To the consternation of many hockey fans fighting majors continue to be way off this season compared to the last time the league played... 42% off. Like with so many other aspects of how the game is now played the new rules have also impacted how the sweet science is now practiced in the NHL.
During a recent speech in Washington, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman hailed the drop in fights as an example of how the game has opened up and become more exciting since the lockout.The fight crowd has been one of the most passionate and loyal demographics that the league has enjoyed and I don't think it'd be too smart for them to lose that segment of fans completely. Not smart at all.
Bettman's claim was challenged on the weekend by Don Cherry on his Coach's Corner segment.
"Everyone knows everybody loves fights," Cherry said. "They better start listening to the people who are at the game and pay the money than the twits upstairs who get in for free."
If that's the case, fans are getting much less bang for their buck.
Through 264 NHL games this year, the league says there have been 227 major penalties. In 2003-04, there had been 393.
Even with the decline, many feel it's not something that's likely to vanish from the game completely.
"I don't think that fighting is going to disappear -- I think it's part of our game and it always will be," said Vancouver Canucks GM Dave Nonis, who has enforcer Lee Goren on his roster. "The players have to be able to play.
BUZZLESS IN HOCKEYTOWN
Even though they're off to a great start and they have a traditional hockey crazed base to work from Detroit can't get much buzz or excitment generated in the early season. Although officially all games are sellouts actual attendance is down and so are the TV ratings.
Some of those season ticket-holders haven't been arriving on time -- or at all. That leaves the curious sight of clumps of empty red seats, mostly in the lower bowl.So, is Detroits early season no-show woes a ominous sign in regards to the leagues' recovery or just a early season blip ? I think playing all those games against Columbus and Nashville probably doesn't do much to excite the locals yet but once they get deep into the season Detroit will get it's groove back.
The weekend games showed fewer empty seats in the lower bowl (estimated to be only about 20 per section). But the weekday games, especially Monday nights, have produced an eye-catching number of season-ticket no-shows.
...The mythical "can't get tickets" status for the Wings has been shattered, and that's left some to wonder if everything was still OK in Hockeytown.
ODDS & ENDS
NHL writer Shawn P. Roarke has plenty that he'd like to share.
Like this one for instance.
Herb Brooks was a positive thinker as well. The fact that he is not in the Hockey Hall of Fame yet is a travesty. Even without the "Miracle on Ice" accomplishments, Brooks remains one of the greatest hockey minds of his generation.I concur on that one... and most of the others too.