I was doing some searching online for hockey ratings compared to other sports. I remember a friend of mine saying that hockey ratings in the states beat out NBA ratings. And, in a somewhat vague reference to Begga79's blog, the desire to have hockey back is rising. Is it the networks that actually want it back? Or, is it the fans demanding it back?
In my online searches I also found this article.
It doesn't surprise me that a pretentous Princeton University brat would write something like this, but that's besides the point. Can hockey, a sport that allows players to duke it out on the ice actually benefit from controversy?
From where I stand, I've always admired the fact that hockey players are the most grounded and level headed athletes on the market. Sure, they may be a little crazy in the head (Derian Hatcher) or a bit psychotic (Chris Simon) but would the sport actually benefit from it?
No, I don't think so. A slashing penalty or cross check can bring you 10+ game suspension, but it won't make the 5:00 news. And last I checked (no pun intended), Marty Brodeur wasn't fighting pit bulls in his backyard and Sidney Crosby wasn't running rampant through Vegas with an entourage of gun wielding thugs.
Chris Simon got a lot of media attention for his actions on the ice against Holliweg (sp?), but the NHL was quick to drop the hammer on him and make an example of his antics. This also leads me to believe that if a player were to be involved in intense legal action, they'd be suspended and/or ousted.
Which hockey players haven't been allowed to play ever again? Based on my research, only one. Billy Coutu of the Boston Bruins received a lifetime suspension in 1927 for attacking a ref and starting a Stanley Cup brawl. And yet, everything he did that got him kicked out of the league was done ON the ice.
Dan Maloney of the Detroit Red Wings was banned in 1975 for two years...only in Toronto. Ironically enough he wound up playing and coaching for the leafs in the 80s. How forgiving...
IN 1905 and 1907 two players were killed on the ice. The 1905 was acquited on the terms of 'self defense'. The 1907 fight was acquited by the courts when apparantly the courts couldn't judge who actually killed the player in the heat of the brawl.
McSourley's hit on Brashear was an 18 month charge in which he was convicted of assault. To the best of my recollection, McSorley never stepped on the ice again.
And then of course there is the more recent Bertuzzi shot to Steve Moore. I guess the thing that makes this so pathetic is that he didn't even man up in a melee battle. He chose the sucker punch instead. He was fined $500,000 and unable to play for the remainder of the season.
Dino Ciccarelli spent a day in jail back in 1988 for hitting a player with his stick. He was also fined $1000.
Now...if controversy really led to ratings...wouldn't constant fights on ice, potential murders, suspensions and jail sentences actually have made an impact? The answer is no, but feel free to argue.
I think when it really comes down to it, hockey is a sport neglected by a majority but whole heartedly loved by its followers. Baseball fans turned their backs on the sport when the strike went in to effect, as did basketball. It is my firm belief that hockey fans just wanted them to come to terms ASAP and get back on the ice.
This is of course all up for discussion.