Alex Ovechkin has said he will go to the 2014 Games in Russia whether the NHL allows it or not. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
I catch a fair amount of crap in the comments section when I divert my writing focus away from the hockey world – and I’m sure that would feel like a knee in the nards if I allowed my editorial direction to be determined by the crap in the comments section.
Well, best buckle up, sensitive MENSA members and proponents of intellectual abstinence who author those consistently hilarious message board missives (and you know who you are). Because here are a few hockey thoughts, as well as – clutch the pearls and gasp! – one notion that isn’t completely centered around the greatest game…er, around.
Hockey Thought: Nice little verbal chess move yesterday from International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel.
Thumbing his nose at some of the trial-balloon statements floated by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman concerning the league’s participation (or anticipated lack thereof) in the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, Fasel rightly pointed out how beneficial it was to the NBA when that league’s players suited up for the 1992 Barcelona Games, far from precious North American eyeballs and ideal time zones.
“When David Stern decided to bring the NBA to Barcelona it was huge,” Fasel told the Vancouver Province’s Ed Willes. “Maybe that's what Gary doesn't like, when it's not North America that's winning it's not his product. But he's wrong. For me, he's wrong.”
For a lot of us, Rene, for a lot of us. But taking the quick payday has been the NHL’s modus operandi for as long as it has operated.
Given the choice between cultivating the riches of an entire forest or scrounging as much as possible from a few lucrative-looking trees, the NHL will choose the latter each and every time.
That’s what led to 30 franchises when really the league should’ve stopped at 24 or 26.
That’s why William Del Biaggio was embraced as an ownership candidate and Jim Balsillie was not.
That’s why ESPN was abandoned as an NHL TV partner in favor of Versus.
And that’s why Bettman’s default stance about the 2014 Games is one of cautious pessimism. He willingly would risk the eternal ire of European-born superstars such as Alex Ovechkin in order to assuage the narrow interests of his employers – none of who has ever managed to raise a fan from their seats during a game.
That’s par for the course, because neither Bettman nor his owners have the patience or vision to imagine operating the planet’s top hockey league any other way.
Hockey Thought: Belated congratulations to Detroit Red Wings senior vice-president Jim Devellano, who will be honored next week with the Lester Patrick Trophy for outstanding service to hockey in the United States.
Devellano’s service to the sport has never been limited to America’s borders, though. Try and find somebody connected to the game who has a bad word to say about the long-time Wings senior vice-president – who has earned an astounding 14 championship rings in his career – and you’ll be trying for a long time.
If the Hockey Hall of Fame doesn’t come knocking on Devellano’s door in the very near future to induct him as a builder, it will be yet another reason to question that organization’s secretive nomination process.
Dear Jerry Bruckheimer,
As one of the acknowledged masters of modern mass entertainment, you’d probably agree we’re getting near the bottom of the reality show barrel. But there’s one new wrinkle for the genre that could be the most lucrative yet – and damned if I haven’t come up with it!
America’s Judgiest Judge. That’s right, a full hour (or more) each week of nothing but judges – for argument’s sake, let’s say Judge Reinhold, Mike Judge and Sylvester Stallone reprising his role as Judge Dredd – passing verdicts on the glib, catchphrase-laden, 45-second soliloquy judgments that now pollute much of the public airwaves.
And here’s the best part: at the end, we’d have the three judges go totally Meta on the process and declare their own judgments on the rest of the judges as the winners of the competition.
If you follow through on this concept without compensating me in a major manner, consider yourself pre-contacted by my not-yet-hired attorney.
Yours in future royalties,
Hockey Thought: Theo Fleury says he failed 13 NHL drug tests and still was allowed to play in the league – and this is supposed to be shocking?
If this summer taught us anything, it’s that stepping in and helping out is what the NHL does best.
If you’ve got a franchise in Arizona that you can’t run anymore, the NHL will come in and run it for you.
And if you can’t pee to somebody’s satisfaction, the league will step in and pee for you. Hockey fans everywhere should count their blessings for having such a considerate league looking out for their best interests.
Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
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