Friday, August 22, 2008

5 Ways I'd Change the NHL

Greg Wyshynski over at Yahoo has started a series in August where he has asked a bunch of prominent people how they would change the NHL. Piggy backing off that idea, I figured I would throw my two cents into the ring.

1. Eliminate the overtime point. The NHL is the only league with an overtime point. This point made sense when games were ending in ties because each team got a point. Now, with the addition of the shootout and the lack of ties, we reward losing as long as the team fought a good fight. This point muddles the standings and makes games relatively uninteresting when it comes down to the last five minutes of a game. With both teams playing defensive to try an save a point, the game just starts to be a waiting game rather than an actual game. Also, it does not help fans analyze playoff scenarios with the complication of that extra point.

2. Don't change the number of teams. Many people have talked about adding a few teams in the past few years and others have talked about getting rid of the struggling ones. The league has a good number of teams in it. It can't expand right now because the talent just is not there for it. Most teams would have a full line of AHL'ers as their fourth line if the league expanded by two. Contraction won't work for the league either because it looks terrible. Only starting franchises have to contract teams and start dispersal drafts not established ones. The league may be able to expand if the talent pool started to grow some more and every team was making a good profit. Until that point, there is no need to add more teams into the mix.

3. Eliminate the instigator and puck over the glass rules. These two rule changes were implemented after the lockout to try and open the game up some more. In the case of the instigator rule, it was to curb the amount of fighting in the league and the delay of game caused by a player sending the puck over the glass was to decrease stoppages. Both are useless. In the case of the instigator rule, it has created more low brow shots by players knowing that they would not have to own up to their actions. This creates another paradox in that now cheap shots lead to other cheap shots, not fights, creating more injuries and putting players in greater harm than they would be if there was a fight. With the delay of game the league believes that more people will watch a game if the score was higher. Therefore the tempo of the game needs to always continue and with a defender not being able to stop the play by sending the puck over the glass it would create more scoring chances. This never really happened. Most times the puck ends up over the glass on a careless play rather than an intentional one.

4. Cater to the serious fan instead of the casual fan. NASCAR may be falling into this problem as well. The NHL tries to expand its fan base by catering to the needs of the casual fan. They believe that a high-scoring game will draw in more fans because apparently all fans like to see scoring. What the league ignores is the fact that trying to cater to the casual fan alienates the serious fan or the original fan. The original fan knows how the game is played and likes to see a good game, whether the score is 2-1 or 6-5. Serious fans bring in the casual fan because of their fanaticism. Word of mouth in this case is the most powerful tool and if the more people feel alienated the less they speak highly of the league.

5. Fire Gary Bettman. Enough said.

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