| Replay or not to
League needs to address more than
1/3/05 - by Mike Lee
cancellation of the entire 2004-05 NHL season on the horizon, I spent part of
my Christmas weekend reminiscing with Shark Bytes Classic. Shark Bytes as you
may know, is the television "magazine-esque" show produced by the Sharks.
During the lockout, the Sharks decided to try and hold on to some fan interest
in the sport by replaying a handful of great games in Sharks history. I Tivo'd
an episode earlier in the week and finally got around to watching it over the
weekend (note to the NHL, I did not illegally reproduce or rebroadcast the
pictures and / or events without the express written consent of the Sharks or
This particular classic game featured the Sharks Game 6
victory over the Colorado Avalanche in the 2004 Western Conference Semi-Finals.
It was great to relive the thumping the Sharks put on the Avalanche that day,
but it was even more depressing to think how good that Sharks team would have
been this year. With young players like Patrick Marleau, Scott Hannan and
Jonathan Cheechoo coming into their own, this season could have been a real
The Sharks handed the Avalanche a good old-fashioned
thumping for three periods. This was something that made me think about what
really might have been. That was until the Avalanche scored their lone goal of
the game. Milan Hejduk scored on a 5-on-3 late in the 2nd period on a shot that
flirted with the goal line. The play was reviewed by the video reply officials,
because both on-ice referees didn't see the puck cross the goal line. My
thoughts of the Sharks future came to a screeching halt when Sharks color
commentator Drew Remenda blurted out his disgust with the Pepsi Center game
operations folks for showing the replay of a close call on the arena Jumbotron.
I'm not questioning Remenda's position that it was classless for the
Pepsi Center folks to do this, but rather why the NHL doesn't want fans to see
replays in house? You see, this is one of those arcane rules that the NHL
abides by to the death. Why? I'm not quite sure to be honest with you. Perhaps
they're afraid that the wrong call, left unchanged, could instill a riot
amongst the fans? Picture a thousand Ron Artest's storming onto the ice because
Kerry Frazier blew a call and the replay clearly shows that the call was
Perhaps the NHL doesn't want anyone second-guessing its
decision to put inadequate supervision on the ice? Ok, that's a different
All I know is, the paying fans should have the
clearest interpretation of the events that they've paid good money to see
unfold. Talk about an incentive to stay home and watch the game on TV rather
than shell out $100 to $1000+ to take your family to see a game. The message
essentially says that regardless of the money you've spent to see an NHL game
in person, it's up to you to see and interpret the event as it happens.
So if and when the NHL decides to settle their differences with the
players union, both sides will have the responsibility of re-engaging
themselves with the paying customer. When the two sides unite once again to put
a product out on the proverbial arena shelves, they have some relationship
mending to take care of with fans.
They can start by abolishing the
dumb replay rule. Furthermore, they can go out of their way to fill fans in on
exactly what's going on during the game regardless of questionable calls. How
about broadcasting the conversations between referees and coaches?
not a hockey neophyte so I don't need an explanation of why Peter Forsberg
isn't called for diving every tie he steps out on teh ice, but it would be
interesting to hear what guys like Frazier are telling guys like Ron Wilson
after an opposing player like Jody Shelly takes out a Brad Stuart for 30 games
and is allowed to go on head hunting in the same game.
"Well Ron, we
all had our backs to the play so we didn't see the alleged mauling."
"Kerry, Brad was handling the puck at the time?!?!?"
"Well Ron, it
gets really crowded out here on the ice
we can't watch everyone".
Can anyone tell me the last time a fan ran out on the ice to attack a player?
Perhaps someone should inform NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman that even the crazy
fools that try that stuff in Major League Baseball parks have enough sense to
realize that a) attacking someone on the ice in sneakers is tough and b) the
targets in any such attack are all wearing skates. Furthermore, there are
twelve guys on the ice and an additional 32 on the benches all armed with
carbon fiber machetes. I don't see anyone lining up to start a riot in any NHL
barn anytime soon.
The NHL has so many ways to bridge the bitterness
gap that fans are sure to forge in the coming months. Marketing a sport is more
than flashy television commercials and free t-shirts. Sometimes it's as simple
as improving the product itself.
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