Posted: Monday October 23, 2006 3:16PM; Updated: Tuesday October 24, 2006 3:45PM
Vice grip: The sordid spectacle of a gambling scandal bursting the bubble of Gretzky's legend would make for compelling TV indeed.
As always, The Great One was ahead of his time. The Tocchet bookmaking scandal was the work of a master publicist. News outlets that know puck about hockey were glowingly giddy about the impending fall of Canada's golden boy. CNN, FOXNEWS, MSNBC, Today Show, Entertainment Tonight. Holy Bettman, Batman! It was WORKING!
Sadly, Wayne Gretzky did not have the character to Goodfella down on the Coyotes. Such foresight would have secured the Barbara Walters Special and consummated the media's honeymoon with hockey. Envision the achievable run in 99's ceremonial banishment from hockey and his expulsion from the Hall of Fame. After a decade of denial and bad talk radio, the Oprah breakdown and the admission mini-series would have destroyed American Idol.
Four Stanley Cups and a role model for a generation: Impressively boring.
A personalized, "I'm sorry I bet on hockey" pity puck: PRICELESS!
Teach Alex Rodriguez to skate and send him to the Islanders. Honestly, if Charles Wang has the intellect to give Rick DiPietro a 15-year, $67.5 million deal, this must already be in the works. The bloodhounds in the New York media will go wild when A-Rod fans on his first slapper. With Jason Giambi and Derek Jeter hired to call the games, Islanders TV ratings will dominate the competition.
6. Go Gangsta.
Why do Ron Artest and the Indiana Pacers get all the credit for violently assaulting fans when we were first! Hockey players and coaches have been going into the stands for decades. Tie Domi was putting drunks in headlocks when Stephen Jackson was packing a bb gun. It is crucial to laud our history and accomplishments while not allowing other sports to co-opt our initiative and invention -- especially when such behavior can lead major network broadcasts for weeks on end, exposing our brand from Sri Lanka to Brunei.
So there's the plan...I have more but you get the drift. Granted, it was nice when a guy's wife could walk up to a line of NHL superstars, moments before an All-Star Game, and instead of being tackled by security, have the players chuckle, smile and tell national TV to wait while they take pictures with your four-year-old son. (True story.) But it's a new day in the junk age.
And in the junk age, nobody has time for a niche sport.
Musician John Ondrasik is the creative force and voice of the platinum award-winning band Five for Fighting. His SI.com column will appear each month during the NHL season.