Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Tilt Report - Fixing the NHL

Now there are quite a few commentaries from various "insiders" who think that they know how to fix the National Hockey League (NHL) to make the league more visible, viable and enticing for fans. What is wrong with most of these views is that they are trying to vie for fans - who really have no real interest in the game of hockey. The NHL is trying to penetrate into US markets that, all things being fair, isn't a hockey market. Hence, the premise of trying to fix the game starts on the wrong foot. If the NHL truely wants to revitialize the game of hockey - it needs to change the reason why they want to fix the game. Rather then change the game to draw new fans in, it should focus in on fixing the game to bring back fans it has lost. Having said that here are my suggestions for how the NHL can become a much better game.

1) STOP PUTTING TEAMS IN NON-HOCKEY MARKETS: Gary Bettman is an absolute idiot for trying to take hockey to places where there is absolutely no fan base. This isn't fucken Field of Dreams...you can't build and hope that they will come. Take a look at Florida, Tampa Bay (who even won a cup) and tell me that they are successful franchises. For that matter, what is the sense of having a hockey team in Phoenix...those people don't even know what snow looks like. Hockey teams need to be developed in markets that have the potential to draw large numbers of hockey fans...that means at the minimum, NHL franchises ought to be located where snow falls. There are many potential markets in the Northern US and in Canada. Winnipeg is dying to have another shot at an NHL team, and I'm sure that Quebec City wouldn't mind either...but what about the East coast? or another team in Ontario?

2) GET RID OF THE "MODERN" EQUIPMENT: Many experts have observed that the number of serious injuries seem to be increasing over the years...well, one might argue that many of these injuries are caused by the new equipment being used by players. No longer are elbow pads soft - but they are hard plastic shells that only take into consideration the safety of the wearer - not the individual whom they hit. I'm sure that if Chris Pronger didn't have a hard shell elbow pad, Dean McAmmond would not have suffered a concussion. The NHL seriously needs to review the type of equipment worn by its players and ensure that they are safe for all. In addition, the NHL should reduce the size of the goaltender equipment to pre-1990 levels. There is no need for huge pads - if these are the best goaltenders in the world, let them show their athlethic skill rather then depending on oversized equipment.

3) ELIMINATE THE INSTIGATOR RULE: There are so many cheap shots being taken at superstars that the recent demise of "enforcers" on NHL teams needs to be revisited. Not only do the "enforcers" provide a moral spark to teams by engaging in fights (especially after a teammate has taken some serious abuse), they are needed to ensure that the top players on teams are not being targetted. One only has to look to Gretzky and recognize that he could not have done so well had be not had his "enforcers" around him. In this sense, I agree with the Don Cherry that fighting is part of the game and all attempts to remove this element has only damanged the spirit of the game.

4) GO BACK TO 4 DIVISION FORMAT: The current 6 division format is absolutely stupid. The NHL ought to return to the four divisions (and reinstitute the names). The 6 division format limits the number of times teams play against each other and leaves little room for rivalries to develop.

5) GIVE IT BACK TO THE FANS: Gary Bettman is a transplant from the National Basketball Association and isn't really a hockey person. Sure he may be a good businessman (which is debatable) but he's clearly not a fan. He is trying to push it into markets without a history of hockey and clearly this hasn't worked. What the NHL should consider is giving it back to the fans who want to see the game...mainly Canadians!!! Emphasises should be placed on making the fans happy and as the league develops more fans will see the value of the game. The NHL to a certain extent has isolated the Canadian market (mainly due to economic reasons) without realizing that doing so has only damaged the game. Give the game back to the fans who are willing to watch it over stock car racing or fishing.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get rid of Bettman!


3:59 PM  

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