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WAS NHL EXPERIMENT WORTH IT? LATE NIGHT SHOWS THINK SO
Published February 24, 1998
Although Team USA came home without a medal, the Olympic "experience wasn't a waste, at least according to the NHL. They say the purpose was to get worldwide exposure for the sport," according to CNBC's Don Dahler. NHL VP Bernadette Mansur: "Over eleven billion people across the planet watched the Olympics." Dahler: "Even though the games aired late, delayed, and to relatively small ratings, they were some of the highest rated hockey games ever seen on U.S. TV." Mansur: "We have a very young demographic. We're stronger than any other sport in the 18-34. And that demographic stuck with us." Dahler: "When word got out that some of Team USA's superstars acted like superbrats, some observers began to question if the great experiment was worthwhile." But sports marketing consultant Scott Carter said that for the league, "Ultimately the benefits far outweighed the shortcomings" ("The Edge," CNBC, 2/23). ANOTHER VOTE FOR A RETURN: In N.Y., columnist Dave Anderson supports the league's return for the Salt Lake 2002 Games: "Don't let those who trashed the room spoil what is the world's center stage for hockey" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/24). LAUGH TRACKS: On the "Late Show," David Letterman: "I thought the Olympics and the closing ceremonies generally, kind of ended up on a bad note when the U.S. men's hockey team drank several cases of beer and tried to extinguish the Olympic flame" ("Late Show," CBS, 2/23). On the "Tonight Show," Jay Leno said, "Even though war has been avoided, the word is out that the Clinton administration may try some covert action to try and topple Saddam Hussein. What they're gonna do is send the U.S. Olympic hockey team over and have them just trash the place" (NBC, 2/23). AS OPPOSED TO? Canadian Hockey Association VP Bob Nicholson, on his team's fourth place finish: "I don't think it was a disaster at all. We certainly didn't get the gold medal we were after, but the players themselves were outstanding" (Grant Kerr, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 2/24). MLB: USA TODAY's Hal Bodley writes MLB "can forget about sending players to the Olympics. The [NHL] proved in Nagano it doesn't work." MLB President Paul Beeston: "When we talked about this, we said we had the benefit of being able to observe what happened with the NHL in the Olympics. Sure, there are some concerns now" (USA TODAY, 2/24).