Friday, 23 December 2016

The Airing Of Grievances

It might be one of the all-time greatest episodes of Seinfeld. I am, of course, talking about the Festivus episode where George informs the group of his father's made-up holiday. There's the aluminum pole, the feats of strength, and the airing of grievances which happen on Festivus, and HBIC is going to participate in one of these events today. Hockey has many great qualities, but there are simply things that need to change. In saying this, HBIC is happy to air a few grievances today over the state of the game in its many forms. Some you'll agree with while others will raise eyebrows, but I'm pulling no punches today as I tell you all the ways that hockey has disappointed me over the last year.
  1. SECURITY PEOPLE: In attending the Heritage Classic in Winnipeg, I had hoped to get a few pictures of the men I grew up idolizing in Teemu Selanne, Dale Hawerchuk, Wayne Gretzky, and Paul Coffey. Instead, I was informed by the security people at the event that my camera was not permitted into the event due to the lens being greater than three-inches. The NHL's rules state no camera with lenses over six-inches. I was a little peeved that people can't get rules written clearly in black-and-white correct.
  2. OFFICIATING: The crackdown on hooking and holding when we came out of the lockout was great! Players could skate, and obstruction meant there would be a power-play. In the decade that has followed, however, we seem to be reverting back to the "dead puck" era where hooking, holding, and obstruction are common fare once more. Start calling this crap again and scoring will go back up.
  3. THE TRAPEZOID: Is there any need for this? Let goalies roam. Let goalies play the puck. Let goalies get caught out of their net through bad judgment. Kill the trapezoid and let the good goalies who can handle the puck make it harder on the dump-and-chase teams. Don't put limits on the good goalies who have honed these skills.
  4. NWHL: There are so many things that could said here, but I want to stress that not one of the problems being experienced by the league were caused by the players. For a league that changed women's hockey by introducing paid salaries, it was that same leadership group that mismanaged the league into its current mess. For all the good it has done, the NWHL has erased all of those good intentions with the crap it has pulled in the last year.
  5. WOMEN'S HOCKEY COVERAGE: There simply isn't enough coverage by mainstream media, and the new media that covers the women's game leave a lot to desire when it comes to objectivity. While Sportsnet does cover the CWHL on occasion, there should be more coverage from the big media outlets. I see the occasional NCAA game on TV, but they are few and very far between. There is no CIS coverage whatsoever outside of a few websites. There are a pile of NWHL apologists, but almost none show objectivity. Women's hockey journalism needs to change in a major way.
  6. REGIONAL BLACKOUTS: I get that Sportsnet and TSN don't play nice together, but I'd really like to watch hockey on TV when the Jets aren't playing. I understand how the regional rights work, but the blackouts are dumb when Calgary or Edmonton are playing and the Jets aren't. Use some common sense here.
  7. INCLUDING THE LITTLE GUYS: When we started The Hockey Show on UMFM, we had all the aspirations of being a big-time player in the hockey media coverage in our community. We're slowly being accepted by that market, but our inquiries into working alongside Rogers for Hometown Hockey and Hockey Day In Canada were outright rejected. Why? Is Rogers threatened by our Thursday night show? Be a leader, Rogers, and help the little guys by allowing them to work alongside the best of the best in the industry.
  8. CIS FANS: Each week on The Rundown, I ask that you go and see your local women's hockey action at your community's local university. We've seen some good crowds at the University of Manitoba, but we can always use more. Week after week, you're missing some of the best hockey this nation has to offer by ignoring this inexpensive hockey action. Make the leap - go see the men and women play. You may see a Spengler Cup netminder in Saskatchewan's Jordon Cooke. You might see former WHL stars such as Jordan DePape or Nick Zajac. You will definitely see Olympians in Sasha Vafina and Venla Hovi. Do yourself a favor and get out to a game or two!
  9. OLYMPICS: Figure it out, NHL and NHLPA. This is where your product truly shines. Make it happen in 2018 or you're going to see a lot of fans turned off by your greed and continued labour issues. If you don't go in 2018, you might as well just let everyone know there will be another lockout in 2020 that will bring this sport to a grinding halt once more.
  10. IT'S ABOUT THE FANS: I know you have a great initiative planned for February 2017 called "Hockey Is For Everyone", but you really need to live by those words and make hockey affordable again. Too many kids are leaving hockey due to the costs, and too many kids miss out on seeing their heroes live in-person because the cost of going to games is too high. This is going to take major efforts from all sides, but this is something that has to happen before hockey prices itself out of 99% of families' budgets.
Most of these grievances seem fairly easy to fix, but the underlying problem to everything seems to be money. In this season, we should be putting the financial stuff aside and looking to help one another. If money is the root of all evil, let's be a little less evil in 2017 by doing the right thing and worrying less about the bottom line. If we want hockey to thrive, all levels of hockey need to work together to make this great game even better in 2017 and moving forward.

Let's pull together next year and make it the best hockey year ever!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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