Monday, March 21, 2005

Don't Believe the Hype-- Hockey is alive and well in Canada

So, last week-- Jeremy Roenick played the role of the crusader mouthpiece as he talked about the upcoming Bobby Hull invitiational that the new WHA is proposing. Now, there are plenty things wrong with this happening when it is happening. First, the "tournament" is during the Memorial Cup. Do you think people will drop everything to watch some NHLers in an OSHL type hockey game over the juniors who are playing for the precious Memorial Cup?? I don't think so. Second, the WHA is saying that they will play in Vancouver and Hamilton for this. However, the problem with Hamilton is that the AHL Bulldogs are in year 7 of a 13 year exclusivity contract with the city of Hamilton and allowing the WHA to play is a breach of contract. Wonder if the WHA knows that little tidbit. Third, JR went on to say that he was the spokesman for two reasons: (1) to get some money into some guys pockets and (2) JR had the testicular fortitude to say: "People are dying to see some hockey in Canada."

Could JR be further from the truth?? I believe not.

If you remember the OSHL, it was a barnstorming league that had NHLPA members playing against each other so that people in Canada would be able to see NHL caliber players on the ice. After seeing that scores resembled that of pond hockey, the league failed horribly and many people have yet to been paid.

But outside of that, people are not missing hockey in Canada. Why, you ask?? It's because they have hockey in Canada. Suffice to report after report in the local fishwrap, there is plenty of hockey in Canada and it's going pretty strong. Whether it be the AHL, ECHL, all the way through the Major Junior ranks and Junior "A" ranks, the game of hockey is alive and very healthy in Canada. In fact, attendance figures couldn't be better in most of the Canadian cities that house NHL teams as well.

Starting in the Major Juniors, attendance for the QMJHL is up 7.15% for the year with many teams up in the double digits in attendance leaps for the year. Though there is not a team in Montreal any more, surrounding areas like Victoriaville (+25.20%) and Drummondville (+28.41%) reaping in the benefits of the Lockout.

The Ontario Hockey League has seen a steady increase of 5% go through the gates this season. Of course, with the London Knights remarkable season, you can bet that had a lot to do with it. As for the teams in NHL cities, Ottawa has always been a good pull from the gate. They increase their attendance 6.81% for the season with the absence of the Senators. However, the most surprising number comes out of Toronto. The St. Michael's Majors has seen a whopping 35% increase in attendance from last season for the year. The Lockout, coupled with the fact the Toronto Roadrunners left for Edmonton, helped the Majors get their people in the building.

Of all the Major Juniors, the Western Hockey League has gotten more people in the gates from last year to this year than any other league at 9.68%. That can be thanks to the cities like Calgary (32.92%) and Vancouver (69.49%) getting more and more people interested in the Major Junior game.

All of these debunk the issue of JR saying people are missing hockey in Canada. In fact, I don't think people would come out to the WHA games even if they were given the tickets from some guy on the street just wanting to get rid of them.

We haven't even gotten to the AHL's Roadrunners (averaging 8,884 in 32 games played in Edmonton), but I'll spare you because it's proof positive that JR needs to do a little research before spouting off at the mouth.

Though he may be right that people could miss the NHL caliber of player on the ice, but it seems they don't miss it enough to get out in droves and get tickets for the WHA tourney. I think it'll all take a page out of the Original Stars Hockey League and fail horribly. As much as people miss the NHL, I don't think they miss the players all that much. At least, according to public surveys, people in Canada say that the players are to blame in this labor mess. So what makes the WHA think they would want to see the NHLPAers at all??

This has been ScottyWazz. Take care of yourself and someone else. PEACE!!

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