Here’s a short story for you.
In March, my hockey team played our championship game. We had struggled throughout the season, and our high point was winning a tournament, where I was the top scorer. After winning that tourny, we won 9 in a row. But the team we were facing had won all but one game, which was against us.
We made the finals by only one point.
The team we were facing were heavily favoured. They had the top 5 scorers in the league, with me being the top scorer not on their team. They played a very physical game, and to prove that, they had 7 players with over 35PIM in only 18 games. No other team had a player over 22.
They scored the first goal with 5 minutes to go in regulation.
But luckily for us, we had a Bobby Orr on our team who went end to end and scored to make it 1-1. Time for OT.
But OT Solved nothing.
We ended up winning in shootout. Yes shootout, one of the most contserviersial ways to win a hockey game. All of the 1500 people in the stands were ecstatic: they wanted us to win. But in overtime?
That got me thinking, what could make the NHL better?
1. Get rid of shootouts. Anybody who knows me knows I love shootouts. But after winning a championship because of it, I don’t think its the way a game should be won. It showcases the talent of only a few players, not the entire team. In return, make the OT longer, or go back to tie games.
2. Make The Stanley Cup Finals a one game, winner takes all series. The playoffs are already long. A one game final would provide fans with a thrilling 60+ minutes of great hockey, with the winner getting the greatest prize in sports. Instead of 7 mediocre games, there would be one exciting game with more meaning than any other game played all year. Look at the NFL with the super bowl. Their is so much on the line, so both teams put all they have into four quarters. That would mean the teams cant regroup after losing the first few games, they have one chance and one chance only.
3. Have the All-Star Game mean something. Come on, unless you were covering the event, do you actually watch the entire bore fest? The Skill competion is always interesting, but after that who cares? The players don’t. They get selected to play with some of the greatest players in the world, but what do they do? Absolutely nothing. Compare it to the NASCAR All-Star Race. Its always one of the most interesting events for me because all the drivers care about winning. And…there is a $1M prize for winning. The drivers are in to it, and so are the fans. Have all the winning players win money. I think people would work harder with money on the line. I know I would. And like I said earlier, the winning team gets home advantage for the team of that conference that gets to the finals.
4. Salaries. They need to be smaller, and the salary cap has to be smaller. Each year, the cap continues to go up, and player salaries rise. So…. why would this affect us? This affects us 2 ways. With having some players demanding much more then they are worth, which then limits what the team is able to do. They miss out on signing some talented players that could really help them. For example, Montreal has Scott Gomez who is making $8M per season. Had they not traded for him in the first place, or bought him out when they had the chance, they could have had the money to sign Brad Richards. It also affects us because prices go up. Ticket prices skyrocket, the food is more expensive, and souvenirs become too much money. With a lower salary cap, the ridiculous contracts and high prices would be non-existent in many cities.
5. More Canadian teams. With the revival of the Winnipeg Jets, Canada only has 7 teams. As a Canadian, I don’t think that’s enough for “Canada’s Sport”. Get rid of the Blue Jackets, Islanders, and Coyotes. They are not supported like Canadian teams are. Some buyers, like Jim Ballsille, would love to overpay for a team that has minimal talent, just to come to Canada. Winnipeg has the smallest arena in the NHL, yet they sold out all 13,000 season tickets in only a few minutes. That’s something a majority of the NHL can’t say.
6. Change the 2 stupidest rules in the NHL: The Touch Icing and Trapezoid Rules. Touch icing is one of the top reasons players get hurt. There are stories all over the league of players that have been injured in the mostly-ineffective race to beat out an icing. Kurtis Foster suffered a broken left femur in a game against the San Jose Sharks, which costed him all but 10 games in 2008-2009. Taylor Fedun, an Edmonton Oilers prospect, was involved in a terrible incident, where Eric Nystrom’s stick got stuck in Fedun’s right skate, resulting in a broken right femur. Only the NHL, AHL and ECHL use that rule, and it’s just stupid. And then there is the trapezoid rule. Why do they have it? Only the NHL and AHL use it. Its used because goalies would wander to get the puck, and would get creamed by Sean Avery. No longer could Martin Brodeur, Carey Price, Marty Turco and Johan Hedberg rack up the assist totals they used to produce. Goalies never got drilled enough for this to be a legitimate rule. If the goalie leaves his crease, he assumes full responsibility to what happens to him.
7. Fire Gary Bettman. Doesn’t need explaining.
Have any suggestions on what the NHL should do? Leave a comment or send me a message on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.