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If I owned an NHL Team...

Posted 11:10 AM ET | Comments 6
It's a thought that most hockey fans ponder from time to time. What would you do if you owned and operated your own franchise? What if you could buy your favorite team and do things your way? What would you do differently? Being a hockey fan myself, I too have pondered such a question. And here are a few things that I came up with, in that magical fairytale world where I owned my own NHL team:

Return to the Wooden Stick
Sure, my players may hate me for it, and the Players Union would undoubtedly protest, but this is my dream, so back off. The first rule I would implement for my team is no hybrid sticks. Only wooden sticks are allowed on my team. Every time I see a play gone wrong because a hybrid stick snapped in half, I lose my mind (which is typically about once a period).

I like to play the odds. If you count the number of offensive chances that are ruined for a broken stick, and throw in the number of scoring chances given up to the other team (even worse) for broken sticks, it's a pretty big deal. Compare that to the minimal advantage you may gain using a hybrid stick, and there's no way it's close. The hybrid may let you shoot it harder, but that doesn't necessarily translate into goals.

It would take a bold owner/manager to mandate wooden sticks on his team, and it probably won't happen. That is, until I get my team.

No Trade and No Movement Clauses
Again, my players would hate me for it, but I would put a halt to the no trade, and especially the no-movement clause. It castrates the future GM's ability to run his team. GMs who hand these out like candy have no regard for the future, and are only concerned with saving their job for the next year. As owner, I would veto these, with few exceptions. In the rare cases where it's my superstar player, I would tie the no move clause to a couple of things:
1. If the player asks for a trade, the clause is null and void (see Dany Heatley)
2. It would be tied to performance. If the player has less than a point per game for the past season, his no-trade clause is no-good, for example. That way, you don't have dead weight tying up your books.
3. Finally, in the event that I need to trade the guy, the contract would stipulate that he could specify 5 teams up front that he's willing to waive it for. That way, I have something to work with, and he still has some say in his destiny.

Players on the IR Assigned to PR duties
When a player is placed on long-term injured reserved, they're basically being paid to do nothing but heal. There's more to those 6 million dollar salaries than showing up for games. It's assumed that the players are there to represent the team in the community and promote the organization. On my team, if a player is on the IR, he should spend a good bit of that time making appearances in the community. Sign some autographs, shakes some hands, hold a baby or two. It's the least you can do for the $20,000 a day you're being paid to stay home while your teammates are on the road earning their pay. If a player is injured, and you put down $100 a seat, I think it's reasonable that the guy could hang out in the lobby between periods, before and after the game, to meet the fans who really pay his salary.

No More Cheerleaders
This isn't the NFL. What a disgrace.

Bring back the Organ
For those who grew up on it, you know what I mean. Can Cotton-eyed Joe and give me the live tunes.

So, what would you do differently if you owned a team?

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Filed Under:   wooden sticks   no trade clause  
November 23, 2009 12:16 PM ET | Delete
if somehow your team had a chance to sign Alex Ovechkin, and the only thing stopping you from signing him would be a no trade clause, would you do it?
November 23, 2009 1:25 PM ET | Delete
I agree. Sutter in 04 actually had his players play with wooden sticks for a period of time.I would also make sure my team was in a viable market. I wouldn't stand for losing millions of dollars a year to make Bettman happy.
November 23, 2009 1:26 PM ET | Delete
I did say "with few exceptions". Obviously, that's one of the few. It's just that something like 10-20% of players have them now. One per team is ok. One per line is foolishness.
November 23, 2009 1:45 PM ET | Delete
Yeah, well the issue is that in a cap world NMC's are an important bargaining tool... something that can be granted in lieu of dollars. I highly doubt any player would be willing to accept any of the terms outlined if other teams were willing to pony up a non-restrictive NMC.
November 23, 2009 2:46 PM ET | Delete
I like a lot of these ideas. Wooden sticks have a place in the game over any hybrid sticks. A broken stick can turn out to be a huge momentum shifter. Who wants to see the outcome of a game decided by the quality of a stick rather than the quality of a player?
November 25, 2009 4:51 AM ET | Delete
Great ideas for sure. My only major additions would be a couple of rink improvements. I'd make sure the boards/glass in my arena would buckle somewhat when slammed into, so the bodies of the players wouldn't buckle instead. And I'd also ensure that I had top notch ice. It makes the game faster, more exciting, and more conducive to skilled plays, not to mention safer for groins.
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