August 14, 2008
Every weekday in August, Puck Daddy presents "5 Ways I'd Change the NHL," in which a cross-section of sports media and hockey personalities offer solutions, suggestions and absurdities to remake the League to their liking. We're thrilled to have Chris Botta, NYI Point Blank blogger and former VP of media relations for the New York Islanders, contributing his list today ...
By Chris Botta
1. Grant's Gear: No need for a committee. Just make every goaltender wear the same exact equipment Grant Fuhr used when leading the Edmonton Oilers to Cups. What, are you telling me today's stars shoot harder than Al MacInnis?
2. A Mere Flesh Wound? Once and for all it's time for clarification on high-sticking penalties. The next time your local play-by-play man says, "They're checking for blood to see if there should be an extra minor," do me a favor: Grab an NHL rulebook and show me where it calls for an automatic additional two minutes if the victim is bleeding. (Really, keep looking. I'm sure it's in there somewhere). The scary thing is that most NHL referees and coaches really think it's a rule.
3. Let Dysfunction Rule. Nothing -- not even Sid and Alex -- could solve the NHL's press coverage problem quicker. The media love accident sites: A-Rod, T.O., the New York Knicks. If Lowe and Burke want to strangle each other, let them! (Besides, I like Brian Burke, but his franchise wasn't worried about the image of my old employer last season when his paid-for Ducks blogger was killing the viability of the Islanders). Let teams curse "Toronto" when a goal replay doesn't go their way. Let them rip on Colin Campbell's rulings. I saw Colin play. He used to battle with Clark Gillies in the crease. Don't you think he's tough enough to take it? Let the players say whatever they want. Threats and bounties encouraged. The mainstream press may kill the NHL for fighting, but it's insanity off the ice that will really get their attention.
4. Daly is to Bettman as Conan is to Leno. By almost all accounts, Bill Daly is the highly-regarded eventual successor to Gary Bettman as NHL commissioner. It's time to set a course for transition. Shoot, NBC gave Jay Leno five years' notice -- and his ratings are better than Gary's! Seriously, start thinking about a proper hand-off that would reward the deserving Daly and benefit this $2 billion business that means so much to so many people.
5. Three-way tie: Milk this Mats Sundin thing until it's a train-wreck of Favrian proportions - have Mats sign with the Vancouver Canucks and then refuse to report until he is traded to the Leafs. After Wrigley Field, give Toronto an outdoor game, check out the Bronx one more time and then end this stadium fad before it comes down to Florida Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning at Joe Robbie Stadium. And start working on the new CBA, like, now. Because I don't know anyone in the game who doesn't think we're headed for another epic disaster.