Is the new NHL killing rivalries? (and entertainment?)
This morning on the Team 1200 Pierre McGuire commented that the Colorado-Detroit game last night was an entertaining game. He was then asked if that rivalry was still there and his immediate comment, almost before the question was finished being asked, was and emphatic no, not like before and that none of the players or personalites are there anymore. That got me to thinking, are any rivalries as good now as before? I can tell you that the rivalry hatred between the Senators and Leafs isn’t what it used to be pre-lockout. Sure, Sens fans still love to boo the Leafs, but it doesn’t seem the same. They don’t have the hatred for the team or the players like they did in the past. The Leafs-Habs still have a rivalry going but I am not sure it is quite the same either. Toronto has played 7 games with division rival Boston so far this season and I have a hard time saying any of the games were played with much passion or with any sense of rivalry hatred towards each other. Same for Ottawa-Boston last night. It was a complete yawner for 2 periods. Ottawa-New Jersey on Sunday wasn’t all that great either and they have had a bit of a rivalry in the past too. Detroit-Colorado, Colorado-Vancouver, Edmonton-Dallas, have all developed rivalries to some extent in the past but I can’t say any of them are really considered rivals anymore. Is the Flames-Oilers rivalry as good now as it was in the past? Have any new rivalries developed in the past year and a half?
So, I have to ask you all, is the new NHL killing rivalries? Do the teams you follow now have as big of rivalries now as they did pre-lockout? Has the strict (overly in some cases) calling of penalties caused so much of the physical play to be eliminated from the game reduce the sense of rivalry? Does not having guys like Tie Domi in the NHL crashing and banging reduce the sense of rivalry? Even Darcy Tucker is a shell of his former pesty self. Has the salary cap promoted so much mediocrity that every team is so much like every other team? Are there are no more big spenders to hate (Toronto) or small market underdog teams to cheer for (Ottawa)? Is all this killing the NHL? I have always contended that the New York Yankees are good for baseball because it gives a team for everyone to hate (if they don’t love them). Has the NHL eliminated this and is it going to hurt the league?
That’s a lot of questions, but I am curious as to what you all think. My opinion is skill and fancy goals are fun and all, but intensity and passion (for your team or against another team) in my mind is really what sells sports and what entertainment is all about and to some extent I think that is gone in this new NHL.
On a related note, Ottawa had a 40% discount night last night and didn’t sell out and still have 2000 tickets available for next weeks 40% discount night against Washington and one of the most skilled players in the game today in Ovechkin. Ticket sales are down across the NHL. The buzz from last season seems to have worn off. Is this a sign of things to come? Is this a result of the lack of intensity and passion in most NHL games now?