Tuesday, February 22, 2005


NHL Snobbery: Live from the Ivory Tower

With the death of the 2004/05 NHL season, many fans and pundits (including myself) have been crying about the dearth and death of hockey in our lives. With the NHL off of our TVs and out of our town’s arenas, many addicts are no longer getting their hockey fix.

So, what about the alternatives? How about the AHL, ECHL, UHL, Junior Hockey, and so forth?

I know that the NHL is only one of many leagues and avenues in which to participate in getting your hockey fix. Hockey is simply not just the NHL!

For many “NHL” fans, however, there is simply no alternative to watching the best of the best.

Imagine yourself growing up on a gourmet diet of chicken cordon bleu, foie gras, caviar, Kobe beef, and lobster. You aren’t going to be hankering for beans and wieners, are you?

So, why do so many “NHL Snobs” now not show much of an interest in the lower levels of hockey?

1. Pace of Game/Skill Level – On television, it is highly noticeable that the pace and tempo of the AHL game is much (s)lower than that of the NHL. Even with the NHL’s best efforts to kill offence, the game is just much more frantic and the players are noticeably faster and more skilled. It’s hard for an "NHL Snob" to watch an AHL game when the level of play is rather ‘boring’ to them. (If this was the free flowing AHL of the mid-early 90s, it might be a different story)

2. Familiarity – Even most non-hockey-geeks, such as myself, know quite a few NHL players from the familiarity and repetition of being subjected to hearing their name so many times. You read stories, watch them play, and get to know these players somewhat – even if just by last name basis. When I watch or listen to an NHL game, I can usually tell you what kind of player that Player X is, what team he plays for, where he came from, etc...

When I watch an AHL game, there are many players whom I have never heard of or don’t really know much about. When I watch a CHL (junior) game, I don’t know about 95% of the players.
It’s very hard to get involved in a game or in a league in which you have little or no familiarity or rooting interest in the players or team(s).

3. “It’s beneath me” – I don’t personally feel this way, but I am sure there are a few fans out there (From major markets) that feel that the AHL and other minor leagues are just not worth their time because they aren’t “the best”. There are people in the world who look at minor leagues with some sort of contempt. We say PLAYER X sucks because he can’t make the NHL (Say, Rocky Thompson), failing to realize that the failed-NHLers are still 10X better than anyone who plays in your local beer league.

Hockey is Better Live – This is true, in my opinion.
I absolutely love going to Vancouver Giants games at the Pacific Coliseum, and I enjoyed myself thoroughly at the one AHL game I attended in Hamilton. I generally always enjoy myself when I attend a live hockey game at any level. TV doesn’t usually do hockey justice, as the old cliché goes.

So, I will admit that I am somewhat of an “NHL Snob” when it comes to hockey on TV. I cannot really watch non-NHL games on TV all too often because I just find the tempo slow and I can’t really identify with the players or teams. I have grown up on NHL hockey on TV and I am much too used to watching the best players (not in Europe) compete night after night at the highest level.

I just wonder if I’d feel the same way if North American hockey weren’t so polluted with obstruction and offence-killing strategies...

yea... I pitty those people who pigeon holed their journalism or blogs and only talked about the NHL. I try always to talk about hockey news.. and not just NHL.

I used to write for budblog.com, but the admin got pissed at Buttman and (not)Goodenow and shut the site down.
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