The Incredible Shrinking League

The NHL is coming back. It will be smaller than ever. This is not a bad thing.
Share |

Okay. Deep breath. Hockey is coming.

I feel sort of unqualified to write about this from Mexico, where even less people care about the NHL than do in the United States, but also sort of extra qualified. When the puck drops in a couple weeks, even less people are going to watch hockey than did before. This is what happens when owners in marginal sports leagues alienate their fanbases over relatively piddly amounts of money and power. This is a new reality we must calibrate ourselves to. (We being hockey fans; for everybody else nothing much changes).

Even before the lockout, the NHL was smaller than its self-perception. It was smaller than golf and tennis and MMA. It was smaller than Major League Soccer. (Although it does have one thing in common with the well-managed and upward-trending MLS: it is much more popular in-person than on television). Now the NHL will be smaller still. Shrinking salary cap, shrinking contract lengths, shrinking audience.

The other day on Grantland, Brian Phillips wrote about dismissive comments that FIFA President Sepp Blatter made regarding Major League Soccer. But more than that, Brian was writing about the difference between a sport and a business. “Sport generates economic activity, but sport isn't inherently economic,” Brian wrote. “Sport is just some people playing a game.”

He is right. But the unfortunate corollary is that sport as business has a huge impact on sport as sport. It’s the business that made people want to Be Like Mike, etc etc. It’s the business side of Sepp Blatter’s FIFA that has helped make soccer not just a global phenomenon, but “soccer as global phenomenon” a brand in itself, with K’Naan blaring on the stereo and poor kids playing in a cinematically-lit Buenos Aires alleyway in, somehow, an Adidas commercial.

One way of looking at this would be to say, “okay, the NHL has fucked up its own brand but not even Gary Bettman can ruin Greater Hockey.” This would be true in certain parts of Minnesota and areas further north. Another way of looking at this would be to say that unlike soccer, hockey is not commercially successful or universally popular enough to withstand the continued stupidity of its most famous and successful league.

Even before the last lockout, hockey and the NHL had to think a lot smaller than soccer in terms of global appeal and commercial potential. (In retrospect, some of the NHLs sillier expansion efforts into crowded sunny markets were nothing more than the nocturnal emissions of hubristic millionaire owners).

Now the league’s path toward a leaner, more efficient self is no longer destiny - it is reality, and the NHL must embrace it rather than fight against it. In many cases, hockey teams remain extremely popular locally. Fans will take winning back, but when they do come back (and I think many will; not cancelling the season feels like a victory in itself) they will do so city by city, rather than nationally all at once. Kings fans want to see their banner raised. Nashville fans want to see the Predators’ steady rise to awesomeness amount to something. Rangers fans want to know that last season was not a fluke. In this sense, hockey will be taking on the model of minor league sports. The regional popularity of the Tacoma Rainiers and Albuquerque Isotopes far outweighs national interest in Pacific Coast League baseball.

Minor league does not have to be a slur. It can simply mean a different model. For national fans, or fans like me who don’t live in NHL cities, this might mean that when the NHL comes back, it feels somehow less broadly substantial. The NBC Sports Network remains small-time, and the rushed schedule of the post-lockout season will feel awkward and forced. Hockey will probably remain absent from the greater national sports dialogue, and you know what? That’s okay. Those of us who want to can still watch the games, can still read about it. Even a diminished NHL can still add a measure of equilibrium in the sporting universe (one potentially positive consequence: I stop spending so much time looking at baseball trade rumors). For the NHL to be sustainable, and to eventually begin to grow again, the league must first make itself small. Hockey depends on it.


Share |

Comments

Awesome blog. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work buy fast YouTube views

Thankfulness to my dad who informed me relating to this blog, this website is really amazing. buy website traffic

Thanks a lot for sharing us about this update. Hope you will not get tired on making posts as informative as this. Traffic Exchange

Just as in life generally distance is relational to time. In considering data retrieval and update we can assume that without modifiers the further distant the data is the longer it will take to be retrieved and/or updated.
http://infojawatankosong.co

I wana thank you for providing instructive and qualitative stuff so often.
Whatsapp Download

Nice article. The information here was really helpful for me. For I was finally able to complete my paper on this topic due tomorrow. Thanks a lot for providing this information. Keep it up! Wade Cockfield Executve SEO

A simple bookmarking tool that makes it easy to save, organize and share your favorite web pages. alimentos con hierro para niños

I definately enjoy every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff of your blog a must read blog!!!! san diego quinceanera photographer

I stop spending so much time looking at baseball trade rumors). For the NHL to be sustainable, and to eventually begin to grow again, the league must first make itself small. Hockey depends on it. juegos para niñas

Awesome blog. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work buy high quality backlinks

I read a considerable measure of stuff and i found that the method for composing to clearing that precisely need to say was great werbegeschenke bedrucken

Does your own daughter want among the cheap maxi gowns that your woman saw the woman's friend put on to college. salvia for sale

I read a considerable measure of stuff and i found that the method for composing to clearing that precisely need to say was great so i am inspired and i like to come back again in future trips usa

It might be the most powerful tinnitus cure ever developed. It's the same program thousands of men and women, who have used to cure their tinnitus and achieved relief from the ringing in their ears.

essay for college

The program is delivered online via a private membership area that includes various components in audio, video, and PDF ebook formats. monetized

I am really enjoying reading your well written articles. It looks like you spend a lot of effort and time on your blog. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work. vehiculos en republica dominicana

I hope that other readers will also experience how I feel after reading your article. jugar gratis

where really specialists and all around prepared android amusement engineers are discovered who gainedmore hints
capability in working for an extensive variety of customers.

This is an excellent post I seen thanks to share it. It is really what I wanted to see hope in future you will continue for sharing such a excellent post. ad post

this sense, hockey will be taking on the model of minor league sports. The regional popularity of the Tacoma Rainiers and Albuquerque Isotopes far outweighs national interest in Pacific Coast League baseball.
clash of clans hack |
chaturbate token hack

I need to express my appreciation of your composition expertise and capacity to make perusers read from the earliest starting point to the Orange County Web Design

I really like the dear information you offer in your articles. I'm able to bookmark your site and show the kids check out up here generally. http://cracksfree.com

This is important, though it's necessary to help you head over to it weblink: http://softwaresb.com

This type of message always inspiring and I prefer to read quality content, so happy to find good place to many here in the post, the writing is just great, thanks for the post. ​marine led lights

I am always searching online for articles that can help me. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also. Keep working, great job!

Mobogenie APK

The storage facility for the emergency equipment is necessary in order to act as a one-stop service center for future needs regardless of any given situation. tattoo supply

Really great post, Thank you for sharing This knowledge.Excellently written article, if only all bloggers offered the same level of content as you, the internet would be a much better place. Please keep it up! Web Designer Tahoe

proach these topics from a stand point of knowledge and information. This is the first time, I visited at your site and became your fan. You are bookmarked Get More Twitter Followers

I was looking at some of your posts on this website and I conceive this web site is really instructive ! Keep putting up.. singles

Thank you for the great article I did enjoyed reading it, I want to encourage that you continue your great job, have a good day arkadaşlık

this post give me loads of prompt it is extremely valuable for me. Great online journal. check this link right here now

We provide you with the finest selection of free downloadable Full Games that will bring you lots of fun! Choose any Full Games you like, download it right away and enjoy stunning graphics, marvelous sound effect and diverse music of this games.Download now!
mavni forum

I enjoyed reading your post and found it to be informative and to the topic. Thank you for not rambling on and on just to fill the page. Thanks.. Minecraft online

We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. Great work.
breathing machine

I really appreciate the kind of topics you post here. Thanks for sharing us a great information that is actually helpful. Good day!
aluminum pergola kits

Such a very useful article. Very interesting to read this article.I would like to thank you for the efforts you had made for writing this awesome article.

have a peek here

Your first-class knowledge about this good post can become a proper basis for such people. nice one iklan baris online

Amazing. This really is simply amazing job done on your end. I had no idea you possessed the abilities to post such an excellent post. You have confirmed with this that you are one of the best writers right now. Continue your excellent work !! Get More Twitter Followers

Here in this blog you can get all kind of jobs recruitment careers please login and get your desire job azanis scar serum tipu

At Spa Samira Laser Clinic, our number one priority is customer satisfaction. Highly experienced staff, certified aestheticians, and competitive prices are among reasons why our clients choose us. With services ranging from facial peels and waxes, to laser treatments and permanent hair reduction,Singapore private detective

This is very educational content and written well for a change. It’s nice to see that some people still understand how to write a quality post ! SSD

This article has been written with precision. That is why this is so good ! You want your article to be great ? You have to make sure that you’ve nailed the precision part. Very pleased with this work ! Seo Services

Great post full of useful tips! My site is fairly new and I am also having a hard time getting my readers to leave comments. Analytics shows they are coming to the site but I have a feeling “nobody wants to be first”.

draftkings promo

I am always searching online for articles that can help me. There is obviously a lot to know about this. email verifier

I am always searching online for articles that can help me. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also. Keep working, great job!

proxpn

Thanks for your post. I’ve been thinking about writing a very comparable post over the last couple of weeks. I’ll probably keep it short and sweet and link to this instead if that cool wells fargo bank login

Excellent article. I was wondering about this so I'm very happy I found your website!.
Great Discount Gift Card Deals

This type of message always inspiring and I prefer to read quality content, so happy to find good place to many here in the post, the writing is just great, thanks for the post.
Found great discount gift cards

I just thought it may be an idea to post in case anyone else was having problems researching but I am a little unsure if I am allowed to put names and addresses on here 0800 call forwarding

I am really glad to read it and being able to share my thoughts on it. link building expert