Wednesday Editorial: One Guy’s Opinion

Posted by Kyle Kosior in Columns,Editorials on December 3, 2008 — 2 Comments

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.

  • Bob Roberts

    If Avery’s comments could be accurate and insightful as well as hmmm…”colourful”…yes, that will do…, the NHL would be smart to sign him to a PR contract; but just colourful wears kind of smooth after a while, don’t you think?

    Given that Dallas ownership appears to be well-respected by the league, I’d say the club wants to be rid of SA and is getting the league to do its dirty work. Nothing on paper, you understand. Nod, nod,…

    It’s in every contract that a team can terminate a player without prejudice if he is suspended by the league (or the club?) for conduct detrimental to the team and/or league, isn’t it?

    That would make the contract void and end the team’s obligations and allow it to walk away, wouldn’t it? And the Stars would “Have no choice under the rules of the league, with regret, blah blah, wish him well, et cetera, et cetera…”

    Which, if it is the result, is ironic because as you point out, it will bring endless commentary and controversy — but not about hockey ON THE ICE, which is where the focus needs to be.

    And sad, because as you also point out, Avery can play and play well.

    (Drew: Bob’s Law #12: Life without irony is like bread without yeast.)

  • http://www.illegalcurve.com Kyle

    Well spoken Bob. I am not sure how this will shake out, but I do agree he is likely done in Dallas. I have met some of the higher ups in that organization, and they are all classy stand up guys.

    I agree about the on ice focus, but think that in order to get some non-hockey fans interested in the on-ice game, you might have to have spark some interest in the off-ice stuff too.

    As an aside, put this in context. NFL’ers shoot themselves in the leg with an illegally held gun and a teammate tries to hide the gun and yet the league functions just fine. An NHL’er makes disparaging comments about his ex-girlfriend, and gets suspended indefinitely. Doesn’t seem right to me.