NHL lockout proves ESPN’s Doria right; hockey doesn’t generate ‘national discussion’

I was listening to sports talk radio while driving yesterday, and I was stunned to hear talk about hockey.

On Mad Dog Radio, Chris Russo actually was fielding calls about the NHL lockout. Fans were complaining about the owners, the players, Gary Bettman, etc.

I listen to a lot of sports talk radio in Chicago and via SiriusXM, and it was the first time I heard discussion about the NHL lockout (NHL Home Ice excluded). In Chicago, a great hockey town where the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010, the chatter is all about the Bears and White Sox battling Detroit in the AL Central.

Of course, I might have missed some segments about the Hawks and the lockout locally and elsewhere.

Still, it is in stark contrast to the outrage that dominated sports talk radio during the NFL and NBA labor troubles.

The lack of discussion about the NHL lockout would seem to validate Vince Doria’s view of hockey. Back in May, in an interview with me, the ESPN senior vice-president and director of news took heat for his comments about the NHL’s limited presence on SportsCenter.

He said:

It’s a sport that engenders a very passionate local following. If you’re a Blackhawks fan in Chicago, you’re a hardcore fan. But it doesn’t translate to television, and where it really doesn’t transfer much to is a national discussion, which is something that typifies what we do.

Baseball fans are interested where Albert Pujols is going. NBA fans are interested in the Miami Heat. For whatever reason, and this is my unsubstantiated research on it, hockey doesn’t generate that same kind of interest nationwide. You look at national talk shows. Hockey rarely is a topic. People in Boston aren’t that interested with what’s going on with the Blackhawks.

Is Doria right? Just listen to sports talk radio and tell me if you hear much talk about the NHL lockout.


7 thoughts on “NHL lockout proves ESPN’s Doria right; hockey doesn’t generate ‘national discussion’

  1. I somewhat disagree. I think it is more that the hosts have no clue about hockey and their producers are screening those calls out. Have you ever heard intelligent hockey talk? Certainly not from Chris Russo. Here in New York, there is no one other than Dan LeGreco who can talk hockey and that’s your No. 1 media market.

  2. You can’t argue that in the US, the NHL Lockout flies under the radar, which is totally understandable when you consider where we are on the sports calendar. Baseball is gearing up for the playoffs, college & NFL football are getting started, and the NBA will be here before you know it.

    Plus, it’s not like general sports fans are interested in the details of this struggle. Do they really want to hear about the fluctuating price of jet fuel and its impact on team expenses? I don’t think so.

  3. I think this argument ignores the fact that many hockey fans(myself included) don’t watch/listen to programs that don’t cover hockey. Does sports center not cover hockey because hockey fans don’t watch or do hockey fans not watch because there is no hockey coverage. I personally almost never watch espn because I don’t care about the NFL, NBA, or Nascar. I believe that if hockey fans knew they would see more coverage of the NHL than of hotdog eating contest, they might bother to watch national sports programs.

  4. I think it’s due to the fact that fat Uhmericans like fat people sports like football where you’re paid to be a fat wall, or baseball where you don’t really have to do much of anything asides stand there and chew and spit like a cow chewing cud or a llama perhaps. If you can eat a hotdog whilst playing the sport, that’s liberty, justice, and freedumb. Fat sports interests fat people.

  5. Sounds to me like a self fulfilling prophecy. Plain and simple. Hockey fans deserve more and trust me, they recognize damn well the shaft that comes from ESPN year in and year out.

  6. The lack of discussion on the NHL lockout is the result of producers around the media not being hockey fans. It is ridiculous that the NFL refs get more coverage than the NHL lockout. It’s a shame really, in any other profession these producers would be fired for promoting their own interests. Wait a minute, what the hell am I talking about? I must have forgotten about MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, etc, etc, etc…

  7. I love how ESPN downplays the national audience of the NHL yet brazenly tries to shove European soccer down our throats. ESPN can make a game more popular by how they cover it, and the fact that John Skipper is purposely trying to raise the soccer profile in the US is proof.

    The ratings for the NHL are generally about 3-4 times lower than that of the NBA. Based on the way they cover the latter you’d think the difference was far, far greater.

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