We are just over a week from the Traverse City Tournament, and the Buffalo Sabres have three games scheduled in the tournament, defending their title from two seasons ago.
On Friday, the Sabres will then play the prospects from Broadway, with the New York Rangers on the schedule. The Sabres will close the round robin portion of the tournament against the Carolina Hurricanes on September 8th.
The tournament will close with Championship Monday on September 9th — with the new tournament champion being crowned, or the Sabres repeating – with a one year break for the lockout.
This will be the sixteenth tournament hosted by the Detroit Red Wings. Which begs me to wonder, why doesn’t the NHL capitalize on this more?
The NHL is never happy with just one of a good thing. The Heritage Classic was played once as a tribute to the origins of the game of hockey in North America. We now have the Heritage Classic, Winter Classic, and Stadium Series taking up a portion of the regular season – sending a number of teams out into the elements for critical points in the standings.
Why has the NHL balked at the idea of adding prospect level tournaments around the country? With the number of ice rinks that dot the landscape around the country – it wouldn’t take the NHL long to find a home for a tournament that could be hosted in each of the cities within a teams division. Much like the Summer League for the NBA – the NHL could use the prospect tournaments to bridge the gap between the end of the free agent frenzy and the start of training camps in September. Haven’t we all been longing for something hockey in the month of August?
The Buffalo Sabres are currently developing ice rinks in conjunction with the HarborCenter project – which would be the perfect location for an Atlantic Division based tournament.
If you don’t want to limit the field to just your division (although that would help increase rivalries between the teams) – make it an invitation only tournament like the Traverse City based contests. Call it the HarborCenter Tournament.
If the league were to pick up the tournaments, you could rotate the tournaments between the cities in the division, so you would be hosting the event every seven years or so, based on availability of the rinks.