"Step right up you saps and lemmings! Give us your money and shut your face. And if we want your opinion we'll give it to you!"
You probably think I pulled that line off of the confidential NHL's marketing strategy documents. I didn't, but I can't blame you for thinking so. Bettman and Co. continue to do business on the spilled blood of their players, and as more of their franchises continue to go quietly broke, they're gonna need a whole lot more of the red stuff. God help you if you question violence and hockey and suggest they showcase the good part of the game - skating, stickhandling, and scoring. He's even got the whole country of Canada behind him - ask any Canadian hockey pundit about fighting and they'll tell you it's part of the game. I don't know what counts as sport up there, but in the rest of the sporting world, people don't put up with that bullshit in their leagues. Sure, you've got UFC and WWE, which are in good company with the NHL as it nudges its way toward the lunatic fringe.
Right off the bat, you can discount those sponsor letters to the League - those were all Montreal companies who have been conspicuous by their silence until now, when their favorite team got victimized, so their arguments about violence in hockey are inadmissible. You gotta admit though, the little Commish has some set of stones on him telling them to shove it. Hey, he makes a cool 7 mil, so in my books that counts as 'fuck you money,' so he has the cheddar to shoot back like that.
The problem here was summed up well by Ken Dryden in an article that appeared in the Globe and Mail, basically saying that peoples' justification of violence in hockey is "stupid." It is. Painfully stupid. That Todd Bertuzzi collects millions today after almost killing a guy is stupid. That headshots are subjected on anything less than zero tolerance is stupid. Don't even get me started on fighting. The talking goons will tell you that fighting is necessary because it prevents guys from using their stick on each other. That's as stupid as changing the law to let guys walk up and feel a girl's tits because it will prevent them from becoming all-out rapists.
The thing that's most concerning here is that stupid is not necessarily ineffective. Stupid can come out on top. Stupid can win people over, and stupid can keep coming back to life even when it gets so stupid it seems to self-destruct.
Stupid gets peoples' attention - Charlie Sheen, Mohammar Ghadaffi, Sarah Palin, Lindsay Lohan, that stupid cat on YouTube! Maybe stupid is the strategy! Of course, how could I have been so stupid!