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NO LEAGUE AVOIDS BARRA'S WRATH: NHL "ITS OWN WORST ENEMY"
Published May 11, 1998
"There is a simple, irrefutable fact about hockey that the past year in broadcasting ought to have made obvious even to TV executives, and it's this: Americans really don't like hockey very much," according to Allen Barra who contributed for NEWSDAY's "Culture Watch." Noting this year's low TV ratings, Barra questioned NHL Senior VP Steve Solomon calling this year's ratings "a one-year blip." Barra: "How about calling hockey's entire history on television a half-century blip." Barra wrote that after the Rangers won the Stanley Cup, "hockey blew its first great shot at moving out of the low-rent district" with its work stoppage in '94. He criticized the league's expansion process and its post-season criterion, and said the "playoffs-for-everyone policy not only fails to punish indifferent regular season play; it encourages it." Barra added the NHL could "do away with its goon image overnight," but it "continues to pander to the ugliest fan element in sports." Barra: "I love the NHL's current post-season promotional slogan, 'Not hockey, but playoff hockey.' I take that to mean, 'Not the same dross we've been giving you all season long.' For the sake of the league -- and the rest of us -- it better not be" (NEWSDAY, 5/10). SUPPORT TEAMS: In Canada, George Gross supports government assistance for Canada's NHL teams and wrote that "shortsighted critics didn't see the far-reaching repercussions that could impact Canadian small-market teams if the Canadian government doesn't intercede." Gross: "[T]o hell with the knockers" (George Gross, TORONTO SUN, 5/10).