This is not a game review, because a game review implies that the reviewer actually saw the game. I may have slapped down 300 bones to sit 50 yards from the ice, but that doesn't mean I saw the game. The setting may have been (somewhat) unique for a professional hockey contest and certainly unique in this town, but that doesn't mean I saw the game. It may have been my absolute favourite team playing my adopted hometown villans, but that doesn't mean I saw the game. There may even have been several wagers placed on this game that meant its outcome was particularly interesting to my choice of waredrobe this week, but THAT DOESN'T MEAN I ACTUALLY SAW THE GAME.
If you want a game review, I suppose the one for the last Alberta-based embarrassment will do just as well for this Alberta-based embarrassment. But that's obviously not want I want to talk about today.
It was cold, but I'd like to think it would have been much more bearable if there had been the distraction of a hockey game to keep one's mind off of the icicles forming around one's toes. That's not really what I want to rehash.
This is what I want to say: I hate the NHL right now. Why sell seats with views so poor and so obstructed by TV platforms that perhaps 10% of the ice was visible? You've got a venue double that of your regular indoor arena and temporary seating that more than made up for closing off the first 10 rows or so, at least in the corners.
Okay, the NHL is a business (and when I say "the NHL", I mean to include all of its teams and its broadcast "partners"). And judging from the fact they packed an outdoor football stadium on a Sunday evening in the middle of February, they've obviously got the pulse of their fanbase. Yet I can't help but feeling betrayed considering all the cash I've dropped on NHL-type stuff of all sorts, just to be taken for granted once again.
And then I started to think of the best hockey games I've ever seen. As you know what? I can't think of one NHL game since 1993. All of the standout highlights have taken place in international hockey, like the Olympics, World Juniors and World Cup. And they don't even all involve Canada - I vividly remember Slovakia's upset of the States at the WJC in 2009. And most Olympic games (between top countries, anyway) offered 10 times the excitement of most NHL games. There's also junior hockey at different levels and, of course, beer leagues for those of us who like to get in on the action ourselves.
The NHL likes to think of itself as the only entity that matters in hockey. They can get away with moving pro teams from cities with lifelong hockey fans, from people who actually understand, enjoy and often play the game. They can rearrange playoff schedules to better lure foreign broadcasters who too often put on second rate efforts both in terms of production and exposure. Wouldn't it be cool if they actually made decisions with average hockey fans - and not bottom lines - in mind?
But when that same organization can attract 45,000 people in conditions like yesterday's, whose fault is it that fans are taken for granted?
All I know is that the NHL has made an extremely powerless enemy in me. All I can say is that I don't plan on giving any more money to the NHL anytime soon. I'm also pretty sure the NHL doesn't care - but of course, I knew that yesterday.