Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Rising Tide of Southeast Divsion Hockey

ESPN columnist Damien Cox posted an article the other day titled, "Why the Southeast is worth watching." It's a bit inconclusive, but still a good read. He spends a bit of time at the end of the piece waffling on the future of hockey in places like Washington, the ATL and Tampa. He does provide a mildly optimistic take on the future of Hockey in our beloved Raw-Lay. Yup, it's good to be the champs.

Attendance across the league last season was record setting. Many pundits believe this season will be more trying for clubs in markets not deemed historically hockey-rabid. After nearly 11 years of sellouts in Denver, they're not a lock to sell out any more. Los Angeles has been the home to the Kings for decades - decades that included a love-fest with The Great One. Already this season, the Kings recorded their lowest game attendance in seven years. And despite a surprisingly strong start for the ill-led Blackhawks, crickets still rule in the United Center.

It is kind of nice to see the doubters and self-professed purists start to turn away from the ragging the Southeast and start obsessing about the doom and gloom they see in store for hockey in the expansion markets of the 60's and 70's.

I remain bullish on hockey in the Southeast. I think hockey has turned the corner down south just as hockey in more northern climes has started to tank. I acknowledge that Hockey in Miami still remains problematic, but the Thrash, Canes, 'Ning and Craps are all worth TIVO-ing on a nightly basis. Yeah, the Bruins, Flyers, Leafs, and Islanders have proud traditions, but they all stink and aren't getting any better very soon. Success generates momentum. Failure let Charles Wang into hockey. Nobody is gonna remain loyal to a loser (Cubs-fan the noted exception). As Cox says in the article, winners and rising stars make the NHL Southeast the place where fans ought to be spending their time and passion.

I think it would be great if we could find a way to give voice to the emerging hockey culture and the budding rivalries developing across in the Southeast Division. Wouldn't it be great to create a din about all things hockey-south - a din so loud and so juiced that it could put and end to all the slings and arrows that fly out of Narnia, New York and Leaf-Nation, CA whenever envy and ignorance make them want to piss on the celebration of hockey down south?

That din is coming. More tomorrow. You have been pulsed.

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