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A Plea To Current NHLers



When I grew up, sports seemed so clear.

There didn’t seem to be so much legalise; this constant, in-depth coverage of the personal lives of the athletes I was watching and revering.  Our heroes of old were probably just as flawed as our heroes of present, only they didn’t catch guys like Babe Ruth doing something stupid and run it on every TV in the nation because there weren’t six cell phone camera’s around at the time.

In earlier decades, fans would have no clue that in pre-season Josh Hamilton stumbled in his attempt at a sober life, but thanks to a few college teens, we have a couple dozen pics of his bizarre meltdown. 

The mistakes our athletes make are constantly in our face, covered to the fullest, and intertwined with regular sports news. 

This steroids thing in baseball has gone from “no!” to “oh” to “so?“. 

I understand sports fans who don’t like baseball.  It’s a thrill-an-hour, and they play more games the video game world has Halo users.  But for me, there was always something kinda pure about it.  Because there’s no man-to-man contact in baseball (or very, very little), it just seems like the least relevant sport to be a steroid user.

And that may be why the steroid suspensions haven’t come crashing down too hard on the users.  There’s no risk of injury to other people, like in football, where if someone is scary strong, it’s scary for a reason.

What’s with the length of suspensions?  In baseball, getting busted for injecting your body with illegal performance enhancing juice costs you 50 games (that injection also costs the right people their jobs, and earns the wrong people more money).  And then you’re cleared to play and help your team down the playoff stretch, while most of the falsely earned new muscle is still there and about to burst through your jersey.  You’ll lose some of the muscle mass, fine, but hey, get in enough cycles before you get caught and you’ll see the benefits for a while.

Why does baseball think it’s any better now that it was before the Mitchell Report?

Of course, baseball’s not alone in it’s embarassments in recent years.

Somehow, the culture of the NFL is breeding poor decision-making too.  This hip-hop culture that has emphasized the need to be a gun-toting, take-no-guff cool guy is putting guys in prison so often it barely registers a blip on my care-dar anymore.  Thanks Plaxico.  Dante.  Pacman.  Vick. 

And the NBA is nowhere near exempt.  I’m not so sure we’ve gotten to the bottom of the officiating scandal.  One single referee gets caught betting on games he’s working, claims he’s part of a league-wide reffing circle of hustlers, and the story gets buried?

Guys are always going to get in trouble, I get that.  Like all jobs, men work them, and men are flawed (sometimes we hit cabbies).  We do expect our athletes, as role models, to hold themselves to a higher level of accountability (and not the opposite, as they may think), but mistakes are still going to happen.

But when you step back and see the frequency of the problems, and the consistency in the types of errors being made sport by sport, I’ve kinda gotta ask:

Still holding that lockout against the NHL, hey America?

I can’t stand hearing the “I used to watch before the lockout” comment.  It’s not that I don’t love the NFL (I love the NFL) or other sports, I’m just running on an equal sports-shunning platform. 

Baseball’s ratings are up in recent years.  And people claim they don’t watch the NHL because of greed?  Have you seen MLB contracts?  Occasionally, hockey ratings are below the PBA and poker, but it’s the only sport that’s gotten better this decade.

Maybe hockey will figure out that fans like a little mischief and chaos, and follow in Patty Kanes example (for the record, I’m skeptical he committed much of a crime there).  This is a call to hockey players!  Let’s start mixin’ it up!

Hell, I’m gonna be a writer guys.  I need material now!

Juicin’!  Guns!  Gambling!  Gimme something! 

We’ve got to win the lockout fans back!

We’ve got to win the lockout fans back!


7 Responses to “A Plea To Current NHLers”
  1. Blake says:

    Way to slip in a video game reference.

  2. Neil says:

    Great post!
    Yeah apparently making hockey really competitive, insanely fast, and pretty violent has made the game… considerably less interesting to the average American tv viewer. AO in Washington, Sid and Malkin in Pitt, cups in Pitt/Detroit/Anah/NJ/Colorado/TAMPA/CAROLINA, it’s legal to kill a guy if your elbow is down, Wayne Gretzky coaches a team in the desert, WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT

  3. Deirdre says:

    I have a girlfriend who hasn’t stopped watching, but she has “stopped caring as much since the lockout”. I think sadly what hurts is that hockey has always been the Canadian farm boy sport…and Canadian farm boys don’t hold out for bigger contracts.

    Yes the NHL is years behind some of our other competitive sports in stupidity, money, and breaking news stories but I don’t think it’s worth losing a lot of the fan base you have now in order to garner the attention of the same people who think it’s cool that they’re letting Vick play again.

    Of course, I could be wrong about the feelings of the general NHL watching public…after all Mr. I Slept With My Sister-in-law is still one of the most popular goalies out there.

  4. Marc says:

    You pretty much nailed my feelings on all the major professional sports. Except I dont really care about the “used to be” fans of hockey. I don’t think they ever where. Hockey is something that gets in your blood. People watch the MBL post season regardless of if they were fans in June. People watch the local NBA team take a trip the finals regardless. I’ve never seen people get “Stanley cup fever” if they didn’t have the bug 3 months prior.

  5. John says:

    Good piece.

    Further stuff to write about?

    Juicin’ in hockey? You made it up to the “A” bro, if it happens, you would have come across it at that level. Did you? No need to mention names.

    Your take on Michael Vick being allowed to play again?

    Last but not least, did you see a documentary called “Les Chiefs?” It’s on Netflix. Well done, also kind of sad. To what point should a hockey player pursue his dream? This is about a single-A league in Quebec, if you haven’t seen it already, I would love for you to watch it and share your take.

  6. jtbourne says:

    Great comment.

    Yeah, I came across steroids in pro hockey. I’m still saving that for a feature piece somewhere.

    Vick, I’ll comment on today. I’ve heard of Les Chiefs, but haven’t seen it. For some reason, hockey gets in peoples blood and they just can’t shake it. I’ve seen it all too often, and my career switch is partly a result of watching that not pan out for people.

  7. Goody says:

    Hmmm… Ironic? Fitting? Humorous?

    I’m talking about the ad (apparently provided by Google) up at the top pushing human growth hormone.

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