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October 5, 2005 11:28 AM   Subscribe

Welcome back NHL. Today marks the first day since June 7th, 2004 that an NHL hockey game has been played. Much has changed since then: team lineups, goalie equipment, even the painted lines on the ice. There is plenty of hype this year with phenom Sydney Crosby on the ice, The Great One behind the bench, and SHOOTOUTS!. Will the fans come back, and can the NHL live up to the hype?
posted by afx114 (92 comments total)

 
The fans in Canada and the traditional hockey cities in the US will come back, but I don't hold out much hope for the Floridas and Carolinas of the league.
The rule changes will take some getting used to, by both the players and the fans, but will ultimately make it a more entertaining game.
posted by rocket88 at 11:33 AM on October 5, 2005


Holy crap, I remember hockey! I was just starting to really get into hockey when everything collapsed. I'm hoping at least I can get some good seats while fans on the fence are still sitting the games out.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 11:34 AM on October 5, 2005


A whole lot of good my sister's season tickets for the Rangers are doing me down here in MD.

And I don't get the MSG network down here either.

/cries
posted by MsVader at 11:37 AM on October 5, 2005


I <3 hockey
posted by matimer at 11:37 AM on October 5, 2005


Hooray! puck.

Boo! shootout.
posted by notyou at 11:39 AM on October 5, 2005


High definition TV will help hockey I believe...
posted by mania at 11:40 AM on October 5, 2005


I don't think that the Florida's will do too bad attracting fans...The Panthers have bolstered their line-up in a big way and The Tampa Bay Lightning are defending Cup champions with a great team still mostly intact full of young talent.

Go Leafs Go!!!!
posted by Shfishp at 11:40 AM on October 5, 2005


Let professional hockey drown in a puddle of melted ice. Let it slowly compact under the world's slowest and heaviest Zamboni. Let it high stick its way to high Heaven and be gone. Although I may watch the playoffs.
posted by palinode at 11:40 AM on October 5, 2005


Bah. Millionaire players and billionaire owners. No thanks.

Kelowna Rockets. Vancouver Giants. Salmon Arm Silverbacks. The World Junior Hockey Championships this Christmas. That's where the real hockey is at.
posted by angrybeaver at 11:41 AM on October 5, 2005


Oh, and the season's length is absurd. Make the season mean something and the play-- and fans -- will be more intense.
posted by mania at 11:44 AM on October 5, 2005


For all the bitching people do about overpaid athletes, greedy owners, expensive tickets and leagues more concerned about ancillary revenue than "the love of the game," they sure are quick to come running back to the NHL so they can watch the Leafs continue to lose. How is it that the MLB misses a World Series and takes a huge hit, but somehow the NHL juggernaut continues unabated?

</curmudgeon>
posted by chrominance at 11:44 AM on October 5, 2005


I love all of these so-called 'fans of the game' who say that they won't be watching after what these players put us through with the strike. Fact is, you'll be watching just like I will be. A true fan of 'the game' will be there tonight, and for every game after. Anyone who says different is either full of it or not really a hockey fan, just a person who wants to be part of the conversation.

Play on boys!
posted by Shfishp at 11:46 AM on October 5, 2005


Go Canucks!

The fans here are still rabid. Normal fans, though, can neither afford the tickets nor get them in the first place. GM Place is going to be sold out most nights.

<nods at angrybeaver> - hopefully the resumption of the NHL doesn't result in a decrease in the number of people watching the WHL (the local team here are the Giants).
posted by PurplePorpoise at 11:46 AM on October 5, 2005


I live in Ottawa. Funny thing about having to go over a year without NHL hockey as a part of one's entertainment -- people found that apparently there was still life without it.

But the past year's strike did an enormous amount of damage to the bottom lines of small and medium-sized local businesses who depend in a big way on direct or indirect Senators' spin-off revenue, from hotels, restaurants and sports bars near the arena to local printers who handle the programs and sporting goods stores that sell "official" NHL jerseys, hats and souvenirs to catering services that supply and staff the concessions to taxi companies that make a mittful on game days to charities that have always depended on Senators items to bolster silent auctions and golf tournament prizes. Some of those businesses simply no longer exist and the charities, while none appear to have had to fold up their tents, were unquestionably hurt.

I'll _consider_ awakening a measure of support or even just a positive feeling for these millionaire bastards and their billionaire cattleherders when I read that they have re-imbursed every last local business for the past year's revenue they lost, and retroactively paid back the wages never received by countless workers laid off or let go because the strike wiped out the fan / client base their employers needed to operate.

In other words, roughly about the same day Hell freezes over.
posted by Mike D at 11:46 AM on October 5, 2005


Today's start of the season will see all 30 teams on the ice, a first for the league. I, for one, will be firmly planted in front of my NHL Center Ice package catching it all...and from Florida too, rocket88!

Cheers for the return of the greatest sport on earth!
posted by NationalKato at 11:50 AM on October 5, 2005


You're just bitter Mike D because you realize the Sens will once again this year be heavily favoured to win it all, then lose to the Leafs in the playoffs again...and again....and again...
posted by Shfishp at 11:51 AM on October 5, 2005


I don't think that the Florida's will do too bad attracting fans...
posted by Shfishp at 2:40 PM


Well, no, because Florida is full of Yankees. The only people who ever went to Thrashers games here in Atlanta were all the transplants (of which there are many).

The Carolinas have fewer carpetbag- uh, non-natives from the northern states, and may be a harder sell for the new NHL.
posted by BoringPostcards at 11:53 AM on October 5, 2005


What ARE the new rules? I keep hearing about them, and discussions kinda around them, but what are they, precisely? Something having to do with less grabbing of offensive players, is all I've gleaned so far.
posted by eurasian at 11:56 AM on October 5, 2005


NEW RULES OF NHL
posted by Shfishp at 11:57 AM on October 5, 2005


The new rules are listed here.

Some new rules: Goalie equipment size is reduced, shootouts added (a tie-breaker mode where each team gets a few free shots from center ice with just the goalie at the net), unsportsmanlike conduct now includes fines for second offense, fines added for starting fights near the end of the game, and some changes to rink dimensions.
posted by StarForce5 at 12:07 PM on October 5, 2005


GO LEAFS!
posted by grafholic at 12:09 PM on October 5, 2005


Something wrong with my link from 10 minutes earlier, StarForce5?
posted by Shfishp at 12:11 PM on October 5, 2005


"Public complaints or derogatory comments toward the game also will result in fines."

Well, that seems a bit harsh.
posted by danb at 12:11 PM on October 5, 2005


The biggest change is the elimination of the two-line pass offside call. Forwards can now get well behind the opposing defense and recieve a pass from deep inside their own end. Expect lots of breakaways until teams learn how to defend against this.
posted by rocket88 at 12:11 PM on October 5, 2005


Attaboy grafholic!!!

I'm with ya, brotha!!!
posted by Shfishp at 12:12 PM on October 5, 2005


Don't underestimate the amount of Yankees in the Carolinas. I make the 3 hour drive every year to watch my Sabres.

Welcome back NHL!
posted by Macboy at 12:12 PM on October 5, 2005


The Sabres, also known as "The other Leafs". Did you know that at every Sabres game, no matter who is playing against them, the play the Canadian National Anthem as more than half of the attendance on most nights are Canucks? We need more teams in the north!!!
posted by Shfishp at 12:15 PM on October 5, 2005


ahhh...hockey night in canada, how i've missed thee. GO HABS! you can take away the baseball team(expos now senators), but montreal still has canadiens hockey dammit! Now if we can just get the nordiques back in quebec city....
posted by cloudstastemetallic at 12:16 PM on October 5, 2005


As a fan i'm certainly back.. been waiting for too long to watch hockey and opening night is finally here

But I'm a bit skeptical as to the rules changes and how they'll play out. Deep passes, bigger zones and a reigning in the goalies will go over well I think. They can say all they want about clutching and grabbing, but like years past we'll see how things are being called at the end of the season. Then theres shootouts. Ah shootouts. I see shootouts mostly as a gimick that doesn't really excite me much. Between preseason and watching AHL games last year I just don't think they translate well to TV. They maybe be exciting in the areana, where the juice is still flowing, but they just seem stale and removed on TV, and there just isn't any time to savor them like there is with, say, a penalty shot call in the middle of a close game where theres time to replay it and drool over it again and again. Instead, in the games I've see its shot, shot, shot then go to postgame coverage or off the air. But maybe that's just a grumpy 'old' fan talking, or maybe the TV folks just need time to tune their coverage.

In any case, LETS GO RANGERS!
posted by 10sball at 12:19 PM on October 5, 2005


Hey, now Grapes can come back from his purposeless wandering in the wilderness to again wow us with his awful wardrobe!
I'm someone who probably won't watch as much as I have in past years, if only because the Wings have been slipping ever since the Evil Genuis Bowman retired... What can I say? We needed someone with a plate in his head to coach...
posted by klangklangston at 12:23 PM on October 5, 2005


Rangers fan, eh 10sball?
Well, at least you'll get to see 84 games again this year, just like fans of Columbus, Minnesota, and all the other cellar-dwellers. I do respect a fan who sticks with their team, though...good on ya.
posted by Shfishp at 12:24 PM on October 5, 2005


The passing rules now mirror the rules used in college hockey - which used to be great here until our Hobie-winning goalie went into terminal Buffalo farm team land and our coach stepped up to athletic director and hired a stinking talent-wasting turd to replace him.

In Michigan you get three choices for local pro teams: Red Wings, Lions, Tigers. So hell yeah, I'm happy about hockey again. I have something to watch that isn't likely to end in total disappointment. This is likely to be Steve Yzerman's last year before retirement. Detroit will miss Yzerman when he's gone, but I doubt they'll get the league to unanimously retire #19. (Screw Gretzky, he was a pretty boy. That universal retirement of his number was shit - nobody in Detroit wore 99, so nobody in Detroit should be barred from donning that sweater. And WTF is up with the "Wayne on Wayne" mode in the new Gretzky06 hockey game from EA? I mean, seriously, somebody deflate that ego before it crushes us all.)

As long as we have American markets to host the teams and Canada to steal the best players from, pro hockey in North America will be fine.
posted by caution live frogs at 12:26 PM on October 5, 2005


My feeling on shootouts: it's partly to entice live audiences...but it's mostly to keep teams from 'playing for the tie.' Coaches have applauded the shootout addition, saying there's no free ride anymore. You play to win.
posted by NationalKato at 12:28 PM on October 5, 2005


I, for one, am excited about having a sport I can actually enjoy this winter. I'm interested to see how the rule changes will work out but I liked the explanation I heard last night about the bigger zone, the longer passing and the goalie restrictions.

This should be fun to watch! And I think we'll be getting out to the Shark Tank at least once this season.
posted by fenriq at 12:30 PM on October 5, 2005


Screw Gretzky, he was a pretty boy.

Um, have you looked at his stats?
posted by NationalKato at 12:31 PM on October 5, 2005


Did you know that at every Sabres game, no matter who is playing against them, the play the Canadian National Anthem as more than half of the attendance on most nights are Canucks?

Mostly from the Hamilton-Niagara corridor...more proof that the team should move to Hamilton.
posted by rocket88 at 12:31 PM on October 5, 2005


And yes, I'm all for the shootouts. Pro sports should not regularly end in ties, that's just stupid (yeah, I'm looking at you, soccer).
posted by fenriq at 12:31 PM on October 5, 2005


It was a lockout, not a strike.

Go Blackhawks! They're playoff-bound this year. And the United Center will never be more than half full, so tickets won't be hard to come by.
posted by goatdog at 12:33 PM on October 5, 2005


fenriq, not to mention the annoying 4-digit records in 2003's hockey season, e.g. 35-25-11-11
posted by NationalKato at 12:33 PM on October 5, 2005


As a die-hard Leaf fan who lives 1 1/2 hours from Toronto, I'm envious of almost all the American fans who have access to tickets to watch their teams play. The Leafs sell out every game, and because of that, even when you can get a ticket, the cost is ridiculous. You're lucky goatdog, in that you can see the Hawks play from a seat in the arena. The only unfortunate part of that is you have to watch the Blackhawks.
posted by Shfishp at 12:38 PM on October 5, 2005



Mostly from the Hamilton-Niagara corridor...more proof that the team should move to Hamilton


Oh yeah - let's move the team to the armpit of Ontario! Go Tigercats!
posted by Macboy at 12:39 PM on October 5, 2005


Shootouts are retarded. Sudden death is the way to go. No ties. No gimmicks.
posted by klangklangston at 12:41 PM on October 5, 2005


Right on with the Greztky=pretty boy points Live Frogs. But you forgot that we have the Pistons here too, and they're not too shabby. (In fact, you might want to list the Wings and the Pistons as Detroit's only pro teams).
posted by klangklangston at 12:46 PM on October 5, 2005


I'll watch, but not pay. I suppose that's what I've always done. Go Wings.

Agreed on shootouts. Dumb idea. Is winning or losing by penalty kicks any more rewarding than a tie? It's more exciting, but about as fair as a coin flip. Tails! Awesome!

If we absolutely need an expeditious tiebreaker, I'd rather see alternating two-minute, two-man powerplays, akin to the college football overtime.

I must assume they're keeping sudden death for the playoffs?
posted by mrgrimm at 12:47 PM on October 5, 2005


Ouch. Go Lions and Tigers too! Oh my!
posted by mrgrimm at 12:48 PM on October 5, 2005


Shfishp, we're going to kick senators' ass tonight.
posted by grafholic at 12:48 PM on October 5, 2005


Shootouts are retarded. Sudden death is pretty good, but too risky -- injuries would skyrocket.

I'd like to see the NHL steal an idea from NCAA football: give each team a minute long major power play (score as many as possible). If it's still tied after that, trade 5-3 power plays until it's settled. This solves the ties problem and preserves teamplay when the game is on the line. Imagine the drama of a short-handed chance during the OT.
posted by notyou at 12:49 PM on October 5, 2005


oh, gah. mrgrimm beat me too the puck.
posted by notyou at 12:50 PM on October 5, 2005


Shfishp, we're going to kick senators' ass tonight.

I sure hope so, grafholic, but if we don't, you can bet your ass we will in the playoffs!
posted by Shfishp at 12:51 PM on October 5, 2005


I must assume they're keeping sudden death for the playoffs?

The NHL still has the 5 minute, sudden-death overtime period. The shoot-out is only for those games that are still tied after the OT period.
posted by NoMich at 12:56 PM on October 5, 2005


I must assume they're keeping sudden death for the playoffs?

Yes.. playoffs are the usual 5 on 5 full 20minute sudden death games.. just like they've done in the past when regular season went to 5 minute OTs
posted by 10sball at 1:06 PM on October 5, 2005


15 games tonight, and not a single one on broadcast TV or (my) basic cable. Like the game, but not enough to pay extra to watch it on TV. Oh well, guess I'll check the scores in the morning.

And the NHL missed the two changes that really could've given them a boost: a) change the season (lengthen, shorten, or just move) so that NHL playoffs aren't happening at the same time as NBA playoffs, and b) go to single-game elimination playoffs. I'm convinced that a large part of the reason the NFL playoffs and the NCAA basketball tournament are so much more popular than other sports playoffs in the US is that teams are eliminated after losing a single game. Who cares about game 1 of a 7 game series besides fans of the two teams involved?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:11 PM on October 5, 2005


The Leafs sell out every game, and because of that, even when you can get a ticket, the cost is ridiculous.

Same with any big market team. Good luck finding a Flyers ticket at a reasonable price. Good luck finding more than one ticket in consecutive seats.
posted by Rothko at 1:17 PM on October 5, 2005


NationalKato, agreed. Simpler is better. Maybe a shootout isn't the best resolution but its better than allowing tie games anymore.

DevilsAdvocate, I care about a multiple game playoff series. A single game doesn't really measure a team's capabilities where as a series does. Besides, they make more money selling tickets to a series rather than just a single game.

Are you saying the baseball playoffs aren't popular or interesting because they play 5 and 7 game series? A series is way better, in my book, than a single game elimination. More drama, more come from behind (remember Boston's 0-3 comeback last year, THAT was awesome!).
posted by fenriq at 1:20 PM on October 5, 2005


FFS sports fans. If you want to watch men being bastards to one another, go to a gay bar like everybody else.

Yawn.
posted by Sparx at 1:21 PM on October 5, 2005


My suspicion is that OT shootouts will lead to an increased number of injuries to goalies making that extra effort. Mike Richter's career was pretty much over after participating in an All Star weekend shootout.

Now that they've sacked Goodenow, I'd still like to see Bettman's head on a platter.
posted by minkll at 1:22 PM on October 5, 2005


Shootout == home run competition to decide a baseball game after a 10 inning tie. Lame.

And yes, Go Leafs Go! Even if things don't work out so well tonight. Hey, at least Belak's out, so maybe there's a reason to hope. God that guy's useless.
posted by mzanatta at 1:24 PM on October 5, 2005


I'm a Rangers fan (I know, I know, but we're SUPPOSED to be lousy this year). Can anyone explain the TV deal, i.e. why the Rangers opener is on the Outdoor Life Network (which I don't get) and the friggin' Islanders are on MSG? Shouldn't the local broadcaster show the local team's games?
posted by AJaffe at 1:25 PM on October 5, 2005


I may live in Seattle, but...

Go Red Wings!
posted by spinifex23 at 1:26 PM on October 5, 2005


I grew up a Whalers fan, so I can bring myself to stop hating the Rangers. I'm a man without a country.
posted by jonmc at 1:27 PM on October 5, 2005


The two line pass rule is going to open up the scoring more than any equipment adjustment ever could. It'll also erode the established play in the offensive zone as the far side defensman will have to drop off the blueline a bit to play "free safety"

Even with the lousy shootouts to win back the casual fan I'm antsy to see my Flyers demolish the Rangers and Devils in one week.
posted by cmfletcher at 1:51 PM on October 5, 2005


I know everyone thinks the Carolina's can't support a team, no fans, not a hockey market etc.. etc.. However, I beg to differ especially, if the Hurricanes preseason attendance is any indicator

The Canes had a drop off in attendance because they were crap on ice back to back seasons after the Stanley Cup run. When you are out of playoff contention by December your attendance is going to take a hit. Watch what happens to the Caps this year.

The core is here for hockey to succeed. Raleigh has a huge Northern transplant population thanks to the tech and pharmaceutical industry here. Tickets are cheap relatively speaking. If the canes are competitive they will survive and prosper. If anyone was in the RBC center during the Canes playoff run will attest that the fans can get LOUD and fired up for hockey.
posted by remo at 1:55 PM on October 5, 2005


Shfishp: If you really want to know I took the time to read the rules and summarize a few of them and in the meantime you posted your link.
posted by StarForce5 at 2:02 PM on October 5, 2005


Going to the Penguins-Devils game tonight. Somehow Crosby has to find a way to top Lemieux's famous first shift. Maybe he'll score from the faceoff with a goal so embarassing that Brodeur will announce his retirement before the end of the period.
posted by eatitlive at 2:04 PM on October 5, 2005


A single game doesn't really measure a team's capabilities where as a series does.

That part is certainly true. A 7-game series is, I freely admit, a better measure of which of two teams is better than a single game is.

A 25-game series would be an even better measure. Do you think sports playoffs should be decided by a 25-game series?

Are you saying the baseball playoffs aren't popular or interesting because they play 5 and 7 game series?

I'm saying they're less interesting than they would be if they had single-game playoffs.

The sports bar I was in last night was less than half full for game one of the Yankees-Angels series. And probably less than half of the people there were actually watching the game.

More drama, more come from behind (remember Boston's 0-3 comeback last year, THAT was awesome!).

There is perhaps more drama in coming back from a 3-game deficit in a 7-game series than in coming back from a 3-run deficit in a single game. But the flip side of that is the comeback from a 3-game deficit is much more rare than the comeback from a 3-run deficit. Which is better for the sport: the grand drama that happens only once every fifty years, or the lesser drama that can happen a couple of times each year in the playoffs?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:11 PM on October 5, 2005


However, I beg to differ especially, if the Hurricanes preseason attendance is any indicator

The home opener is thisclose to selling out. I just got an email from the Canes saying that there are less than 200 tickets remaining.
If the Canes can pull out a playoff season this year, they will get people back in the seats. It's not going to happen overnight, but the people will come back if the team starts to win.
One thing that people not living around here have to realize it's that the team doesn't have any corporate support; it's all Joe and Jane Sixpack at those games. As a result, the attendance will fluctuate a lot more based on the team's on-ice performance. More so than those markets that have tons of corporate support anyway.

Raleigh has a huge Northern transplant population

You still hear a lot of Southern accents games though. For instance, one of my season ticket mates is a proud son of the South and hockey is now his favorite sport.
posted by NoMich at 2:13 PM on October 5, 2005


Thanks, Sparx, for adding your enlightened commentary. Now move right along.
posted by NationalKato at 2:15 PM on October 5, 2005


Maybe he'll score from the faceoff with a goal so embarassing that Brodeur will announce his retirement before the end of the period.

I'll be watching this game tonight, eatitlive, and using all my hockey voodoo mojo to dash your hopes and dreams (although I'm excited for Crosby as well).
posted by NationalKato at 2:19 PM on October 5, 2005


w00 go devils! flyers suck!
posted by Mach5 at 2:37 PM on October 5, 2005


Along with the rule changes everybody is talking about - shootouts and no blue line will be great - there are some very strange ones.

I just heard last night that in the interest of speeding games up you can no longer ice the puck to get a line change. They still stop play, of course, but the team that iced the puck doesn't get to change. That just seems like a terrible idea to me. I am all for speeding the game up, but watching a bunch of dog tired players get taken advantage of doesn't really seem like a great tradeoff.

Bettman has got to go!
(if ever there was a good use of blink, this has got to be it)
posted by Chuckles at 2:37 PM on October 5, 2005


I wish the rule changes had included ditching the overtime loss (OTL). As an old-time hockey fan (Whalers!) I find the OTL frankly offensive on two counts:

1. clutters up the standings (4 columns vs. 3)
2. awards points for losing
3. contributes to standings inflation

Number 3 in a nutshell is that teams tend to look better than they really are, because some losses aren't shown in the "L" column. A mediocre-looking "22-24-5-7" is really a below-average 22-31-5.

Imagine a two-team conference that plays 11 games. Team A wins 7 games in OT and loses 4 in regulation. Team B is the opposite. Who wins the title?
Team A: 7-4-0-0 (14 points)
Team B: 4-0-0-7 (15 points)

Bah.

Does the OTL even achieve its intended purpose, decreasing the incidence of those dreaded ties? This column looks at the numbers. Basically ties decreased by 1.9 percentage points: 16 fewer ties over the course of 1,200 games. (figure is subtracting year-to-year percentages, not taking 16/1200).

In the spirit of contemporary American political culture, I recommend we stop rewarding teams for losing and start penalizing them for creating ties. In every tie game except 0-0, one of the teams is responsible for giving up the game-tying goal. In my system, we return to the pre-1999 overtime format (OT win = win, OT loss = loss, no points). In case of a tie, the team responsible for giving up the lead is fined.

Following is a list of the number of ties each season from 1983-84. Year shown is the second year (e.g. "1984" = 83-84).

(21 NHL teams at this point
1983 - 127 ties (about 6 per team)
(regular season overtime introduced in 1983-84)
1984 - 86
1985 - 104
1986 - 79
1987 - 93
1988 - 97
1989 - 97
1990 - 100
1991 - 112
(22 teams now... welcome, SJ Sharks)
1992 - 117
(24 teams now... welcome Florida and TB, IIRC)
1993 - 100
(26 teams now...)
1994 - 140
(1995 - strike shortened)
1996 - 137
1997 - 144
1998 - 165
1999 - 162
(1999-2000 - OTL introduced)
2000 - 146
2001 - 152
posted by kurumi at 2:55 PM on October 5, 2005


DevilsAdvocate - you can usually catch the games on radio (and out-of radio-range games usually through the radio station's live webcast. NHL.com used to host links to the various radio stations broadcasting the various games of the night).

It's nowhere near as good as watching it on TV which is nowhere near as good as watching it in decent seats at the rink, but there's something nostalgia-ey about huddling around the radio when it's snowing really hard outside.

Not that it ever really does in Vancouver (snowing, and relatively speaking).
posted by PurplePorpoise at 2:57 PM on October 5, 2005


Screw Gretzky, he was a pretty boy. That universal retirement of his number was shit - nobody in Detroit wore 99, so nobody in Detroit should be barred from donning that sweater. And WTF is up with the "Wayne on Wayne" mode in the new Gretzky06 hockey game from EA? I mean, seriously, somebody deflate that ego before it crushes us all.

What a steaming pile of sour-grape shit. I mean, I'm no huge Gretzky fan (I wanted to be Guy Lafleur for a large slice of my youth, however), but few athletes have earned their deification the way The Great One did. The man didn't just break but eradicated every scoring record in the book. If Barry Bonds hit .400 while breaking Hank Aaron's career home-run record and carrying the Giants to their fourth straight World Series, it'd begin to approximate what Gretzky did for hockey.

"Pretty boy"? Yeah, and Jordan stuck out his tongue when he went to the hoop, so screw him too. And you think Gretz asked for the league-wide number-retirement thing? Or that he walked into EA's development shop and said, "Put in a me-versus-me mode or I'm taking my name off the product"?

The only thing close to grandstanding I've ever seen Gretzky do since he became quite possibly the most dominant player in any professional sport ever was that you're-all-against-us thing he did at the Salt Lake Olympics, which was clearly calculated to light a fire under his team's ass, not feed his own ego.

On preview: It's occurring to me that is far and away the most vociferous defence of Gretzky I think I've ever made. On the other hand, I've never seen him dismissed so glibly before. So be it.

Go Leafs! And failing that, Go Flames!
posted by gompa at 3:01 PM on October 5, 2005


Thanks, PP, I'll check that out.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:05 PM on October 5, 2005


I grew up a Whalers fan

Also: I don't think I've ever seen those words used in combination before. Though come to think of it, it'd make a great opening line for a bleak, tragicomic existential novel.

Damn, jonmc, no wonder you like angry music.
posted by gompa at 3:06 PM on October 5, 2005


I remember a fat man in Rochester (AHL) who would proudly scream "Hockey! Hockey! HOOOCKEEEEY!" just after the first face-off of each game, when things were still relatively quiet and you could actually hear someone with a good pack of lungs from the other side of the arena.

I don't live there anymore, but I'm curious: is that fat man still around?

Fat man, are you reading this? Lemme hear ya.
posted by diastematic at 3:11 PM on October 5, 2005


Gompa: Both Michael Jordan and Gretsky continually whined during games about the calls that they got or didn't get, and while Gretsky was certainly one of the best players to ever skate, he played during a weak period and with a style of play that allowed him to break records without being significantly better than the folks who set those records. While it's not the same as the McGuire/Bonds/Sosa steroid animals, you should realize that the reliance on records as a measure of performance is bunk.
Me? I'd take Steve Y. over Gretsky any day, especially if both were injured.
posted by klangklangston at 4:45 PM on October 5, 2005


Shit, hockey hasn't been the same since they instituted the designated hitter.
posted by Eekacat at 5:31 PM on October 5, 2005


caution live frogs writes "That universal retirement of his number was shit - nobody in Detroit wore 99, so nobody in Detroit should be barred from donning that sweater."

What kind of egotistical nut would ever have donned 99 regardless of the team he was on. Couldn't ever see it happening. The number was de facto retired even if they hadn't made it official.
posted by Mitheral at 5:46 PM on October 5, 2005


klangklangston writes "In fact, you might want to list the Wings and the Pistons as Detroit's only pro teams"

Damn. Can't believe I forgot the Pistons - shows how much attention I pay to basketball! In retrospect I tend to agree with your argument there.

And Gompa, I'm not discounting Gretzky's stats - but I really have to stick with my original statement, and echo klangklangston: If I'm building my dream-team of all-time greats for a your team vs. my team match-up, I'll give you Gretzky in exchange for Yzerman any day of the week. Yzerman is the heart of the Wings franchise, and he wears the C on his chest for a lot more reasons than his talent on the ice. His numbers aren't shabby either, despite the fact that he spent his prime years in a struggling team, getting checked into the boards. Nobody laid off of him just because he was Yzerman.

(And you're not getting Gordie Howe for your team either, buddy, so don't ask.)
posted by caution live frogs at 5:58 PM on October 5, 2005


Mitheral writes "What kind of egotistical nut would ever have donned 99 regardless of the team he was on."

One of the great traditions in hockey is to wear a number to honor the player that inspired you to play in the first place. That's why Yzerman wears #19 - because his hero Bryan Trottier wore #19. Bryan Trottier is why Joe Sakic wears #19. The universal retirement thing is crap because there is a whole generation of players who probably have Gretzky as a hero, and this sort of kills the tradition. I have no issue with retiring a number for a specific player on a specific team's roster, but the across-the-board thing I just don't like. If the sweater isn't hanging in the rafters of your home arena, the number should be fair game if you've got the balls or the desire to ask for it.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:06 PM on October 5, 2005


Hmm... Howe, Hull (elder), Yzerman... Just thinking out my all-time dream team...
posted by klangklangston at 6:30 PM on October 5, 2005


bobby orr was truly the great one!
posted by brandz at 7:15 PM on October 5, 2005


I just want to let you all know that Comcast will stream two NHL games each night for free (I just got done watching Penguins vs Devils).
posted by orelius at 7:20 PM on October 5, 2005


Well, the first ever NHL shootout decision was between Toronto and Ottawa.

Lindros puts the leafs up in the dying minutes, Ottawa ties it up with a goal by Alfredson in the dying seconds.

Hasek vs. Belfour, Ottawa scores first by Alfredson, miss by Toronto, miss by Ottawa, and Spessa puts one past Belfour for the first ever NHL overtime shootout win.

As a TV viewer, the shootout was ok, but I don't think that I like how the final score includes how many shootout scores are scored. I can forsee 6-7 and 13-12 scores. It's could be a real mess, stats-wise...
posted by PurplePorpoise at 7:59 PM on October 5, 2005


Oh, and man the goalies look so much smaller and the TSN play-by-play people are still complete homers. Toronto Sports Network, indeed. <sigh>
posted by PurplePorpoise at 8:03 PM on October 5, 2005


Damn, Heatley not Spessa - Heatly.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 8:17 PM on October 5, 2005


Of course now that Ottawa is 1 up in their wins/losses to Toronto they've got no chance at the cup. I was impressed I got to see Ottawa play, usually they are blacked on ExpressVu despite the fact I live three provinces away.
posted by Mitheral at 8:24 AM on October 6, 2005


Sorry this reply's coming so late. Spent the whole morning daydreaming about how sweet it's gonna be to watch my "Pretty Boy" line of Gretzky, Lafleur and Rocket Richard ("two minutes for looking so good!") skate circles around klang's assorted Red Wings.

Gotta say, I had no idea the Cult of Stevie Y was this, uh, passionate . . .

*restrains self from further editing*

On preview: *fails: passionate delusional*

posted by gompa at 12:52 PM on October 6, 2005


The universal retirement thing is crap because there is a whole generation of players who probably have Gretzky as a hero, and this sort of kills the tradition.

Exactly. Imagine if there were no No. 10 strikers.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:00 PM on October 6, 2005


Gompa: Oh, c'mon. Bobby Hull was one of the hated Blackhawks. It's not all Hockeytown partisanship. Though Howe would eat LaFleur for breakfast.

So... We're looking at Yzerman at center, Howe and Hull at the wings, Orr and Chelios playing defense (that's another Wing, but I think he's justified), and maybe Jacques Plante at goal.
(It is kinda weird picking people that I've only seen play on ESPN Classic or read about, but I feel confident).
posted by klangklangston at 3:30 PM on October 6, 2005


Oh, and I'll keep Probert and Domi as backup bruisers.
posted by klangklangston at 3:32 PM on October 6, 2005


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