Monday, January 27, 2003

Deserving All The Suffering He Gets

Last Friday, JB Doubtless and I attended the Hugh Hewitt on Ice event sponsored by local Twin Cities radio station AM 1280 The Patriot at the Parade Ice Gardens in Minneapolis. I've been a listener of Hugh's show for at least the last year or so and I've often heard him mock the Patriot's promotion director Jay Larson for his less than inspired promotional events. Now I know why.

It wasn't all bad. The sponsors (spelled SOR not SER unlike the hockey jerseys supplied by the Patriot) were great and the pizza was good and plentiful. As were the beverages although if I had my druthers it would have been on over twenty one event with cold beer in the cooler. Hugh was a gracious and accommodating host and he took the time to talk to fans and pose for pictures.

But the setting was lame. Instead of being on one of the two full sized ice sheets at Parade the event was held on a mini-ice surface used for practice and three on three games. There was little room for the crowd to watch the goings-on and in order for the players to reach the ice surface they had to fight their way through us trying not step on anyone's feet with their skate blades. We didn't even stick around to watch the celebrity game for the thought of any kind of real hockey action taking place on that rink was absurd. By the way anyone in the crowd could have told you that Jack Carlson was not in the movie 'Slap Shot', as Hugh had erroneously been informed he was. It's called homework.

Having the event at the Xcel Energy Center and maybe tying it in with the Minnesota Wild somehow could have been spectacular. Perhaps it was a bit outside of the Patriot's limited budget but I can think of ten other local arenas that would have provided a better environment. This could have been a wonderful opportunity to show a hockey novice like Hugh (and his national audience) why hockey is the greatest game in the world and why Minnesota is a hotbed of American hockey. Instead it only reinforced his conceptions of us living in a winter wasteland with nothing to do and of the utter inability of the Patriot to pull off a well run promotion. He's right on with the latter notion.

The only good thing about the location was that we were able to head over to another rink at Parade and watch a good high school hockey game between Benilde-St. Margarets and Shattuck-St. Marys which featured the 15 year old phenom Sydney Crosby from Nova Scotia who has been labeled the "next Gretzky". He did not disappoint as he tallied five points and made a number of dazzling passes in leading Shattuck to a 7-2 victory.