Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The Puck Stops Here

Like many I used to be a die-hard hockey fan. Back in the day, all the New York Rangers road games were on Channel 9, and watching them play the Flyers and Bruins was akin to a gladiator smackdown. In time, I grew to appreciate the almost-balletic grace of a solid end-to-end game more than watching Nick Fotiu take on the entire Hartford Whalers.
So what happened next? Blame the Rangers. Why not? After a city heaved a collective sigh of relief when the team won its first Stanley Cup in 54 years, the NHL tried to cash in on that era of good feeling and continue its expansion spree. In the end we were left with a large assortment of mediocrities hanging out in the neutral zone hoping one of them would get lucky and wrist a puck or two in the net.
The NHL has only itself to blame for being a distant fourth in the hearts and minds of most sports fans. And now with the league rejecting the players' latest proposal to end the lockout that will likely scuttle the season, the prospect of the NHL skating into oblivion is all too real. Time for some hard choices to be made, as Rick Carpinello deftly notes.
Still, no one spews the bile that should rightly be directed at NHL owners better than Larry Brooks. No question he's deeply passionate about the game as he reads like a lover scorned.
Who blinks next? Who cares?

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