By Andre Lodder
Ever heard of the East Coast bias? Sport leagues and media outlets are often accused of it, and often that’s because it exists.
It’s no secret, really. The concept involves organizations such as the National Hockey League and its media outlets having biased viewpoints in favour of eastern teams.
In a world where the dollar reigns supreme, the bias is almost justifiable.
There are a few variables that lead to this inequality, one of them being that the NHL is simply trying to make as much money as possible.
From the NHL’s standpoint, directing most of the attention to the eastern teams makes sense. More teams mean more fans, and more fans means more money.
Only eight of the 30 teams in the NHL lie in the west. With Winnipeg and Dallas being right in the middle, that leaves 20 teams in the east.
What the league’s commissioner, Gary Bettman, seemingly fails to recognize is that the western teams, specifically Canadian teams — the Oilers, Flames and Canucks — are like lotto tickets that always have the right numbers, a cash guarantee.
Bettman isn’t the only one who’s guilty of the bias — some western fans are also upset with how their teams have been represented in the media.
Media outlets such as NHL.com, the league’s official website, direct most of their attention towards eastern teams for the same reasons the NHL does — the fans.
For example, if it were up to the NHL.com analysts, the All-Star Game would be heavy with eastern players. One day prior to the actual selection for the All-Star Game, the analysts released their version of the roster and 61 per cent of it consisted of players representing eastern teams, including nine of their 12 selected defencemen.
It doesn’t stop with giving eastern teams more attention. Catering to the fans is understandable, but questions have been raised as to whether the NHL is swinging games to make them more entertaining.
John Tortorella, the coach of the New York Rangers was recently fined for accusations made toward the NHL and its referee’s for trying to extend the Winter Classic into overtime for entertainment purposes.
Tortorella later apologized and retracted those accusations but was still given a fine worth $30,000.
Despite what Bettman seems to think, the NHL’s focus should be on building the presence and appreciation for hockey in North America, not sacrificing the integrity of the NHL to make a good buck.
With the integrity of a national sports league in question, it might be time for the NHL to step back and evaluate its priorities.