Thursday, November 02, 2006

An item for the bad idea pile

Not only do fans deserve to see all of the league's stars at least once each season, the teams deserve a better competitive shake. And for the benefit of all involved, it needs to be fixed, sooner rather than later.

A lot of ideas have been tossed around lately as to how to make that happen. Here are mine:

The first step is to expand the schedule to 86 games.

— Allan Muir, Sports Illustrated

I'm afraid I didn't have a chance to read any further.

The NHL schedule desperately needs to be shortened by at least 10 games, and preferably more. If I had my way, the NHL would play 70 games, the AHL around 64 and kids in Canadian junior hockey would play fewer than 50. It's utterly absurd how much hockey has been crammed into the October-to-June period in the past decade or so, especially considering that a large group of those junior-age players are supposed to be in high school on a full-time basis.

The story of a guy like Steve Begin, who never finished high school, is all too common among hockey players, and that's a big reason why, as a group, they're ridiculed by people like Tom Benjamin for being uneducated and inarticulate. Hockey has a system that works against them being otherwise, as in the main, it's only those kids deemed too small or not good enough who play a lower tier of junior hockey and go on to U.S. college hockey.

The percentage of NHLers with a university education is terribly low, and I suspect that the numbers of those who have a high-school diploma are also a lot lower than most would think.

I'm off on a tangent here, but I think it's an important one. As much as I like 'lots of hockey', it's a physical game that just doesn't lend itself to the 100-plus game schedule championship teams are required to play.

15 Comments:

At 6:21 PM, November 02, 2006, Blogger mike w said...

Agreed.

Where did this schedule expansion talk come from all of the sudden?

Is there a fan anywhere clamouring for more games? At the very least, the NHL should get its priorities straight and try to fill the arenas for the games they already have. Better yet, drop 6-10 games from the schedule.

 
At 7:38 PM, November 02, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, but if you had kept reading, you'd have found that Muir agrees with you -- only he makes the point that the owners will never agree to give up dates.

Instead, Muir proposes cutting the number of exhibitions -- same number of dates, only more of them count.

I think Muir is being a responsible sportswriter because he is dwelling in the world of what is, not the world of what I think ought to be. Would the owners give up the dates? What's in it for them? If there are no answers to these questions, then why are we talking about it?

 
At 9:39 PM, November 02, 2006, Blogger Ayla said...

I think one of the biggest issues will be the cost to the fan. Oh ya, it would be nice to see certain players once a year, but I'm not going to pay the extra $1,800 for two seats to ten extra games. My husband and I are already "priced-out" for the 12-game ticket deals. I don't see how the average person would be able to afford the cost.

As Mike W. said, the league is having enough issues getting the arenas filled. I know the Devils have been advertising 1/2 price tickets to a lot of games for visiting western conference teams because nobody wants to see teams like Columbus or Phoenix (no offense to those teams). The Devils are infamous for not being able to fill seats but this is getting to be a problem league-wide.

 
At 9:40 PM, November 02, 2006, Blogger Michael said...

The part that I don't like in Mr. Muir's comments is that the "competitive shake" is overrated.

I will grant that the Sid & Geney show should be able to be seen on the left coast to promote the game and for the betterment of the league.

Personally, I am not interested in playing more of the Stars, Kings, Canucks because I thoroughly enjoy the season schedule weighted towards the divisional opponent. I find it so much more exciting to play against the Flyers or Capitals no matter if they have Crosby and Malkin or not.

 
At 10:13 PM, November 02, 2006, Blogger Gary said...

to play all teams once, you just need to sacrifice 5 games in your own conference since you're already playing 10 of 15 teams on the other side of the continent.

i think its pretty doable, even if its not completely balanced. heck, the schedule is already not balanced. the habs don't have to face anaheim, dallas or san jose this year!

 
At 11:18 PM, November 02, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bettman came right out and said it on Vancouver radio the other day: Most fans like the sked the way it is. It's mostly Western Canada clamoring for the balanced sked.

 
At 12:56 AM, November 03, 2006, Blogger Desdemona said...

Since when does Bettman actually know what hockey fans want?

 
At 1:04 AM, November 03, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am nowhere near Western Canada, and I can tell that the schedule stinks all the way from Michigan!

 
At 1:50 AM, November 03, 2006, Blogger Doogie said...

I actually thought up that exact schedule earlier today on the way to the bus. It's perfectly elegant, and unlike the current schedule, it doesn't miss the point, entirely. If it were theoretically possible to reduce the size of the schedule, you could go with, say, a McKenzie alternation, to give 76 instead of 86 games, but really, what are the odds of that happening?

 
At 7:06 AM, November 03, 2006, Anonymous Baroque said...

If the number of preseason games is reduced, what will that do to a)the training camps in other cities (a lot of fans look forward to that, because it is the only time they get to see the players) and b)the chances of a rookie making an impression? Teams have got to be a lot more reluctant to carry extra bodies along unless they are pretty damn sure the players will be able to contribute and not waste cap space, so the preseason games are important for the players trying to make it.

And I secnd mike w's comment. Try filling arenas for the games already on the schedule, then consider whether any more are needed.

 
At 7:23 AM, November 03, 2006, Blogger alyosha mcbain said...

James is right, Muir is wrong. It's that simple. A 70-game season would be ideal, and a 64-gamer even better. Cutting six teams from the league would be the best thing of all.

 
At 9:12 AM, November 03, 2006, Blogger Doogie said...

And Muir would even agree with you, in a perfect world, if you read the story. You have to consider what is in the realm of actually, possibly occurring. Contraction, of the schedule or the league, is not, for the forseeable future.

 
At 9:19 AM, November 03, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed. The season should be shorter. And this is from a die-hard hockey fan, not a SELFISH hockey fan. Think of it people, less games could possibly lead to healthier players and thus, an improved product. The wear and tear of the game as it is now combined with an even longer schedule is not a recipe for top notch talent.

 
At 10:02 AM, November 03, 2006, Blogger girlysportsrant said...

The schedule need to be more flexible where you can makeup matchups like the NFL does. (ie. NE and IND play every year despite not being in the same division)

How about this.

82 games
Division X 6 = 24
Conference X 3 = 30
Other Conference X 1 = 15
Extra games = 15
Extra games could be anything.. rematch of last years stanley cup semi-final or final , Canadian matchups or Detroit/Colorado or primetime LA/NY... anything to fit tv!

 
At 2:23 PM, November 03, 2006, Blogger sager said...

I posted this the other day:

56 games in the conference: 14x4

16 games out of conference -- play everybody once + one extra game.

That way, the Western Canada teams could get an extra visit from the Leafs or Canadiens. Or the Senators if they're into that kind of thing.

 

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