5 Questions during the playoffs (Bartl’s Blog)

Is there anything else on anyone’s mind reading this right now other than the ECHL and/or NHL Playoffs? I’ll start the summertime blogging-season off with five thoughts that are eating at me right now.

5) One game? Really??? Chris Kunitz threw a blatant elbow on Simon Gagne Monday night and I’m appalled that he only got one game. Watch the clip here and justify it to me. This was a dirty play and an intent to injure. Kunitz said it wasn’t intentional, but he must think I’m on a drug called Charlie Sheen to believe that.

My point is, what’s a one-game suspension going to do? That’s about 1% of his team’s games. It’s stupid. This should have been a minimum of 6 games. One game isn’t going to stop anyone from doing anything like this ever again. What a joke. Ratings are way up in the playoffs this season, that means that lots of new fans are finding out that throwing elbows is just a part of the game. And speaking of Kunitz, where is the outrage from Mario Lemieux about players not respecting the game as yet another Penguin highlight shows them dishing out a cheap shot?

4. Kings v. Sharks… are you kidding me? What a game last night, and what a series this has been. Last night’s ridiculous rally by the Sharks might give them a bit of a boost going into Game 4, while it most surely plants a seed in the back of the Kings heads about having a safe lead. I’m pulling for the winner of this series the rest of the way, and really wish this series was somewhere later than the first round. Last night’s game made me feel sorry for all my hockey-loving friends on the East Coast who probably shut it off after it was 4-0 L.A. around 11 p.m. and went to bed.

And by the way, where’s Joe Thornton been in the playoffs??? (After years of watching him, that’s not a question as much as it is a statement. He’s tied for 97th in playoff scoring and had one assist in last night’s barn-burner.)

3. Does anybody want to play Victoria in the Kelly Cup Playoffs? The Condors know about it all too well. It’s not just the fact that Victoria has a potential sleeper team that’s loaded with talent and ridiculously underachieved in the regular season yet again, but it’s also the fact that getting to Victoria isn’t easy. The Condors, anticipating a 50/50 chance that they could play the Salmon Kings in the first round, booked flights to Victoria 3 WEEKS before the end of the season. Even then, there was only one flight into cozy YYJ that would fit the entire team, and as luck would have it, they still didn’t use it.

And if you think the Condors travel up there was ridiculous, get this – some teams don’t ever fly into Victoria. Some fly into Seattle and take the bus/ferry combo that adds 5 to 7 hours onto their schedule, regardless of availability, just because it’s too expensive to fly (it could cost in the $20,000-$30,000 range for an entire team). And if one guy’s immigration isn’t right, his visa has another team’s name on it, CIS misspelled his name, he has an expired passport, or even if you have a European that’s not on the Canada-friendly-nation list, prepare to be hassled at the border – going in, and coming out. Have fun with that!

2. How will the Coyotes like Winnipeg? While playoff temperatures in Phoenix start inching closer to 90, and the sun is blazing in the desert sky, Winnipeggers are still digging themselves out of the snow and wearing coats to walk the dog. As it becomes more and more apparent that the Coyotes are bound for the Manitoba haven next season, just as they continue to battle the Wings in the first round, I can’t help but recall the irony of this article that came out in February in the Winnipeg Free Press, which at the time was hypothesizing that Atlanta was relocating North of the border.

Remember, this is the newspaper that ran several articles last year claiming that the Manitoba Moose “rescued” Dan Sextion from “obscurity” in “lowly” Bakersfield, taking credit for turning him into an NHLer, miraculously, in only five games. The whole piece was insulting to the Condors, insulting to the Ducks and insulting to the ECHL.

Now it’s Winnipeg that’s getting bashed by those at the next level about potentially toiling away in the freezing obscurity of their lowly town. And the Moose organization is left feeling like what they do and what they have in their town, while it isn’t paradise, is a special experience… and those high brows in the league above them are raining on their parade.

It’s a lousy feeling, isn’t it Winnipeg? We read the WFP, we’ve been there.

1. The NHL isn’t going to be on ESPN next season, but does anybody care? They shouldn’t. The league’s $200 million deal for 10 years equates to a great sign of what the NHL has done right over the recent years. The megalomaniacal ESPN couldn’t sway the NHL to come back, and I, for one, am happy. They had their chance, and I remember all too well the treatment that the league got from them.

Highlight packages of the night’s games were relegated to the ho-hum middle of each Sportscenter and usually consisted of one goal per game if you were lucky, and if you picked the wrong moment to use the bathroom you probably missed it. Half of their anchors couldn’t even pronounce players’ names correctly. They were embarrassing. Meanwhile their their complete, and I mean COMPLETE, ignoring of the game over the last six years has left me completely ignoring Sportscenter on a regular basis.

NBC’s interesting referral to a “major NBC Universal national cable channel” as an additional station to NBC and Versus (soon to be renamed by NBC) has me figuring that CNBC or MSNBC will be the other channel, similar to what they did for the Olympics. Read the release here. It kind of reminds me of when TNT picked up the NBA so long ago; it seemed really strange at the time and now TNT is a major cable network and it seems perfectly normal. When you think about the money that college football and basketball bring in, consider that the rumored value of a network deal with the Pac-12 has been valued at $220M. Putting the NHL contract on par with that sure makes it seem like a heck of a deal for Bettman & Co.


Kevin Bartl is the Vice President of Communications for the Condors and part of the broadcast team, entering his ninth season with the team. His blog will come out every Tuesday on BakersfieldCondors.com.