Tuesday, October 06, 2009

30 for 30 - Kings Ransom

Not sure if I'll do a review for each of the 30 for 30 shows but I wanted to do one for the first in the series - Peter Berg's Kings Ransom.

It can be argued that the trade of Wayne Gretzky was the most important thing to happen to professional hockey since Lord Stanley donated a silver cup in 1882 to the hockey champion of Canada. It can be argued that Wayne Gretzky was as important to the NHL as Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were to the NBA combined. It can't be argued that the Gretzky / Jones wedding wasn't as big in Canada as the Prince Charles / Lady Di wedding was in the rest of the world. It can't be argued that Gretzky in LA wasn't as big a celebrity as anyone in the 80's. However, it can also be argued that nobody really cares now because it is after all only hockey.

But that's the potential charm and power of this 30 for 30 series from ESPN. They will be recapping events that mattered at the time through the eyes of people who were effected by the events but who are now artistically talented enough to tell the story in a compelling and different manner.

Let me confess to two things; I'm not familiar with Peter Berg and secondly I stopped following hockey a couple of years ago.

I'm not really familiar with Peter Berg because I've never watched Friday Night Lights. I know - my bad. In my defense - I didn't see the movie because I wanted to read the book first and then I never watched the TV show because I had other things to do. I enjoyed the show tonight but I wasn't overly impressed. I thought the golf course scenes were lazy and indulgent. I would have much preferred if information about the financial state of the Oilers at the time of the trade was covered and why that $15 million was so important to Peter Pocklington. Instead we got Peter Berg and his hobo beard.

Bill Simmons stopped watching hockey pretty much for the same reason as me - we both became disgusted with Jeremy Jacobs and his cheapness in running the Boston Bruins. I probably held out a little longer than the Sports Guy. The trade of Joe Thornton was the last straw for me. I lost so much interest that I had to double check to see if Edmonton still had a team (they do).

Three final thoughts about the show:

1. I bet ESPN and Bill Simmons must have been real happy that the Twins / Tigers playoff game went to extra innings drawing off a bunch of viewers from the debut of the first 30 for 30 show. Real happy.

2. A number of times during the show people would say that Wayne Gretzky put Edmonton on the map. I don't think that's true. I think that even back when Edmonton was winning all those Stanley Cups that the average person wouldn't have been able to find the city on a map (Canadians excluded).

3. Going back to my original point about the trade being the most important thing to happen to hockey - it was rumored that Detroit was also in the running for Gretzky. I would have liked to see this angle explored in the show. If Gretzky went to Detroit or any of the original six for that matter - hockey today would look much different. Never mind the Stanley Cups he could have won with a better team like the Red Wings. There most likely wouldn't be any teams in warm weather states if Gretzky doesn't go to LA specifically.

All in all - a good first show for 30 for 30. I can't wait for the next one.

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