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A penny for your thoughts indeed. Around here that would be a raise.

What makes a good blog? I think thematic consistency, a little exhibitionism, and honest writing. I can promise you the last one.

Most of my posts seem to be about music or politics. Some of them are funny. But all of them would love to hear a comment from you.

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I was born at a relatively young age. Growing up consumed the better part of my childhood. As a young man I chased a lot of girls. But they kept getting away. Then I got older and even slower, so I got married. I've lived in New York City almost since before I moved here. I summer in Manhattan, which is like New York City, but with more humidity.

Here's me, without baby, thinking big thoughts. (Actually, what I'm thinking is, "Hey, these aren't Pringles!") I think I look better with baby.

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The NHL: Same Time, Next Year?
Friday, February 18, 2005
APW has learned exclusively (from the back cover of today's New York Post) that the National Hockey League has cancelled its 2004-05 season. It is the first time since 1919 that Lord Stanley's cup will not we awarded.

When I was 9, my dad took us to our first hockey game. He made a sweeping gesture to the ice during the pre-game warm-ups (the Rangers versus the Flyers; it was, I later learned, the first game in the new Madison Square Garden, now known as the current Madison Square Garden) and announced to my brother and me, "We're the guys in blue." We, as in them and us. But also we, as in him and his boys. And so with that wave of the hand, we became Ranger fans.

A lot of people may have grown disenchanted with sports over time, but I can pinpoint the exact week. See, being a Ranger fan was like being a Red Sox fan before this year, like being a Cubs fan. There was a Sisyphisan agony to the experience, the perpetual pushing of the rock up that hill. You knew that each year your heart would be broken; you just didn't know how. But in 1994, miraculously, Mark Messier (the Messiah, this was lost on none of us) led the team to the promised land, to the sweet nectar of sweaty champaigne drunk from the grandest of all sporting trophies.

And did I mention my brother and I were at the game?

Now, not a lot of people remember this, but the Rangers won the Stanley cup on a Tuesday. Three days later, the following Friday, was OJ's white Bronco chase. These two events-- the fulfillment of the ultimate sports longing, coupled and contrasted with the brutal fall from grace, the loss of innocence, that was OJ-- combined to color sports for me in a way that permanently made me care a whole lot less. In the same week, you get your sports fantasy come true, you totally shoot your sports fan load, and then Charles Manson finds his way into the backfield. Really, who needed it after that? And I've felt that way ever since.

But I do still follow the NHL, even if only in the sports section of my local papers. And I can't believe the players and owners are this dumb. See, here is the nightmare scenario: hockey goes away, and nobody gives a damn. There are already too many sporting events on TV, where a whole lot of the money is made; no one is crying into their protein shakes over dead air. No, everything the broadcast and cable networks have asked viewers to watch in place of the NHL-- more college basketball, poker shows, yeast growing-- has outpaced the NHL in the ratings. TV doesn't care. The fans don't seem to care (outside of Canada, but the truth is, the big money NHL teams are in the states). Players are flocking to European leagues. Its the opposite of "What if you threw a party and no one showed up?"; this is, what if you canceled your party and no one noticed?

I think it is a lead pipe cinch that when (or if) the league finally does resume play, there will be less teams. If the economics are so bad, some of them are going to go chapter 11.

There have been all sorts of hare-brained schemes to "put a better product on the ice." Yo, NHL, here's some free advice. You want to put a better product on the ice? Get rid of the helmets. Take a look at Bobby Orr. Or Brad Park. Or Bobby Hull. And these are mostly isolated shots, not action shots. If you're as old as I am, you probably remember all three faces. Now honestly-- is there any NHL star today who you'd recognize if you shared an elevator with him?

If you can picture an old time NHL game in your mind's eye, you know how much more vibrant and exciting and irresistable and intimate the game used to be, before helmets. I remember when all you had to do to make a fan was bring someone to a game. The players used to have personality; now you root for generic cyborgs.

I know this is an unpopular position. Head trauma and all; you can't even ride your damn bike around the block without a helmet these days. But trust me, you want to make a quantum improvement in the product on the ice, lose the headgear.

Posted by: --josh-- @ 4:14 PM  

At 2/19/2005 9:37 AM, Blogger minty said...   

You make some excellent points, grasshopper. I have never been a huge hockey fan but I went to many minor league games as a kid, I have always taken notice of the standings, and I watch at least the Cup finals each year. I would (will?) be sad if (when?) the NHL is no more.

And Josh, some advice on how to get more people to read and comment--leave comments on the blogs of others. Some will inevitably click the link and come to yours. And the circle grows. It has worked for me!

At 2/19/2005 12:41 PM, Blogger --josh-- said...   


Good advice on posting comments in other folks' blogs. After all, that IS how I met my wife.

Today the Times reports some potential last minute negotiations that might-- might-- save the season. We're talking, what, 18 games a team at this point? Although ome would argue (and I wouldn't stand in their way) that 18 is enough, as long as you have the 2-month play-off extravaganza. Supposedly Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux-- who both represent ownership even though Lemieux still plays-- are riding to the rescue. I happen to think negotiation is a skill of getting to solution, not outlasting the other guy, and so both Bettman and Gooden-whatever on the players side should be summarily fired.


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