Archive for September 23rd, 2007

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If I Was In Charge

September 23, 2007

There’s been a lot of fan outrage over the new Reebok jerseys the NHL has introduced. Sure, they may be stronger, higher, swifter, drier than the current style of jerseys, but they’re messing with tradition. Hockey sweaters are meant to be like that old, comfortable sweatshirt that you put on when you’re PMS’ing: loose and worn-in; not tight and form-fitting.¬† Many fans wish the league would have just left well enough alone. So that got me thinking, what would I do if I were NHL Grand-High Poobah Overlord¬† Commissioner for a day?

Well, first off, I would chuck the new sweaters and uniform re-designs that followed. There was no need to add piping and completely eliminate horizontal stripes, redo perfectly serviceable logos, add random colors, add color blocks to only one side of the uniform, tailor the edges of the uniform, and the rest goes on. There was nothing wrong with the old uniforms, so why fix what’s not broken?

Second, I would adjust the NHL schedule so that every team plays each other at least once a year. The East Coast teams should have to make a two week road trip out to play the West. Why should the West Coast teams be the only ones that have to travel all over the place? I’d rather let a rivalry develop naturally from good hockey than a forced rivalry from seeing each other so much.

Third, I would find a way to reduce the size of goalie equipment. There’s no reason that Crunchy should be so scrawny off the ice, and then magically transform into the stay-puff marshmallow man once his gear is on. There has to be a way to do it to allow the goalies to stay safe against harder shots, but also make the equipment smaller.

Fourth, I would make sure that NHL teams made sure to promote the heck out of their players. All of them, not just the chosen ones for each team. Have merchandise ready for people like Lydman, Roy, Gaustad, not just the Pommers and Millers of the world. Also, humanize the players! They’re not just stats. Sure its great that we can statbitty hockey to death, and that its all accessible on the internet, but the players are real flesh and blood people, not just statbitty generators. Use that. Tell us about them. Make their bios entertaining (Sykora and his chinchilla, Parise and his turtle, etc) , and fans will appreciate it. In addition, we know that 99% of hockey players are entertaining in front of a mic. Work with it. Mic up players during the game and use the footage to narrate some of the broadcast.

Which leads me into my next point. Get NHL the heck off of Versus. The NHL is already seen as a niche league. Being on a niche network doesn’t help that perception. Bring the league back to ESPN, where more than 0.4 ratings points will see the game.

And finally, I would formally apologize to the good people of Buffalo for the blown call on Brett Hull in 1999. Yes, Colin Campbell kinda-sorta-but-not-really did already apologize, but that doesn’t mean much unless it comes from the guy in charge.

So that is my pipe dream.