Art of Almost…

Staring into a camera, USHL commissioner Skip Prince talked about how the Futures Draft is an important yet special day for the young men who hope to make it into the league.

One can only hope the webcast didn’t give too many people including these future players the wrong impression of the league. The USHL Futures Draft was marred, for many, by a glitch-filled, error-infused webcast which at times became unbearable to watch.

The USHL has said on several occasions they wanted this draft to be different. So that’s why they went to a webcast format so that way draftees and their families could watch it together instead of having a player step out of class to learn he’d been drafted.

Getting drafted will be a memory but so will a few others items such as a show which started off with one of the mics catching someone swearing; an admission from one of the anchors that they didn’t care if the audience could hear them along with what was a somewhat thinly veiled shot at Rhode Island, which did draw a reaction from advisor Peter Baptista over Twitter. Baptista, who is based in Rhode Island, later deleted the tweet but we’ll address another tweet he had later.

But that was only the beginning. A 6 p.m. Central Time broadcast started 22 minutes later than expected resulting in teams using Twitter to announce their picks. By the time the webcast started, Twitter was midway through the second round.

Last season’s Futures Draft was a victim of a website which didn’t have the bandwidth to handle the traffic and later crashed harder than an impending Greek economy.

That happened a few times last night and here’s where Baptista probably tweeted what was on the minds of many:

Peter Baptista ? @peterbaptista : ah the @USHL web site crashes (again) for the #FuturesDraft … I was hopeful this time.

There are so many more things to delve into about what went wrong and due to fairness, I’m not going to get into every single item that went wrong.

But with the times that were addressed, one must admit it wasn’t the best situation for the USHL.

It cannot be expected for webcasts or even telecasts to be perfect. The Super Bowl and The Oscars are certainly proof. But when an event starts off 20 minutes late, the commissioner of your league has a camera pasted on him for 10 minutes prior to the show and Twitter is a more effective method to run a draft, those are glaring errors.

And it was noticed by several people on Twitter with one of them being Baptista who gave a somewhat sobering but alarming statement.

Peter Baptista ? @peterbaptista : someday the @USHL will learn 2 do their #FuturesDraft & #EntryDraft the right way online like the OHL with NO web site crashes

That’s a tweet this league never wants to see and in truth, cannot see.

People often throw out some frankly stupid reasons as to why the USHL/college model is better than Major Junior and vice-versa. Let me throw out my “stupid reasons” that have nothing to do with development.

Sometimes image goes a hell of a long way. Nike is proof. Unless we’re talking about the Kobe Systems, there hasn’t been a Nike ad hyping up a certain shoe in a long time. What makes Nike successful is they sell an image of something greater regardless of the shoes you buy.

The USHL needs that right now. Improving their image should be a top priority this off-season.

High hopes were certainly the mantra for a league which boasted its top prospects, had no problem willing to get in the ring with Major Junior and claimed it is second to no one.

Right now being second to anyone would be extremely high praise. The USHL’s image has taken a hit. It had a mid-season Prospects Game thrown together a few months in advance resulting in more scouts being at the games than fans.

It has come under criticism for adding four more games giving off the image that it either wants to add more games for development or more games for owners to fatten their wallets.

Then of course, the playoff scheduling which set up some teams with the task of possibly playing up to seven games in nine days. This league averages eight games in a month so seven games in nine days isn’t exactly bright. It’s especially not bright when its a league that lives off weekend attendance but plays games during the week and puts its high school students at risk of missing even more class time.

Jay-Z once said, “The try and the fail, the two things I hate. Succeed and the rap game, the two things that’s great.”

So far the USHL has half that message.

Question is: Can they get the rest of it?

4 thoughts on “Art of Almost…

  1. Well said, Ryan. The broadcast last night ran like a bad, late-night public access show. Very unorganized.

    Teams were tweeting their draft picks long before the broadcast got to them, so I turned off the USHL broadcast and simply watched the live twitter updates.

    Let’s hope they learned a lot from the mess of last night.

  2. Great piece, Ryan……….. Would you also add the tender system and the random order of the Futures Draft where Ytown, Green Bay and Dubuque will acquire their fourth 1996 before Musky, SF, Chicago, and TC acquire their second to the list of things wrong in the USHL right now?

  3. The problem lies heavily with Mr. Skippy Peanut Butter himself. Clueless. What happened to the USHL and upper tier US jr hockey during the tenure of the previous league president? Growth, respect, prosperity, quality play and players. What’s happening now? Confused leadership is running the USHL into the ground. Just watch as it crumbles folks.