It took us almost two full weeks but we finally got to watch some hockey. Now granted it wasn’t the NHL, instead we witnessed the German Elite league as Addler Mannheim played Eisbaren Berlin on the ol’ German sports bar TV.
Saints be praised if that isn’t old time Oiler Fred "Freddy B" Brathwaite was suiting up in net for Mannheim! And doth our eyes deceive us — is that you Richie Regehr? Weren’t you a Flame last year? You must have gotten a sweet deal to cross the pond in pursuit of the puck but you weren’t really much of an impact player in this game either.
We couldn’t help but enjoy the trip down memory lane watching Brathwaite in between the pipes. And for a player that we calculate to be somewhere in his mid ’70s, he put on a decent performance. As we recall he was a decent tender in his time with the Oil and it’s cool to see he has found a second life in Germany.
Ads gone wild
The shocking thing about the German Elite league is the saturation of on ice marketing. They have logos everywhere on their jerseys, pants, helmets and have even tagged the referees. Not to be left out of the efforts to wring every possible marketing dollar out of the on-ice experience, the coaches of both teams rocked sponsor logos on their dress shirt collars. Is nothing sacred in this day and age?
The players also sport different colored helmets with different advertising logos. This has a very confusing effect for the close up shots of players in scrums and must be confusing for the players too.
Money vs. Quality
Short of tattooing logos on players’ heads or forcing Richie Reghyr to change his legal name to "Pepsi", the Germans are clearly focused on shifting league revenue away from being so reliant on on ticket sales.
We are of the mind that every revenue stream should be examined in this environment of a soft economy and incredibly high player salaries. We have also read about the ideas put forth to place ads on NHL jerseys and hadn’t really thought it would impact the game all to much, but having seen the extreme end result we can now safely count ourselves amongst the quasi-purists who think that advertising on jerseys is a slippery slope and needs to be approached with caution in the NHL.
The German fans are a spirited bunch, making far more noise than your average NHL game. It seems as though teams of every sport in Europe push some variety of noise maker on their fans to pump up the volume during the game. In Spain it was these awesome little horns that could be heard throughout the game. In Germany its some sort of noisemaker/drum that rocks the house.
One has wonder how much louder the average game would be at RX1 if everyone was strapped with a noise maker. Perhaps the Coyotes could issue a nuclear foghorn to each of the 168 fans in attendance in order to pump up their squad. In either case it dramatically ramps up the atmosphere in the game and should be pushed in ye olde NHL.
Mannheim potted a goal with less than a minute to play to win 4-3, after a flurry of impeccably clutch saves by Brathwaite in the final minutes of play. Though it lacked some of the high end skill plays and physical smashery of the NHL we have to say that this was a pretty good game. In fact we have made up our mind to go watch another match, this time live if the German beer doesn’t kill us first.
After all, if the Oilers are going to continue to slide we may have to make our own fun, like the pioneers did before fun was invented in 1878 in Cleveland, Ohio.