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The Season That Isn't
November 22, 2012 6:37 AM   Subscribe

With the NHL locked out for the foreseeable future, the Montreal Gazette has decided to cover Canadiens games simulated on EA Sports NHL '13 as if they were real games.
posted by reenum (49 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is like that Star Trek episode where the two civilizations have grown comfortable engaging in an on-going simulated war.

We need William Shatner to encourage the owners and NHLPA to call a ceasefire so that the NHL can, with the Federation's assistance, learn to coexist in peace.
posted by mazola at 6:42 AM on November 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


We also drink Tim Hortons as if it were real coffee. Ours is a tundra of simulacra.
posted by Beardman at 6:43 AM on November 22, 2012 [54 favorites]


I never thought I would pity hockey fans, but now I do.
posted by Egg Shen at 6:47 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Words fail to describe how pathetic this is.
posted by Dark Messiah at 6:48 AM on November 22, 2012


Apparently they're (we're?) doing this in Edmonton too.
posted by mazola at 6:51 AM on November 22, 2012


I never thought I would pity hockey fans, but now I do.

Words fail to describe how pathetic this is.


No way, this is awesome. Forget about technology automating away the jobs of the poor and middle class, let's see that hammer land on a group of people who really need to go away; pro athletes and franchise owners.

I'm 100% in favor of making pro sports obsolete.
posted by mhoye at 6:54 AM on November 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


Will these video game players be endorsing any products?
posted by Trivia Newton John at 6:57 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


This shit is so dumb. Hockey was JUST starting to gain traction (pun intended) again. I used to watch so much hockey in the early 90s but stopped after the 94 lockout. In the last 2-3 years my friends and I had just started watching the playoffs again, going to the occasional game here and there. This was gonna be the year where I actually followed the regular season.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:57 AM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was actually not-minding the lockout, as the last time around the Ceeb showed a whole whack of great movies in place of the games. Kinda was looking forward to that again (I don't really pay attention until playoff season, anyway).

Then they came up with the brilliant idea of showing hockey reruns instead.

This is even more pathetic and stupid. But not as pathetic and stupid as the lockout itself.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:07 AM on November 22, 2012


Meanwhile, the Blue Jays have made the biggest trade in baseball history and signed additional free agents to turn themselves into the large-market perennial contenders they were always supposed to be, and the Raptors struggle because they're owned by MLSE and MLSE knows it can not give a shit about competitiveness forever, and Canadians just yawn and ask "when is the hockey coming back" because Canadians fetishize hockey, always have and always will, which is why we're basically shit at all other sports.
posted by mightygodking at 7:07 AM on November 22, 2012


Hey, it could work. The Saga of Pro Vercelli was more fun to experience than any real sporting season I've ever (not) followed.

Seriously, that is one great read.
posted by Malor at 7:12 AM on November 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Canadians fetishize hockey, always have and always will, which is why we're basically shit at all other sports.

True, with the possible exception of curling.

I would totally watch Curling Night In Canada every Saturday.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:14 AM on November 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


Canadians fetishize hockey, always have and always will

Speak for yourself. There are millions of us who really couldn't give a shit.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:23 AM on November 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


It must suck to be a great player (especially if you're a relatively older guy like Jagr or Selanne) and be unable to play in the only league that matters in the record books. Instead, you're just getting a year closer to retirement with nothing to show for it.
posted by pracowity at 7:23 AM on November 22, 2012


Please send some of that lockout mojo down south. I'm sick of Sundays being nothing but football.
you're just getting a year closer to retirement with nothing to show for it.
Sums up all pro sports.
posted by zengargoyle at 7:26 AM on November 22, 2012


...nothing to show for it except the millions of dollars and adoration of fans.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:27 AM on November 22, 2012


The whole He-Nerd Sports Haters Club thing is a bit below us at this point, everybody.
posted by Gin and Comics at 7:38 AM on November 22, 2012 [29 favorites]


Agreed, it's tiresome. It's like coming into a goddamned cat thread peacocking about how much you hate cats.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:40 AM on November 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


If the US had done this when the NBA, or the NFL, were on strike, I would have cheered and watched in solidarity.

It's not just the travesty of ridiculously rich athletes that makes the strikes so hard to sympathize with, but the miserliness of the team owners who make gazillions off of every game and yet balk at continuing referee's pension funds.

I already don't care for basketball, so that wouldn't affect me much (it's absurd, I know, but it just plain bothers me that fouling your opponent works to your advantage if you're losing, and it's written right into the rules of the game).

Seeing the Evil Empire brought to their knees as teens and young adults take over the airways, playing Madden football, crazily calling the shots (Why not punt on second down? What happens if we just knock Manning out after the first play is over and take him right out of the game?) while hundreds of thousands of outraged fans scream and throw things at their TV screens would be a fascinating social experiment, if nothing else.

The only real downside I see is the millions of dollars of free advertising for Red Bull whenever the videogame tournaments went into overtime.
posted by misha at 7:44 AM on November 22, 2012


...nothing to show for it except the millions of dollars and adoration of fans.

I think any good player looks at each season as another chance to get his name inscribed on the cup, and any great player also hopes for a scoring record or other individual record, and every year he's instead playing golf is a chance taken away from him.
posted by pracowity at 7:46 AM on November 22, 2012


This is not the Singularity I was expecting.
posted by tommasz at 7:51 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Agreed on a moratorium for general jock-hating snark, though. Plenty of athletes are cool people (Chris Kluwe comes to mind), just as plenty of geeks are jerks, and vice versa.
posted by misha at 7:53 AM on November 22, 2012


My character in The Sims is super excited about this.
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 8:15 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not just the travesty of ridiculously rich athletes that makes the strikes so hard to sympathize with...

The players aren't striking, they're locked out.
posted by hoyland at 8:16 AM on November 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


>The whole He-Nerd Sports Haters Club thing is a bit below us at this point, everybody.

>Agreed, it's tiresome. It's like coming into a goddamned cat thread peacocking about how much you hate cats.

>Agreed on a moratorium for general jock-hating snark, though.


Not one person has done that in this thread. People have criticized professional sports, that's all.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:21 AM on November 22, 2012


mightygodking: "Canadians fetishize hockey, always have and always will, which is why we're basically shit at all other sports."

Not to one up you here, but a quick hop over your southern border will take you to my country, where the president of a major university is facing criminal charges because he covered up sex abuse by an assistant football coach in order to defend the sport we all fetishize...
posted by Apropos of Something at 8:22 AM on November 22, 2012


The players aren't striking, they're locked out.

And they'll be allowed back in if they agree to a pay cut and whatnot. Same difference, really.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:23 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Honestly, I don't see how anyone can complain about athlete salaries. Given the amount of money in the industry, they're generally fairly compensated. They're at the top of their field, their field generates a lot of money, and that money is made entertaining people, which is at worst morally neutral.

In a world where hedge fund managers' heads aren't against the wall, athletes are hardly anyone's enemy.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:27 AM on November 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


If I were the wealthiest man on Earth, I'd buy the broadcast rights to all of the major ice hockey, handegg, baseball, basketball, cricket, boxing, and football games and replace them each with two people playing This, though, this is just a marketing stunt between EA Sports and a newspaper.
posted by cmonkey at 8:32 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


People have criticized professional sports, that's all.

IMO, if you count NCAA as "amateur" athletics (debatable), it's 1000x more deplorable and damaging than professional sports.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:34 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also NHL 93 > NHL 94. Although I think you could take over the goalie in 94 which was cool.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:42 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sys Rq: Speak for yourself. There are millions of us who really couldn't give a shit.

Yes, I believe they're called "Americans".
posted by dr_dank at 8:47 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Canadians fetishize hockey, always have and always will, which is why we're basically shit at all other sports

We're a country of only 30-odd million people. Last time around we won more gold medals than any other country at the winter Olympics. We're doing OK.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:56 AM on November 22, 2012


Oh man I just spun out a whole alternate universe where all Canadian cities agree to do this and play each other and the games are televised and everything thinks it's a joke but suddenly they start taking the people playing the games seriously and whoops e-sports is mainstream and snuck in the back door onto TSN. (Does TSN still exist?)
posted by neuromodulator at 9:02 AM on November 22, 2012


IMO, if you count NCAA as "amateur" athletics (debatable), it's 1000x more deplorable and damaging than professional sports.

I really can't muster up much boo-hoo for college athletes if they're getting their post-secondary education for free just because they can throw a ball in a hoop or whatever. That's essentially a five- or six-figure salary, which is a lot more than I was making when I was 19.

Sure, it'd probably be better if the profits went towards lowering costs for other students rather than lining the pockets of child molesters, but, hey.

Yes, I believe they're called "Americans".

You may be alarmed to learn that there are huge swathes of Canada that don't even have an NHL team to root for. Most Canadians don't live in the six cities where the the NHL has a presence, or even their metropolitan areas. Most Canadians didn't play organized hockey as kids. Why, there are even some Canadians who aren't white, middle-class suburbanites!

Fact is, some of us just happen to be perfectly content to spend the winter shivering in our igloos guzzling maple syrup and Crown Royal and continuing to not give a shit about hockey. Sorry.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:30 AM on November 22, 2012


It's like Dungeons and Dragons for sporties.
posted by Doohickie at 10:31 AM on November 22, 2012


I would totally watch Curling Night In Canada every Saturday.

I spent a year watching curling on Canadian TV when I lived just south of the border and left still unsure if it was an actual sport or elaborate performance art. My mom and I were fascinated by it, though. We still say "good curl!" to each other whenever one of us does something well.
posted by Blue Meanie at 12:22 PM on November 22, 2012


Anyone interested in the current state of the NHL and why the lockout exists, the single best recommendation I can give is to read Jonathon Gatehouse's recent book The instigator.
posted by mannequito at 1:14 PM on November 22, 2012


I gave up on the NHL in 2004 after being a die hard Toronto Maple Leafs fan since birth. I love the game of hockey although I no longer play it or watch it. For me it's all soccer now.

From the time Bettman took over until 2004 I moaned and complained about the NHL, and especially about how the league was gamed to make it profitable to lose. There is no correlation between on ice and on paper results, sadly for Leaf fans. If there was a Stanley Cup for profit, we'd be the Manchester United of hockey.

But after 2004 I just walked away. Fuck em. The owners have ridden on the sentimental attachment Canadians have to our national game for too long, all the while giving us and the players the middle finger along the way. And Bettman has never understood that, as he spearheaded the effort to grow the game as far away from that sentimental attachment as possible. Every time he steps on the ice to award the Stanley Cup he is booed. It is an annual ritual. There are only 30 people in the world that like him.

I owe the NHL no loyalty and no best wishes. Instead of writing about the results of a virtual game, why doesn't the Gazette turn it's attention to junior hockey or amateur senior hockey and treat those leagues like the real thing. The NHL is enough of a simulacrum as it is.
posted by salishsea at 1:19 PM on November 22, 2012


Most Canadians don't live in the six cities where the the NHL has a presence, or even their metropolitan areas.

Seven.

Actually, about half the population of Canada lives in those metropolitan areas, and even more within, say, an hour of one of them. Doesn't mean that people in those areas care, or out of them don't.

That said, I much prefer to watch curling than hockey, and I am pretty much indifferent to the lockout except inasmuch as my parents, who were after all Habs fans in the 70s, miss it.
posted by jeather at 2:53 PM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


re: NHL 93.. I am pretty sure there are rom hacks that put the modern teams / rosters in there. That would totally be awesome to broadcast.
posted by jonbro at 3:19 PM on November 22, 2012


But after 2004 I just walked away. Fuck em. The owners have ridden on the sentimental attachment Canadians have to our national game for too long, all the while giving us and the players the middle finger along the way. And Bettman has never understood that, as he spearheaded the effort to grow the game as far away from that sentimental attachment as possible. Every time he steps on the ice to award the Stanley Cup he is booed. It is an annual ritual. There are only 30 people in the world that like him.

I'm far from a Bettman fan and feel weird defending him, but the notion that he's only interested in growing the game in the South is off the mark. He did a lot to keep the teams in Edmonton and Ottawa when the Canadian dollar was failing, even going to Ottawa to appeal for assistance for those teams (and Calgary as I recall). He also brought a team back to Winnipeg.

Again, I really recommend checking out The Instigator for a balanced view on his time as Commissioner.
posted by mannequito at 3:50 PM on November 22, 2012


Some of you guys don't like sports? That's very cool and interesting
posted by downing street memo at 4:44 PM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thanks Mannequito...I'll check out the book and it looks like an interesting read.

I think Bettman has outlasted his welcome though Three lockouts, relocation of two Canadian teams (and ok he brought one back and saved two more) and a watering down of the game (30 teams is about ten too many). Also downgrading the TV coverage so it's on - what - the dog and garden channel or something now. Not that it's on now.

i still think the most telling thing is that for decades now he is roundly booed when he steps on the ice anywhere, even in Ottawa and Edmonton. It seems to be the one thing that brings NHL fans together.
posted by salishsea at 5:30 PM on November 22, 2012


I agree he's played the lockout card too many times now and is starting to look like a one-trick pony.

He hasn't downgraded the TV coverage. Quite the opposite, for the first time the NHL has a full-season national broadcasting contract on NBC. There are steady rumours that there will be two more Canadian teams added in the next 5 years - one to the Toronto area (Markham) and a return to Quebec City once their arena is finished. Seattle is likely to get a team as well (one of these three will be through relocation, the other two through expansion).

btw there is one place where he gets cheered instead of booed - Phoenix.
posted by mannequito at 6:03 PM on November 22, 2012


On the one hand, the original article is just sad. On the other hand literally nothing else is happening.

Hockey mostly just reminds me of how long the winter is. My sports radio station warned me that "wall to wall coverage of the NHL lockout" was forthcoming on my drive to work, and I had to restrain myself from throwing my radio out of my car.

As a Jays fan, this is shaping up to be the perfect winter to not have to deal with the absolutely insufferable Leafs Nation. As someone on my Twitter feed said during the baseball playoffs, "buy me some peanuts and cracker jack, I don't care if hockey comes back..."
posted by dry white toast at 9:20 PM on November 22, 2012


Poor bastards. Don't they have minor league hockey? My local ECHL team is affiliated with the Blackhawks and the Red Wings. No NHL? No problem, I prefer going downtown to holler for the Walleye anyway. (HIT SOMEBODY!)
posted by MissySedai at 10:09 PM on November 22, 2012


ESPN.com and SI.com have both been reporting weekly standings/stats/results of this EA Sports simulated season for five or six weeks now. So, for the Gazette and others, eh, why not? This is more or less what The New York Times is already doing every four years with its reporting on its now-in-house killer-app Nate Silver's Presidential Election, no? One article in one newspaper tells me how many goals Iggie's got so far this "season" and I can project what his totals may well be, and another article in another paper tells me how Obama's "doing" this week in Iowa and I can surmise from that what he may well be doin' come election time. The only significant difference is that Silver's simulation jibes with 100% reality, whereas past EA Sports simulations have not always been so prescient.

Sports (and sports sections of newspapers) are meant to be diversionary, granted, and no one's yet locked out the Presidential/Senatorial/Congressional candidates (multiple times, natch). But though they differ fundamentally in meaning to our society, at least to my mind sports reporting on the simulations of a computer-generated hockey season and news and political reporting on a computer-generated Presidential election--or really a computer-generated anything--seems, in 2012, to be...de rigueur. Obvious.

And sad? Yes. But not really notable among all the (much) larger...sadnesses.

Of course, swishy apples:oranges thoughts like this would never even enter my mind if I were not enduring HOCKEY LOCKOUT XLIV!!!!
posted by riverlife at 12:49 AM on November 23, 2012


Mannequito...thanks again for the balance.

To my mind, expansion has really ruined the NHL. There simply isn't enough talent to spread across 20 teams let alone the 30 we have and *gasp!* more. The quality of play suffers incredibly. There are fewer than 30 real superstars in the league as it is and they are not evenly distributed. What IS evenly distributed are the guys that fill roster spots, who are basically fourth line players now patrolling the second lines on some teams. These guys grew up in junior or college hockey but should be playing ECHL, or AHL. It has dropped the real standard of play significantly. This is nothing new. Lemieux complained about this back in the day. Fantastic players are not given the space to move on the ice.

This could be remedied a couple of ways. First the ice size could be increased to Olympic dimensions which gives more room for the fast players and separates the wheat from the chaff. Second, the league could be condensed. But both of these options impact the revenues and wealth of the owners.

Some owners only get significant revenue boosts from expansion fees, and I'll bet there is more than one who privately hopes the league would open up its doors and let anyone who wants to grab a franchise, while letting the bankrupt clubs die. The ponzi scheme of collecting ever increasing expansion fees is more lucrative that trying to turn a profit with a shoddy on ice product in a medium market (Ah Columbus...how we feel for thee!).

Three times now the owners have tried to extract revenues from the players, and several times since 1990 they have done so from owners. When this is your business model - as opposed to selling your primary product - I'd say the end times are near. Right now, the only way for hockey owners to grow their incomes is by restricting what they pay out to players. There is little room left in the North American sports world for profitable NHL growth. The NHL has been squeezing the stone for years, but it is bone dry. You want to profit from this sport? Buy shares in an existing blue chip team like the Ontario Teachers did. You'll lose your shirt with a new franchise.

That is where we are, and that is the Bettman legacy I think: a business that turns on itself to generate income.

Who *wouldn't* defect to the KHL?
posted by salishsea at 9:14 AM on November 23, 2012


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