Happy Anniversary (to ME!)

by Steve, February 5th, 2007

Well what do you know, this blog turned one the other day, and it totally slipped past me.

I started this blog on February 1, 2006 as a successor to WackyMonkey.org, which was a non-bloggy blog I used to post on occasionally. It’s still out there, just as I left it a year ago.

This remains a relatively low-traffic blog, since I do very little (i.e. nothing) to promote it. (Wacky Mommy, on the other hand, has been around for two years, and her traffic has gone up dramatically in the last few months.)

Even though y’all rarely (if ever) comment, I know you’re out there through the magic of logging. I even know who you are and where you’ve come from. BWAHAHAHAHAHA! So thanks to both of you, and here’s to another year of hockey, politics, and life.

Has Bush Jumped the Shark?

by Steve, February 5th, 2007

Andy Borowitz makes the compelling (and amusing) case. Whether you agree or not, you’ve got to admit it takes deft skill to work Bush, Rumsfeld, Robert Gates, Roseanne, Scrappy Doo and Kareem Abdul Jabar into a blog entry.

Rating Bettman

by Steve, February 5th, 2007

Sport’s Illustrated writer Allan Muir grades Gary Bettman today, and it ain’t pretty. Though he doesn’t give him an overall rating, he gives him thumbs up and thumbs down in 14 areas. The thumbs down are dominant.

Bettman is pretty much the George W. Bush of hockey these days. Muir gives Bettman poor marks on expansion, realignment, playoff format, two lockouts, new corporate revenue streams putting the squeeze on average fans, the US TV deal, the lack of a player transfer agreement with Russia, the schedule change that means some teams will only be seen every three seasons in a given market, and the “ownership farces” in Chicago and Long Island.

Not much to disagree with there. In all of these areas, Bettman has been an unmitigated disaster for the league and the game.

But Muir does give him props in four areas. First relocation. He notes that “Quebec City, Hartford and Winnipeg may have had tradition, but they didn’t have the population, corporate support or arenas to compete on a major league level.” Well, if the league didn’t have such a crappy TV deal, and hadn’t made itself so dependent on corporate revenue (two issues Muir decries), Quebec, Hartford and Winnipeg could still be viable markets. Muir contradicts himself here.

Bettman also gets Muir’s approval for allowing Olympic participation. Okay, fine. I think men’s Olympic hockey is a joke, but he’s correct that it’s an important showcase for the game.

Next comes the one that’s going to have the Hockey Fans Unite boys all up in arms. Muir approves of the new rules. Other than his praise for the shootout (which I dislike for the very reason he cites) and the new uniforms, I agree with him. “Add in the virtual elimination of clutch-and-grab hockey (what took so long?), the removal of the red line/two-line pass, the return of delayed offside…and it’s clear that Bettman has overseen a positive evolution in the sports,” writes Muir.

As I’ve hammered on before, talent dilution, relocation, realignment, and scheduling are responsible for watering down the game. The new rules and enforcement standards (though they could use some tweaking) have been a good thing for the game.

Finally, Muir gives Bettman a provisional thumbs up for the salary cap (even though he gave him thumbs down for the lockout that forced it). I’m still pretty conflicted on this issue. If it helps small market teams stay in the game, I’m all for it. But as Muir points out, the cap is edging close to the pre-lockout average.

Fight fans will note that Muir does not mention that there is less fighting in the game today, and they’re always quick to jump on Bettman about that. But this is beyond Bettman. The game is constantly evolving. Today’s players are the most skilled, strongest, fastest, best conditioned players who have ever played the game. Part of the reason there is less fighting is that teams can’t afford to blow roster spots on enforcers and still compete. This is a sad fact for fight fans, and they’ll continue to try to blame Bettman, even after he’s gone.

I think we as fans can all agree Bettman has been very, very bad for the game of hockey. The sooner he is gone, the better.