NO LEAGUE AVOIDS BARRA'S WRATH: NHL "ITS OWN WORST ENEMY"
"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).