SBD/24/Olympics

WAS NHL EXPERIMENT WORTH IT? LATE NIGHT SHOWS THINK SO

          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). 

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