Subscribe to Bourne's Blog Grab My Feed!Subscribe to Bourne's Blog Subscribe to Comments

A Golden Thought: Do We All Win With a US Victory?



This is just a thought, Canadians, so take a xanax, have a glass of wine, and give the logic a chance:

We love us some hockey north of the border.  Air, ball, bubble, floor, roller, dome, knee, tonsil, ice, field, whatever, the prefix isn’t important, as long as it ends in “hockey”, we’re down.

So when our sport gets disrespected, by say, ESPN, 300 days a year, we get testy.  Our franchises have been moving south, the ones we have left aren’t doing so hot, and in the sports community, we’re treated as fourth-class citizens.

So naturally, we all want the game to grow.  And just for a piece of breaking news, that means we want it to grow in the US, because as you may know, we’ve pretty much gotten through to everyone in our own sparsely populated land mass.

So maybe the best thing for the game is if the US wins the gold medal in Vancouver.

I said it before the Olympics – it would be the best thing for everyone who loves the game too, including a guy like myself, who could stand to prosper from an extra media outlet or two getting involved.  I can’t exactly start ESPN’s rival network if nobody gives a damn about one of the sports I plan on featuring, and success tends to breed damn-giving.

When Canada won Olympic gold in 2002, the nation went banonkers, which is a combination of bananas and bonkers.  It was just another stitch in the fabric of Canadian make up, which may as well be fashioned into some masterpiece of denim-on-denim crime covered by a red and black plaid lumberjack – with the hat to match.  Enrollment in hockey swelled, TV ratings went up, and coverage went from lots to tons.

But the US hasn’t had that piece of handiwork sewn into who they are since the Miracle on Ice in ’80.  And that helped get people into the game back then.  The Islanders were the toast of Long Island when they were winning cups early that decade – apparently, some American fans would even go so far as to admit they liked the game (calm down everyone from MN, WI and ND, we know you love the game like Canadians).

Now that we’ve slogged through a strke, followed by a decade of hook-and-hold hockey and made it out the other side, we’ve got HD TV to show people what this game really looks like.  We don’t even need fluorescent lights to leave a trail behind the puck when it moves anymore.

The game is perfect for taking on new American fans right now.  The hockey bandwagon is spacious, the game is fresh, and it’s the right time.  Hey football fans – it’s really fast and physical, only it’s a tad more reactionary than route-running, so sometimes things get weird.  You’ll see.

But the thing is, the only way they will see is by Team USA accomplishing what could only be forever dubbed as the Somewhat Suprising Result on Ice.

So whaddya say, Canada?  Maybe it’s the right time for an American gold again.  You on board for that?

….You’re not?  

Okay good, I’m not either.




Thanks to Madeline for the picture:



33 Responses to “A Golden Thought: Do We All Win With a US Victory?”
  1. St. Cloud Gopher says:

    The hat to match… Love it!
    I like the idea of “growing the game,” but it just won’t work. Hockey has the opposite problem of baseball for the American fan. There is just too much going on.
    Football works because of the violence and time spacing. (Oddly enough, ESPN did some research and found that the ball is in play more often in baseball than in football.) 4-7 seconds of violence followed by 30 seconds of replay allows for a good 1/2 a beer down-time.
    Hockey is too fast, and too obscure. The average fan wouldn’t be able to turn to his buddy and say, “What the hell is Jacques doing? You gotta run the umbrella!” At least in football you can immediately question things. But, hey, f ‘em! Hockey is the best spectator sport, hands down.
    Oh, and the sign: Greatest ever.

  2. jtbourne says:

    Great comment, honestly. There’s actually little to no hope of growing the game, for the reason you just named.

    It’s just not a social enough watching experience during the play. Although, when you score, there’s no feeling like being in a room of people that it matters to.

  3. Deirdre says:

    Ok I gotta ask – did you start a post and then kill it, or rename one? Cuz I got a link, but when I clicked on it I got forwarded to “Nothing found for Luongo’s Heavy Shoulders” which is funy in it’s own way :-)

    and yes, USians (cuz saying Americans seems wrong in a US-Canada question) do get excited over sports they don’t care about when we do good things in international competitionsl….but the excitement only lasts so long cuz we have the attention span of crickets. So go Canada, you totally deserve to win on home ice….plus you’ve got more Sharks so I’m biased (sorry Little Joe)

  4. “It’s just not a social enough watching experience during the play”

    I beg to differ. In a virtual sense, at least, hockey is VERY social. I’d invite you to any number of Game Day Threads that occur on several blogs. My hockey home on the web is, where we’ve developed a great sense of community, largely due to our GDTs. Come pay us a visit, see Coach Payne’s boys….

  5. jtbourne says:

    Haha, yeah Deirdre, I wrote it last night, but decided this morning that I didn’t want to throw any additional weight on the shoulders of my own goalie.

  6. Frank says:

    I concur with the previous comments and also add…….hockey is so damned expensive to play! For the average kid who starts skating at the age of 5 and quits after high school… many tens of thousands of dollars is sunk in equipment, ice time, and coaching? I think a lot of people don’t ever get into it because most of the other sports are a lot less expensive to learn/play.

  7. Firestorm says:

    My question back to you: do we really want to continue to “grow” the game? To what end?

    Maybe we accept hockey as a niche sport that belongs to northern nations and we love it the way we love our favorite indie bands before they “sell out” with their first Top 40 pop single. And those good ol’ boys (and girls) down south just won’t understand what they’re missing out on.

    As for the Canada/US thing, I propose Minny, Mich, Wisco and ND secede from the US and become the next four provinces. You’ll hate the taxes but you’ll love the health care! : )

  8. Cassie says:

    I think that as long as it’s a good game, it almost doesn’t matter who wins. Of course, I’d like the US to win, but the fact that the US made it to this game when they weren’t expected to medal is great deal all on its own. So long as the US plays a close game with the Canadians, I think that will further hockey along as well. Of course, everyone loves a winner, so the US winning gold would be the best in highlighting the sport here in the States.

    Don’t forget that potentially the 2011-2012 season could be lockouts for both the NBA and the NFL – so that’s a great opportunity for the NHL to fill up that void that win over the American public.

  9. jtbourne says:

    Ah, Firestorm, my favourite commenter (especially since Neil is on vacation). Great point about enjoying the niche factor of the sport. After re-reading today’s entry, the Coles Notes (Spark Notes in the US?) for it would read:

    I need more work.

    Also, I second your proposal to take on additional provinces (having ND would give people from AB the chance to say “at least it’s not as cold/windy as….)

  10. Mike P says:

    I think watching hockey in person makes fans. I never took a hockey virgin to a game who didn’t enjoy it. (These were ECHL games). The game doesn’t translate well to TV.

  11. Officer Koharski says:

    Maybe I’m still drunk but I LOL’ed hard at Banonkers and the little ‘hat to match’ reference. Nice.

    Being an American I obviously am pulling hard for our boys to somehow beat Canada again. But you’re completely right, after that qualifying game the whole country suddenly gave a shit. Airhead girls on Facebook who don’t follow sports were suddenly posting messages like “at Dugan’s watching US Hockey! Woo!” and even my mom, who doesn’t know a puck from a volleyball, asked me if I had watched the game, repeating little bits of commentary she remembered (they have team speed!)

    If the US won it would be a story no American sports outlet could ignore. People love a good underdog story and by wrapping that in a box made of nationalism and tradition, that’s a great way to learn to love the game. As I was talking to my non hockey friends about it, I reminded them “a pro team plays in what amounts to our backyard, you know.” and they’ve since agreed to come check out an Isles game with me.

    Hockey’s blowin’ up like you thought it would, call the box office same number same hood. It’s all good

  12. Karen From Rochester says:

    last week, we watched “Miracle” on Saturday nite..US beats Canada on Sunday. Guess what we are watching again tonight?! The only bad thing is, I have to be at a high school indoor lax game. AT 3PM!! Guess what I’m NOT going to be watching on the field, but AM going to be watching in the bar?

  13. RewskiUVA says:

    With all this “nationalism” going on I’m getting that tingly feelings in the seat of my Dale Earnhardt Jr./Brett Favre Wranglers! One of my favorite songs is coming to mind….


  14. St. Cloud Gopher says:

    CrossCheck: That’s the issue, though. In a virtual sense, you are right. But getting together with other hockey fans is difficult, even in Minnesota. Getting together with people who understand the game on a level that allows for conversation deeper than “great shot” is even harder.
    I put it like this: You know you found the right kind of fan when they applaud a clear on the PK. You know you’re in for a long game when you have to bite your lip for the third time when the guy next to you asks what “PP” means.

    Koharski: You sippin’ on some private stock?

    Rewski: That is the song that MUST be played when we crack open the Bud’s for our own celly!

  15. Bobby Rae says:

    I think the “it’s too boring to watch on TV” argument doesn’t have much credibility. One of the highest viewed “sports” events on TV is NASCAR. If don’t already know, that’s the “sport” where everyone drives in a circle for 2-3 hours. If that can get huge viewers then I’m pretty sure boredom’s not the issue.
    I think the reason hockey hasn’t taken off in the states south of the Hockey Belt is because the big man upstairs is protecting the sanctity of the game. Already let the Saskatchewans play and that barely worked out.
    Imagine tuning in to ESPN to watch a game between Sidney Crosby and the Penguins vs. the Beaufort Pitts and the Mississippi Mud Hens, with commentators Larry the Cable Guy and Bubba. Game brought to you by sponsors Piggly Wiggly’s, Tide, KFC, and Jack Daniels.
    I think I’d rather just settle for watching 57 minutes of basketball and baseball highlights on ESPN for that final 3 minute recap of the days NHL games or heckling the waitress at TGI Fridays until she turns a single TV near me to Versus so I can watch the big game at 3 in the afternoon.

  16. Madeleine says:

    What you’re saying makes a lot of sense, and I do want the game to grow south of the border, but I can’t hope for the Americans to win. The best I can do is be somewhat less angry if they do win.
    And thanks for posting the pic, I’m glad you liked it!

  17. Pete L says:

    Those of us who have played it know it’s a social sport. You talk on the bench and hash over the last shift or marvel at what’s going on out there on the ice. There is the bonding that takes place afterwards between teammates and some ice cold beverages.

    But the people that haven’t played the game don’t see it from the that point of view. There are no timed breaks when the viewer can stop watching and talk over what just happened. The huddle time is what makes football such an enjoyable tv watching experience. Baseball is sooo slow that you can talk while it’s happening and still not miss much. Hockey is just too fast for the casual fan.

    Love the picture!

  18. Neil says:

    I hear ya Bourne, and considering the coverage of hockey in the US it must be a different picture you’re looking at. Still, I agree with many of the commentor’s here that expanding the game in the U.S. seems to come with a price. The popularity in North America might increase (which provides debatable improvements to the game) but the talent pool gets thinned out from expansion teams (in towns that think of hockey the way I think of lacrosse), there is pressure to change rules so people who don’t understand hockey can watch it without the violence, the puck gets a little blue streak so people can see it, etc. Lots of US cities love their teams, most Canadian cities love their teams, what’s the problem? Obviously this comes from a Canadian perspective, as I get plenty of hockey coverage up here and I don’t watch ESPN. I just got back from Hawaii, every night there were 4-5 basketball games on from 6-12pm, from women’s high-school to college to NBA repeats. It’s all good.

    I can’t wait to watch the game tomorrow, the U.S. has a great team and it could be one of the best games of the decade. I obviously want Canada to win but I think the U.S. is perpetually underrated in hockey competitions and many people seem to think that they aren’t any good unless they consistently beat Canada (arguably the strongest hockey nation in the world). Brian Burke’s “we’re obviously underdogs” schtick didn’t work on me but the “let’s repeat the Miracle on Ice” people and the U.S. media jumped right on board and thumbed their noses at 2-3 decades of development for US hockey. They thumped a great Finnish team and already beat Canada fair and square. Parise, Miller, Kane, Statsny, Ryan, Johnson, Rafalski, Brown, Backes, the list goes on, those are outstanding players who kill it on top lines for good teams in the NHL. It may not be a full squad of pure-bred tier 1 stars like Canada boasts but it’s not a matchup of tier 2′s versus tier 1′s, not even close. It’s 2010 America, your hockey players are excellent and you might have the best goalie in the world.

    NOW LET’S DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. SDC says:

    I follow the logic, and can’t say I don’t agree, buuuuuuuut….. if that were to happen, there’d be about 25 out of 30 million Canadians throwing themselves under zamboni’s right after. Mass suicide is NOT good for the game either, so I say Canada should win.

  20. Neil says:

    haha I just realized that I kind of responded to my first point with the second… one great reason to hope for a US victory is that the nation will possibly start giving their hockey players the credit they deserve!

  21. JoshC says:

    Here’s a question: there seems to be this popular belief that people in non-traditional markets are the ones advocating rule changes, stronger penalties for fighting, etc. Is there any evidence for this, or are people just blaming this on the Sun Belt because we’re a convenient target?

    I’m from Virginia. I learned to watch hockey in the ECHL, and since 1997 my NHL loyalties and most of my ticket-purchasing money have gone to Carolina (sorry, Jason), with the financial runner-up being Washington due to living there for a couple seasons. The fans I know in this region, new or old, native or migrant, knowledgeable or casual, no matter their team, never seem upset about a good scrap. Immediate opinions on the post-lockout obstruction emphasis were mixed until we saw how they affected our teams, we were all fine when teams started working physicality back in around 2007, and thoughts on the trapezoid still depend on how adventurous our goaltenders are and whether we’d be better off to bungee-cord them to the posts. Hell, the best-known advocate of no-touch icing is Don Cherry.

    I don’t think this stuff is regional. I think it’s socio-economic, and I think it also confuses reasons suburban rich people don’t want their kids to play the sport for reasons they’re not going to an NHL rink — which are two different issues entirely.

  22. Steve C. says:

    Hockey fans in the US will agree because they know the kind of boost the game gets every time something big happen, (1980, Gretzky to LA) but the canuks?….what do they care about the game’s popularity in the US…they already got the game in their backyard and they love it…why should they care if it’s popular in Tampa Bay?

  23. Bobby Rae says:

    Probably because it will give their players a place to play that is warm and has hot women. Take a kid from a small town in Alberta and give him the option to play in either Fargo or Los Angeles. Seems like a no brainer. I bet most Canadian hockey players wouldn’t mind seeing NHL teams in Miami, San Diego, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.

  24. Hockey is too dynamic for the typical American sports fan. That’s why they like 4-7 seconds of violence and 30 seconds of rest as St. Cloud Gopher says.

    The sheep (or mob or least common denominators) prefer the mundane or even haughtily packaged shit in every other aspect of the culture; ferchissakes they like the movie Armageddon and anything with Will Ferrell in it! So sports is the same way. It’s part of the reason that the “World’s Game” has never attracted any significant viewship here. There are subtleties and intricacies that game as well which they simply don’t have the attention span to pick up.

    Why these sports have success on TV:
    Baseball – Loads of stats and gobbledegook thrown at them continuously keeps them from having to think about anything and they can swill without pause.
    NASCAR – Whirr, Whirr, Whirr all-day long gives them plenty of time to swill without pause and calms their insipid minds.
    Football – Already been pointed out how they only have to pause 4-7 seconds between swilling for the next 30.
    Basketball – Only have to watch the last 6 minutes … can swill the rest of the time.

    I really have no concrete experience in a culture other than America, but my sense tells me there are other places where sports fans don’t only care about winning. The original Olympic ethos (gone though it may be) still enthralls me. Competition for the pure enjoyment of the competition. Sure there were always winners but the honor of competing at the highest level was respected and admired. Watch any of Bud Greenspan’s “Olympiad” series from the 70′s to understand that.

    When a U.S. Olympic Athlete finishes 2nd, the first question out of some dumbass reporters mouth is inevitably, “Are you disappointed?”. What? Disappointed with being the 2nd best in the world on this particular day? It’s typical of the bandwagon, win at-all-cost of the American sports fan.

    I’ve lived in the U.S. for 47 of my 48 years and for the reasons above (and others), I frankly do not have a sense of national pride in sports. I did in 1980. But alas, it’s not 1980 anymore.

    I don’t really have a dog in the fight tomorrow, so I’ll be cheering for the NHL Canadians to beat the NHL Americans only because Canada was nice enough to host the games while still saying “Please and Thank you” to everyone. I wish amateurism in the Olympics had never died. I honestly do. And oh yeah … note to Scotland … start an Olympic hockey team please so I can cheer for them in the 2042 games.

    Yes dear American friends, I probably should go live in another country. Hopefully, I’ll find one that will take me sooner than later. Your deluded ideal of “exceptionalism” is a farce. The sooner you get over that the better off the entire world will be.

    Yes JB, UAA got swept by UAF tonight and I’m not in a particularly good mood.

  25. John says:

    wow…I have never even considered that the game is too fast/intense for sports viewers who are used to football/baseball/basketball. It makes sense though…take your eyes off the action for a few seconds to fumble around for your beer and you just missed a goal.

    Regarding growing the game in the US, I’m sure it will happen, but the cost is still a big pain in the ass. Travel teams, hockey camp, etc. Hockey, in the US right now, is the only sport where it is almost impossible to go straight from a high school team to D1 NCAA. That’s not the case in football or basketball, or baseball.

    If you are a stand-out player when you are 15 and playing in HS, you might be tapped by a Junior team, which means you will have to relocate, which costs money. And unless you are tapped by a top-tier Junior squad, you will have to pay to play. I believe our local Junior team, NY Applecore, is upwards of 6K per season?

    I guess part of the solution is to build more rinks in the US to lessen the supply/demand factor.

    NYC is doing its part, three great rinks have opened in the past few years, one in Brooklyn, two in Queens. But I have no idea if these venues are profitable.

    Any economists out there?…Is it an attractive/profitable idea to build a hockey rink in the US right now?

  26. Officer Koharski says:

    I just cried a little bit.

  27. Neil says:

    Good on ya Koharski, that was an absolutely perfect ending to the Games, as a huge Canadian hockey fan and resident of Vancouver. The U.S. team played well and scared the balls off everyone I watched the game with. This place is going totally bonkers right now, it’s unreal!!!! It’s just gonna get crazier tonight after the ceremonies.

  28. Officer Koharski says:

    Good game, Northerners. It was a fair match and while I do feel heartbroken I’m extremely proud they went that far and took the All-Stars to overtime. Good luck tonight, there should be copious Wooing going on. Don’t let anybody flip your car. And don’t assault any peace officers.

  29. Char says:

    ESPN’s Olympic coverage royally sucks. Unless it’s Miller (Bode, not Ryan) or Vonn, they were pretty much disinterested. Yeah, they covered the USA and Canada hockey teams (not like there were any OTHER teams in the tourney, you know – what is this “Finland” that you speak of?) because they had to, but you could see they didn’t give a crap. The U.S. four-man bobsled team wins its first gold medal since 1948, and they give them 20 seconds, after “Danica Patrick finishes 37th!” and “Where’s T.O. going to play this fall?”

  30. Justin says:

    Congrats Canadians-best team in the world won tonight.

    Damn I love this sport.

  31. fish says:

    I love watching ice hockey…

    Any other sport is just to darn slow on TV…

  32. artandhockey says:

    I agree with this sentiment by Donald Dunlop ” I wish amateurism in the Olympics had never died. I honestly do”.
    I guess that puts me right into the dinosaur age! But the achievement of that buinch of college student hockey players winning over the ‘never admitted to be really professional’ (training on state expense for how many years?-a la China now) Russian team counts for a lot more IMO. However, it was an exciting game, even on the puny screen at my home, and, yes, I may still have a few nails left after that cliffhanger!
    I love any level! And in all climates ;-) .
    Especially if I can combine going to a game with going to an opera (my other passion-just as dramatic!).
    Somehow, seeing these youngsters (I am a dinosaur afterall ;-) playing their hearts out, is not only admirable but enjoyable. They give up a lot for a dream.
    Most never make it to exalted level of NHL, but they still try hard and keep on doing it for as long as they can! They’re ‘hockey roaming folk’ well ‘hockey gypsies’ really, but that may not be PC anymore.Gotta love Hockey!

  33. minnesotagirl71 says:

    @ John – when the community I live in wanted an arena, the City refused to do it because of the initial and ongoing expense. So the local athletic association took it on. They first spent 18 months fundraising over a million dollars – then started building before they had all of the money raised. It’s been open a couple of seasons and they are still working on finishing it as money comes in. They found that the more sheets of ice you could build the more likely you were to breaking even or coming out in the black. (The infrastructure needed for one sheet can support multiple.) We ended up with one year round sheet and one seasonal sheet under a bubble. I think it’s still running on a lot of volunteer labor – not sure if they are breaking even on it or if revenue from other sources is supporting it.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!