Like it or not, NHL players like Matt Cooke and Sean Avery are worth big money to the National Hockey League.
We all no doubt remember the hit Cooke threw on the Bruins’ Marc Savard that left the Bruins center with a career-threatening concussion. We also will not forget Sean Avery, with his unorthodox goalie screenings, and his brain-in-neutral, mouth-in-drive interviews. Both have been suspended. Both have found themselves at the receiving end of verbal abuse in visiting NHL arenas.
Both are worth millions to the NHL.
Say what? Yes, you read me correctly. Players like Cooke and Avery are worth more to the NHL in the business sense than we will ever know. Part of the grand old tradition of hockey is the right for fans to come and vocally show their opinions on the agitators and goons of the NHL. Put simply, players like Cooke and Avery put fans in the seats of the arenas they visit. As hockey players, their antics and cheap hits are not acceptable. But in this new NHL, where it’s all about business and less about hockey (see the Phoenix disaster in the desert), like it or not, these players play a huge role in a team’s bottom line.
What Bruins fan would boycott a Penguins game when Cooke comes to town? Do we really believe that because of the hit on Savard, a tried and true Bruins fan would stay away from the Boston-Pittsburgh game and pass up a chance to verbally abuse public enemy #1? Or would more fans attend, given the fact the ticket in their hand gives them the chance to heap displeasure upon the agitator who wears #24 for the Pittsburgh Penguins? Of course, anyone who has been around hockey for any length of time knows the chance for trash talk is golden and worth the price of admission.
Hometown fans cheer their agitators. Opposing fans go to the games to abuse them. But like it or not, these kinds of players bring big bucks to every rink they visit…if only for the chance to see what kind of trouble these players will cause next.
It’s a different NHL, that’s for sure.