Too Much Hockey?
At some point, even Canada gets saturated with hockey.
That may be particularly true when winter turns to spring, hockey tryouts are over and people start looking outside for activity, rather than indoors to arenas or their TV sets.
Right now, hockey fans in the GTA are getting lots of all kinds of hockey, and the response is interesting.
The AHL Marlies are into the third round of the post-season, having crawled out of a 3-1 hole to beat Syracuse in seven games. But the bodies aren't flowing to Ricoh Coliseum, with some crowds less than 3,000 and most less than those the team was able to attract during the regular season.
Then there's the world championships in Halifax and Quebec City. Maybe folks are just too smart to pay attention to this thing before it gets rolling, which is tomorrow with the quarterfinals. But, outside of the two host cities, you can't say there's lots of buzz in the air about this event, and afternoon game times are going to mean TV numbers won't be anywhere as significant as desired. The crowds have been solid, but not great or record-setting, as some had hoped.
In the U.S., meanwhile, this event isn't on the radar.
The AHL and the worlds are both operating, at least in Canada, under the shadow of the NHL playoffs. Interestingly, the most dominant team so far, the Detroit Red Wings, is drawing lots of attention for all the empty seats at its home games, quite probably the direct result of an economic downturn and loss of jobs in the Motor City.
A Detroit-Pittsburgh Stanley Cup final looks to be in the cards, and that could be an attractive matchup that should generate some attention. But it certainly also becomes a very regional matchup, and this has traditionally become the time when enthusiasm for the NHL product begins to fade, particularly as the days increase between games.
Starting next weekend, meanwhile, the Memorial Cup in Kitchener will start vying for attention, and at least the worlds will be over by Sunday, clearing the decks to some degree.
All of this hockey action takes place at a time when news organizations are watching their nickels and dimes more than ever, often withholding coverage of events that were once covered automatically because of costs.
Something's gotta give. Or, at least, something's not going to get the attention it deserves, or wants.