I’ve held out as long as I possibly could. And really, it isn’t all that long, since we are only about six weeks into the season that isn’t. But I have to get some things off my chest.
You see, I want hockey back (although, it needs to wait until next season because all my 2004-05 season ticket money has been spent on paint and painters, electricians, carpet, and window treatments).
However, I don’t want the NHL back just the way it was.
Now, not being an owner, the whole salary cap thing doesn’t interest me one way or another. Although I can imagine that players, who have leaders who know and understand the whole history of fraud and abuse that exists between the NHL owners and NHL players and their union, really won’t settle for a salary cap unless they have a nice transparent standardized accounting system in place. And the likelihood of that happening, considering Blackhawks owner Bill Wirtz still hasn’t died yet, is very close to zero.
I’m really more interested in the suggestions for improving the game that noted hockey nonfan Commissioner Gary Bettman was endorsing before the lockout. Bettman thinks that playing only in conference during the season, with the Stanley Cup Final being the only possible meeting between and east and west team is the way to go. He wants new rules limiting the play of the puck by goaltenders. He insists that there aren’t too many teams, that talent isn’t spread to thin.
Well, here’s what I think.
I think eliminating east west play is an excellent way to alienate the core hockey fans who pay good money to see the superstars of the game. Imagine knowing, as a Philadelphia Flyer fan or New York Ranger fan or Boston Bruins fan, that is, a fan who actually knows and follows hockey, that you may go to every home game but possibly never see Naslund, Kiprusoff, Sakic, Iginla. Eliminating east west play is also horrible marketing, which is not surprising, considering the complete lack of marketing savvy exhibited by the league as a whole and by many of the owners.
Once thing I haven’t seen mentioned is how the expansion, and subsequentdilution of talent, is one of the reasons for the intense competition for players, which has driven prices up. Contraction would help relieve the competion for talent, which I’m afraid will be exacerbated by many European players choosing not to come back from Europe after the lockout.
I don’t want any NHL owners to be dreaming of putting AHL level games (who’d be replacement players? fourth liners, goons, and slow guys who can’t catch on in Europe) on ice next fall and thinking NHL fans will pay to watch that. I’d rather read technical manuals.