The NHL: We exist, dammit!

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So I just checked out SI.com, and three headlines down on the right, beside the Ole Miss-South Carolina game and below Adrian Peterson’s injury and the Tigers’ win over Cleveland, there was this: GRETZKY STEPS DOWN AS COYOTES’ COACH.

Now, I know the NHL is a small player in the United States; that the average sports fan could not name more than half the teams or, for that matter, more than, oh, three active players. But is there any greater indictment of hockey’s staggering lack of popularity than the play given to the Great One’s departure? We’re not talking about Mike Keenan or Tony Granato here. Gretzky is The Hockey Icon—the face, the name, the mojo of the sport. Yet he quits as a head coach … and nobody cares? Jarring.

On an equally important note, tonight at the gym I watched the new VH1 Behind The Music—Bobby Brown. Beyond the drugs and the sex and the fame and the tunes, here’s what struck me: Bobby Brown has never been an especially good singer. He was made by the studio; by the beets and beeps and drum machines backing him up. Much of the program was a lead-up to Bobby’s recent comeback on the CMT show, Gone Country, where Brown and a handful of other musical has-beens try to make it as country singers. They spoke of Bobby’s triumphant song in the final episode. And while, indeed, he wrote a nice tune, well, eh … listen. (Especially compared to SisQo’s showing, which, I’ve gotta say, was terrific. Especially for such a short man.)

1 thought on “The NHL: We exist, dammit!”

  1. Jeff,

    Well, it’s top story … in Canada.

    It is striking and I appreciate an American’s perspective on how it’s being received SOTB.

    You wonder how many people would even know Gretzky was coaching. It’s the old out of sight, out of mind. Phoenix has not been a playoff team once in his time as coach; they’ve never been past the first round of the playoffs since they moved from Winnipeg.

    The handwriting was on the wall that Gretz was a goner … he’s caught in the middle with the Phoenix Coyotes being broke and the huge fight in U.S. bankruptcy court over the team between Jim Balsillie, who wants to move them to Hamilton, Ont., and the NHL, which is actually batshit crazy enough to put in its own bid for the team.

    Gretzky’s not the innocent bystander. He was making a ridiculous salary to coach.

    Anyway, the big sendoff for Wayne was in 1999, when he finished playing.

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