Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Great Hockey Not Seen In U.S.

It seems that our neighbors to the north are spoiled in a way. The World Junior Men’s Hockey Championship will be seen in millions of Canadian homes between Canada and Russia. Even thousands if not millions of Russians will be glued to watch the Final on Thursday night. And the Americans, with our Football playoffs and eyes glued to the Rose Bowl tonight, will miss out on some great hockey.

Coverage of hockey in the States is steadily declining, while attendance at the stadiums rises. ESPN has all but ignored the sport, maybe wishing it will just go away. And Fox Sports/Comcast Sportsnet/and any other local sporting medium goes about business as usual, making sure to bump the hockey game if the local high school basketball team happens to be playing for 3rd place in some random tournament.

As the NHL tries to market itself around individuals like Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, it is quite obvious that they have made no headway by going with OLN in the States. The excuses are the same. “Well, when the baseball season/college football season/NFL season/college basketball season/NBA season is over then the fans will comeback.”

The States continue to ignore major sporting events. Given that the USA Juniors made a good run for a medal in the World juniors, and no one down here even knew that they were even playing. While future American NHL players gave their all, like Phil Kessel, Chris Bourque and others that played well got little to no recognition in the States. Maybe a 5 second blurb on ESPN’s Sportscenter.

So on Thursday night two giants will take the ice. Canada vs. Russia in the World Juniors Hockey Championship game. There is already an international rivalry that is heated and hard to ignore. There will be spectacular goals, great saves, and crushing hits. The two teams will make a lot of noise, while the United States will sleep soundly through it all. Can you blame us?

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