Wednesday Editorial: One Guy’s Opinion
Note: I came here to say what Michael has already said below, but thought I would throw in my two cents all the same.
There is no need to re-hash the latest Sean Avery incident or the subsequent suspension, but I feel the need to offer my thoughts on the situation.
First, I am sure most people can agree that Sean Avery is what he is, a talented hockey player who lives by his own agenda and rubs people the wrong way. You can interpret his on and off ice persona as being classless (which it sometimes is) but the fact is he garners interest. I think Avery said it best when he noted that the NHL needs a villain and he is happy to play that role.
Second, with the exception of a few very strong hockey markets, hockey doesn’t sell well in the United States. I live in a supposed “hockey hotbed” but cannot find NHL highlights on television unless someone starts swinging a stick. Most people aren’t up to date on the comings and goings of the NHL and it barely warrants the back page in the local newspaper.
It seems to me that one and two are problems that could help each other out. I realize that the NHL is cognizant of the fact that Avery may offend people, but I think you have to accept that. There is an entire class of people in North America that is perpetually offended. The politically correct crowd needs to take offense to something lest they shrivel up and die, so putting the boots to Avery isn’t going appease these people.
What about the media people sputtering about Avery’s comments you say? We both know that Avery makes good copy, especially in a long NHL season that is typically bereft of interesting stories (unless Brian Burke switches jobs again) and reporters need Avery as much as he needs them. The fact is that these little disputes drive traffic to websites and sell papers (if anyone does that anymore). How much play did the league get from Burke v. Lowe?
Listen, I think the NHL has some very marketable players with interesting stories. Iginla, Crosby, Malkin, Kane, Phaneuf et al. Nice guys al, but do they really make for riveting interviews? Do their personalities draw you in and make you want to watch hockey if you aren’t already a fan? I doze off every time those Kane and Phaneuf video game commercials come on tv.
Like him or not, Avery brings attention to the NHL. As the old saying goes, there is no such thing as bad press. If Avery’s comments induced people to watch a Tuesday night Flames-Stars game, that’s a good thing. Hockey fans would watch to see Phaneuf take a run at Avery, hockey neophytes might watch to see what all the fuss is about. I am not trying to defend his comments, but in an era of falling ticket sales and revenue, the NHL needs the fans and Avery may be able to supply them. But hey, what do I know. I just watch hockey for the hits from behind and subsequent one game suspensions because, as you know, near death collisions offend no one.
Agree? Disagree? Lets hear it in the comments.