So I was watching Around the Horn earlier today (it was quite literally either that or Charmed at 4 central on a weekday, and...well, let's just say that there were commercials) when Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News brought up his "great article
" about how to save the NHL from utter irrevelance and how as many execs as he could find (read: a conference call with Tom Hicks, who is too busy running Liverpool to care about hockey at this moment) thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread and that everything in there was the gospel truth. Being a committed hockey fan that can see why certain people don't like the sport (it's on ice, they can't spell Alfredsson, they can't see a black disc on a white surface, etc), I'm going to put a blog up that addresses his 10-point "plan" to make the NHL better again:
1. Put microphones on all coaches and captains (like in NASCAR).
I think this idea could work pretty well, but seeing an entire arena filled with people wearing giant headphones just is weird. Maybe it's my dislike of NASCAR (I'm an open-wheel guy).
2. Start the season a month later, so that after the NBA Finals end, you get all the attention you want.
Yes, but you're also playing hockey into late June, which for some reason isn't right. Keep it as-is and just shorten the schedule.
3. Balance the schedule so that everyone can see Crosby once a year.
Amen, brother. Which would you rather prefer: only seeing Sid or Alex once every three years, but boy howdy, we'd like to sell you Columbus tickets six or so times a year! or a guaranteed shot at every team every year? The choice is obvious.
4. Kiss up to ESPN and get the programming back on The Worldwide Leader.
Hmm, wasn't this the one that everyone on Around the Horn was talking about, getting max points for saying that being back on ESPN is great? Vested interests, anyone? But I can see the future now on ESPN: relegated to one or two nights a week while arena football and poker get good airtime because Disney owns shares in them. You can do well without ESPN, it's all in picking a good cable network with a lot more viewers than Versus (look at the NBA, who thrived on the Turner networks before finally sharing a deal with ESPN). Besides, The Leader has become a morass of horrible "personalities" and stupid pundits to be any good anymore.
5. Let the skaters in shootouts go without helmets.
Good idea, that most people would probably support. Only problem is that the shootout might be first to go.
6. Eliminate the shorthanded team being able to ice the puck during a man advantage.
I don't understand why he'd want this: if this would happen, penalty killing units would be effectively neutered, keeping the puck in the offensive zone until the penalty is over, which means instant breakout. Keep it: it's a nice leveling factor, plus it allows both teams to make changes on the fly.
7. Go to the 2-3-2 format for playoff series.
If I'm not mistaken the Western/Campbell (because of the larger distances compared to the Eastern/Wales) used to have this format...until Bettman came in. I don't know how this would work--I'd like to hear opinions.
8. If there's no winner after 2 playoff overtimes? ADDED-TIME MULTI-BALL!...no, SHOOT-OUT-TACULAR!
Pul-leaze. The strange, almost perverse drama of the neverending overtime is part and participle of what makes playoff hockey so great. Keep it as is--no one whines that the NBA doesn't stop its playoff OTs after one and go to a free-throw shooting contest.
9. Move the US offices to Hot-Lanta.
And what good would this do, when Atlanta is on everyone's contract shortlist? Cowlie writes "it'll let you know what you've done to the game". Uh, isn't that what firing the Rat should do?
10. Reduce the league to 26 teams.
To paraphrase Bender from Futurama, "drop two more teams, put three zeroes after it and you've got a deal!" 24 is the perfect size for the NHL, and anyone otherwise is itching for a fight.
Overall? Cowlie has some good ideas, but he never really addressed the 800-lb rat-faced monkey in the room. Until then, he's a little bit clueless.