Ya can’t spell spoilers without Oilers though.

After dropping the first two games of the series, the Oilers came back to win three of the next four to force a Game 7. It was only the fourteenth Game 7 in the history of the Stanley Cup Finals. Alas, the Hurricanes were a force not to be denied. Even a disputed non-goal (replays later showed that the Refs got the call wrong and Carolina should have been credited with another goal) could not steer these Hurricanes off track.

It was truly a memorable series.

That is, for anyone who actually saw it. The NHL came back strong this year (after a year off due to a labor stoppage), unfortunately, the only cable channel that was interested in paying substantive dollars to televise the NHL was OLN (Outdoor Life Network). The first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals drew abysmal ratings.

Game 1 was witnessed by 610,836 households in the United States. Game 2 sucked in 5,000 fewer. SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND viewers for a championship series here in the United States? The NHL has had a presence in the US since 1924. That’s over 80 years!

More people watched a women’s college softball game than Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

More people watched a rained-out baseball game on ESPN that never started than Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Game 3 of Lord Stanley’s Cup was moved to NBC and that was outdrawn here in the Los Angeles market by reruns of “I Love Lucy!”

OK, stay with me here. I LOVE the NHL. If you have ever been to a hockey game live with seats in the lower bowl of an arena, you will be hard-pressed to see a more exciting sporting event. But Gary Bettman (he's the Commissioner of the NHL for you who are uninitiated), the NHL has a problem.

If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it…does it make a sound?

Granted, the horrific ratings may have had something to do with the small markets involved (Raleigh, NC and Edmonton, Alberta Canada), but they also had a lot to do with OLN. Outdoor Life Network may be available in 70 million households nationwide (thanks to DirecTV) but apparently no one knows what channel OLN is on. Do you? Quick, blurt out the channel number for OLN on your cable/satellite package. If you are a DirecTV customer, you can find OLN on 608 (I admit, I had to look it up on the online guide myself).

So my heartfelt congratulations go out to the Carolina Hurricanes on their victory. You readers get bonus points if you can name TWO players on the team without looking. I’ll give you extra bonus points if you know how long the Hurricanes have been in existence and know their origin (here’s a hint, they weren’t an expansion franchise, they moved from another state).

Ah hell, with the less than tepid interest that the NHL has enjoyed on television this year, I suppose I should give you bonus points for even having read this far into the article.



Is there anyone still reading????

Oh well, maybe next year the NHL (and OLN) will look to build a strategic alliance with a daily sports periodical that covers the NHL like no other daily publication in the US. That would be most eXXceLlent


At 11:20 PM, Blogger Josh said...

I really wanted to care about the NHL this year, I gave it a chance at the beginning of the year by traveling to Anaheim to watch the Ducks take on the Dallas Stars, but I just couldn't get into to it. It has the basic principles for an exciting game, but I just could not get into it. Shortly after the start of the third period with the ducks down 3-1, I was thinking about leaving to beat traffic. I watched games on television years back, but even then they were rarely interesting, I mostly used it to fill the void of real sports that were absent at the time. The majority of my time spent watching the NHL was spent very upset that it was interrupting reruns of I Love Lucy at 5:00 pm on FOX.

As for OLN, until two nights ago I had never seen any interesting programming. I was flipping through channels, desperate for something to watch and it just so happens that OLN was replaying AMA Motorcross action from Buchanan, MI. It just isn't a channel I would associate with sports, but perhaps that will soon change.

At 8:28 AM, Anonymous Bob said...

I'd rather watch the women's softball game. Do you know who was playing?

At 12:41 PM, Anonymous arnold said...

first of all I was one of the people that was watching the Womens college softball. I feel they do not get the coverage they deserve. They, as a sport, are probably the biggest influence on young girls in this nation. So I would choose softball over hockey anyday.

Not that I don't like a good fight in a hockey game. Long live McSorley.

I think that that OLN is great. I remember when I was trying to find coverage of Lance Armstrong when he was trying to win his last Tour De France and OLN was there to give me what I wanted.

At 1:40 PM, Blogger jrgtrain said...

Is this what it has come down to? Women's softball....Hockey on the cooking or travel or whatever channel??

I am sure it is fun to smell sweaty man ass in sub arctic temps. Check that....That doesn't sound like fun at all. Okay so it's cool to watch guys beat the crap out of each other, get a penalty, then get to play some more.

Still, hockey on T.V. is just.......... well..... not exciting. Hockey may have been here for 80+ years but for people who are basking in 80 degree tems at 8pm at night, how can they possibly releate to a sport on ice?

Hockey has it's fans. They have also lost many due to the crappy politics of the decision makers.

I say, it doesn't matter what channel hockey is will still do sub par on T.V.


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