It's a rite of passage for someone who writes a blog like this one to rip on the mainstream media, right? Well after reading this drivel over at The Daily Herald I'm all too glad to take this next step. What better way to do it than Fire Joe Morgan (RIP) style
Lack of Visibility Killing the NHL by Mike Imren
The Blackhawks acquired Sami Pahlsson at the trade deadline and are scheduled to introduce him to the media today at the United Center.
Er, Sami who?
Pahlsson is Swedish, a center, 31 years old, an eight-year NHL veteran and a Stanley Cup winner with Anaheim.
So the guy has been around, yet here's a true confession: I never heard of him before last week and that's a problem for the Hawks.
I don't know Mike Imren's writing so by his logic - there's obviously a visibility problem over at The Daily Herald as well.
The club's future is bright with good, young players. John McDonough and Jay Blunk marketed the Hawks back into Chicago sports prominence.
So what's the problem?
Well - part it was the lack of another true center but that was probably solved with the recent addition of this no-name Pahlsson guy. There's a slight problem in goal as Huet is shaky sometimes and Khabby is still injured.. Havlat's injury could be a big problem too. Sharp should be back soon so that's not really a problem.
Well, it's the NHL.
For the fan base here to expand to what it should be, people are going to have to become familiar with the league.
Otherwise the Hawks will be like a wardrobe without a closet, a meal without a menu, a story without a context.
I'm beginning to see what that "story without context" is like. You're right though.. it is a problem
I'm not talking about hockey fans who fill the United Center. I'm talking about sports fans the Hawks are trying to attract to the building and televisions.
Saturday the Hawks lost 5-3 at Boston. The Bruins lead the Eastern Conference in points.
Anyone who even slightly follows hockey, I'm sure. The Bruins are kind of a big deal this year.
Sorry, but I couldn't name three Bruins players but can name nearly the entire Celtics' roster.
I can't name a single Celtics player beyond Garnett, Pierce and Allen.. and even then I had to check to make sure they were all still on the team. That's probably because I don't follow basketball at all though - not because the NBA has a problem.
One obstacle is that the NHL's TV package includes a cable channel few stumble across.
Yes yes.. we all know VS is a bit of a joke. But it's still on several nights a week - there are also games on NBC now every weekend. Plus, you might not have heard but every single Blackhawks game has been on TV.
Hockey is an afterthought on ESPN.
Anything that ESPN doesn't own the rights to broadcast is an afterthought for them. None of us really give a shit about A-Rod or TO. ESPN just makes us care because that's all they'll focus on. They're a joke
The local media rank the sport behind football, baseball and basketball.
That's your own damn fault. Dude.. you are the local media.
When Sami Pahlsson was with Anaheim, he would have received more coverage here if he were a pool player, dog handler or bull rider.
So the NHL also ranks behind billiards, dog shows and rodeo? I blame that on the amazing coverage that rodeos get on Versus..
All this struck me while reading a blog by Tim Sassone, our esteemed hockey writer, as the trade deadline approached. He mentioned as potential Hawks acquisitions Pahlsson, Jeff Halpern, Niclas Havelid and Steve Montador.
Now, I'm a sports writer. I saw my first Hawks game a half-century ago. I like hockey.
Yet I never heard of even one of those four players. I would have flunked a multiple-choice exam on what team Pahlsson played for.
Well guess what sports writer - you FAIL. If you cover sports for a living you might want to actually.. i don't know.. try following them. If you're just a basketball and baseball writer then it's not surprising you don't know about the Hawks. Here's some other things you might not know though - The Whalers are now the Hurricanes. Bill Wirtz is dead. The two-line pass rule is gone. Chelios and Roenick are still around though.
However, I knew every potential Bulls acquisition before last month's NBA trade deadline.
Well..that is your job, right?
If fans just now are discovering the Hawks, or rediscovering them, they have to work to learn the NHL. Personally, I don't want to have to study Colorado's roster to be knowledgeable before the Avalanche arrive at the United Center to play the Hawks today.
I don't either - the Avs are boring this year without Sakic (even with the ass-kicking they just gave the Hawks). I also don't want to study the Oklahoma City Thunder's roster either. But if the Blackhawks played the Thunder then I would.. because I write about the team.
Hockey fans know Alex Ovechkin is the NHL goals leader. But how many potential hockey fans - say, on Michigan Avenue or at Woodfield Mall - know that name and what sport he plays?
Ahh yes, Woodfield Mall - where all the best and brightest minds congregate. I'm obviously biased - but I would a fair amount of people would know Ovechkin's name and sport. They might not know his team or that he is the leading goal scorer but then again - I don't really care what people at Woodfield Mall think. Play them this clip they'll be impressed - take them to see him skate live and let them watch him follow up a monster check with a sick goal and you might actually make a hockey fan out of them.
Anyway, I know who Ovechkin is, but if he walked into the room and whacked me across the knees with his stick, I wouldn't be able to describe him to a police sketch artist or provide the cops with his license number.
Really? You couldn't give a basic description of this face?
I would think the giant Russian caveman with a missing tooth carrying a hockey stick would be a pretty easy face to describe to the police. Especially after he just shattered your kneecap.
That isn't good for the justice system or the Blackhawks.
You not recognizing probably the most popular athlete in the NHL actually has very little to do with the Blackhawks.
The NHL has a lot of faults - but a columnist for a suburban Chicago paper not recognizing a name the Blackhawks traded for is no where near the top of that list. I actually think the NHL is doing fairly well for themselves after the lock-out. The weekly games on NBC are nice, Versus is doing an alright job, and the Winter Classic has been a HUGE success.
It's annoying to have someone make a blanket statement about the NHL simply because he doesn't follow the sport. While TV ratings aren't as good as the NBA's - The NHL is actually out drawing people attending games. The NHL is winning fans back left and right with stars like Crosby, Ovechkin, Kane, Toews and others.
I just looked up the names the Bulls traded for on their deadline day and I don't recognize most of them, even the ones that played on the Bulls. But as I said before, that's because I don't follow the NBA.
The problem in this story is Mike Imren, not the NHL.
So have fun with the Bulls and their losing record (that still might make the playoffs.. what a joke). We'll be watching down the stretch as the Hawks battle for the playoffs and home-ice advantage with Sami Pahlsson.