Posts Tagged 'non-traditional hockey markets'

At Last, A Failed Southern Strategy

In the sports section of a recent Sunday edition of the New York Times, a column noted the fading prospects for NHL hockey in non-traditional markets, that’s the American sunbelt of the south and southwest.

Despite three Stanley Cups won by expansion and relocated teams in the realm of the late Confederacy; Dallas, Carolina and Tampa Bay, the league’s “Southern Strategy” is beginning to look a bit like a lost gamble. Attendance in places like Nashville, Atlanta and Washington is down. TV ratings for hockey are below that of the cooking and home repair shows, and the Versus network, Comcast’s captive cable channel for national broadcasting of NHL hockey is still tough to find on most cable systems.

The business end of professional hockey in the U.S., unlike the always classy tone of the game itself, has a checkered past. Greed, megalomania, a player’s strike and lockout and some borderline criminality, (the fraud charges surrounding the Islanders almost change of ownership in the nineties) have helped burnish the NHL’s reputation as an essentially bush league operation.

When the team owners brought in Gary Bettman, with the grandiose hope of bringing the game up to popular parity with football, basketball and baseball, there were those among the hockey fan base who figured that the effort was doomed to failure. Gary Bettman was a big league businessman, a basketball guy with a proven track record. But he was not a hockey guy. Continue reading ‘At Last, A Failed Southern Strategy’