July 16, 2003

"I hope I can do a better job than Mr. Bettman," : Me too Bobby, me too. Rule changes (no red line, Olympic-sized rink, automatic icing, penalty shots for certain obstruction infractions), affordability, and dinosaurs on skates. It could work. Or it could just force the NHLPA's hand.

posted by garfield to hockey at 09:42 AM - 13 comments

IIRC, Gordie Howe and sons had a pretty uplifting effect on the original WHA. And being a true capitalist running dog, I applaud any kind of competition like this.

posted by billsaysthis at 10:58 AM on July 16, 2003

This is a great idea. With the NHL in its sorry state, a clean-slate hockey league with (mostly) pro players is a laudable business proposition. But it's geared towards hardcore hockey fans who are growing weary of the Bettman-era NHL, and I wonder how much mainstream attention it will get. In other words I wonder how many hardcore hockey fans there ARE in the U.S., and how many among them are willing to switch allegiances.

posted by Succa at 11:28 AM on July 16, 2003

The talent pool in the NHL is already so diluted that I have to wonder just who is going to fill out these new rosters. The rule changes sound good to me--let's see if the penalties will be called any more consistently. The whole enterprise--for the NHL, too--rests on what happens in the labor talks, so it's a great time to take a shot at a new league...

posted by Mookieproof at 11:55 AM on July 16, 2003

...as long as the players skate hard, hit hard, pass, score and fight, I'm not too concerned about talent levels. Actually, I'd venture a guess that talent has improved in the NHL.

posted by garfield at 12:25 PM on July 16, 2003

It's going to be a collossal failure. They'd need to introduce trampolines into the game to make the American public watch. Or maybe that's just me.

posted by Samsonov14 at 12:28 PM on July 16, 2003

Where are they going to put the teams? It mentions teams building new arenas... that's pretty ambitious, especially since it starts next year. Do they really think that they can create new franchises and draw a lot of fans? I like the idea of competition, and those rules, but I don't think that it'll succeed financially or talent-wise. I think very few bona fide stars if any will take the risk of going there. I don't really think that there'd be any convincing arguments to get a current NHL player to jump leagues. Plus who wants to play for something other than the stanley cup?

posted by Bernreuther at 12:30 PM on July 16, 2003

Even though the NHL has expanded so much in the last 10 years or so, I don't think the talent level has dropped off because of the influx of talented players from Europe. I do think that Hull could do a better job than Bettman. I'd like to see many of those rule changes adopted in the NHL, particularly eliminating the red line, which would do the most towards opening up the ice with the fewest changes. Adopting the Olympic sized ice would help opening up the game, too. I'd rather see more power plays than more penalty shots. While penalty shots are dramatic (and make for good highlights on SportsCenter), a 2 minute power-play provides more excitement over a longer period of time. As far as penalizing for trapping, how do they intend to do that? "2 minute minor for playing good positional, defensive hockey." make it harder for teams to trap, by eliminating the redline and making the ice larger, and the game will open up on its own.

posted by andrewraff at 12:36 PM on July 16, 2003

Well, the rink question is of no major concern, as the draw should be accomodated nicely in existing low-capacity arenas. It should be interesting to see if players actually make the leap if there is stoppage(though taking Lord Stanley out of the equation is a major bummer), and if the WHA would mandate multi-year contracts so players can't keep jumping the fence. I'm not sold on the penalty shot/obstruction either. Enforcing the penalty shot isn't so great, but the threat of it would be a much better deterrent to constant clutching and grabbing. And if we're talking about drawing more American viewers to hockey, an influx of penalty shots is a way to go. sammy, that's just you. Trampolines would constantly be getting sliced up, and there'd be endless commercial breaks to fix them. Though maybe vertical trampolines rather than the boards would be cool.

posted by garfield at 01:04 PM on July 16, 2003

if they can make fancy kevlar sticks i am sure there is technology for a fancy cut proof ice trampoline. hockey crossed with slamball - I'd watch that.

posted by gspm at 01:17 PM on July 16, 2003

I'm sorry, but I have no intention of watching the "Senior's Tour" of hockey. Hull, Chelios, Larinonov... are the primary sponsors going to be Viagra and Geritol? Will Gordie Howe hobble on to the ice for one more season? I hear Rick Vaive still thinks he can play... Ugh. Dead before it starts. Just like that league that tried to form when the NHL was locked out back in the early 1990s. (Sidenote: I was at the convention centre where they were holding the draft for that stillborn league. My friend and I just walked into the ballroom where the draft was being held and grabbed a copy of a couple draft sheets while everyone was having lunch. I wish I held on to them because they might have had some value on the sports market nowadays.)

posted by grum@work at 02:35 PM on July 16, 2003

I think the question is would you watch if there was no NHL all winter? I'd check it out once or twice, as the twitching could become bothersome by Februrary.

posted by garfield at 02:57 PM on July 16, 2003

I too would like to see the NHL ice the size of Olympic ice, but what owner in his right mind is going to approve the removal of $100 - $200 seats (in ticket prices that is, not the physical value of the cheaply built seats) to accomadate the larger sized rink?

posted by NoMich at 03:10 PM on July 16, 2003

This is bad for the sport in general (in the US). The potential stoppage may alienate casual fans, and a slightly better than beer league lineup isn't going have a draw like the NHL. And as for lack of kids, the last 5 games I've gone to, people have had their rugrats there, jumping about. I can't think of how many times I've had parents of kids have to walk their kids right in front of me during the damn play.

posted by tj at 01:21 AM on July 17, 2003

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