Grinds-my-gears1

Grinds My Gears 1/21

Good to have this one back.

As expected, the NHL returned this weekend with full houses (for the most part) and record TV audiences for its biggest rivalry (Flyers-Pens) or defending champs raising a banner against one of its most popular teams (Kings-Hawks). This was met with derision from tons of commentators inside and outside the sport. “Look at the rabble,” they mocked, “this is why owners think they can get away with lockouts multiple times per decade. Because they can.”

Do you understand now, hockey fan? You are the Great Enabler, without principle or conviction. When will you understand your plight like everyone else?

Except when you look back almost exactly one year, that is.

Let me take you back a little more than a year ago. August of 2011. The NFL ends a lockout — a work stoppage that cost it all of a few preseason games which everyone hates anyway, as well as crunching down the free agency period which everyone loved anyway — and then enjoys record viewership for its primetime games. It’s hailed as a sporting monster, and experts everywhere marvel at just how strong the NFL brand is.

Let’s move on a couple months, to Christmas 2011. The NBA returns from a lockout — it’s second in 12 years, and while that’s a better record than the NHL and they’ve never lost a whole season, it isn’t exactly a glittering mark — with a stellar lineup of games on it’s usual Yuletide Schedule. It enjoys record viewership all season including through its final contested by admittedly two great teams. It is hailed as the league on the forefront of marketing itself, run by the smartest people in the room. It is just a testament to how well the NBA runs itself, we’re told.

If I have this straight, that NBA fan (who probably knows nothing about the game and got the boss’s tickets, because if he was a real basketball fan he probably couldn’t afford to go and/or is probably disgusted by all the in-arena bullshit that accompanies an NBA game) who never took his frustrations out on the league by not forking over his cash, he’s helpless against the David Stern marketing machine.

But the NHL fan, who grew up with having to go to the game in order to see it regularly and has a dearth of good hockey coverage to this day, he’s just a mindless drone who’s responsible for all the evil in the world because he likes to spend money and time watching the product he so dearly loves? Do I have that right?

What was it we were supposed to do? Let’s carry this out: Say all arenas were half-full this weekend and all season. Say the viewership somehow dropped off the ottoman hockey-ratings have always been on all year. What then? Advertisers go fleeing and teams drown in red ink. They fold or move. Disappearing teams does cause fans to leave the game forever. Revenues drown. Great, we’ll have taught some guys a lesson. Maybe. And the game and league we enjoy would never be the same or as good.

But man, wouldn’t we feel better?

They all can’t have it both ways. You can’t bemoan the fact that it’s all run as a business, and then make fun of us when we treat it as a business that puts out a product we like. I get disappointed when Hot Doug’s is closed because Doug is on vacation, most likely on the dime I helped provide. But I don’t stop going there when it reopens, because it’s fucking delicious and the best place around. I certainly don’t feel bad about doing so.

The NHL puts out a product we adore. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m not the problem. You’re not the problem. I’ve said it before, what did we lose or discover during that lockout? Three months of a season that’s probably a month too long? Yeah, that sucks. But now you’re getting more hockey between now and May than you normally would have. Find out that owners think you’re just a walking wallet and the players think you’re scenery? You already knew that. You know who else thinks you’re a walking wallet? EVERYONE. Government, industry, everybody. Everyone that opens a business wants your money. Big deal. Get over it. It’s the path we chose. For the most part, we like it.

This is Chicago. It’s a big city. When I want something, I want the best I can get for the most part. That means when I want Mexican food, I don’t go to Taco Bell. I hit Los Nopales here on Western. Sometimes I like to go to a small theater for a play. But sometimes I want to go to Steppenwolf or The Goodman, because they’re two of the best theaters in the world.

And that means when I want hockey, I want NHL hockey. Keep your Swift Fucking Current and your Miami of Ohio’s. I’ll stick with the best. And I’m not going to feel the least bit guilty about it.

  • pstumba

    what he said

  • Sparky_The_Barbarian

    The US media does not treat hockey as a major sport. They look at us almost the same way they look at people going to a Doctor Who convention (and before you say anything, I go to LOTS of Doctor Who conventions. I love them, I love hockey, too. However, while I wear hockey jerseys while watching games, I do not wear a long scarf, a bow tie, or a fez while watching Doctor Who, though I do own a fez….and my wife owns a ridiculously long scarf… NB: Always marry in fandom, whether it’s sci fi or sports).

    Where was I? Oh, yes, alas, at least as far as hockey is concerned, the naysayers are partially right. Yes, I’m talking about the southern markets. The ownership problems in places like Atlanta and Phoenix only serve to make the doubters sit back, fold their hands behind their heads, and say, “I knew it would never catch on.”

    And this is where (I can’t believe I’m going to say this), Bettman’s vision, if not his implementation of it, is…. struggling here…. Rrrr Right. There, I said it. I need mouthwash.

    We will continue to be the redheaded step child of Major Sports in the USA, a regional thing, not a national thing, until the TV ratings are consistently good in the southern markets and southern franchises become stable, if not actually the licenses to print money that their O6 counterparts are.

    Until then, my reaction to the hockey naysayers will be same as my reaction to those who make fun of me for going to Doctor Who conventions. I will simply smile and say, “You really don’t get it, do you? Never mind, it’s your loss.”

    • laaarmer

      You think Bolland likes Dr. Who?

      • Sparky_The_Barbarian

        I think Bolland likes the Cybermen.

        • MySpoonIsTooBig

          I think Bolland is a cylon

        • justforkicks

          Bolland is a dalek – everytime he goes on ice he is there to exterminate

  • cliffkoroll

    Dude, I felt like you went a little Tarantino in the penultimate paragraph. Remember?

    “I don’t need you to tell me how fucking good my coffee is, okay? I’m the one who buys it. I know how good it is. When Bonnie goes shopping she buys SHIT. I buy the gourmet expensive stuff because when I drink it I want to taste it. But you know what’s on my mind right now? It AIN’T the coffee in my kitchen…”

  • cliffkoroll

    Also, who cares about the rest of the world? To me, this is between hockey players, owners, and fans. Everyone else can fuck off.

    Now do you see the genius of #silentroar #operationpindrop? It would be an eloquent message. Anyway, you won’t hear a peep from me tomorrow night. #326mute

    • laaarmer

      Come on Cliff, at least reply to yourself. Bad form.

  • Gabble Ratchet

    Friends always expect me (the most rabid Hawks/hockey fan in my group) to get worked up about strikes and lockouts. I don’t, because I know the dispute is not about me or other fans. If they locked out the season because they felt fans weren’t paying enough, that would be a different story. But the beef is between the owners and players. It sucks to live with, but deal. It’s all you can do as a fan. Taking a quixotic principled stand via a boycott isn’t going to do anything but make you miss when of your favorite pleasures in life. and to what end? No one is going to modify their behavior because of your bellowing into the wind.

    An acquaintance of mine tried to throw cold water on my joy during game 1 by pointing out that “all the teams make the playoffs.” sigh

    • Accipiter

      Did your joy shrink ?

      • 10thMountainFire

        As soon as you fall asleep, I’m going to punch you square in the face.

        • Accipiter

          Dad, why are you talking to me like this ? I’m your son.

          • 10thMountainFire

            This is a house of learned doctors! You and your mom are hillbillies!

          • Accipiter

            I’m not buying that crap anymore!

          • 10thMountainFire

            Shut up you curly-headed fuck!

  • 10thMountainFire

    Those trying to commit whatever little symbolic gesture, such as not buying a sweater or other merchandise, in an effort to somehow get back at that big, bad NHL for having a labor dispute, are like those that are mad at the Federal Government so they take to ranting on Facebook. No one cares.

    The NHL is the owner of the best hockey on the planet. The NHL won’t be hurt by your symbolic gestures, even as visceral as they originate and as cathartic as satisfying that compulsion for vengeance in your gut may lead you to believe. Refusing to buy merchandise and chastising those that do won’t hurt the pocketbooks of the beast that is the NHL. The monster is beyond your petty little gestures and it cares not for your trite little arrows. Shut the fuck up and watch the Hawks win another Cup. Or just shut the fuck up. Because no one cares about your rants. Even if they click ‘like’ on your goddamned Facebook page.

    • laaarmer

      You should post this on your facebook page.

      • 10thMountainFire

        I deserved that. It stung. But I deserved that.

        • Accipiter

          I can taste it. On my tongue.

          • 10thMountainFire

            Okay. Now the tuxedos seem kind of fucked up.

          • Accipiter

            Well, not just the Cube’s, but Chris Daughtry, Jeff Probst, super chef Bobby Flay. I mean, it was insane, it was almost too much.

          • Z-man19

            Is that onion, onion and ketchup?

          • 10thMountainFire

            Pammmmmnnnnn.

          • Accipiter

            Sweet Jesus! I love Korean food.

          • laaarmer

            Are you guys holding hands?

          • Accipiter

            No, but we like to shit with the door open.

          • Z-man19

            LOL, that just made my day

    • cliffkoroll

      the salient point being: shut the fuck up!

      at least tomorrow night. #silentroar #operationpindrop

    • http://twitter.com/ChiNativeSon ChicagoNativeSon

      Um, so you’re saying #OperationPinDrop is out?

  • Tornsys

    If they really gave a shit about our opinions then they wouldnt use cancelling season games as a bargaining chip, but they don’t so they’ll continue to do as they please whether or not there is a temporary ratings decrease.

  • MySpoonIsTooBig

    There’s a reason that the NFL lockout ended before anything beyond 1 single preseason game was canceled, and that reason is that the owners and the players were both fully cognizant of just how much of a cash cow the NFL is.

    That’s why we SHOULDN’T feel bad about returning in droves to hockey. Pissing off fans and the possibility of long-term consequences was never going to be the vehicle that convinced owners and players alike that they have more to lose than to gain through an extended work stoppage. Rather, if popularity and revenues continue to grow leading to more teams recording robust profits, the short-term profit loss of from canceled games is what’s going to prevent future work stoppages.

  • frictionjane

    The Doug’s analogy pretty much sucked. Not really sure how you can compare a earned vacation to employers not letting employees work, but okay.

    And we’re comparing a sport, hockey, that has struggled in the past to keep up w/3 hours of left turns in the ratings. That should pretty much sum up the viewing public.

    Most people can’t relate to the NHL because they never played hockey growing up. Okay, maybe floor hockey, but not ice hockey. Even in a fairly relevant hockey city like Chicago, how many schools have hockey as a sport? Many more today than ten years ago, but still a small fraction of those that have football, basketball, baseball, etc.

    Hockey is what it is, let’s go catfish some Notre Dame students

    • 10thMountainFire

      ‘…fairly relevant hockey city like Chicago’?

      You’re a Vancouver plant, aren’t you? Huh? Spill it! What are you, from Scum City?! St. Louis? Tell us!

      • http://twitter.com/frictionjane Jane Doe

        No, from the west burbs. More so than the southern cities referenced in the post, not Toronto though, either.

    • Joe Banks

      Let’s get this straight… you imply that Hockey has struggled to keep up with NASCAR, then you say people can’t relate the NHL because they never played Hockey. Are you saying most people HAVE competed in stock car races?
      Who you crappin?

      • birdhead

        ah, but most people *have* driven cars …

        • http://twitter.com/frictionjane Jane Doe

          Exactly. Like Lance Briggs.

      • http://twitter.com/frictionjane Jane Doe

        I didn’t realize this was an audition for The Score.
        I’m simply saying there are many more people who have never played ice hockey, or even ice skated, compared to people who have driven a car. Not a big leap.

    • cliffkoroll

      Not really sure how you can view people refusing to play for $2 million per year on average rather than the $2.2 million they figured was divinely-ordained or something as ‘employers not letting employees work’, but okay.

      • http://twitter.com/frictionjane Jane Doe

        It was a lockout, no?

        • cliffkoroll

          Words, just words. Aren’t we all interested in describing things as accurately as possible? Cuz ‘employers not letting employees work’ misses the mark be a large margin in this particular instance, so I thought I’d touch it up.

  • scott r

    Good article.

    As an rabid basketball fan, I am most intrigued about the NBA part of your article. NHL fans should not be treated differently than basketball or football fans because they too love the product that is being put out. But whether it’s a Bulls game or a Hawks game, I still sit in the upper deck (because it’s what I can afford), I go to an italian restaurant before the game, and I don’t care too much for any in-between quarter entertainment at either game (which is a plus as a soccer fan since I’m only shown highlights and commercials at half time).

    Very solid on Hot Doug’s and wanting to see the best in Chicago. Part of the reason why I came back to this city.

  • Bmichaelc

    Indeed

  • DaveM36

    Right as the last NFL season was starting, I remember a national writer tweeting out something like, “It seems the lockout has only made the NFL more popular.”

    For the first few days, at least, it seems like the same thing happened with the NHL.

  • Joe Banks

    Gah, Rockford just pissed away a 3-0 lead vs Texas. I want to break something.

    • girlphoenix

      For the SECOND time. Didn’t you already play this game boys? Maybe you should try for a different result.

      • justforkicks

        suspensions to be handed out after the game?

        • girlphoenix

          probably tomorrow. hutton and flick aren’t playing.

        • girlphoenix

          also lalonde benched for lebda

          • justforkicks

            so we went from being 3-0 to losing 3-6. wtf hogs, just wtf

          • Joe Banks

            Oh god, that’s gotta suck

          • justforkicks

            wtf?! I thought it was clear that GR was the first off the bench?!?!

            ChrisBlock
            AHL has yet to rule on impending suspensions stemming from Saturday night’s brawl. However, Rob Flick is out today – ruled 1st off bench Sat

    • birdhead

      yuck. :( IceHogs!

    • justforkicks

      typical hogs =(

    • 10thMountainFire

      When I get down and feel bad, I just think, ‘but Marian Hossa plays for my hockey team!’ and I am no longer depressed.

      • mightymikeD

        Panacea!

        • 10thMountainFire

          Hossa’s stickhandling cured the the brain tumor of a young man in East Timor last night.

          • Accipiter

            It was surgical.

          • 10thMountainFire

            Hossa has been forced to purchase malpractice insurance as he is now recognized as a fucking surgeon.

          • ahnfire

            Insurance agent comes to get his money, realizes that Hossa can do no wrong and meekly backs out of the room in supplication, begging forgiveness for ever implying the mere possibility.

          • 10thMountainFire

            …and Hossa continues his efforts to combat disease and achieve a lasting international peace.

          • ahnfire

            Hossa gif goes here.

          • ahnfire
          • birdhead

            aaaand right-click-save-as

          • Z-man19

            Ok this is what drives me nuts, the gif wasn’t there and now it is, kind of. Nice BTW

          • 10thMountainFire

            I just spoke with a friend in Arizona, a big Coyotes fan… he says Marian Hossa is the best player in the NHL. I agreed, of course.

          • Z-man19

            A question sir, where the fuck is East Timor?

          • 10thMountainFire

            Formerly under the rule of Indonesia… achieved independence after Suharto was ‘de-throned’ and was recognized as an independent state in the early part of the 21st century.

          • mightymikeD

            thanks to Marian Hossa

          • Accipiter

            It’s why I celebrate Thanksgiving.

          • birdhead

            East of West Timor

          • ahnfire

            and an up boat for you.

          • Z-man19

            heh

          • 10thMountainFire

            Well played.

          • birdhead

            I just wish I’d been able to work a Timor-Leste/West joke in.

          • 10thMountainFire

            I think you would have broken the upvote mechanism with that effort.

          • Accipiter

            99 problems, but getting up boats ain’t one.

          • mightymikeD

            It also turns milk chocolatey

          • Joe Banks

            Arnold: “It’s not a Timor”

  • Z-man19

    Why not just write the team/league a letter voicing your frustration over the lockout? Sure it may not get you anything, but why not try it? If you are a STH what’s it going to hurt? I would think that a written statement would go much further than a symbolic gesture. No offense to Cliff, but how are the Hawks front office people supposed to know that you aren’t making a sound during the anthem and then understand why you aren’t making any noise?

    In the end, I don’t care how people choose to voice their displeasure over this, but some forms would seem more likely to cause a response than others.

    • cliffkoroll

      A strongly-worded letter eh? That’ll learn ‘em.

      Seriously, maybe that gets you a bit of catharsis, like a lot of other suggestions, but that’s it.

      #silentroar is an opportunity to send a message. We’re here. We pay for all of this. We don’t like being taken for granted. That’s all.

      The message would definitely get through, and Sam would spend the next week doing the Letterman/Leno tour or whatever, but the logistics of pulling something like this off appear to be too much.

      • Z-man19

        Pretty much my point. If you can get the 20,000 other folks to go along then yeah, maybe you have been heard. If you are sitting there silent while 15,000 others go nuts, not so much. I hope it works to be honest, 20,000 people who would usually be screaming sitting totally silent , I’d like to see it happen but I’m not holding my breath.

        • laaarmer

          You should challenge Rocky to a duel at center ice.

          • Z-man19

            Since you are down here and not up there, I assume the box at the bottom of your screen appears to tell you that there is a new comment below, if you click on it, it takes you to the new reply that you probably haven’t read yet, idiotic as it may be.

            This isn’t quite as handy as the comment apparatus at SCH, but it has grown on me. I’ve probably missed some idiotic posts but I didn’t read all the posts at SCH either.

          • laaarmer

            You should edit it to respond to the correct comment, unless of course you were being idiotic, and then, well, you are.

        • cliffkoroll

          I dunno, I’m usually pretty loud.

          I’m just a simple fan though. I know little of your wondrous technology that produces flash mobs and whatnot, but I thought maybe it was as simple as #silentroar and BAM! viral, done.

          I feel like Creed typing into the blog Jim set up for him, but with painful self-awareness.

          • Z-man19

            Are you going ‘get off my lawn’ on me? I’m not as young as my voice may appear. I barely know how to use my wondrous tech, I suggest WRITING a letter for Christ sake.

    • Joe Banks

      As for the effectiveness of the “strongly worded letter”…

      For your amusement,

      Here’s the reply I got from NBC regarding the “HEIDI” game on Saturday:

      “Thanks for your email. NBC values your comments, but unfortunately, due to the volume of emails we receive, we cannot respond to each one. Please check our FAQ section to see if your question is answered there:”

  • girlphoenix

    Holy shit, the Hogs are terrible. Gave up 17 goals in 2 games.

    • Accipiter

      I’m guessing they didn’t win.

      • Joe Banks

        They stormed into the second period up 3-0. Kent Simpson looked invincible in goal, and then…
        Dallas turned into the f—ing globetrotters. 3-3 after 2, final Dallas 6, Rockfish 3

    • laaarmer

      Now you see how good Leddy is!

  • laaarmer

    Can we / is there a way for this disqus thing to know what you have read? I see the little yellow line after I click on a reply, but that happens after I read something. I am leaving, and when I come back I may get back on to see what idiotic things are being said. When I get back on, I cannot tell what I have viewed with reading all the old idiotic shit to find the new idiotic shit. We need an new idiotic shit indicator

    • laaarmer

      To be more clear, next time you see an alert that there are 2 new messages below or above, refresh your screen, like you are just now getting to the page. There is no way to know what is the new post/comment, as far as I can tell.

      This Grinds My Gears.

      • ahnfire

        Unfortunately, there isn’t a highlighting of new comments like there was at SBN. If you keep the page open, you’ll get that yellow alert bar which tells you there are new comments. There are two types of new comments: new standalone comments & new reply comments.

        If you click on the yellow bar, it should take you to the new comments or reveal the new comments if they’re the standalone type.

        If you click the yellow bar & no new comments pop up, then check the bottom of your screen to see if there is a gray alert bar. The alert is about new replies as opposed to new comments. If you click the gray bar, it should take you to the new comment, which are indicated by the little yellow line or a small link that says “Show new reply”.

        • Z-man19

          Could you supply some visual aides with this tutorial? A fine instructional otherwise :)

        • laaarmer

          I understand how it works. What I want is a way to know what is a new comment from the last time I “logged in”. I want it now!

          • ahnfire

            Sorry laaarms. No way to know with disqus, other than sorting by Newest and slogging through the older comments :|

      • cliffkoroll

        Do you see the egg next to Datsyuk? Click on it and follow the instructions.

        • ahnfire

          Cliff wins.

          All the up boats for you.

    • 10thMountainFire

      Please deposit this post in the daily Discus Committed Indian complaint box.

  • Roland2327

    I was just watching NHL Live and they were talking about the difficulties that some teams are having with their RFAs. Which made me wonder if chicago should kick the tires and see if there is a trade to be made. I would think O’Reilly may be helpful. What do you guys think?

    • mightymikeD

      O RLY?
      Seriously, I’d like O’Reilly but I don’t see the Avs trading him

    • Accipiter

      Unless he wants a trade I can’t see it happening. Radar has too big of an upside to for the Avs to want to lose him. We would probably have to give a lot to get him.

  • Gozer the Traveler

    chicago trades 7th round draft pick to flames for G henrik karlsson.

    who?

    • Roland2327

      Basically someone who will play in the AHL and can be a good backup in case emery or Crawford get injured

    • Joe Banks

      Maybe Carter Hutton “Ben Smithed” himself in that fight. He was throwing haymakers… Kent Simpson started today. Did they finally notice Alec Richards sucks?

      • girlphoenix

        i resent ben smith being used in a pejorative way

    • Joe Banks

      Assigned to Rockford

    • justforkicks

      NHLBlackhawks
      The 29-year-old #Karlsson, who has been assigned to Rockford, has a 2.79 goals-against average, .905 sv % in 26 NHL games.

    • Accipiter

      I’m not sure why Stan didn’t just pick him up off waivers for nothing a few days ago instead of giving up a 7th rounder.

  • Joe Banks

    Nashville 1, blues 0

    • Joe Banks

      Tarasenko, 1-1

      • Roland2327

        Tarasenko is scary good

        • Joe Banks

          Blues announcers say all-world

          • Accipiter

            Panger says a lot of things …

          • Joe Banks

            And all of them stupid

      • justforkicks

        2-2