Friday, September 24, 2004

OSHL not a panacea for the hockey fan!

It would seem that the hockey fans of Southern Ontario are voting with their feet regarding the fledgling Original stars Hockey League. After a debut last week in Barrie with a rather large crowd of lookey loos, the league has seen attendance tumble drastically. A situation that seemingly has led to a cancellation of a number of “pre-season games” (aren’t all these games pre-season??) and rumblings that the league may not last until its October regular season debut.

The league attracted some interest at the early stages but with ticket prices as high as 60 dollars the value of the product has gone wanting. While a few well known names have put their talents to use with the circuit, for the most part it’s still a collection of rather average players apparently out for a skate.

With no hitting involved and the rather frantic offensive display at hand the true hockey fan will quickly take a pass on this version of glorified shinny. There are many options for the hockey fan to take in if they need a fix, the Junior leagues across Canada, the always overlooked but very competitive Canadian University scene and even minor hockey in your own hometown. To pay sixty bucks to sit in a rink and watch some public skating seems to be something out of the books of P. T. Barnum.

The concept was interesting at the start, but once the product took to the ice it really didn’t seem to resemble hockey as most of us know and love it. While most would gladly do without some of the goonery that has infected the pro game of late, there is still a great admiration for a solid check, keeping a player honest in the slot and taking the body at the blue line. None of which is going to happen in an OSHL match.

Jes Golbez offers up some useful suggestions in a well done piece on his website. Suggesting some points for the OSHL to consider, fixing up its product and getting back on track. And while they’re rather helpful, for me, the prospect of watching NHL “stars” going through the motions at inflated ticket prices would prove to be a losing situation for the players, even if they’re donating “some” of the money to charity.

If I were Bob Goodenow I might suggest to the membership to take a pass on the fledgling circuit. It’s bad enough for the union that the public is starting to buy the owner’s line that the players are overpaid, a few weeks of no contact rec hockey at 60 bucks a pop won’t help the argument that they’re greedy as well.

While potentially a nice idea harkening back to the days of pond hockey, the reality is that the OSHL has all the indications of a pure cash grab. Better to go watch some honest hard hitting hockey at your local University or check out a Junior A game, they play a fast paced, hard hitting brand of hockey that is available for viewing for much less than the OSHL road show. If you like hockey as it should be played, that would be the better investment for the family entertainment funds.

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