Throughout August, Puck Daddy presented "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. Due to the overwhelming response for submissions and our own pathetic time management, we're condensing two lists into one today. We're thrilled to have Dave Pagnotta from The Fourth Period and Erin Nicks of The Universal Cynic, two Canadians no less, contributing their lists today. Enjoy ...
By Dave Pagnotta
1. Time to admit your mistakes. Okay, we get it. You tried. It hasn't worked. Can we please move on? As much as the league would love to see all of its 30 clubs succeed, that simply is not a reality. While the Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes have succeeded, giving hope to the Nashville Predators, and the Columbus Blue Jackets continue to increase their fan base, the same cannot be said for two of the league's other franchises. It's time to put the wheels in motion and find new homes for Florida Panthers and Atlanta Thrashers. Now, this isn't a knock on the teams themselves. The markets they are in simply don't work. In comparison to major sports cities, nobody gives a flying hoot about them -- unless you're battling for the championship. These are "what have you don't for me now" towns. It's time to pack your bags and move on. The NHL gave it the old college try. The fact of the matter if they spent too many all-nighters studying; they've burnt out. Try somewhere else. Go back to Winnipeg. Give Kansas City a shot. What about Las Vegas?
2. Vegas, baby. Vegas. It's inevitable. Within the next few seasons, we're likely to see a franchise relocate, or possibly even expand, to Sin City. A new state-of-the-art arena is being built right behind the Bally's and Paris hotel-casinos. There are certain players in place with the intention of bringing a team to Vegas, and it could do the league some good to give this town a shot. I've spoken to a number of players, management types, and agents who welcome an NHL franchise in Nevada. And why not? They won't have to worry about selling tickets; the casinos will eat them up. Get a couple stars on that team, and promote it like crazy. Do it Vegas style. Big, flashy pre-game shows. Have Cirque du Soleil clean the ice. Get Criss Angel to make the opposition goalie disappear for a few minutes, mid-play. Add a little extra excitement, get creative, do it right, and do it soon. Prospective owner Jerry Bruckheimer would love to own a team and bring them to Vegas. Once that new facility is operational, get it done!
3. Remember ESPN? As interesting as Versus' coverage of the NHL has been, it's time to return to largest national sports station in the U.S. The league is growing, hype in major markets is finally coming back and fans just about everywhere are intrigued by players named "Ovechkin" and "Crosby." Up here in Canada, we have all the hockey we can handle thanks to TSN, CBC, Sportsnet and the NHL Network, and we're still asking for more. Unfortunately, most of the U.S. if afraid of tuning in to a channel that might pre-empt hockey coverage for cow-tipping. It's like high-school all over again for the NHL in the U.S. You just ain't cool enough until you're kickin' it with the popular kids. The NHL has held preliminary talks with ESPN. Good! Now, work your magic and get back on their as soon as possible. It will help promote the game and give people the opportunity to tune in to a channel they can find on a regular basis.
4. Three points for a win. This one is pretty simple. Keep overtime and shootout points as is, and give the team that wins in regulation three points. Why? Because it will get teams to battle for that victory, rather than ‘fight' for a guaranteed point. I'm getting a little tired of teams spending the last few minutes in a tied game dumping and chasing, hoping the clock runs out. Give them an incentive to win before 60 minutes are up.
5. Fix the All-Star Game! I don't have any bright ideas here. I just want something done. Somehow, someway, make the ASG more exciting. Get the Pussycat Dolls, Rihanna, Bon Jovi, Snoop-a-loop, some big entertainer to kick-start a killer pre-game show. Goals must be fancy to count. Have a zamboni race. Get Wyshynski to sing the national anthems. Do something!
By Erin Nicks
1. Ban afternoon games. Bad things happen to desperate leagues left at the mercy of television networks. Despite taking place indoors, NHL games feel vaguely odd when played in the afternoon -- the broadcasts also give off that "half-step-away-from-5-pin-bowling" vibe. Those 1 p.m. starts are for octogenarians who can't stay up past sunset. The rest of us can manage the traditional nighttime schedule.
2. Give me my bloody HD. Just because I live close to Scotiabank Place doesn't mean I'm always in the mood to deal with Ottawa's miserable weather in the middle of January. Obviously, hockey is always at its best when experienced live - a decent portion of its impact is lost during a television broadcast. High-definition makes a monumental difference in this department, but many games are still shown in standard-def. You want people to watch? Rule No. 1: Make it look good.
3. Ditch the power moustache. Have you been to one of the NHL's major events lately? The recent Entry Draft in Ottawa was a classic example. The generic profile -- from the media risers right down to the club tables -- was as follows: Middle-aged, ornery and pleasantly plump. Throw in a bit of leather, and it easily could've been mistaken for the world's largest Bear convention. Do you want fresh ideas for the NHL and media responsible for covering it? Allow those who are 35 and under to develop a stronger voice. You may not always agree with them, but at least they'll offer a different perspective.
4. Burst TSN's bubble. When it comes to NHL coverage, TSN has been Canada's undisputed leader for some time, and they don't like anyone to forget it. Whether it's the influence of ESPN's minority stake in the network or just a case of inflated ego, TSN has become increasingly difficult to watch. Forget about tuning into highlight shows for a breakdown of scores and analysis - instead, we're subjected to broadcasters with a jones for Mystic Tan in February screeching, "roof daddy!" whenever Ilya Kovalchuk puts one top-shelf. Look, if you're not going to give us back the old theme from SportsDesk, at least take it down a notch...which brings me to No. 3....
5. Pierre McGuire. During the majority of radio interviews, McGuire comes across as relatively calm and levelheaded. Unfortunately, when cameras become involved, things can get weird fairly quickly. Have you ever tried watching a Pittsburgh or Calgary game when McGuire's doing the colour? I know Pierre admires the play of Sidney Crosby and Dion Phaneuf, but there's a difference between offering a player accolades, and flat-out verbal humping. Dude seems like a nice enough guy otherwise...maybe a Valium would help.