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>The State of Hockey

27 July 2007

>(In this case, state meaning mode or condition of being, not one of the constituent units of a nation having a federal government.)

What’s going on in Duluth?


3 years ago, the Bulldogs went to the Frozen Four. Now, the broadcast has been dumped by WDIO-TV. (See the DNT article here.) I know we sucked hardcore the past few years, but I didn’t think it was that hardcore. Of course, it’s not like ticket sales were any better than the TV ratings.

The WDIO-TV station manager, Dave Poirer, says “Advertisers aren’t interested in supporting UMD hockey broadcasts.” Wow. That’s a powerful statement. That shows that the community businesses in Duluth are seeing that Bulldog hockey isn’t reaching enough of an audience to warrant their money. (I should point out that the article says that advertisers are turning to the internet instead. I think the idea that internet advertising is more effective than television or radio advertising is a fallacy. I understand that it’s much cheaper to have some robot Photoshop you a print ad than it is to hire actual humans to record a commercial. However, as a consumer of the internet, television, and to a lesser extent, radio, I have never clicked on a banner ad in my freaking life, except by accident, but I am occasionally swayed by actual commercials, mostly because they are much less avoidable, and then I suddenly find myself wanting a DQ Blizzard RIGHT FREAKING NOW. I mean, Rhino Lining gets free advertising from me(!) from my stat counter at the bottom of this page, and they haven’t sponsored great hockey hits in like two years, but I remember Kerry Rodd saying “Beau Geisler with a Rhino Lining hit!” etc. And who among us did not dream of owning an ARGO after seeing the UAA broadcast? But no one asked me, did they? I’m only a CONSUMER!) In other words, less people care about Bulldog hockey, and it shows. Evidently, the station lost money on the broadcasts, although I don’t know if that’s in comparison with what they would have made if they had shown reruns of Walker: Texas Ranger or if it costs more to produce the broadcast than they were making in actual dollars. (REMEMBER, I am your consumer advocate! Always on the lookout for faux-Dogs and television station propaganda!)

The bright spot is that a deal is in the works for the games to be shown on Charter Cable instead. Charter already shows games from other WCHA teams, and seriously, even the fat cats like the Gophers, Badgers, and Fighting Sioux are on cable. And really, only trolls under bridges don’t have cable, and they can always listen to Bruce Ciskie if they can get reception. I’m sure that the RWD team will probably be disheartened to hear this, as they always enjoy watching tDogs during their deer-hunting pilgrimage, but after last year’s Gopher debacle, I think it’s probably better for the health of the RWD correspondents if they don’t see those games when they are deep into their brandy slushes or whatever the heck they are drinking up there. (tDogs are actually off on deer hunting opener this year, anyway.)

A forum on the DNT website shows public opinion on WDIO’s move, as does tPenalty Box forum. (It should be noted that the first posted on the DNT site, “Donna C.” is NOT me, but I was totally creeped out by this faux-me and for a moment thought I might have posted in my sleep, then thought someone was impersonating me, but then I became rational again.) Fans on tPB seem cautiously optimistic about the Charter Cable deal, but disheartened by the greater implication of waning support in the community. Over at the DNT, it’s a different story, with people preferring college football, hating Duluth, hating Sandelin, hating the President, calling tDogs terrorists, reminding us there is “parody” in the league (ALIVE AND WELL ON RWD!!!!!!!!!), insulting the student section, reminding us we haven’t had a winning season since 1992 (????), complaining about oil prices, calling the Gophers worthless (superb!), and supporting the Dogs. It’s kind of all over the map, with no real consensus.

My personal opinion on the matter (WHICH YOU WERE ALL DYING FOR, I KNOW, YOU’RE JUST SITTING THERE BITING YOUR NAILS IN SUSPENSE) is that the TV situation isn’t the problem. It’s sad they got dumped by WDIO, but it seems like Charter will come in and work things out. The real issue is what troubles me: support in the community is waning, and that is sad. And I don’t understand it, either. It’s not like the Bulldogs have gone from perennial contenders to bottom-feeders. The true Bulldog understands there’s more ebb than flow to the Bulldogs’s season. Hello, the true Minnesota sports fan IN GENERAL understands this, as we have suffered through the same woes throughout the years with the Twins, the Vikings, the North Stars, the Wild, those basketball teams, etc. It’s just how we are brought up. We endure the chill of the winters and the agony of defeat. Sure, you could say Gopher hockey is consistently successful, but really, that’s a very small part of Minnesota sports. And then I’d counter with GOPHER FOOTBALL and GOPHER BASKETBALL and then you would be very quiet.

This also brings back the DECC issue. The community supported the projected, and the legislature killed it. That’s pretty depressing. But let’s pretend that tDECC actually gets built in the near future. Is it going to revitalize the community, bringing people back to the Bulldogs games, bringing more top recruits to the team, and bringing us a NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP? Or is it going to be a novelty that wears off after a season or two, leaving the city and the team back at square one, with a huge bill to pay? Yikes. Now I’m starting to sound like a Doomsday prophet. That’s not going to happen. The Dogs will rebound from these past few seasons, we’ll be back at the Final Five and back in the NCAA tournament within a few years. DECC or no DECC, TV or no TV, hell or highwater. And THAT is the end of the story.

Take care of yourselves, and each other.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. 27 July 2007 2:44 pm

    >What seems more pathetic to me is that UMD hockey is struggling in a city considered “up north”. What the hell?!?! People up there are supposed to live and die hockey and that’s what they’re pulling on your dogs? Lame, just lame.I, for one, think it’s better to cheer for the underdog team. The wins seem to mean more and we tend to see more passion from our players. Sure, it would be easy to jump on the bandwagon of a “better” team, but what fun is that? Only the strong cheer for the underdog teams:)Tell Duluth to get it’s head out of it’s ass and start supporting Bulldog Hockey! Even Kato is coming around to support the Mavs, so there’s no doubt in my mind that Duluth could do it too.

  2. 28 July 2007 12:01 am

    >You mean “start supporting Bulldog hockey again,” because there once was much more community support. Mankato is relatively new to D-1, so their situation is a little different than Duluth’s, but your principle is the same.I agree about cheering for the underdog, though it will send me to an early grave.

  3. 28 July 2007 2:01 pm

    >That’s truly disappointing news, RWD. There are only 3 ways they can get things turned around up there: 1. Fire Sandelin and start anew (not going to happen anytime soon) 2. Cheat (take a chance on giving some cash to some big Canadien kids and hope the NCAA doesn’t find out) or 3. Build a new DECC. With this lack of interest up in Duluth I don’t think we can expect any of these to happen soon.

  4. 28 July 2007 3:49 pm

    >Tough break, RWtD. However, I’m going to disagree on a minor part of your statement.You said that the Minnesota pro teams have an ebb and flow like tUMD. I disagree. The Bulldogs have fared better more recently than the Vikings and T-puppies. What Minnesota pro teams (and Minnesota Gopher football by extension) are expected to do is to be mediocre. Then, when they do even slightly better (like the Twins winning the AL Central when 2 out of those 3 titles were done because the AL Central was one of the weakest in the majors) everyone celebrates. It’s like Glen Mason claiming victory by getting to the whateverthehell Toilet Bowl every year. The Wild and Vikings aren’t any different. Well, the T-puppies get a pass because they have the NBA’s version of Matt Millen as GM. The coaching staff can only do so much with Kevin Garnett and a bunch of rookies and overpaid crap.Anyways, I think the Bulldogs will do better than the T-puppies this year. I think the waning support is because the same fans of the Vikings root for the Bulldogs (if the Vikes rule, they pack the house. If they suck, cricket-ville). Heck, even the Twins suffer from that sometimes.For the life of me I can’t understand why Sandelin hasn’t put it together more than once. He was an amazing coach with UND and did a LOT of our recruiting. If he is fired, I’m positive he’ll end up back coaching in hockey somewhere.

  5. 28 July 2007 7:51 pm

    >I LOVE UMD.Guess who?

  6. 29 July 2007 3:25 am

    >Mike Curry?


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