As I joked over at PPP last week, I've been riding a streak of several attempted comments over at Damien Cox's "blog" being rejected by moderators. That streak ended today, and then some -- with Cox actually responding to my comment directly.
You can read his original post (about today's Harris-Decima survey that suggest that most Canadian want fighting banned, but most NHL fans support it), my comment, and replies from him and others here. The actual survey report is here (.PDF link).
Beyond hilariously referring to me as "Mr. Brown" several times, Damien makes a few points I'll respond to.
Damien here. . .interesting that Mr. Brown accuses me of failing to go into sufficient depth. Then again, he says fighting "has been on the decline for 15 years." Not really. It's up 24 per cent from last season.So the past 15 years can be summed up by referencing a trend that's one year old? I stand by my "not enough depth" accusation.
But fine, let's look at the stats, courtesy of hockeyfights.com. Fighting is up this year, and has been trending up the past three seasons. But that's largely due to an enormous drop post-lockout.
But remember that fighting tends to decrease towards the end of the season, as games become crucial. You would expect fighting numbers to be high mid-season. Let's wait and see how they look at the end of the year.
And of course, the hockeyfight.com numbers only go back to 2001. I made reference to the last 15 years. While I can't find any stats on fighting frequency in 1993, I feel pretty safe in saying it was significantly higher than even this season's numbers. If anyone can point to the numbers and they prove me wrong, I'll be glad to eat some crow.
Also, you'll always notice that the pro-fighting crowd, when it doesn't get the answer it wants, simply disenfranchises people. Don Cherry will say if you didn't play pro hockey, well, it's none of your business. Mr. Brown, on the other hand, gives more weight to the thoughts of those who identify themselves as NHL fans, dismissing other respondents.Yes, I think the NHL should pay more attention to fans than non-fans. Like any business, you look after your customer base first. Is this really controversial?
Put it this way: When they do various customer satisfaction surveys, does the Toronto Star care more about the opinions of long-time subscribers, or Toronto Sun readers? This is just Business 101. It's always nice to expand your audience. You don't risk losing your current customers to do it.
What would have been nice is a followup question to the survey: Would you be more or less likely to watch the NHL if fighting was banned. That would have given us some real data to chew on.
What would the answer have been? I don't know, but I'm willing to bet that the NHL has done similar customer research. The fact that Gary Bettman says banning fighting isn't even up for discussion might give you some clue as to the results they got.
Finally, he talks about success in U.S. markets, or the lack thereof. Again, given that fighting has always been part of the NHL game, we don't know how fans in certain U.S. cities would respond to a league that didn't have fighting. We sure know their lukewarm at best about the NHL with fighting as part of the package.No, we don't know how fans would respond to a league without fighting. But this argument could be applied to any rule change.
Would fans like the NHL better if the nets were 15-feet wide and the games were played two-on-two? No? Well, how do you know that?
This seems like a pretty transparent ploy by the anti-fighting side. "Just give it a try," they say, "and see how fans respond". What they don't say, of course, is that once fighting is banned in the NHL it will never come back. Even significantly rolling back the instigator rule seems all but impossible now. Imagine if the NHL banned fights and found that fan interest plummeted -- do we really believe Damien and friends would accept a return of fighting?