Friday, February 18, 2005

Great column by Mike Ulmer:

We never stopped looking on the NHL as ours. Maybe it's because Canadian teams won the Stanley Cup so often, 23 times in Montreal, 11 times in Toronto, five more in Edmonton and once in Calgary.

Maybe it's because we still supply 60% of the workforce. Maybe it's because we support the game so ardently in NHL cities and tune in so dutifully in the points in between.

But the game isn't ours.

It's theirs.

It belongs to Tom Hicks and Mike Ilitch and Bill Wirtz and Peter Karmanos and Jeremy Jacobs and 20 other U.S. firms, including the one owned by George Gillett operating in Montreal.

It was the same in the early days of the league when Big Jim Norris ran three of the six teams out of his office in Chicago. It will always be thus.

The business belongs to the players and the union and the equipment manufacturers and the programmers and the sponsors, to the beer companies and the television networks.

This highlights what I see as the NHL's great paradox: that you'll never have a league that works in Canada (or Minnesota, or Buffalo) if you also want the major markets and TV viewers (not that I think the TV viewers are gonna come).

Hmmh, you know all that talk about the Stanley Cup not belonging to the NHL? Maybe they should give the Stanley Cup out to the winner of some new all-Canada league, and let your Flyers and your Stars and Kings and so forth play for a completely different trophy.

Or the champion of of these two new leagues could play each other for the Cup.
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