Sunday, February 20, 2005

The Future of the NHL


"Even with the two most influential hockey figures of this generation, Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky, at the table for the first time, the two sides could not get it right."

Talking with my friend in Maryland tonight, the last remaining hockey fan in the U.S., he thinks the NHL is still going to salvage the season!. I think he's nuts, and if he ever wants to see hockey in North America again, he better be wrong.

They could cobble together a last minute deal like MLB did a few years ago, but it still wouldn't address the core issues of a necessary salary cap and overexpansion of the league.

The NHL must be destroyed so it can be rebuilt much stronger. First, at least 6 teams should probably fold coming out of this. Unfortunately, this would probably include the Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes. Secondly, a re-evaluation of the rules of the game needs to occur - faster, more scoring, less ties. You can maintain "the goon" and "retaliation" as a part of the game, but the useless defensemen that do nothing but hold wingers the whole game - get them the heck out of there. Lastly, shorten the season. By purging teams, basically everyone's going to make the playoffs. The regular sesaon is just a race for seeding and they don't need 80+ games to figure that out. Cut the season or cut the playoff teams, but something has to give. They might even be able to make some TV money by reducing the supply of available games.

I feel bad for the people really hurt by this: the rookies, the vendors, the parking attendants, but in the end, if hockey is going to be a viable sporting event in this country, the thing has to dramatically change.


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