Throughout the month of August over at Puck Daddy, we've been having mainstream media personalities, current and former NHL players, and various hockey bloggers laying out their "5 Ways" they'd change the NHL. It's been a wildly successful idea from the always thinking brain of my partner Greg Wyshynski. The posts have encouraged discussion, brought interesting ideas to light, and even started a blood feud between a MSM writer and a team owner.
Reading all of these posts has been fun, and obviously, some ideas are out there and really meant as tongue in cheek. There are some though, that people seem to keep harping on consistently, but aren't realizing that they will never come to fruition.
Here's my "5 Ways" that will never happen.
Contraction. Wyshynski said it best during a Rumors Chat a few weeks ago (and I'm paraphrasing here): "good businesses don't contract, they expand". This is very true with the National Hockey League. Just getting the rights to an expansion team will cost you $300 million that will go right to the NHL. Why would Gary Bettman and company want to pass that up? Florida, Phoenix, and Nashville may not be the most stable of franchises in a long-term sense, but it would be better for the Board of Governors to have those teams relocate to a better market (namely Las Vegas, Kansas City...Canada?) where they'll be able to generate a profit.
Fire Gary Bettman. Sure, the fans hate him and the players aren't too keen on him either, but the bottom line is he's made the owners (his bosses) lots and lots of money since he began his tenure in 1993. Bettman's contract keeps getting renewed so obviously, he's done enough to keep the BOG plenty happy.
Reducing the schedule. You mean the owners will agree to losing several games worth of revenue? Not a bloody chance. The Rangers will need all the home games they can get to pay Wade Redden his $6.5 million salary. I understand the complaints about the schedule being too much for players and the season lasting so long. I think it's just a matter of tweaking. The 2008-09 season starts the weekend of October 4th with the Premiere Games, but the rest of the league doesn't drop the puck until the following Thursday on October 9th. Why the four days in-between games? Start them all on Tuesday and don't give teams more than two days off in a row (depending on travel scheduling) and we won't have the regular season ending all the way on April 12th. Shortening the schedule also increases the length of the off-season and will basically drive us all insane by early August.
Bringing back the old division names. I'll give you a little tease, this one is on my "5 Ways", but sadly, I don't see it ever happening. Despite the fact that the NHL would have to create two more division names to go with the Patrick, Adams, Norris, and Smythe, Gary Bettman brought the NBA's regionalize and geographically stable conference formats over in 1993.
Affordable ticket/concession/merchandise prices. It's the simple rule of supply and demand. If you keep coming to the games and throwing down your hard earned cash, no matter what the price, well, then why are the owners going to make themselves lose money that's already going into their pocket? The people who complain about $8 beers are the ones buying them every time they're in the arena. You don't have to have a beer (or seven) every time you go to a game. If you feel you do, then stop bitching about the price and pony up. Disgusted at insane ticket prices and parking charges? Then fire up the Center Ice package. The fans are more powerful than they think.
My "5 Ways" is still to come over at Puck Daddy, so be sure to keep an eye out for what I think should change in the NHL.