1) Many a hockey fan have been complaining about the lack of drama/intensity of the Stanley Cup playoffs thus far this spring. We'd have to agree with this assessment. Some have said it could be the matchups have been partly the reason? We disagree with that. Some of the playoffs pairings have traditionally produced great series: Detroit-Colorado/Dallas, NYR-Pittsburgh, Boston-Montreal. Phily-Pitt. All of the aforementioned series from days gone by have produced classic/intense/interesting series. None, in our opinion have been worth remembering this spring. We'd guess that unless you're a fan of Detroit or Pittsburgh, you'd agree with that?
2) Now, we know that traditionally there is far less fighting in the post season than in the regular campaign, but when you see that there have been SIX, yes SIX fighting majors in an astounding 76 playoff games played this spring!! Six! Come on! We understand how much Bettman hates to be embarrassed by this aspect of the game, especially during nationally televised games when hundreds are watching on Versus, but we feel ultimately this will further erode the NHL's dwindling popularity.
3) Sure game 3 of the Pens-Flyers series drew an above average TV audience, but anyone want to guess why? Well, probably like us at FAUXRUMORS, non Pennsylvania viewers thought they'd see an old time rock-em, sock-em affair between the two in-state rivals. They figured we'd see a few scraps as the Flyers, in front of their own fans, try to turn the series around and force the pens to play their game. Well, what did we see? Same old crappy, low intensity games. To paraphrase Joe McGrath (Strother Martin) from SlapShot fame: " We're losing.... The fans came to see the Flyers not these puss-ies.....".
4) Sadly, we doubt we'll see a change to this trend any time soon. As our friends over at "twominutesforblogging" wrote the other day: why would John Stevens ever put out some toughness to send a message these days? We all know Collie and Gary have put the word out that message-sending will not be tolerated in their playoffs. True enough. Gary is afraid that one of these end of game melees may become a black eye for the NHL. Message for Bettman: The folks who hate hockey because of fighting wouldn't like it even if there was ZERO fighting, so why try to placate this minority at the expense of the majority?
5) AS TMFB also wrote, and we agree: "...It's too late. The NHL has spoken and we will get a snooze fest for a Stanley Cup final. Shoot, no one in Detroit even cares anymore. Empty seats for playoff games???" While many are saying its the Michigan economy that's to blame for the empty seats at The Joe, we can't help but believe that a component to the issue is also the type of game the Wings play. With a roster that is 75% European, they play what many describe as the classic boring, opportunistic, for the most part, passion-less European brand of game. While we can't blame them for implementing this successful approach, we can blame the NHL/Bettman for allowing it to take root and thrive.