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My Utopian NHL - Part I

Posted 6:42 PM ET | Comments 1
I kind of stole this idea from THN but heres a list of changes that I would make if I had one day to do anything and everything to the NHL. Let me know what you think and any other ideas that you would like to see.

1. Florida Panthers move to Winnipeg
I don't know how this team manages to survive in Florida. They haven't made the playoffs since 2000-01. They have an average 14,715 fans per game and that number includes tickets that were sold but were not used and freebie tickets, which are pretty easy to come by in Florida. The team has to offer free parking and giveaways just to get fans into the seats. It’s been rumoured that the reason for Jacques Martin is both GM and Coach is because the team can't afford to pay for both positions. Lack of finances was also a factor in the Luongo contract talks which eventually led to his trade to Vancouver. The people in Winnipeg are desperate for another NHL team and have learnt from their past mistakes. They have a brand new arena, and with the Canadian dollar now on par with the US dollar, the team would be capable of retaining their best players.

2. Nashville Predators move to Hamilton
We all saw the support for an NHL team in Hamilton when Jim Basille made a bold move while trying to buy the Predators and offered season tickets to the people of Hamilton and in less than one week over 13000 season ticket had been sold as well as all 70 corporate boxes. The Preds on the other hand have only about 9000 season ticket holders and very little corporate support.

3. Atlanta Thrashers move to Las Vegas
The Thrashers like the Panthers and Predators are struggling in terms of attendance. While they have averaged about 15000 fans per game, 3000 of those tickets are freebies. In the 2006-07 season, the Thrashers were ranked 26th overall for gate receipts, averaging about $488,000 per game. In Vegas, there is a large sports following and there is currently no professional sports team in Las Vegas so the NHL would have virtually no competition. Also, Vegas is a major tourist destination, so along with the locals, the tourist would also support the team. One issue however would be that because many of the fans attending games would be tourists, the team likely would not sell a large amount of season tickets. However, the corporate support for the team would definitely be there.

4. Detroit to the Eastern Conference
With Florida going to the West in Winnipeg, Detroit would be flipped into the Eastern Conference, something the organization has longed for a long time.

5. Schedule
The schedule would consist of 84 games
6vs Divisional opponents (24 total)
4 vs Conference opponents (40 total)
1 vs teams in two of the three opposing Conference divisions
2 vs teams in the third opposing conference division. Each year, this would be a different division

6. Preseason Games.
Teams would be limited to 5 preseason games each. With players now coming into camp already in shape, there is not much of need for an extended training camp. Nowdays, training camp is used to decide which players will stay with the big team and which will be returned to junior or sent to the AHL. This is usually already established by the end of the first week of camp so there is little need for 7-9 preseason games. Also, having too many preseason games can lead to fatigue and injuries among players.

7. Season Start Date
Training camp would begin in late August and the regular season would start on Labour Day (first Monday of September). Every year, all 30 teams would play on opening day and TSN, CBC, NBC, Versus, and the NHL Network would host triple headers. This way the NHL season would open with a bang! As a result of the earlier start date, the playoffs would run till late April - early May with the exception of Olympic years. Also, with the earlier start date, the NHL wouldn't have to compete for attention with the NBA playoffs

8. Olympics
The NHL would continue participation in the Olympics past 2010, but instead of a two week break, there would be a four week break, pushing the Cup finals to late May. Before, players on teams that went to the medal round would be required to play 7 games in 11 days at the most elite and intense level in the world. With four weeks, players would get 1 week to get familiar with their teammate, prepare for competition and recover from jetlag. They then would have 18 days to play out the entire and then 3 days to fly home and prepare to play in the NHL again. Injuries would be reduced significantly and teams would have to suffer without their stars. Having to extend the schedule by four weeks is just a small price to pay to see our top hockey players compete on the world stage.

9. Outdoor Games
Every year there would be one outdoor regular season game called the Christmas Eve Winter Classic. The game would take place in the afternoon on Christmas Eve and would feature two teams that are relatively close to each other, (ie. NY Islanders and NY Rangers, Toronto and Ottawa) so that players can still spend Christmas with their families. Also, the two teams that participate in the game would get an extended Christmas break.

10. Limited Non-Game Days
There would no longer be extended breaks between games, with the exception of the Christmas/Allstar/Olympic break. The max days off between games would be 3 days. This would help shorten the schedule and prevent players from losing their edge.

Filed Under:   NHL   Nashville   Atlanta   Florida   Toronto   Vancouver  
January 27, 2008 12:47 AM ET | Delete
My hockey utopia would consist of ignorant Nashville naysayers being forced to relinquish all rights to blog
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