For those of you that joined the blog recently, during the summer on Friday’s is when I tend to just write about whatever I want, as do the others on the blog. Feather even went through a streak of reviewing video games and The Walking Dead. So prepare yourself, as I’ve got all sorts of things rattling around this bald dome of mine.
-As the Hawks sit between several rocks and a very hard place with the cap constraints, the past couple days I can’t help but cast my mind back just short of three years ago. That would be Bettman Lockout III. Or maybe even Bettman Lockout II, which got us this current system. During that lockout, most owners were under a gag order. We never got what Rocky was really thinking during all of it, and whenever he did talk he was on the party line, out of fear of massive fines from The Commish.
And owners do that during labor disputes, but those labor disputes, at least these days, aren’t really about owners vs. players. They’re owners vs. owners, and the owners take it out on the players to protect themselves from each other and themselves. They know that when back to normal business, they’re going to do everything they can to put a winning team out there and all those loopholes get closed in the next CBA.
So if you’re Rocky, where are you now? You’ve overhauled this organization for eight seasons now, completely changing the way they do everything. You finally got it into the black (so you claim). You’ve made the Hawks more popular than they’ve ever been in the city and in the sports landscape. You’ve brought home three Cups and a further two Conference Finals.
And now, because you’ve set up your organization so well, you have to watch as the hockey operations that you set up and then left alone is punished for doing their job so well. You’re watching your chances of further deep playoff runs, and all the revenue they bring in and the chances at glory, lessened so that organizations that aren’t run as well or attended or downright shoddy can keep up. What have you done wrong?
Off the record, do you think Rocky and owners like him would kill for an NBA-type Bird exemption right now, making it easier to retain the talent you’ve groomed? With the financial might that Rocky was able to glean from basically scratch in this town, doesn’t he want to flex it a little? Is the league really any stronger by towing along the Arizonas and Floridas of the world by punishing the top end than it would be if they let the Chicagos, Detroits, New Yorks, Montreals press their advantage more? I tend to doubt it.
But we’ll never know.
-Moving on from hockey, and on East Coast US Women’s Parade Day. I watched a little of the Women’s World Cup, mostly because there wasn’t much else on at certain times. But it was fun to watch a whole sect of the sports world devolve into the #PleaseLikeMySport psychosis that hockey fans are constantly mocked for.
Now, obviously those clamoring for more attention to women’s soccer are part of a greater overall battle of gender equality where hockey fans aren’t. So I get the passion to an extent. But it was still highly entertaining to see people post on Facebook and Twitter the same “toughness” memes we see with a picture of a female soccer playing bleeding but playing, juxtaposed with a picture of a male soccer player writhing around on the ground in pain, as if a female soccer player has never, ever dived and tried to get an opponent booked (though the fact most of these contained a photo of Javier Hernandez made me laugh pretty damn hard).
The ratings of the Final clearly blew anything the NHL has ever been able to put up out of the water, but it still has the feel of the 2010 Gold Medal game to me. We all love to get together and wave the flag every four years, but it’s hardly the signal of a seismic shift in the attention of sports fans. Hockey tends to steadily grow, at a pace slower than most would like. The same is true for both men’s and women’s soccer. Sure, we can fill Grant or Lincoln park for a watch party for a World Cup. That doesn’t mean people are flocking to Toyota Park or Benedictine College the following month. And that’s fine. No one’s required to.
These days hockey and soccer fans really have all the coverage and fellow fans they need. You can watch all the games you want, find all the blogs you want, the message boards, twitter feeds, whatever. Ok, women’s soccer fans might lag behind but it’s better than it was. Acceptance by the masses no longer is needed, because there are just so many more avenues than there were. And the food’s better out here in the outer reaches anyway.