Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Well, as long as it's for charity...

Perhaps it's pretty benign, but maybe it's a sign of the NHL's desperation to make a dollar that it's gone all in with a gambling website as part of its awards extravaganza in Las Vegas.
"NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman also announced the League will be staging a celebrity/pro athlete charity poker tournament June 17.

" ... 'I am pleased to announce today that the NHL will team with Pokerstars.net and the NHL Players' Association to present (the poker tournament) in connection with the 2009 NHL Awards."
Perhaps it's a step forward for a big ball-and-stick league to be open about the symbiotic relationship between sports and gambling.

The thing is, the magnificent bastards behind as Kurtenblog noted six weeks ago, the NHL is a bit hypocritical (and you could argue that in another world, they wouldn't have to be). NHL deputy commish Bill Daly said, "We do not allow endorsement or sponsorship relationships with 'for money' gaming websites of any kind," in reference to the Vancouver Canucks' Mats Sundin appearing in TV ads for Pokerstars.net.

The Kurtenbloggers, though, saw through that. The dot-net website ...

... looks nothing like PokerStars.com, where you can play for money:

This is really more of a chattering class issue than anything. The NHL has to go where it can get the eyeballs online. There are probably a disproportionately high number of poker players (although the understanding any serious cardsharp gets sick of playing Texas Hold'em pretty quickly) in the all-important 18-to-34 demo.

It's just amusing that the league has to say one thing when it's so clearly doing the other, the same way you'll never hear anyone on ESPN on Sunday morning during football season mention the point spreads. C'est la vie. Let's just to do the press-rewrite journalism:
"... the poker tournament promises to be fun for all involved — and the mind does wander with possibilities of which NHL stars will bluff or fold. It will raise money for the Ronald McDonald House in Las Vegas and the NHL Players Association's 'Goals and Dreams' charity. Players will also make donations to the charities of their choice.
(Joke about Joe Thornton folding goes here.)

NHL, NHLPA, Pokerstars.net to hold tourney in Vegas (NHL.com)
Sundin comes up aces with poker link(Jason Brough and Mike Halford, Vancouver Province, Feb. 17)

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