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Campbell's Cuts: Plenty of hype... and empty seats

The NHL's head office will have you believe that it doesn't have a serious attendance problem, but one need look no further than Monday night to see just how bad things are.

That was the night the league rolled out its premier matchup when Sidney Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins visited Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. The league pumped up the rivalry between the league's two most explosive young players and even the players themselves played along by talking about how they get up for the games against one another.

Then an “announced” crowd of 14,793 showed up at the Verizon Center in Washington for the game. That's 3,500 empty seats – a couple thousand more if you go by the actual number and not the “announced” attendance – for perhaps the most anticipated game of the season.

We shouldn't be surprised. After all, fans in Washington have the chance to see Ovechkin every game for the much improved Capitals and they're averaging “announced” crowds of just 12,988 per game.

MAKES ME CHOKE, TOO: Not sure what's more disturbing – that a hockey parent choked his kid's coach to the point of near-unconsciousness and was fined only $2,000 or the fact his lawyer tried to portray him as a “decent person,” and a “gentle giant,” and that he was, “a little disappointed that it wasn't a discharge.”

Bradley Desrocher received a $2,000 fine and no jail time for choking his son's volunteer coach, Mark Teskey, after Teskey informed Desrocher's eight-year-old son that he would be benched for missing some practice time in January of 2005.

The court heard that Desrocher was depressed over the recent death of his father and was sleep deprived after arriving home from a family trip at the time of the incident. Desrocher's lawyer said his client had been “dragged into a situation that is very frightening.”

“Brad Desrocher is not the angry hockey dad,” lawyer Todd White told reporters. “He's not that poster child for the angry hockey parent.”

Say what!? If this guy is not the poster child for the angry hockey parent, then I pity the poor minor hockey coach out there who is saddled with the parent who is. This man CHOKED his son's coach, for heaven's sake. Would he have choked his son's teacher for giving him a detention? Would he have choked his son's Cub leader for making him sit in the corner?

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One of THN's senior writers, Ken Campbell gives you insight and opinion on the world of hockey like no one else. Subscribe to The Hockey News to get Ken's expertise delivered to you every issue.



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