In reading this Alexander Ovechkin profile in the NYT’s Magazine, I was struck by this line:
He is such a powerful skater that he can cover the distance from the blue line to the goal in just a couple of strides, and scores a lot of goals simply by barreling down the left side, dangling the puck for an instant, the way Mark Messier used to, and then snapping off a wrist shot that is one of the hardest in the game.
I dunno; something about having to compare one of the most compelling players in the game today to a guy most people reading will only remember because of what he did in 1994 tells me the sport has a long way to go.
You know:Â “Remember the last time you cared about hockey, there was this guy Mark Messier? This new guy might remind you of him in some ways. Will you please watch?”
Despite the game being faster, more explosive and a greater display of athleticism than ever before, we’re still stuckÂ hearkeningÂ back to ye olde days to try to recapture what little glory the sport gained in before the mid-way point of the 90s. Kind of depressing.
Also, I’m drawn to a (maybe) weak comparison between the NHL and the Detroit automakers. Not that the NHL ever had the dominance the Big Three had, but somewhere along the way, the broader market got lost. With the Big Three, quality and fuel economy are obvious points. With the NHL, the trap, poorly thought-out expansion and the Lockout were big. In both cases, both loyalists and casual consumers turned away with a sense of betrayal.
For both, maybe working on appealing to the younger set, rather than the older one that remembers the problems, will led to a return. Less “This guy’s today’s Wayne Gretzky/Mark Messier” and more “Look at our game today. Faster, more physical and more skilled top-to-bottom than ever before.” Or something.
Anyway. This turn out to be longer than I intended. </pensive post>