seems like so long ago, but do you remember the end of Lockout 2004? We had exciting hockey for a couple of years in the NHL. Rule changes and referees that called the games and enforced the rules the way they were supposed to.
No longer did we have a clutch and grab game – we had a league where skilled teams ruled the roost – and speed was essential.
Lockout 2012 continues and with each passing day damages the brand and the North American game even further. The NHL will have to make changes to their game if they are going to increase the chances that fans will either be attracted to their product, or come back after being snubbed by the players and owners in the fans don’t matter campaign of 2012. As it stands right now, the damage the lockout is doing to the NHL brand – we could see images like the one above in NHL arena’s outside of Florida, Pheonix, and Columbus.
While changes may seem gimmicky, remember, the shootout came out of the last lockout, and while it took a few seasons; it eventually grew, and is not a part of the sport that teams prepare for and some teams need to make into the post season. I would like to see the NHL change its rules and award the goals as they are scored in the shootout, both on the scoreboard and in the personal stats – not just add a “team” goal for the team that wins the shootout.
I read on Eklund today that he would be interested in seeing the NHL allow all 30 teams into the post season this year – and I just don’t think that is a viable option. I can see his point of trying to increase the buzz in all hockey markets, but can you imagine the Columbus Blue Jackets being allowed in the post season – you allow all 30 teams in the post season and you have the recipe for the first team with a losing record to win the Stanley Cup following the year where the first eighth place team won the Stanley Cup.
There are a couple of things that the NHL could do to make the game more appealing. Larger nets, getting rid of the restricted zone behind the nets – hybrid icing, calling the rules by the book. There are plenty of ways that the league can modify the North American game to make it more exciting.
I for one would want the NHL to look at how they can begin transferring from the smaller ice rinks to the larger sized rinks used in International play – giving the skilled players more room to show off their skills.
The NHL lost abotu 200 players the last time they locked out, guys who could not get back in for any reason. It is going to happen again – there will be those that can’t adjust to the new modern NHL – and those whose time will just expire. Adaption will have to happen, change must be made.
It is such a shame that the NHL must reinvent itself both financially and on the ice every time the CBA expires. What changes would you like to see the NHL make when they begin playing once again?