Commentary, news, analysis and reader-driven discussions focusing on this year's Stanley Cup playoffs.
The news was good not just for the Rangers, who now get to rest and heal whatever few bruises the often bloodless, disappointing Thrashers inflicted in the sweep. And not just for the, hmmm, unique fans in the upper reaches of Madison Square Garden, TWMFA, who might not be the most passionate supporters in the NHL but are inarguably the most creative. (Forget the tired "Potvin sucks" chants. During the second period in Game 4, when one of the Thrashers was menacing the Rangers' Sean Avery, their new pet, one New Yorker was moved to shout, "Now don't make me come down there!")
No, this was good for the NHL, which has had a dearth of big market teams deep into the playoffs in the past decade.
With apologies to Dr. Ruth, in a sport that still searches for eyeballs in the United States, size does matter.
While the past two finals -- Tampa Bay-Calgary in 2004 and Carolina-Edmonton last season -- have had their undeniable charm and moments of splendid hockey, the teams competing for the oversized loving Cups are in farflung outposts, places with soul, perhaps, but almost no cachet. This has been a seemingly interminable problem for the NHL. None of the big-market, move-the-needle teams in the United States -- New York, Los Angeles and Chicago -- have made it to a Conference final since 1997.
(Time for a quick geography lesson. East Rutherford, in New Jersey, about eight miles away from midtown, or 90 minutes in traffic, still is not New York, and Anaheim will never be Los Angeles, no matter what the owner of the Angels says. In fact, most New Yorkers think they need a passport and shots to go through the Lincoln or Holland Tunnels into the Garden State. As far as media markets go, New Jersey and Anaheim might as well be Hope Valley, Rhode Island, and Juarez, Mexico.)
The best moments in recent NHL history came when the Rangers ended a drought of 54 years by winning the Cup in 1994, a time when an SI cover declared the NHL to be hot and the NBA to be not. The Rangers were coming off an all-time semifinal win over New Jersey and an entertaining seven-game victory over Vancouver in the final, but viewed through the prism of America's metropolis, this was a flush time for the entire league. This final represented the confluence of money and power and media, and everyone wanted to rub Mark Messier's shaved head for luck. The 1994-95 lockout killed the momentum, but the fond memories linger of a time when it appeared that hockey would stand on equal footing with a sport that is not nearly exotic to most of America.
"It's been a long time since the Rangers have won a playoff series ," said veteran Brendan Shanahan, a first-year Ranger who scored late in the second period to even the score, 2-2. "The organization kinda has its feet turned in the right direction. That attracts fans, that attracts players, that attracts attention. We did it all through hard work. We're kinda rewriting the personality of the New York Rangers. We're a lot more like a New York fan. That's why I think the fans have gotten behind this team so much. The diversity on our team. We've got some pluggers, some small guys who are gritty, some old grizzled guys who are hanging around. And we got guys from different cultures, diverse backgrounds. Like New York.
"The truth of the matter is if you want hockey to do well, it's important for a city like New York to [have] a great hockey team. To be a destination where players [want] to go. Wasn't always that way the past several years. You think about the years when the NHL was saying they were doing great, the NHL was hot, the NBA was not, and they had a great team in New York, a first place team in L.A. and a first-place team in Chicago. That's probably not a coincidence."
This was the message from a humdrum series: Go big ... and don't go home.
posted by SI.com | View comments |
Having Northeastern teams be good for the NHL must be the reason for the absolutley brutal offciating against the Lightning tonight. This is despite the fact that the fans in Tampa out draw the pathetic fans in New Jersey. No wonder the average fan is ignoring the sport, the higher ups are doing a job that would make Vince McMahon proud.
I think the reasoning for why the NHL is not doing so well these days has to do, mainly, with major sports networks and magazines not giving the NHL any attention! If you want the NHL or think the NHL can compete with the NBA, MLB or NFL then you have to give it some bloody attention in the headlines! I go to ESPN.com and SI.com daily and I almost never see the NHL highlights on the front page of the sites. Why is that? Because of the editors own personal dislike of the NHL. Give the NHL the attention it deserves and start airing the highlights more often or at the very least air them as much as the NBA, NFL or MLB. My god, who even watches MLB anymore, not me. The NHL is a wonderful sport, and constantly bad mouthing the league does nothing but add fuel to the fire. Start more positive blogs and tv spots for it and you'll have something!
I honestly have no idea what you mean. East Rutherford New Jersey is well within the New York Metropolitan Area. It's in Bergen County across the Hudson from Manhattan. It definitely is considered part of New York in the sporting public's mind as the Meadowlands (in East Rutherford) is home to the New York Jets, Giants, and Red Bull New York. Are the Jets and Giants big league teams? Also, over 18 million people live in the New York Metropolitan Area (in 3 states), while only about 8 million live within the five boroughs. The idea that those who live and work in NYC view Jersey as a separate country is ludicrous, especially since about half of those workers commute from New Jersey everyday. By your logic, the Islanders aren't part of a big city because they're in Nassau County in Long Island, a 15 minute drive from Queens.
The same applies to Anaheim which, in Orange County is like right next to LA County. Anaheim played host to the LA Rams. Surely, the LA Rams were a big city team.
I completely agree with and understand what you are saying in this well written article. MLB has its yankees, and the NBA has its lakers. A prime example is the Boston Red Sox of late. Once their team turned it around and became successful, ticket sales and popularity went through the roof at fenway. This recent success of the Rangers will only help the NHL to grow throughout the country, starting with media capitals, New York, and LA.
I am a New Yorker. And you Mr. Farber are absolutely right. New Jersey does not count. Sorry to break it to you Richard!
Jersey ain't NY. Having grown up in NJ, attended the first-ever Devils game when they came from Colorado, and been disappointed by the Blueshirts more times than I can count, I am thrilled the Rangers are back in shape. The Devils don't even sell out a playoff game-how sad is that? I didn't notice any empty seats in the Garden the last 2 nights.
Certainly, the Devil management has done everything they can to alienate fans-win the Cup and in the same off-season talk of moving out of Jersey? Very smooth. So, more power to the scrappy 6 seed.
Biscotto, Naples, Italy
I agree that the Rangers being successful helps promote the NHL in general. Yes the Devils are just outside of Manhattan, however, they struggle to fill their own arena. There is a general malaise towards the team by everyone but their diehard fans. The Rangers on the other hand spark more casual interest simply because they are a big market team. The NHL is trying hard to promote Sydney Crosby as the next big thing, but he alone is not enough to grab the attention of the casual fan. The ideal situation would be an Eastern Conference finals between the Penguins and Rangers to showcase the NHL's biggest up and coming star against a big market team. Of course the chances of that happening this year are slim to none.
Agreeing with the second poster, the coverage of the NHL is extremely poor. Putting games on Versus is not going to lure the casual fan. I'm sure the average sports fan doesn't flip through Versus on a regular basis. On the other hand, ESPN used to have solid coverage, including regular recap programs like NHL 2nite. ESPN needs to pony up and start covering hockey again if there's any hope for fan interest to grow.
As a Thrashers fan living in Atlanta, let me congratulate the Rangers. There is no doubt who the better team was in the series, and it wasn't my Thrashers. Before you guys all crow too loudly about how great the Rangers are, I'd like to point out that your next round opponents won't roll over and die like the Thrashers did and you're going to have to earn it from here on instead of having somebody give you the wins like the Thrashers did.
Surely, the LA Rams were a big city team. > were they bigger than the LA Raiders ???
What about Detroit. its caleed Hockeytown for a reason. Detroit is a huge mzrket for hockey and one of the few places in the NHL that bounced back after the lockout with sell out tickets. when you come to Joe Louis Arena its a different atmosphere. The people here love hockey and show it all the time throughout the regular season and playoffs consistently. They have dominated the western conference for the past decade. every team now looks to be the one to knock them off in the playoffs. Show some love for probably the most dominant team of the past decade and the great things that hockey brings to Detroit.
I don't know how valid your arguments are in terms of the Rangers who have sold out practically every game since the beginning of time, even during the recent playoff drought. The problem, which one of the other commentors almost touched on, is television coverage. The networks have not been creative enough in translating the sport to TV. The tired center ice camera angle with a couple of cut-aways is not a rewarding and memorable experience. The only TV advantage is slow-motion and instant replays. Otherwise its a spectator sport. If NBC or VS could just step it up and fly a skycam, put quality cameras behind each goal, and an adroit hand-held operator between the benches, and hire a talented director who "gets" the sport to make the fast paced decisions that will make hockey a compelling and exciting television experience - then, and only then, will hockey have a chance to flourish in all markets. --D. Ray Inside Hockey
I guess it's no wonder that hockey isn't as popular as it once was since it gets no attention from any of the big media outlets. I just read your well written article cnnsi.com and then went to read the article on your site recapping last night's game and find the generic AP article. To increase the popularity of hockey, big time media outlets need to hire qualified people to actually cover the sport.
People in New York don't care about the Islanders or the Devils. In fact the Devils have the worst fans in the NHL. The Rangers moving on in the playoffs is great for the NHL. When the NHL was at its peak, the Rangers, Blackhawks, Bruins, Redwings and Maple Leafs were in contention every year. It would also help the NHL if fans could find a game on a channel other than Versus.
The Devils are not a NY team no matter how people spin it... 3 teams in the tri-state region but the lines are pretty well drawn as to who likes the Rangers/Devils/Islanders... as for the Devils they have a lot of fans but their style of play really didn't get anyone to pay attention with their slowdon trap D... rangers being back in the winning ways is a very good thing... let's hope they can keep up the momentum!
To put the following in context - I'm a lifetime resident of central New Jersey and a Ranger's fan.
Your point that big market teams surging in the playoffs equals "good for the NHL" is noted, and applies to any sport. Your subsequent focus on ripping the metropolitian surroundings of NYC and Los Angeles is off base. New Jersey and New York residents flow from state to state like the ocean tides. Most identify themselves with a singular metropolitian area, rather than the "big castle vs. wastelands" metaphor you are painting.
You are probably alone in thinking that New Jersey is like Mexico....In truth its more like vacationland for New Yorkers...with clean beaches and an infrastructure that can actually support Sport Complexes and its crowds. (i.e. meadowlands...soon to be state of the art Xanadu complex.)
Next time...focus more on what has really hurt the NHL - poor management of player stikes, and misguided mass marketing efforts.
Farber - I [almost] completely agree with you. How can you say that the Rangers fans are not the most passionate NHL fans? As a season ticket holder who does not miss an MSG game and, on occasion, travels with the team to catch a road game, I would say the Rangers are THE MOST passionate fans. Come down to Section 314. Or check out the blue seats anywhere in the building (particularly 404 - 411)...the action is all around you. Have you been to Section 407 where Larry dances to "strike it up" in the 3rd period? ALL you see at the Garden is passion pouring out.
For real. There is a 5-minute segment on Sportscenter about the NHL..and then 55 minutes of highlights exciting games like Hawks-Grizzlies and Rockies-Padres.
Give more exposure to the game, and the fans will come.
I respectfully disagree with the lat pos. In terms of hockey relevance, East Rutherford might as well be on the moon. Becuase no one cares about hte Devils as they play what is referred to in soccer as cattenagio(I appologize for any mispelling)- the version of soccer italain team practice that resembles the iron curtain!
Meanwhile the Rangers play attractive ice hockey. It happens to be in one of the media centers which is important to promote the sport. What we need is teams playing good hockey to get the sport noticed again.
if the nhl wants winning teams in large markets they need great ownership in large markets.
It is not just ownership. There are too many former players serving as GM's. In a salary cap world, NHL managements need bean counters who can determine winning formulas for success. The NHL needs its version of Moneyball. Half the league is unable to properly assess talent and is laden with untradeable contracts. Teams keep searching for intangibles like "grit" because they don't know how to accurately measure a player's contributions.
The Ranger beat a team from the weakest division in hockey who backed into the playoffs. No big surprise they swept.
I think it is premature to think they are in the same class as Buffalo, Ottawa and New Jersey, however.
As a die-hard Rangers fan, I agree that it is sweet to finally see them advance. However, if the NHL wants to see big market teams, how come come I (who lives in Boston, and the Rangers are the closest team in relation market-wise), did not have one of their games televised? It was always either Ottawa/Pitt, Detroit/Calgary, or any other game. Shouldn't the NHL make sure these "big market" teams are at least televised if they want to keep hockey alive?
The NHL is also a victim of lack of interest if local teams aren't in the playoffs. I'm a native New Yorker(and Ranger fan) living in the Philadelphia area. No Flyers, no coverage...period. Philly is supposed to be a big hockey town...not so if there is no local rooting interest. You'd be hard pressed to know the NHL exists from watching any of the local network media outlets...not even the NBC station gives it any play and NBC has the national package. I guess they ceded that segment of reporting to ESPN. At least we have Comcast for the webcasts! Let's Go Rangers!!
I do agree with the general point, big market success is critical to league-wide success. I will note that NYC is key, which should be no surprise. For purposes of the NHL, an annually really good or great Rangers team would be the single most important reason for NHL success (people outside NYC hate to hear it but NY teams are the most important in almost any sport from a marketing point of view, leagues get more pop from NY teams' success than from any other). I also agree with the point about the Devils but not becasue NJ is like another country one needs shots to enter into, but because the arean is terrible for hockey (I've palyed there I know), the crazy fan base and atmosphere is just not there (case in point during each stanley cup finals, home game tickets could be purchased at face the day of the game), and because the NY and national media don't jump on the Devils' backs when they are hot. The argument that the Giants and Jets play there isn't a good one because in the case of the NFL, NYC does not physically have a team. In the NHL you have the Rangers right in the heart of Manhattan. Lastly, talk about bad officiating, the Rangers were getting jobbed last night in the 2nd and 3rd periods. Horrible non-calls.
A big problem with the NHL is lack of PR from you, the media.
Just look at your list of 'Top Stories'...
Bonds belts No. 738 in 12-inning win vs. Cards
LeBron, Cavs earn No. 2 seed | Bulls slip to 5th
NBC: Top prospects who smoked pot will not fall
...plus 7 more stories on the MLB, NBA, or NFL.
Not one story here is about the NHL. They are all about "the Big 3", a connotation derived by and propagated by the media to include the NFL, the MLB, which has dubious entertainment value, unless you are actually at the ballpark gorging franks and downing beers, and the NBA, which is played by hubris athletes motivated solely by 'bling bling' and who think they are invincible both on and off the court.
Give the NHL and it's role models the attention it deserves!
I believe that you sir, are demonstrating what we like to call the New York bias. Demonstrated by the ideology of- everything is better in New York or LA, the rest of the US is just a flyover zone.
Having lived in NYC, I understand this mindset when it comes to big-market baseball, but hockey? Please. Sounds like you need to get out more often.
"The best moments in recent NHL history came when the Rangers ended a drought of 54 years by winning the Cup in 1994"
I disagree. Perhaps that was the best moment for a NY fan or partisan such as the author of the article. People are coming back to the sport because the skating is finally starting to open up again and the clutch and grab boresome gameplay is diminished. I havn't seen good skating and crisp passing like I've seen this year since the early 90's.
Richard: I live in NJ ten minutes from 16E, the exit to Continental Arena. The Devs, even though they play within sight of the M Hotel tower, which juts above MSG on 33d St, are NOT a New York team. New Yorkers don't care about them; they are an afterthought for local media coverage. NNJ is, alas, a geographic expression; it has no city to anchor it. It exists in the gravitational pull of NYC--in the region, but not OF the region. Anyone who lives in NNJ knows what I mean.
The Devs, arguably the NHL's most successful team over the past fifteen years, cannot sell out their own arena, except for when they host the Rangers (and on those nights, Rangers fans outnumber Devils fans by about 20%).
And, yeah, duh, the Isles aren't a NYC team either.
It's about media coverage, Richard. Rangers win Cup = wall-to-wall coverage and a Canyon of Heroes tickertape parade. Devs win Cup = tailgate party in Meadowlands, and a 30 sec feature on the Channel 7 Eyewitness News at 6.
If you need further proof of this, look back to coverage of the Nets' two Finals appearances, versus the Knicks two Finals appearances.
NY fans don't really care about NJ-based teams that identify with the NJ (not NY) market. It sucks, but it's true.
As a native New Yorker and current resident. I agree with Mr Farber. Richard - perhaps the issue is they're called the NEW JERSEY Devils and not the NEW YORK Devils.
Even though the Islanders are in Nassau County they're in New York State. People hearts and minds dont discern from miles and population, they do so by name.
If the Devils Arena were even to be built on the Hudson river overlooking Manhattan it would still be considered New Jersey. My suggestion change name to the NY Devils. And not one large Suburb of a state without a SOUL. Thats why the NETs moving to Brooklyn is going to be huge! Brooklyn has soul and nostalgia.
LA Rams were so huge they had to move to an even bigger market. St. Louis.
By your logic, the Islanders aren't part of a big city because they're in Nassau County in Long Island, a 15 minute drive from Queens.
As a New Yorker, no, the Islanders aren't part of a big city.
When are you getting to Nassau Coliseum in 15 minutes, 4AM?
Your logic is about half right in that it's great to have big market clubs doing well in the NHL which hasn't happened outside Detroit in about a decade.
However the main reason that hockey doesn't sell to the American TV audience is because it is not a sport where American players dominate. If you look at all the pro sports that Americans are generally the most dominant players, they are the sports with the highest TV audience.
Prime examples of this are golf & tennis. Men's & woman's tennis we're headlining all the sports pages about 5-10 years ago, because Sampras & Aggasi for the men and the Williams sisters, Capriati and Davenport were winning all the big tournaments. However now that A swiss man Federer is so dominant and most of the women's big winners are either Russian or French and you can find barely a headline on who wins anything. The PGA was in a major rut before Tiger Woods came along and started winning everything.
So what the NHL really needs is the next great superstar to be a Red/White/Blue blooded American.
While it is great for the NHL to have a big market team advance in the playoffs...let's face it, the sport of hockey will never recapture whatever popularity it had at its peak.
The reasons for this are the old reasons which prove as valid today as years before. First off, the cost to play the sport is astronomical so not enough youngsters can afford to play the game here in the States. My good friend's son plays and they are traveling all the time to tournaments. His skates cost $300 a pair at least and he outgrows them just about every year. Not to mention the rising costs of the other equipment. If my friend wasn't wealthy, his son would not be playing. Second, you can't see the puck well on TV. This problem has been around forever and will continue to hound the sport.
The diehard fans hope hockey makes a comeback in popularity. Unfortunately, it will never be one of the four major sports again!
Scott, New York, NY
I'm sorry richard, but while you're obviously from nj, you really have no basis to your logic. Yes, you're within 8 miles of downtown and can easily see the empire state building from the upper reaches of the meadowlands, but when the devils, after winning 3 cups in 10 yrs, annually win or are close to winning the division, only draw 75% capacity (and I think i'm being kind) to their home games on good nights, I dont think you can consider them in the ny grouping of teams. Yes, they share a locale with the jets and giants, but you souldn't confuse the devils with teams that have waiting lists for season tixx into the next millenium. Go to a Rangers game for a late season game between two teams on the bubble for the playoffs. There's a buzz in the garden taht surely the 14k fans at the continental hanger can't muster. And if you dare even to try, go to a Rangers playoff game. I was just at the last two games and there are no better fans in this league than those at the garden.
As for the actual article, there is no denying that the rangers, hawks, and kings will help the league if they all can regain their positions as top teams in the league. Pesronally, I can't wait to watch the rangers win it all and watch your boring devils team sit at home and wonder why the whole league doesn't rally around them.
Right on anonymous!the Lightning are getting screwed!
To Richard's comment I have to disagree. If you look at how many people show up (or don't show up) for Devils' games it is clear that no matter how good that team is they simply cannot generate the juice that playoffs in the Garden do.
Dear Mr. Richard,
The Devils can't even sell out all their playoff games unless they are playing the Rangers. Enough said.
Farber is from New Jersey, he started his career at the Bergen Record, and so is perfectly aware of its relation to NYC;
but he thinks it is an outer planet for Manhattan sports fans, esp. Devils compared to Rangers
and, imagine if Rangers had won 3 Stanley Cups in the last decade; would there ever be an empy seat at MSG ??
just not the same level of fan support
You won't see the major networks giving the NHL any attention because the major networks have either small or no contracts with the NHL. The NHL is on Versus (previously OLN) and I believe NBC aired a few games on the weekend, but none during the week. Versus has a huge contract with the NHL because none of the other networks (ESPN, ABC, CBS, etc.) were able to beat the offer of Versus. Coming off of the missed season and low fan sentiment, it is understandable that the major networks did not want to shell out the same dough as Versus to get the NHL contract. The NHL took the money and now hockey fans all over the country are getting screwed by it. As a Ranger fan in PA, I was unable to watch any of the Rangers games because it was played on TSN (Canada's version of ESPN). The NHL is shooting itself in the foot and with the NHL poised to make a comeback, no one is going to be around to watch it.
And to comment on the East Rutherford guy, maybe if the Devil's could pack their stadium for games other than vs. the Rangers, they wouldn't be thought of as a second rate city. Even during those games, the crowd is routing for the other team, not the Devils. If it were the New Jersey Jets or the New Jersey Giants, you would not have the same crowd as you would for the New York Giants and New York Jets. New Jersey sports is smack dab in between NYC and Philadelphia and because of that will always be a second-class sports market. New Jersey fans will never be as passionate about their teams as New York or Philadelphia fans.
Come on, if you seriously think that East Rutherford is still part of the metropolitan area and that the Devils can compete with the Rangers or even the Islanders, you're being ridiculous. It's the same thing in the NBA, where the Knicks, despite being run pathetically for so many years, still sell out every game, and the Nets, who have been to Conference and NBA Finals, don't even sell out playoff games. The fact is that New Jersey teams just can't compete with the teams in New York City, and it is good to have a big market team advancing to keep some interest in the game.
As far as interest in the NHL goes, the problem is too little attention, but let's not be blind to the true fact: most of America just doesn't like hockey. It's not because "editors don't like hockey," because if the people liked it the magazine and online editors would find a way to put it in their pages. The FACT is that people like the NFL, MLB, and NBA (and probably even golf) better than hockey. And hockey is not going to get the attention it probably deserves until the commissioner decides to stop burying it in a cable station that no one can find and putting its All-Star games on that channel on a weeknight. Honestly Gary Bettman is easily the worst commissioner in major pro sports.
Being from born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens I can tell you with the utmost confidence....Jersey is Jersey and in no way will it ever be considered NY. Jets? Giants? Please, those teams are Jersey teams dressing up like they represent NY. C'Mon, who would want to play in a swamp anyway. The Rangers are the ONLY NY hockey tem in the area PERIOD. The Devils can swim in their swamp in Jersey and the....ugh....Isles can hang out in in Wantaugh and watch the Rangers in the playoffs.
I have to agree that having the Rangers be successful will help the NHL. It would really help their TV ratings if the Rangers could get to the Finals. I think the reason the Devils are not as popular as the Rangers is 1) The rangers are the old guard, they have been around for along time 2) The meadowlands is not a prime spot for a team that plays 82 games are year. I think the new arena will help the Devil though. Bottom line, Rangers are king in the NY/NJ Metro area.
Farber is right that Anaheim is not part of LA..Its about 40 minutes South east of LA and last year one of the games was on a very obscure channel. This year I was looking for Game 2 Anaheim-Minnesota and couldnt find it because the Dodgers and Lakers were on the main cable sports nets. The Clippers were on the local channel and I just gave up. Also you cant get the Anaheim Duck radio broadcasts in LA.
Let's Go Rangers!
The Isles being a NYC team are just about the same as Buffalo being a NYC team!
I'm finally excited to watch hockey again - even if I can usually only get the Self-adelphia Flyers on my Lancaster, PA TV!!
Let's Go Rangers!
The Isles are about as much a NYC team as Buffalo!
I'm so glad to see my boys back in the game, even if I only get to watch the Self-adelphia Flyers here on my Lancaster, PA TV.
I can somewhat understand the lack of interest when Raleigh, NC or Tampa FL is in the cup race. Having a team in Chicago which is at the bottom of the league for a decade doesn't earn any fans in a city of millions.
However here we are in the middle of the 2007 playoffs, and the American media doesn't bat an eye. There are no sports shows that even mention hockey. Shows like PTI would rather talk all day long about Barry Bonds than even talk about the Stanley Cup.
It is a "if you build it, they will come" mentality. If the media start reporting hockey on common ground with the other major sports, it will then be regarded as a major sport. If they pretend it doesn't exist, then it won't.
Having the Rangers do well definitely helps the NHL. I am am a native New Yorker now living in North Jersey, and still a Rangers Fan, but honestly I had lost some interest the team until last year. The Devils go deep into the playoffs every year, but I could never be a Devil's fan. They are not a "players" team. They eschew marquee players who create excitement. The Devils also have a tough time cause they were team #3 into the NY Area. I guarantee if the Islanders go deep in the playoffs, they will become Media Darlings. One thing you can say about the Rangers is they bring in Star Power, so when they do well, in the largest Media Market, they get all the attention. Also, there is something magical between the Garden & Ranger Fans when the team plays well. When 20,000 fans are screaming halfway through the National Anthem, it sends chills down your spine. I have never experienced that any where else.
Jersey is a very densely populated area with a lot of Sports Fans. We are embedded in the NY Market. There is a reason why there are 4 professional sports teams that have thier businesses located here (including the Jets as thier HQ moves to Jersey in 2008).
Jersey Rules. We don't pay extra for full service at the gas pump, we ship our trash to Pennsylvania, and the liquor stores are open on Gameday. Yet, I can still be a home town guy rooting for those Rangers.
Having the Rangers (or Islanders) do well may spark a little NHL media attention in NY, but the rest of the country could care less. Just like we don't care about the Yankees, Mets, Knicks, Jets, Giants, or the Red Bulls, we don't care about the Rangers either. Do the Rangers making the playoffs help the Panthers, Blues, or Blue Jackets? No, not really. How many people west of the Hudson cared about the "Subway Series", much less watched it? Far less than those from NY might think. It's time for NY'ers to get over themselves.
The Rangers will be GOLFING in two weeks with the Islanders. LET'S GO BUFFALO!!!
It doesn't matter, because the Rangers aren't getting past the Sabres.
"Having the Rangers (or Islanders) do well may spark a little NHL media attention in NY, but the rest of the country could care less. Just like we don't care about the Yankees, Mets, Knicks, Jets, Giants, or the Red Bulls, we don't care about the Rangers either. Do the Rangers making the playoffs help the Panthers, Blues, or Blue Jackets? No, not really. How many people west of the Hudson cared about the "Subway Series", much less watched it? Far less than those from NY might think. It's time for NY'ers to get over themselves."
Are you kidding me? Of course the Rangers making the playoffs doesn't help the Panthers, Blues, or Blue Jackets, but it most certainly does help the sport of hockey. The fact is that New York is the biggest market in the country and if it's beloved Rangers can make it far in the playoffs, they're going to keep watching. If the Blue Jackets advanced to the Stanley Cup finals, no one in New York, or anywhere but Columbus would care (actually, Columbus probably wouldn't care either). We've seen that the Subway Series wasn't something good for ratings, so it's obvious that it's not good to have BOTH New York teams in a final. But it is certainly good to have at least one advance far into the playoffs. And if the NHL can get a final with two big markets involved, like, for example, Detroit and NY, it will certainly be better than a Carolina/Edmonton final.
Better than an Edmonton Final? Who do you think won the 1994 Cup, the worthless Rangers organization? Glenn Anderson, Jeff Beukeboom, Adam Graves, Kevin Lowe, Craig MacTavish, Mark Messier, and Esa Tikkanen all played for the 1990 Oilers, and if not for some misguided belief that big markets deserve decent teams, their names would still be on the ’94 Cup, just without a bunch of second-rate bums as teammates (spare me the Leetch paeans, please). Far from helping the league, the Rangers quest for the Cup and incidental placement of a decent team in New York (and the operational attitude behind it) tore the NHL apart and probably had more to do with teams like Winnipeg moving than any other reason (and trust me on this, the average middle school girl in Winnipeg knows more about hockey than all of MSG section 314 combined; hell, grammar school girls in Hartford might even be able to take 314). About the only thing you can say about the 1994 team was that in accidentally buying a whole team from the same place, the clowns in NYC avoided the typical good players/lousy team dynamic that is and pretty much has been the defining characteristic of New York sports, especially at Madison Square Garden.
I’ve seen some comments here that hockey doesn’t have the attention of many geographic areas south of the border, and that may be true, but New York has not been relevant to the rest of the United States since baseball was duking it out with horse racing and prize fighting for the nation’s attention, and in the last twenty-five years has only gained notice outside the reach of its own broadcast media when subject to unplanned urban renewal by fanatic islamic terrorists. To say that the NHL needs New York is ludicrous. Maybe Gary Bettman’s office needs to be justified by local representation, but he’s hardly a model of competence (which is not surprising, as he, unlike any Ranger players, is a native New Yorker). The fact is, New York needs the NHL: it needs talented people from Somewhere Else to come there and perform at the highest level, in the city’s name, to take its denizens minds off of their own collective mediocrity, and always has. If such people stop coming, one day New Jersey and Connecticut will flex their respective cheeks and pinch NYC out into the Atlantic, at which time we will all find out why they call it Flushing. Until then, when you see guys like Paul Mara (Ridgewood) and Ryan Callahan (Rochester) show up to play in your now strictly Hicksville burg, don’t get on them for where they’re from, get down on your knees and thank them for buying you one more lap around the bowl before you finally go under.
If the Devils are not a NYC team, then what about the Jets & Giants? GO SABRES!!! GO BILLS!!!
Farber is way off base. The NFL is the most popular sport by far. The teams in NY have 3 titles in the past 40 years and none since 1990. LA doesn't even have a team. Chicago has just recently become good after being dormant for about 20 years. These are the biggest markets in football and these teams have not been dominant but the NFL still rules the sports landscape. Why is that? Maybe its the product instead of where the dominant team plays? A Sabres-Ducks Stanley Cup final would be a very exciting series and some great hockey.
The one thing I find annoying ,yet funny, is how a hockey Analyst last week said “NY hockey fans should be happy as three NY teams made it to the playoffs.” He then began to list the Rangers, Islanders, and the Devils.. Although be it I live In Westchester NY and was born in the Bronx, I (un)fortunately have always been a Sabres fan…. Which, by the way, IS the third NY team in the playoffs. And while on the Buffalo subject the Bills are the ONLY true New York football team (last time I checked the meadowlands were still in the swamps off route 3). A NY team will win the cup this year, but it won't be the Isles, Rangers, or Jersey(?!?)... and as long as you only count goals which are scored from in front of the net.
LET'S GO BUFF A LO
One since 40 is better for the nhl. Last I checked this team just made it into the playoffs, got a lucky break in playing Atlanta, and has a captain that doesn't always want to play. The only thing that matters is the teams you call out and challenge as being second class continue to beat your so called important team every time it really counts.
Mr. Farber is 100% correct. The Devils could win 50 cups and no one would care. Same thing with the Islanders. NY is all about the Rangers. Always was, always will be. I sure hope the Rangers get the Devils in the conference finals, it will be no contest. Rangers in 5
I agree that it is good to finally see a Ranger's team into the second round. Successful sports teams in large media markets is good for the league, particularly in the exposure department (although I believe it will be a Buf-Ott E. conference final). That being said, the NHL is a bit two-faced. On one hand, it is no secret that the league prefers teams from NY, Toronto, LA, etc to be successful. But, on the other hand, they've expanded into non-traditional markets such as TB, Carolina, Anaheim, and Nashville and when these teams actually do well, it seems like the league or media do not get behind these teams as well. If the league wanted NY and Det in the final every year, why go with the strategy to expand? A 20-24 team league would mean theoretically, every team has a higher probability of winning and subsequently NY, Detroit, and Chicago a higher probability of more exposure? The NHL can't have it both ways. If they want successful franchises across the league, they and the media need to embrace and promote these teams when they are successful just as they do when NY is successful.
So you think the Rangers are the team to bring more fans to the NHL? Has anyone out there heard of the Buffalo Sabres - the NUMBER ONE TEAM in the entire League? Oh, yes, we're buried in snow and that word hasn't gotten out yet. For years, the Rangers couldn't buy their way to a playoff, let alone the Cup. All we hear about are the same old teams - LET'S GO SABRES!!!
How stupid are all these cries of give the NHL more exposure and the fans will come to the game. From a network and magazine coverage standpoint, they would say hey if you had the fans, we would cover you. It's a bit of a catch 22 for the league, you can't get coverage if you don't have the fans, you can't have fans if you don't have the coverage. But the bottomline is still the same, the NHL is 5th at best in terms of sports in the US and only has itself to blame. The 1 year absence of the league, the utterly boring play of the NJ Devils in their championship runs turned off casual fans in droves, the league that let its image become that of boxing on skates. These are the reason the NHL is barely on the radar in the American Sports scene.
The bottom line is that the NHL is never going to be popular in the U.S. Those of us who love hockey know it to be the best sport in the world, and we need to stop caring about its lack of popularity. If the Rangers were the best team in the league, there would only be slightly more interest in the NYC area (the likes of Mike and the Mad Dog will never talk hockey anyway), but how would that help to enhance ratings for the league overall? Case in point, the Rangers drew a 1.1 rating in New York for their game against Atlanta the other day. Pathetic. No one in NY cares about hockey anyway, and most people outside of NY love to hate NY teams, duh!
The NHL should instead work on promoting its great stories, such as the most exciting team in the NHL since the Edmonton Oiles: Yes, I'm talking about THE BUFFALO SABRES!!!!!!! It's actually the small markets like Buffalo and Pittsburgh where people care about hockey.
As a longtime fan (going back to your Montreal days) I'm a little dismayed at your suggestion that the Rangers ought to win for the benefit of the game. That's precisely what's got the NHL into its current predicament - thinking that marketshare = good for the game. No, what's good for the game is good hockey and neither the Rangers nor the Red Wings are exciting and they are not the types of teams that will inspire new viewership. It's about time that we begin promoting good hockey rather than trying to "sell" the boring stuff. And that means getting behind the good players and the good teams even if they are in small markets. That's what's best for the long term health of the game.
I'm not at all sure that you thought this equation through completely, Mr. Farber. There are several major flaws in your arguments. While I won't mention them all, let me list a couple:
First, New York already has a huge fan base. They will not bring any new fans into the hockey realm. So where is the gain to the NHL?
Second, Maybe, just maybe, it would be better for the NHL if writers and the media in general paid a little more attention to such a wonderful sport. You can laugh all you want to about Atlanta, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Anaheim and others not being great hockey locations. You are wrong, they are great locations for hockey and have really worked on building a base. The "original six" teams have their base and won't add one iota to hockey interest across the US and Canada by being in the playoffs.
The average sports fan will never become a true hockey fan if you, the media, bury the sport under other nonsencical headlines like who the heck finished fifth in the NBA race. Who cares.
So, let's put the correct wording to your story and say it's great for New York to be in the playoffs - not the NHL.
To show you how "committed" the NHL is to promoting the game, the last NJ/Tampa game was blacked out in our area of Florida. When I contacted the offending cable company (BrightHouse), they reported that the entire state of Florida was blacked out due to contractual obligations. Even satelite customers could not get the feed. I live in Orlando, paid for the "CENTER ICE" package and still could not get the game (which was sold out). We should all thank Mr Bettman for his outstanding promotion of the greatest game in the world. Hockey will never make in roads with this contractual BS (VERSUS Network elected to show the Buffalo/NY game). Especially at playoff time where the players are giving it all, everyone should be able to watch. Its no wonder that hockey is less popular than just about any sport. GET WITH THE PROGRAM AND SHOW ALL THE GAMES GARY!!!
The last couple of posts are right on. It isn't the team or the location of the team that matters. What matters is an exciting product.
Quite frankly, I am enjoying watching Buffalo, San Jose, Anaheim and Nashville to name a few. The games are exciting, fast-paced, and most enjoyable.
A fan of "hockey" wants to see exciting action which the rule changes have helped to foster. In fact, I don't care which market a team represents if the game is worth watching.
I hate to disappoint you Farber, but I doubt seriously if your Rangers get any further than they currently are. And guess what, that will be good for hockey, the sport.
Go Ducks and Buffalo!! Or even San Jose and Ottawa!!
the comments about hockey being too expensive to play are absolutely ludicrous. all i hear about is travelling costs and skate costs at $300...where the hell are you people playing? i played hockey growing up in Montreal, the mecca of hockey, and we never travelled outside of the city to huge tournaments. if you can't afford for your kids to travel, make sure they're in a league with no travel. and $300 skates? maybe your tastes need to be a little more modest. i bought a pair of bauers, brand new, for $150 canadian this past winter. hockey sticks can be bought for $20 and second hand equipment is a lucritive business.
and what about street hockey? a stick and a ball and a patch of pavement. hocey nets can be bought for $25. street hockey is the same as touch football, sandlot baseball and playground hoops--it's the street version.
no, the biggest problem is the media. unfortunately, the majority of sports fans are casual and watch what the media tells them to. the NHL isn't sylish enough or as ego-driven as the other leagues...it's vanilla in that sense. the NHL will never flourish in the US because too many people go out of ther way to keep it down. as a Canadian, i use to really pull for successful hockey in the US, but now i just don't care. there are enough fans in the US to make the league run and that's all that matters.
In one aspect Mr. Farber might be right. If the NHL continues to force feed America big market games on a national level, such as NBC and VS, then at least if the teams didn't suck more people would tune in. But one of the previous posters mentioned he would rather watch an exciting game then a big market game. I think most of the fans would agree and those unfamiliar with the sport might find it more interesting then.
I think the NHL is more interested in spreading the sports popularity than bringing back the fair-weathered fans of the Rangers, Kings and Blackhawks. In the end its up to the front office of each of these teams to make them a marketable commodity. Put a good product on the ice and fans will watch.
I wish your Rangers luck Mr. Farber but I hope it eases the sting a little knowing that if NYC isn't represtented in later rounds at least NY State will be.