The NHL is a complete embarrassment from what it once was. The NHL needs to cut it losses and focus on the positives they do have: true hockey fans and those that truly love our teams….during the playoffs. We are not going anywhere, so why not make us happy? Give us what we want, a better quality product. The obvious answer is to get the sport on a real TV channel and allow the gloves to drop more often, but here are some other ideas:
1. Focus on hiring talented announcers – Look, hockey is hard to watch. You can’t really tell whats going on all the time. You don’t always know who has the puck like you know who has the orange roundy in basketball. Announcers that can fluidly comment on the game, while knowing the right time to start yelling and getting loud makes watching a hockey game vastly more entertaining. I almost rather watch a big playoff game at home on my [roommate’s] sick plas than at a crowded bar. An exciting announcer with a color guy in the likes of a Jeremy Roenick, or Don Cherry, or Mickey Redman or Brett Hull will add the true hockey knowledge that so many of us don’t have. No one plays ice hockey growing up. And if you did, you never saw anyone else because you were always busy, playing hockey.
3. HD – Hockey was made for HD, use it to your advantage. On this note, hockey arenas are full of cougars, lets see ’em more often.
4. Starting lineups / Rosters – Just copy off MNF and have the players introduce themselves. One big problem with the NHL is that nobody knows who the hell these players are, not to mention most of them don’t speak English. If they are American, I wouldn’t mind knowing what college they went to. It always feels good to see a professional athlete who most likely threw up in the same bars you did. Of course, we might get some pre-school shout outs, but I wont be complaining. Not from America? Do the Google Earth thing ESPN [I think] did for the NBA playoffs. Also, I think broken English can be somewhat entertaining, but as Sergi says, everyone is titled in their opinion.
5. Pipe Organs – Get the techno out and the pipes back in. Your really think die hard hockey fans are down with DJ Tiesto? Put some loud pipes in.
6. Original Six Mid Season Tourney – I do not understand why the NHL hasn’t done this yet. The Original Six are such a unique aspect of the NHL and they completely ignore it. Its where your real hockey fans are.
Have one city host the tournament, rotating among the six teams every year. Sometime before the All-Star Game split the six teams into 2 divisions by a random draw [Say Detroit, Boston, Montreal in #1 and NY, Chicago and Toronto in #2]. Everyone in the division plays each other twice [goal differential breaks ties], and the winners of the division play one game for the championship. Hell, you could even have the winner host the tourney the next year to have some more bragging rights.
Why wouldn’t this work? The Beanpot gets pub and NOBODY outside of Boston cares about Boston area college hockey. Mid-season tournaments are popular in other sports [they are all over the place in soccer], will encourage fans to travel, could bring some playoff intensity to the rather dull regular season, and would restore the pride in the Original Six and their fans. Or Mr. Bettman could just continue to sulk in the corner wishing he was David Stern.
7. Canadians – Face it, Canada might not have a lot of people but they just cant enough hockey. Show them some fucking love. Nashville, Atlanta, Columbus, and Phoenix have a team but they cant find a way to get another team north of the border? I don’t know anyone in the world who would think that is a good idea. Well, expect for him.
I love making fun of Canada as much as the next American, but honestly, Canadians are some of the most honest, kind, even-headed, genuine people I have met. They made hockey, give them a chance to bring it back.
Hockey will be cool again. It will make a comeback, eventually. A sport that has such an intense playoff experience will be popular. Why? Because I said it was like that.