Jump to content

Sign in to follow this  
Canon Fodder

Let's fix the NHL

Recommended Posts

Now that we’ve heard the NHL is dead for 2004-’05, it’s an ideal time to start over and fix all the little things that have been wrong with the game. Lots of folks have been offering their opinions and many of these ideas lack any long-term thinking. With that in mind, here is a list of 10 realistic changes that could, and should, take place to improve the National Hockey League.

Follow the NFL model – This means if it’s good enough for the NFL, it’s probably good enough for the NHL. Revenue sharing and a national television contract instead of 30 local contracts. The NHL needs to build itself as a whole rather than as 30 separate entities under one umbrella. Paul Tagliabue makes every decision with building the NFL brand in mind. Does Gary Bettman make NHL decisions the same way?

Salary Cap – The best way to make this league work is to get all the teams on a level playing field. Again, if it (parity) is good enough for the NFL… Whether the new system has a flat, hard cap or a combination of soft cap with luxury tax and a hard cap, cost certainty is an absolute necessity. In addition to a ceiling, there is a floor. Lesser teams would need to meet minimum payroll requirements just as top-end organizations would be limited in their spending.

Contraction – Teams that can’t meet the minimum payroll requirements can expect to be left out of the NHL. Hockey teams can survive in any climate as long as ownership is committed to building a competitive organization.

Minor League System – Major League Baseball has a formal minor league system. Hockey has many minor leagues, but lacks a formal system under the NHL. Building an official minor league would allow teams more flexibility with roster depth, and build the NHL product in more markets. Teams unable to survive at the NHL level might make ideal sites for a minor league club. This is also an excellent way to prepare a region for expansion. If a minor league team can’t generate a spark, what chance does the big league stand?

Rink Size – There’s been a lot of talk about expanding to Olympic-sized playing surfaces. Usually cost is cited as a problem. A solution would be to allow each organization to make their own decision about the size of their ice. As with Major League Baseball, teams could build their venue to reflect a ‘home field advantage’. Some teams might choose a big surface while others opt for tighter confines. The NHL would set minimum and maximum standards. Teams would be able to alter their venues accordingly.

Tickets – Professional hockey needs to be within the price range of more people. Too many seats are empty in too many arenas around the league. In the long term it’s better to have lower ticket prices and a full house now if it gets more people exposed to the product.

The Red Line – Get rid of it. Forget outlawing the ‘trap defense’. Erase the center ice red line (thus eliminating two-line passing) and the game will open up. Teams will have the option of ‘cherry picking’. Defensive teams will be forced to spread out and have less opportunity to funnel or choke opposing offenses. The ice surface will open up overnight. More breakouts will happen. Hockey’s trademark offensive flow will be restored.

Player Gear – A lot of talk has been about the size of goalie equipment. There certainly should be standards regarding equipment getting too big – a 5’8” goalie doesn’t need 40” leg pads. However, as most of the gear is protective in nature, it’s not likely to get any smaller – it takes a lot of padding to safely stop a puck traveling 100 mph. In addition to capping the size of jerseys, trappers and pads, the NHL should consider allowing any size curve on skaters’ sticks. More curve allows shooters to more easily raise their shot. Abolish any rule forbidding the degree of curve on a stick and fans will get to see what a talented skater can really do with the puck. A whole new level of strategy would be brought into the game as players would have specific styles of stick for certain situations. This would also give players an additional scoring weapon against ever-increasing goalies. Imagine Brett Hull with an overly-curved ‘power play’ stick.

Overtime – Hockey traditionalists (of which I consider myself) will cringe, but instituting a 10-minute 4-on-4 overtime, followed by a shootout might be best for deciding regular season games. Every game would have a winner and a loser. No more ties. No more points for a loss in overtime. No more complicated standings in the newspaper. Everything would come down to wins and losses.

Philosophy – The NHL and its fans need to recognize one of the biggest problems facing hockey isn’t a lack of scoring, but a lack of scoring opportunities. The league needs to focus on generating opportunities to score, not just more goals per game. They should be looking for ways to get goalies to face 40 to 50 shots every night. Watching the New Jersey Devils choke the offense so much that Martin Brodeur only faces 20 shots or less kills the excitement of the game. No new rules are necessary; generating a free flowing game can be achieved through calling those already established. Instead of searching for one sweeping change, the NHL should tweak their overall product with this single philosophy in mind.

I believe these changes are all realistic and easy to achieve. None of them are revolutionary except maybe in their application to the NHL itself. Hockey diehards and newcomers alike would be able to embrace the changes as the overall product would closely resemble the current game with the best portions accentuated. Given time, there’s little doubt the NHL could easily surpass where it stands in ruin today.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great thought's Cannon! I would like to respond to a couple.

With no real national Tv contract, why would an Owner like Illitch want to share revenue that he can generate locally, with some teams that shouldn't even be in the league. He already helps the weak teams sell out their building when the Wings go into their towns.

I really think the best way to fix this league is "Darwinism". Get rid of the weak franchises and let the big boys play. Not everything is better with more. The NHL should recognize its regions and shed the garbage.

I would prefer to see a soft cap so that we can have some long sustaining good teams in the markets where the owners do a good job and have the revenue. Perhaps a way to keep teams from getting out of hand on their spendinmg in this scenario is mandate that the teams must be turning a profit or else they must fall back under the cap # for a length of time.

i also mustr say i hate the idea of a shoot out. Just play until someone wins like in the playoffs. I can live with the 4 on 4 to speed it up, it has proven exciting. In baseball do they have a Homerun hitting contest if the game is tied after so many innings. The NBA a free throw shooting contest? No, they play till someone wins!

I am with you on getting rid of the red line and cracking the goalie gear. I also think they need to bring fighting back into the game. The 80's is what lead to the game growing and it featured skillfull teams not being clutched and grabbed, and brawlers who brought the fans out of their seats. What a great combination it was!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does this mean we are going to the 16 game schedule and only playing hockey two nights a week? After all, it works for the NFL.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Originally posted by qsilvr2531

Does this mean we are going to the 16 game schedule and only playing hockey two nights a week? After all, it works for the NFL.

Ha.

Okay, we don't need to follow the NFL model that closely, but maybe a 60 - 70 game schedule with more rivalry games would be a nice touch. Each game would mean more, the season would be less marathon-like, and division races would become more important.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Originally posted by Canon Fodder

Contraction – Teams that can’t meet the minimum payroll requirements can expect to be left out of the NHL. Hockey teams can survive in any climate as long as ownership is committed to building a competitive organization.

This would be a great fix.

Perhaps some teams on the east coast, so the Red Wings can switch conferences and cut down on senseless travel time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
With no real national Tv contract, why would an Owner like Illitch want to share revenue that he can generate locally, with some teams that shouldn't even be in the league. He already helps the weak teams sell out their building when the Wings go into their towns.

Illitch won't want to share money. Just like Jerry Jones probably doesn't like sharing Dallas Cowboy money in the NFL. However, for the good of the NHL (just like the NFL), moves like revenue sharing are necessary.

i also mustr say i hate the idea of a shoot out. Just play until someone wins like in the playoffs. I can live with the 4 on 4 to speed it up, it has proven exciting. In baseball do they have a Homerun hitting contest if the game is tied after so many innings. The NBA a free throw shooting contest? No, they play till someone wins!

For a long time I agreed with this, except that the game of hockey can go very long stretches without scoring opportunities. Five overtime periods on a Tuesday night during the regular season is a bad thing. That appeals to only the hardest of diehard fans. 10 minutes of overtime followed by a shootout is a compromise that is realistic. It costs a lot of money to keep an arena open (and staff on hand) until 3:00 am. It's just not realistic. An overtime shootout is.

I also think they need to bring fighting back into the game. The 80's is what lead to the game growing and it featured skillfull teams not being clutched and grabbed, and brawlers who brought the fans out of their seats. What a great combination it was!

Um, sure. Fighting is always going to be a part of hockey. It's the nature of the beast. The league, however, is forced to take a stance against fighting. There's just too much litigation in today's world to promote anything else.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Follow the NFL model – The viewing schedule for the NFL would be different because of the schedule...a national contract would be ideal but there may be more problems with it because it is not just one game per week. Forcing all teams to employ their own TV production and having a national contract for ABC to broadcast might be possible but the logistics are completely different than the NFL. Basketball might be a better model but not as successful. Also, screw Bettman.

Salary Cap – Parity is a must. I love getting more stars in the Joe but hate the yankee persona. Even the players have accepted some kind of salary parity is neccessary. Hard Cap-Soft cap, thats the debate now. I would like to see a NFL style cap but don't like how owners can just cut a salary and forget it. Also, Grant Hill's refusal to retire crippled that team for years...some compensation should be awarded while still giving owners the right to cut players...25 or 50 percent cap hit? Also, screw Bettman.

Contraction – Not just contration but re-alignment...chicago detroit, toronto should all be in the same conference. They should eliminate teams that can't sell out a 5000 seat rink...thats where you put minor league hockey. The conferences should be aligned regionally and to promote rivalries..thats where fans tune it. having detroit in the same confrence with 11 teams in the west side of the continent just doesn't make any more sense then california having half as many teams(3) as all of Canada(6). You can't tell me Canada only has twice the veiwership. Also, screw Bettman.

Minor League System – I have never really thought of the minor league system as being a problem but wouldn't be opposed to changing it. A minor league system is a great way to develop hockey before bringing an NHL team in to town. I would have to have more of the existing layout infront of me before I made changes...it is very confusing but it is a league that stands on its own. Also, screw Bettman.

Rink Size – UNIFORM, I don't want to deal with the injuries that come to some teams like there is in the NFL. There is alread a home advantage, we don't need different size or shaped rinks brought in. I would love olympic size rinks and the cost would be attainable to the owners if a cap is brought in. they resize the rinks alll the time so the only complaint would be removing seats for the rink. Also, screw Bettman.

Tickets – The worst thing about high ticket prices are if you notice at wings games, the open seats are often the higher priced seats...lets let the people who want to watch the game be there instead of the people that are there as a status level. Thats what really is hurting the game. Also, screw Bettman.

The Red Line – Why bother getting ride of it, just take out the 2 line pass rule...same goal accomplished..I always hated that rule...offsides reduces cherry picking enough for me. Also, screw Bettman.

Player Gear – Gear size should be to allow skill to be shown, not overshadowed by better equipment. Goalies should have to move, the padding is to protect their body, not do the work for them. Players sticks don't have to be curved more, these guys have been playing with these curves for 20 years, they can put the puck where they want. Also, screw Bettman.

Overtime – A tie is like kissing your sister...for both teams...so lets get rid of it. I don't know if the shootout is working or not, but no game should end in a tie..more overtimes if needed. Also, screw Bettman.

Philosophyscoring opportunities Agreed but to add to that, something should be done to limit player movement slightly. Detroit has Yzerman but look at the other teams. Who was the face of the team? Chelios or Belfour? Oh they left the team...Gretzky? How about Messier? Wendal Clark? Hasek? You get my point. I know there should be players rights but more needs to be done to give a team a face. Thats who the fans rally behind. Also, screw Bettman.

If you haven't guess, I am not to pleased with Gary Bettman. He doesn't care about the good of the game for love of the game. He cares about his own accomplishments. The NHL might be able to function in the cities he has moved it to but he did this completely wrong. The league expanded quicker than it should. The talent hadn't built up that quickly, the development hadn't been done in these cities and the need for a salary cap was accelerated because of these teams. Gary Bettman is not the man to help the game grow.

So screw him.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Originally posted by Canon Fondler

Um, sure. Fighting is always going to be a part of hockey. It's the nature of the beast. The league, however, is forced to take a stance against fighting. There's just too much litigation in today's world to promote anything else.

I won't say there needs to be more fighting...although the rest of you are...I will say there needs to be less hugging...less girlie fights...if you want to fight, throw 3 or 4 punches and be don't...I can't stand stopping the game 4 or 5 times just so players can pinch each other then spend 5 minutes out of the game...there I stated the problem, now you find a way to fix it.

I also want to point out that allowing the Redwings to go over the cap and buy more free agents because they generate more of a profit doesn't help edmonton generate more revenue...infact it just creates one more obstacle for the organization to get past if they would like to be profitable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

salary floors create expectations of owners. The league should set them at an acceptable level. Since we love the NFL here, the salary floor is the only thing that kept minnesota afloat as the penny pinching owner Red has kept the salary at the minimum level for several years. Last week he sold the team for a 300 million dollar profit after only owning one of the nfl's more proficatle teams for only a few years...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Originally posted by qsilvr2531

I should also mention that salary floors seem like a really bad idea to me as well.

Leagues with salary caps, typically have floors. In one recent instance, the LA Clippers (or maybe it was the Denver Nuggets) had to pay a player more money to stay above the NBA floor. Ironically, the owner was celebrated by fans for finally opening up his pocketbook. Few realized rules necessitated the move.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

if players are going to accept that owners can only spend so much then they should alos expect owners will remain at a competitive level

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The NFL's national t.v. contract pays for most of the salary cap, until an NHL t.v. contract can do the same, they can't be compared. There should be a star player clause like they have in basketball to give a team the best chance to keep it's star and try to put a face to a francise. The two things I see that need to be fixed are scoring (lose the red line) and marketing( bettman has no clue) . Like I said in another post split up the original 6, 3 per conferance, for stanley cup purposes! As far as ties go in the regular season, do one 4 on 4 overtime, then a shootout, but in the playoffs sudden death overtime. :confused:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Um, sure. Fighting is always going to be a part of hockey. It's the nature of the beast. The league, however, is forced to take a stance against fighting. There's just too much litigation in today's world to promote anything else.

No the league, in a marketing ploy to attempt to bring soccer moms, soft Americans who didnt grow up with the game, and the media onto its side. After all Boxing doesn't take a stance against fighting.:cool:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
salary floors create expectations of owners. The league should set them at an acceptable level. Since we love the NFL here, the salary floor is the only thing that kept minnesota afloat as the penny pinching owner Red has kept the salary at the minimum level for several years. Last week he sold the team for a 300 million dollar profit after only owning one of the nfl's more proficatle teams for only a few years...

The problem with a salary floor is it can force an owner to pay more than a player is worth just to get above the salary floor. Especially in a league that uses arbitration, that can artificially drive up contracts across the league. If a team can be competitive at a low salary level, then they should be allowed to stay at that low salary level. If a team wants to have no payroll and not be competitive, the penalty should be that people quit going to games because the team doesn't win. You want a system that encourages competitiveness, where competitiveness increases your revenue streams. Salary caps and salary floors do not do those things.

The problem with the NFL style system is that teams have no incentive to try to compete, at least financially, because they can sit at the salary floor and just make money from the TV contract.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess most of you guys are missing my point when I say the NHL should follow the NFL model.

Everything the NFL does is for the good of the whole NFL...not any individual team. The NHL needs to do the same. Revenue sharing is good for the whole league. The flagship franchises need to do MORE to bring along the Nashvilles and Atlantas (at least until they're contracted).

Yes, I realize the NFL has the big television contract. I also realize NONE of the teams have local contracts. Fox Sports Net Detroit should be dealing the NHL, not the Red Wings (though Wings games would be the majority of broadcasts).

This NFL model means that the league is only as strong as the weakest franchise. The NHL needs to do the same thing. They can't have the Original Six and then the other twenty-four.

Of course the NHL can't do exactly what the NFL does, but the NFL is a good place to look for ideas. Revenue sharing and branding the entire league instead of certain teams is a big first step to righting the sinking NHL ship.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think sports try way to hard to emulate the NFL's system rather than their marketing. The NFL's system is not the reason the league is successfull. The NFL has been the most successfull professional sports league in the US for alot longer than the salary cap has been around.

But what the NFl doesn't do is bad mouth itself. Ever. The NFL continues to trumpet it's "parity" even though it's "parity" has more to do with it's schedule format than anything else, and even though parity hasn't really increased in the NFL since the advent of the salary cap. But the NFL spends it's time convincing people that not only is their sport the best, but that their system is the best as well.

Other sports can't get the kind of national TV deal that the NFL has, because other sports can't cominate a single day like the NFL can. Football takes over sundays across the country, but the other big three play games sunday through saturday, and that format simply can't provide the ratings that the NFL does.

Compare that to MLB or the NHL. The owners and league spend as much time talking about how bad things are as they do talking about anything else. They complain about how much money their players get, or how a select few teams always win, whereas the NFL plays up it's dynasties.

If all leagues want is perceived competitiveness, just switch the playoffs to a single game, like the NFL has. You'll get parity very quickly that way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Originally posted by qsilvr2531

You want a system that encourages competitiveness, where competitiveness increases your revenue streams. Salary caps and salary floors do not do those things.

Salary caps and floors help ensure the product (the entire league) has a fairly consistent range of talent and opportunity to compete.

This is the one big reason (I believe) why the NFL is becoming more popular than MLB. In the NFL, almost every team has a real opportunity to win every year. The same can't be said for hockey and baseball. Sure it's great if you're a Yankees or Red Wings fan, but for folks in Kansas City and Edmonton, it sucks.

If the lesser teams can't achieve a minimum payroll, how are they supposed to compete on a day-to-day basis with juggernauts like the Red Wings?

The league office has to ensure every one of its teams is competitive or it hurts the overall product. A Harlem-Globetrotter-versus-Washinton-Generals-dynamic isn't good for promoting the NHL as a product.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This is the one big reason (I believe) why the NFL is becoming more popular than MLB. In the NFL, almost every team has a real opportunity to win every year. The same can't be said for hockey and baseball. Sure it's great if you're a Yankees or Red Wings fan, but for folks in Kansas City and Edmonton, it sucks.

The reason every team has a real opportunity to "compete" in the NFl is the structure of the league.

16 game season means that a 7 win team that gets just a little lucky is suddenly a 9 win team and in playoff contention. Compare that to baseball, were the equivalent difference between a 7 win NFL team and a 9 win NFL team is 20 MLB games, and suddenly competitiveness is based less on luck and more on overall team talent.

Setting up the schedule so that teams that were good the previous year play teams a tougher schedule the following year also helps ensure sompetitiveness, though the NFL has gone away from that recently as fewer games are scheduled based on last years record than they were 5 years ago.

4 divisions gives greater chances for qeaker divisions allowing weaker teams into the playoffs. Single game playoff structure allows weaker teams to advance in the playoffs, especially in the early rounds.

The NFL has designed a league structure to allow teams to remain at the top in terms of talent without actually dominating the league. And they can do so specifically because of the fact that they play so few games per year (and per week). No other sport can do that, and no other sport will ever be able to claim the kind of "parity" that the NFL does because of that.

The cap and floor have little to do with it. How many teams in the NFL go from being one of the worst teams (in the regular season) to one of the best teams? Compare that with MLB. It's not that dissimilar.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Basically my point is that a salary cap does not actually lead to the kind of parity the NFL has. Neither does a salary floor. To get that kind of parity in a league that plays 80 games per season, you need a different system.

First you need to make it possible for smaller market teams to increase revenue, without penalizing them for actually increasing that revenue (ie don't tie revenue sharing to actual payroll like the MLB does).

Second you need to have a system for removing owners that aren't competitive. There has to be a financial benefit to success on the field (or ice) to try to ensure that owners don't try to simply make money (which they should have a right to do) rather than be competitive.

Third you need to positively market the sport. Players unions are hear to stay, and while I understand everyone sport wants to crush their union like the NFL did, but at some point complaining about the financial state of the game by a bunch of billionares and millionares just hurts the image of the sport.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is no way the teams like the Thrashers would ever develop into the redwings in the current system. Without a salary cap those teams will always be farm teams to the 5 or 6 main teams. The Salary floor ensures that owners won't take advanatage of the situation. If a player gets a raise because the owner is below the floor then where is the problem? If the team was under the floor then they are probably underpaying the entire team.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Basically my point is that a salary cap does not actually lead to the kind of parity the NFL has. Neither does a salary floor. To get that kind of parity in a league that plays 80 games per season, you need a different system.

A salary cap is only one of the tools the NFL uses to increase parity. The NHL doesn't need to copy the practice, but it should use it as an example of how to even the playing field.

First you need to make it possible for smaller market teams to increase revenue, without penalizing them for actually increasing that revenue (ie don't tie revenue sharing to actual payroll like the MLB does).

There wouldn't be small- and large-market teams with revenue sharing. In the NFL, a team is a team is a team. This is a philosophy the NHL should adopt.

Second you need to have a system for removing owners that aren't competitive. There has to be a financial benefit to success on the field (or ice) to try to ensure that owners don't try to simply make money (which they should have a right to do) rather than be competitive.

Becoming an NHL owner should be about joining an exclusive club focused on growing the overall league (like the NFL), not about beating the other organizations (like MLB). The NFL is 32 clubs working together to enhance the NFL brand. MLB is about profits for each owner -- 30 little empires. Though this concept would 'hurt' Illitch and the Red Wings, it would benefit the NHL. Hockey needs all of its owners to buy into this idea if they want to build the league over time. If the league grows, they all win.

Third you need to positively market the sport. Players unions are hear to stay, and while I understand everyone sport wants to crush their union like the NFL did, but at some point complaining about the financial state of the game by a bunch of billionares and millionares just hurts the image of the sport.

I couldn't agree more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Forum Statistics

    • Total Topics
      96,485
    • Total Posts
      2,883,003
  • Who's Online (See full list)

  • Upcoming Events

    No upcoming events found
×
×
  • Create New...