Luke Waltons Forehead presented by the Sports Dude.

Thursday, July 14, 2005 at 8:50 AM

The ugly step sister returns!!!!

Well, I am a Detroit Sports blogger, so I guess I may as well make mention of it as my duty to the Detroit Sports scene. It appears that hockey is finally back, "GAME ON!" as the headlines read, and the league will return this September. For some this is great news, but for the vast majority of people this is simply a blip on the map.

The NHL has bigger issues than salary caps and missing a year from the lockout. It was already the least popular sport of the "Big 4" in the USA, now it has alienated its fans by wasting a year. Even though the majority of the "hardcore" fans will return, the people that were on the bubble, the ones that just "watched to watch", those fans will all but be gone. They have spent the last year watching teams like the Pistons grow and win championships, they have watched the Tigers actually take steps towards legitimacy, they have seen the Lions.... drop passes?...., they have seen the All-Star game for MLB be a success and the Super Bowl is on the horizon. Where does hockey fit into all of this? It doesn't; for most it was an after thought, for some they remembered but too many folks in this area, just like this country, just don't really care about hockey.

And please don't come to me with all this "Hockeytown" garbage, that is weak and all of you know it. If the Tigers contend for the Wild Card this year, let alone actually make the playoffs, hockey will be on the back burner. This town was originally "Tigertown" and if the damn team gets serious again, it will return to it in a heart beat. Also, don't tell me the Pistons haven't caught up to the Red Wings, especially in people my age and younger and all those "fringe fans" that I spoke about earlier. Lastly, if the Lions do anything remotely close to a playoff run this year this town will erupt more violently than any Stanley Cup could ever bring. Point is hockey, you were only given the opportunity to become "Hockeytown" because there was nothing else. Now that there is, sorry, you will remain the ugly step sister hear in Detroit as well.

Yes, I know, there are many that are probably calling me crazy for saying this, but it is sad and true and you all know it. Go to any high school today and ask kids to put, in order, the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL from favorite to least favorite and I guarantee that the NHL is last about 80 to 90 percent of the time! The point is, except for the few hardcore fans, no one watches and no one cares, while in this city especially the other three (MLB, NFL, NBA) continue to gain more fans while the NHL locked theirs out. And, one last time for the record, in my opinion the majority of the blame goes to the players in my book!

The NHL has no major network to carry it and furthermore no real identity. The NFL, the NBA and MLB are all more popular and draw more ratings. In fact I heard something the other day on the radio that said NASCAR, poker, the Westminster dog shows, the Outdoor Games, golf and tennis all get better ratings on TV then hockey does. And that was on an all sports radio station and was said by a guy who is excited about hockey coming back! The NHL has some serious issues folks, deeper then this lockout and deeper than this CBA can cure. Look, I didn't get it then and I know I won't get it now. As I told my buddy here at work, the only guy out of 100 here that actually cares about hockey coming back, that I would rather watch the grass grow in my front yard than watch hockey live or on TV.

Welcome back hockey, to the few fans you have left and have not alienated, I say "GAME ON", but more importantly I say "Good Luck"! Something tells me you will need a lot of it to just survive. Later - the sports dude.

Blogger Leelanau Sports Guy said...

The NHL does have some work to do.

With the lockout ended, fans up here in the Traverse City area are getting excited for training camp. I think alot of fans will come back, provided they make a few of the proposed rules changes (smaller goalie pads, no red line, etc.) that might make the game faster and higher scoring. Of course free tickets might help too, like that would ever happen with these owners...

I am sure I will watch as much hockey as I did before, but you are right Sports Dude, the Wings aren't the only good team anymore. All of the other Detroit teams are vastly improving and putting a good product out there.  

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