Tuesday, 21 June 2011

A Modestly Proposed Plan to Save Hockey From the NHL (and to save the NHL from itself)

The National Hockey League is an organization in crisis. The league owners have a tremendous product that they seemingly are trying to suffocate out of existence, implausibly following the examples of Major League Baseball and boxing.

We will explore in the coming days various ways in which the NHL can reinvigorate its game and boldly march into the 21st Century.

DISCLAIMER: the author is a forward-thinking genius and is not looking for incremental change, like the current tinkering with Rule 48 which governs illegal hits to the head. Instead, he proposes to dramatically alter the game to make it safer and more enjoyable for the players and more spectacular for the fans.

CAVEAT: when the cash registers of the League are swollen from skyrocketing revenues due to these changes being adopted, the author will be enjoining the League to provide him with a mutually-acceptable percentage of said revenues.

#1: INSTITUTE A NEW POINTS SYSTEM: 3 for a win, 2 for an OT win, 1 for an OT loss.

Let’s start with an easy one. Last summer, some General Managers were up at arms about the Overtime and Shootout rules, claiming that some teams when tied in the third period were coasting to reach OT and thus collect the guaranteed point. They further claimed that some teams would play defensive hockey during OT to make it to the shootout, which in their view is more a crapshoot than real hockey. Cumulatively, they believed, this led to boring hockey as opposed to the excitement the OT and SO were supposed to generate.

This problem, if it exists, is easily solved by granting three points for a regulation-time win, but only two for an OT or SO win, with the losing team picking up the single. This would allay any fears that teams aren’t giving their all at the end of the game to win now. This also does away with the nonsense that some games are worth two points, some are worth two points and another point.

Now that this problem is solved, let’s look at OT. Some GM’s proposed that after the 5 minutes of 4 on 4 OT, 3 on 3 should be played instead of going to the shootout. I say let’s do 3 minutes of 3 on 3, and if it’s still tied then, we now go to the Shootout. In the Shootout, let’s increase the number of shooters from three per side to five.

These changes will, primarily, give the fans more bang for their buck. The games will be more hotly contested and any OT would be more spectacular.

Another way this will improve the game is the way it would affect rosters. GM’s and coaches would have to retool their rosters and lineups, favouring players with skating and offensive skills instead of muckers and grinders who plug up the middle of the ice at 5 on 5. The Canadiens, for example, would be more inclined toward players like Desharnais and Pouliot rather than Moen and Halpern, knowing they need to have the horses for 3 on 3, and at least five danglers and snipers for any Shootouts.

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