I n 2008, the all-time movie classic Birdemic: Shock and Terror was released.
It was a glorious combination of bad sound editing, wretched acting, terrible writing, obscene direction, gaping plot holes, and Microsoft Paint-level special effects. In other words, it was amazing…in a pure human curiosity sort of way.
Sort of like what the NHL Lockout has become.
With the cancellation of the Winter Classic, the NHL has gone from annoyingly absurd to a geniune birdemic.
When the Winter Classic debuted in 2008 in Buffalo, it was television gold. Sidney Crosby- the league’s equivalent to a top “fashion model” – playing in the snow on New Year’s Day.
With college football gradually moving their bigger bowl games later into the week of the New Year, the NHL very quickly took over as the prime attraction on a day that had been dominated by the gridiron for…oh…about 100 years.
Yes, on paper the Winter Classic is just a regular season game worth 2 points (or 3 in the case of the 2008 and 2010 games). However, in reality, the Winter Classic is the NHL’s Super Bowl. On a day when many people don’t have work and are inside fighting the cold or nursing their hangovers from the night before, the league gets basically the only daytime television spot worth anything at all.
Even last year’s Winter Classic (played on January 2nd), which was the lowest watched of the five, still brought in twice the audience of any other regular season NHL game last year.
If the NHL wants advertisement for its product and wants to keep selling it, the Winter Classic is it. The Stanley Cup Final might be the most important of all hockey events, but in terms of the bottom-line and engaging the casual fan, the Winter Classic is the lynchpin. It is the league’s showcase.
And so the NHL cancelled it. Two months ahead of time.
The centerpiece to the regular season. The single best way to engage a casual fan…and they cancelled it.
They shot the cash cow…as a negotiating tactic?
That makes about as much sense as birds divebombing into a house and exploding into balls of flame.
The NHL keeps firing an absurd amount of bullets like this and no one is really even sure where they got the guns. Pulling revenue for both themselves and the players off the table as a negotiating tactic? All this screams is, “We have no intention of playing hockey this season, so let’s go ahead and free up NBC to go find some Notre Dame doubles bowling tournament to air on New Years Day.”
At this point, any hope the NHL has of playing this season, they’ve all but flushed down the proverbial toilet. If somehow they manage to get the season underway, both sides have already used up their well of good will.
And, really, what better way is there to make sure the fans stick around and new fans get hooked than by killing the biggest date on the calendar?