Thursday, April 24, 2008

American Stuff

We here at the Blueland Chronicle are American citizens, reasonably certain that we've been legal and documented since our births. Big Shooter might have slightly more American points than me, as he's met most (or is it all?) of the members of the 1980 Miracle on Ice team and even sports a signature-covered Team USA jersey now and then. He also loves Bruce Willis.

Like so many of you, readers, we're Americans in love with a Canadian sport (okay, a Canadian-Russian-Scandinavian-Eastern European sport that also features players from France, Germany, and Switzerland), so we're always interested to see how hockey comes across to American sports fans who might be more interested in football, baseball, and basketball. This article at the NBC website seems to be intended as a sort of marketing pitch to potential American playoff viewers: the whole tone is salesmanly and glad-handing ("Whaddaya MEAN you don't watch hockey? Well just wait 'til you see Sidney Crosby, he's a dandy, etc."), and it reads like it had to be approved by a committee somewhere high atop Rockefeller Plaza ("mention the Crosby kid at least seven times"; "oh, New York has a team in it? Mention them a lot"). The journo seems to have an unhealthy Jagr obsession, and he seems to think that Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Alex Ovechkin are the only players in the NHL (aside from Jagr, of course). BUT I don't disagree with him that this year's playoff match-ups are interesting and exciting, and he's right to note that one of the reasons the Sharks-Stars series will be great fun to watch is because two American legends will be squaring off against each other...and that that's a useful selling point, and so on and so forth.

NBC market-hunger aside, I AM excited that Mike Modano and Jeremy Roenick will be battling one another in the upcoming Stars-Sharks series. It's going to be a rollercoaster...which, of course, begs the question: who's better? To the polls!

I do get exasperated about the lack of interest in hockey here in Atlanta, not because it's hockey but because one of the best players in the league in playing here right now and nobody knows. I wish the Atlanta media could get more excited about hockey; it seems like Ilya Kovalchuk would be a glamorous catalyst for a surge in Hockey Love in the ATL. But perhaps the Atlanta media would cover Kovy more if the NHL media establishment covered Kovy more. And maybe the NHL media establishment would cover Kovy more if the Thrashers made it to the playoffs more often. Actually, no not really: the Caps have sucked worse than the Thrashers in the last few years, and Ovechkin became a star long before their recent renaissance. But I digress very, very far...

How do NBC and the NHL generate more interest in hockey in the United States? Is it even advisable to think about this on a national scale when there's so much trouble generating interest in cities like Washington and Atlanta, where some of the greatest NHL players play? To get to the point: sometimes I wish my favorite sport (hell, one of my Favorite Things in the Universe) was more popular in my home country, but ultimately I'm not that bothered when it comes to American indifference to hockey. Let people have their grid iron Neanderthals and their overweight juice-injecting baseballers. Let anyone curious about the beautiful and violent game of hockey discover it on their own (or with the help of an interested friend). Meanwhile, who's going to win, Modano or JR?

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