With the Sean Avery/Darcy Tucker incident front and center, ESPN.com's Damien Cox asks this very question...
"...It is, after all, arguably the biggest debate in the game today: Does violence, and the threat of violence, attract fans and viewers? Or does it turn them off?....
...There are those, of course, who love this stuff, and point to the headlines and highlights and suggest it whips up excitement and interest for the game. It certainly appeals to the pro wrestling/Jerry Springer crowd, the bloodthirsty, always-ready-for-revenge, reality-TV types who love it when an angry woman digs her claws into the face of her husband's mistress while a studio audience cheers.
But does it really help the NHL grow? Does it help the league expand its reach beyond hard-core fans in Canada -- a market of 33 million people, fewer than California -- and the regional pockets across the United States that traditionally have supported the league and the sport?..."
...this is a very difficult question for us hockey enthusiasts. An incident such as this bring loads of publicity for the game in arena's that it normally would not (I think I actually heard Mike & the Mad Dog mention the word hockey the other day). But at the same time is any publicity good publicity for a sport that has already taken hits from the Bertuzzi/Moore and Simon/Hollweg incidents.
..in my opinion. I like the publicity. For a sport who's ratings are lower than poker, I say take what you can get.
...the problem some people have with hockey is that the players are faceless. The league doesn't promote individuals. When these incidents happen, the public gets personal knowledge about these players. It might not be positive, but at least its something.
..now I'm not saying that the NHL should turn into the WWF, I'm just saying that if the league's not going to promote itself then they should at least take advantage of the publicity, albeit negative, that they get from incidents such as this. What do you think?