I have loved and followed hockey ever since the ´88 olympics in Calgary.. This is just the best game ever invented.
As a European fan - having lived only 1 year in Toronto - it is hard to get a proper connection and information feed on the most honourable and dynamic professional sports existing, although the internet has brought significant improvements with regards to that over the last ten years..
Time difference doesn´t really help that much either (tonight´s game start will be at 2AM here, so will be a long night..).
I think that with some improvements / changes, the NHL has a very bright future ahead. Having a different perspective since being European based, I would like to express some thoughts on these improvements and changes. So here we go.
1. Expansion to 32 teams. Phoenix will go to Quebec. 2 New additional teams in the West, with Seattle and Las Vegas being the prime candidates.
2. Changing up the conferences With the expansion to 32 teams, two 16 teams conferences are created. Detroit goes East, Phoenix goes East to Quebec. The two new teams of Seattle and Las Vegas will be in the Western Conference.
3. Each conference has two divisions.
Division A in the West: Vancouver, Chicago, Dallas, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, Minnesota, Seattle.
Division B in the West: San José, Nashville, Colombus, Anaheim, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Colorado, Las Vegas.
Division C in the East: Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec, Toronto, NYR, Detroit, Buffalo, Boston.
Division D in the East: Washington, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, NYI, NJ, Carolina, Florida, Tampa Bay.
Canadian teams are grouped together in both East as well as well, most of the rivalries are kept in state.
4. Changing up the schedule Each team plays two home games and two away games against all opponents in its own division. This will amount to a total of 28 games. Then Each team plays one home game and one away game against all other teams (24 in total). This is a total of an additional 48 games. So regular season will amount to 76 games. It is much more interesting to see all league teams (and its stars!) playing your team at least 2 times, while still playing 4 games against rival division teams. Also is more fair that every team plays all other teams during the regular season.
5. Having more 3PM games on Saturdays and Sundays I seriously believe, the NHL has a huge growth potential in the European market. Offering more games at 8PM/9PM European times, will definately increase attention from these markets, opening up lots of possibilities for the league to grow. I am against the idea of the NHL actually expanding overseas with a so-called European division with teams in Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic), but the league shouldn´t turn its back on growth possibilities in Europe (and the possible threat of KHL expanding in Europe!). If promoted and marketed well, NHL could become big in the Northern and Eastern markets of Europe.
6. Only have two trading periods Let teams only make trades from 1st of July to start of the Season, and then a 2 week midseason trade window. Having players on three different teams in one regular season is just too much.
7. Maximum contract length is 5 year Nobody knows what future will bring, and locking up players for over 5 years in most cases will do more harm than good to an organisation. Apart from this, it is much more fun to have the possibility of having elite players spending their prime 10years possibly between 2 teams instead of just one team because of his contract.
8. Get rid of the instigator rule Don´t think I need to explain on this one..
So would appreciate your thoughts on this... Have a great game tonight and cheers for a bright future for the NHL and all of its franchises!