Wednesday, May 27, 2009


There must be something in the air. Actually, there is must be the sport of hockey on its way towards mainstream. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are winding down as a Finals rematch looms on the horizon. With unheralded amounts of of suspense and despiration that other sports would kill for (MLB), hockey talk will surely spark your interest in a sport worth your attention.

Introducing Jeffrey Alterman as guest columnist on his favorite sport. Hockey is back, and he wants you to know it!

Most hockey fans already understand the presence of the mysterious deities known as the Hockey Gods. Each and every October they awaken from their long summer slumber to watch over the new season that will begin and last until April. This year, they have granted us an unbelievable six weeks of playoff hockey; filled with physical play, high-scoring tilts and certainly no lack of superstar players. As a hockey fan, casual or not, you have to have been interested and excited in the thrilling semifinal series that pitted the league’s two biggest superstars, Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, against each other for the first time on a grand stage. When the series started, many hockey pundits believed that that series would have the power to propel the NHL back to where it once stood before the crippling lock out of 2005. The series lived up to the hype but has not catapulted the NHL into mainstream prominence.

Since the lockout, there have been a plethora of articles written by national columnists from ESPN, The New York Times and Sports Illustrated demonstrating what it is exactly that is preventing hockey from catching on as more than just a “niche” sport in our country. They talk of a lack of superstars that Americans care about, a low-scoring game without much excitement, and that without the advent of HDTV, the NHL would still be floundering for life and viewers that could find the puck. Instead of addressing the problems with the league (and, yes, there are some!), they just rehash over and over again why the NHL will never be mainstream. So instead of doing just that, I am aiming to show why you SHOULD be watching hockey instead of why you should NOT be.

For the first time in decades, the NHL has an exceptional amount of talent in young players destined to be enshrined in Toronto’s Hockey Hall of Fame. Players like Crosby and Ovechkin don’t come around very often and in this era the league can stake its claim to at least five players that should be able to command the same kind of star power that a Dwyane Wade or Kobe Bryant can. Perhaps the most world-famous, Sidney Crosby isn’t even the leading scorer on his team, no less the league. That title is claimed by his teammate Evgeni Malkin, another young superstar just entering his prime after scoring SIX multi-point games in a row in this year’s playoffs. True, we will never be able to describe Patrick Kane’s third goal in his series clinching win over Vancouver like we will LeBron James’ three-pointer to beat the Magic; but, since when are sports all about what’s written the day after? If you were watching that Canucks-Blackhawks game previously referred to, you can still see Kane sliding the puck between the defender’s legs and right through the Canucks All-Star Goaltender Roberto Luongo to effectively seal Chicago’s first trip to the Western Conference Finals in 15 years.

Another thing separating the NHL from the rest of the leagues is its parity. Other leagues claim they are filled with competitive balance and that on “any given day” any team can win. Is that true, why does every NFL Preseason prediction feature the same two teams from each conference as Super Bowl contenders? It seems that the same four or five teams are vying for championships each season. The NBA has had only 7 different teams win a championship since 1980. The NHL has had 14 different champions in the same time and no repeat winner this decade. Detroit seems ready to change that this year, but they must first get through to the Finals and then beat an exceptionally talented Pittsburgh team. Every October you can truly begin the season with unhindered hope that this year could be yours. In the Sports Illustrated 2003 NHL Preview issue it predicted the Tampa Bay Lightning would finish last in their conference. Where did they end up, only as Stanley Cup Champions! In another example of the NHL competitive balance, since 1994 we have seen more than one-third of the series featuring the 1 v. 8 and 2 v. 7 seeds ending with the lower seed advancing.

Let’s look further into the rise of the Chicago Blackhawks as a parallel to the league’s supposed upswing in popularity. When the ‘Hawks started the season this year, they were filled with promise and excitement. A new owner had taken the team in a new direction, opened up communication with fans and got the team back on local TV. They knew what they were working with in their young stars and promising play and pulled out all the stops to make themselves known in a crowded Chicago sports market. Owner Rocky Wirtz even brought the team out on a red carpet to open the season. It has paid enormous dividends, as they've gone from 3,400 season-ticket holders in 2007 to 14,000 currently, a waiting list for 2009-10 and a berth in the Western Conference Finals. Clearly they are a team on the rise. They have not one, but two young superstars that will keep the team relevant for years as they try for their first Cup in over 40 years.

The league needs to capitalize on what makes it so intriguing. Beyond the current stars, there are plenty past greats that are still involved with various franchises as coaches and management. Other Hall of Famers should be brought in to be analyst’s for games or even NBC’s studio show. Who wouldn’t want to watch Mark Messier talking about the game he played so greatly? It needs to loosen up the penalty calls so the elite players can show off what makes them special and it needs to do a better job of promoting itself and its stars. People want to see the fighters fight and the scorers score. But most importantly, it needs to do whatever it can to get itself back on true national TV. Versus just won’t cut it if you want to make it to the big time. Maybe the league could take a few hints from the Blackhawks. On the cusp of extinction, the Hawks "were in a situation where we had to try everything." The NHL shouldn't be afraid of doing the same.

P.S.—This is all coming from a Florida Panthers fan. Talk about desperation, we haven’t made the Playoffs in NINE years yet every season starts fresh with hope that the Year of the Rat might happen once again.

I hope you have enjoyed.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Terrible To WHOM???

It has come to my attention that I may have a terrible outro line. I personally have to disagree. What do my loyal followers have to say about it? Probably nothing, because the readers of this blog are scarce. But needless to say one reader decided to offer his esteemed opinion, not to mention done so under the alias of ANONYMOUS. I have an idea of whom this could be, and with that said a challenge is sought. Under BRO Rules when a random rating is given, it must follow two criteria; Honest & Constructive Criticism as well as It must be given during your turn in the rotation. Tying that into the below comment by ANONYMOUS--next time don't hide behind a no-name.
Anonymous said...

terrible outro line ronski, terrible

Peace, for now until later.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Rashard Lewis: The Magic's Next Level

Some thoughts came to mind a few hours before game 2 of the Magic-Cavs series...

In order for the Magic to pull through in this series, consistent play out of Rashard Lewis is absolutely a must. This team cannot go anywhere unless Rashard is scoring 20 points a game. Lewis is the key, because of his silky-smooth stroke and ability to knock down clutch free-throws. His game is mostly from the outside, mainly beyond the arc.

That is the problem with Rashard. He has the ability to put the ball on the floor and drive to the hole as well as post up on the block, but more often than not he chooses to settle for the outside jumper. The Magic need his all around game in this Conference Finals if they expect to get by the Lebron-led Cavs. For the Magic's sake I hope Coach Stan Van Gundy realizes Lewis' contributions can get his team to the next level.

Peace, for now until later.


Monday, May 18, 2009

NBA Draft & the 1 Year Rule

The NBA instituted its rule for players entering the NBA Draft in 2006. The rule states that any player entering the draft must be at least one year removed from High School. The way this is intended to work facilitates a better player entering the league, and in turn making the NBA a far better product.

It is in my opinion that the NBA has exponentially benefited from this rule, and it is no wonder why Commissioner David Stern looks to extend it a second year. Examples of players who chose to skip college and choose the riches of a pro basketball career.....Moses Malone, Kevin Garnett, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, & Dwight Howard.

Those guys are the exception.

More often than not it was a guy like Dorell Wright, Sebastian Telfair, Jonathan Bender, Kwame Brown (#1 Overall choice 2001). These guys have taken years to achieve the status of NBA bench warmer or even better journeyman. That is sarcasm for those who are somewhat slow. The NBA product of the later 1990's and early 2000's had been turned into a free for all, in a baseball like draft of prospects instead of professional ready players.

The list of NBA flops is far greater than those who have become serviceable NBA talent.

Let's just hope that the one-and-done college mentality of players turn into an appreciation for the total package college has to offer. The latest and greatest example being the Gator Boys back-2-back national titles in 2006-2007. That is some bragging on my part, but you cannot deny the love these guys had for Gainesville and the University of Florida.
Granted three of these 5 guys have yet to make an impact in the NBA, but at least they didn't miss out on what only college students will be able to tell their grandchildren about.

Peace for now, until later.

New: Added 8/24/09 @ 11:30pm
Michael Beasley really exemplified this issue here. One year of college DID NOTHING. He still has to make personal life choices which could be the difference between the guys who make it, and those who don't. J.A. Adande's article is a great read on this issue and more...

- Aaron

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Welcome Back

Hello to all.

I am back from somewhat of a hiatus, and I am here to return my flavor which is what you love.

To those who know me, it is like a return trip to Chat-Hut following a tough semester and the pleasure that ensues.

To those who don't, it is like orgasm after a a dry spell!

My flavor is that of blunt opinion and making no excuses.

Thank you to all.

New York Times