Start the season in another continent. Have Gary Bettman show up at the New York Stock Exchange only too happy to ring the opening bell the day after a global financial meltdown. Have the frontman of some relic of a 1980s hair band mistreat the Stanley Cup ("it's upside-down, never mind" might be a great epitaph for the Bettman era). Top it off by having Gov. Sarah Palin's appearance in Philadelphia reduce a Rangers-Flyers game "to a prop in a political campaign." (Puck Daddy) Oh, and broadcast the fact that one of your Sun Belt teams is giving away tickets for free. The Palin puckdrop wasn't even that bad, who knew?
"This is yet another example why hockey is the worst-marketed game on the planet. It's like inviting PETA to a barbecue. Palin's negatives are almost Bushian. Outside her narrow base of nationalist bigots, the country is recoiling. Yet (Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed) Snider and the NHL reasoned her presence would be a big publicity coup. All the while, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly insisted this was not about politics: 'Governor Palin is a supporter of the sport, which she has proclaimed publicly. As a public figure who has a very public connection with hockey, her recent associations with the Flyers and other NHL franchises is not surprising and, in our view, not inappropriate.' " -- Dave Zirin and Daniel DenvirThose comments from Daly have been called "delusional."
It's been said many times, many ways, but hockey must be the greatest game in the world to have survived the fools who run it. My hat is off to the people who carry on as if all of the above has nothing to do with the game itself. I'm just not wired that way.
Lest you question the bona fides as a hockey lover, when I read Denvir/Zirin's assertion that, "A Google search reveals that Palin may have nearly coined the term 'hockey mom,' " an e-mail was fired off near-instantly to call them on a bit of American exceptionalism. "Hockey mom" has been in use in Canada for decades; we're not about to let the Yanks take credit. Maybe we did with insulin, the telephone and the First World War, but not with "hockey mom."
Anyway, there probably is a spin-off post here. It's plainly obvious that the Canadian teams basically subsidize the U.S. teams and Gary Bettman's (and Philip Anschutz's) agenda, thus making sure that Canadians have less access to watching top-notch professional hockey (and pay much more to see it). The more the six NHL teams become a cash cow for a dozen or so struggling U.S. franchise, the less the chance of Canada getting two more teams in Southern Ontario and one more in Western Canada, which could easily be supported (especially if the salary cap goes down). Does that not sound like taxation without representation?