A lot of people always complain about Gary Bettman and Bill Daly (myself included) but very rarely do these complainers step up and say what they would do if they were in the position to make decisions in the NHL. So I have five topics to address and figure out what I would do if I were the Commissioner of the NHL. I’d be very curious to see what other people would do as well!
I don’t think it is a surprise to anyone for me to say that the Southern US experiment has been unsuccessful as a whole. there are a handful of teams that are having difficulties in terms of attendance, and the expansion to the south has failed to generate the lucrative ESPN deal that Gary Bettman promised when he took over as the commish.
So my solution is this… First no contraction. The owners would never let it fly. As for the talent pool being depleted, I honestly don’t think it is as bad as people say. The influx of European talent has counteracted it. Relocation is however a must in my opinion. Phoenix, Atlanta, and Florida all need to be moved. I would like to see Phoenix move to Winnipeg obviously. Florida heading towards Kansas City with the right ownership would make sense, and finally I’d be interested to see Atlanta head over to Houston which has proven to be a good hockey state in the USA and create a natural rivalry with with the Dallas Stars.
Finally expansion is going to happen whether we like it or not. So if it is going to happen then lets expand by 2 teams, and make a 32 team league broken up into 4 divisions. I would look to Quebec City and Seattle as places I would like to go and lets face it the owners could use the $500M+ that they would get in expansion fees. Finally you will say ‘what about Hamilton?’ I don’t believe this would ever be allowed because it would likely kill the Buffalo Sabres. And I agree with the thought of not going to a city that would kill another franchise. Of course Hamilton and/or Southern Ontario could support another team, but in this case that is not the question.
Television in the USA
There is not much to say here. The NHL wants ESPN and of course they should want their games broadcasted on ESPN, but NOT at the expense of Versus. Versus has been a fantastic partner for the NHL and the league should stick with Versus as a national broadcaster. However there is no reason that any broadcaster in the US should have an ‘exclusive’ deal. If ESPN wants to get on board and broadcast games, there should be plenty of games to go around for both networks. In Canada the CBC, TSN, and Sportsnet all cover games and it works up here.
Playoffs, Standings, Schedule, And Shootouts
First off I HATE the fact that some games are 3 point games and some are 2 point games. But I am also not ready to get rid of the shootout in the regular season. Lets face it, the fans enjoy the shootout, in much the same way fans enjoy fighting. I’ve never seen anyone leave a game because of a fight or a shootout. However a shootout should be 5 shooters in length as it is in every other hockey league or tournament.
Now my solution for the 3 point games is make all games 3 point games. I don’t like the idea of 0 points for a shootout loss so that won’t work for me. So I’ll propose this.. 3 points for a regulation win, 2 for an OT/shootout win, 1 for an OT/shootout loss, and no points for a regulation loss. At least in this case you know every game is worth the same in the standings.
Now assuming we have expanded to 32 teams We will keep an 82 game schedule. 42 games in your own division, 24 against the other division in your conference, and one game against every team in the other conference for a total of 16 games. Playoffs would go back to a divisional playoff format. The top four in each division makes the playoffs 1vs4 and 2vs3 with the division winners playing each other in the East and West. Of course those two meeting up for the Stanley Cup. This should also help encourage the rebirth of rivalries in the NHL.
This may not be too popular but I honestly think it is time for the NHL to step away from the Olympics. It does not make business sense to have the league shut off the lights for two to three weeks in the middle of the season unless the games are in North America. Of course you just can’t have it both ways so I would like to see the World Junior Championships played at the Olympics during Olympic years. It is a fantastic tournament, and the youth programs in countries would receive more funding with the prospect of an Olympic Medal being on the line.
Then every four years have a World Cup for the NHL players. So in 2012, 2016 2020, etc. having a best on best tournament that can take place during the off season of the NHL, KHL, and the European leagues so none of the leagues are affected by it. Like I said it may not be popular but it is the best solution in my opinion.
The next CBA
Donald Fehr is about to be the new head of the Players Association. This is probably not the best situation for fans but it is for the players. The CBA is up next year and the negotiations need to start immediately! The two main things that need to be addressed is A) The Salary Cap needs to stay, and I’m sure it will, however the salary floor needs to drop to 50% of the cap in order to make it work in some cities.
B) The loophole in player contracts need to be settled. The easiest solution in my mind is to not have the lowest part of the contract be lower than 50% of the highest part of the contract. I’ll leave the fine print to people much smarter than I am, but something along those lines would be a good solution for everyone.
Those are the five things I would address if I were running the NHL. I would love to see what you would like to do if you were in charge!
Have a good one!
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About the Author
Written by Shane Hoopfer
Die hard Flames fan since 1980, and a closet baseball junkie. Also a big Dolphins, and Stampeders fan!