Saw this at
BloodyDisgusting.com Spawn.com...good read
Stanley Cup for Calgary, it's only fair
The Arizona Republic
May. 23, 2004 12:00 AM
On the back of Canada's $5 bill, four boys are playing hockey on a frozen pond.
There is no such passion on our currency, much less our television ratings.
This is why the Calgary Flames must win the Stanley Cup Finals. This is why they must beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in a series that will struggle to draw an American yawn.
With the NHL perhaps about to go dark due to a work stoppage, it would do well if the trophy were to loiter in Canada and help ease a decade of depression - and brighten a murky future.
Poor Canada hasn't raised the Cup since Montreal won it all in 1993. It hasn't played for the Cup since Vancouver lost it all in 1994. For more than a decade, the game has been slipping from the national grasp, and we are at the root of all problems.
So if America didn't have enough global enemies, you can add another to the list. Maybe not in a diplomatic sense, but in the visceral, "Hey hoser, you stole my culture," kind of way. This indignation may come as a surprise to many, seeing that we buy their beer and cheer for Mike Weir. But try standing in their snowshoes.
Hockey was born in their country. It matters to a higher percentage of Canadian citizens than football does in the United States. There, the passion truly lives, and yet here, on our soil, is where the game slowly dies.
The NHL's new television deal is proof. It will give games to NBC for free. The $60 million a year it receives from ESPN is half the amount of its previous contract.
These chilling figures coincide perfectly with reckless American expansion, and this is how feelings get bruised, dating all the way to when a Canadian treasure was pawned off to a Los Angeles coin collector.
With our savage love of celebrity, the glittering Wayne Gretzky landed in Hollywood the way a comet hits earth. The NHL soon burst from 21 to 30 teams, with franchises popping up in the strangest places, including those where liquor is still made in bathtubs.
Without Gretzky in LA, hockey wouldn't have made its way to Nashville, Charlotte and Columbus, bringing along a blueprint for financial disaster.
Canadian teams reap much of their revenue in Canadian dollars, yet they pay players in American dollars. They pay American dollars in 24 of 29 road cities. And while we're spanking them with exchange rates, they've faced heavier tax burdens and zero public support when building new arenas.
The Coyotes migrated from Winnipeg. The Quebec Nordiques moved to Denver. The Ottawa Senators nearly went bankrupt. Today, Canada has six teams left, even though they contribute more than half the league's players.
If this weren't embarrassment enough, the Expos are being yanked out of Montreal and the NBA moved a team from Vancouver - a sparkling cosmopolitan city - to Memphis, better known as the curators of Elvis, the great American icon.
Meanwhile, their icon - the great Gretzky - goes from one ugly American (former Kings owner Bruce McNall was convicted of fraud) to a partner (Steve Ellman) who may not be paying his bills. It's all a terrible blow for a country mad with hockey, and for now, there is only one solution: