“Bettman has only a marginal interest in the weaker teams. He only wants the NHL to make a bigger profit as a whole.” -- Dominik Hasek

June 14, 2007

Hero Watch™: Tony Reali Silences Woody Paige

Six minutes into the ESPN show Around The Horn yesterday, the panel was discussing game 3 of the NBA Finals, a low-scoring, low-rated affair that was generally accepted to be one of the worst in league history. Once the conversation had shifted to Denver Post columnist Woody Paige, he complained about the dominance of defense in the game and called for the NBA to eliminate one player from each side, adopting a permanent 4-on-4 scheme similar to overtime hockey. Immediately, host Tony Reali responded in disbelief and then cut Paige off with the mute button. Said Reali, "You've been covering the NBA for the better part of 40 years, Woody Paige, you want them to change the rules like that?!"

Video clip here for those with ESPN360 access.

Tony Reali reacted to Woody Paige's idiocy in the only appropriate way---he cut his mic. You're an idiot, end of discussion.

The same should happen to every hockey columnist who suggests sweeping rule changes and the abandonment of tradition in the NHL just to score an extra goal or an extra quarter-point in the TV ratings. In hockey, no rule---no matter how old or how logical---is safe when an extra goal per game can be tacked on to the scoreboard. Any gimmick, no matter how cheap, is on the table. Shootouts? Snug-fitting jerseys? Kicking pucks in the goals? Wider goal posts? You name it, the NHL will try it.

Baseball survived the onslaught of the TV era by sticking to tradition. The players didn't, but the game did, and the rules today are nearly identical to the rules 60 years ago. Basketball, with the exception of the three point line and the dunk, hasn't changed much either. By adhering to tradition, these sports create a sense of permanence that transcends fluctuating TV ratings and a few bad tournament games.

Woody Paige is just one of many hockey columnists who promote snake oil quick fixes when faced with the tiniest in-game annoyance. The dialogue in the NHL is controlled by two-bit marketing hacks who care nothing for the sport they waste our time covering. Enough. Tony Reali, you're my new hero.

1 comment:

Teebz said...

Good call on this. Tradition is what makes the game good. Solid post, DLS. :o)

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