Every year the NHL competition committee gets together in a board room to discuss possible rule changes that will open up the NHL, to get more scoring and excitement into the game of hockey.
(On a side note I won't get into in this column, I think the offensive side of the game is just fine and pretty exciting.)
Bless their hearts, they are a good group of guys who mean well, but it seems they pick on the same people every year. Rehash the same ideas that never seem to get passed when the decision day comes around.
Bigger nets, smaller goalies, awarding more points as incentives. Sure, all of these may very well be good moves (once again, I don't endorse any of them.)
But the answer is clear. Literally
If the NHL wants a better on-ice product, they need to have better ice.
All the rule changes in the world wouldn't help most of these teams who have to suffer through sixty minutes on mushy, chippy ice.
Nearly every team in the NHL has had to battle the bad ice, and many are now winning the wars with dehumidification systems.
Last year the Toronto Maple Leafs were the latest team to install the system, which has to be lowered in through a temporary hole cut in the roof.
The process of dehumidification means to take moisture out of the area, in this case the arena. This is important because obviously, it allows for the rink to stay cool, allowing the integrity of the ice to remain intact, and in top form.
Though I do not have the official numbers, I would make an educated guess to say that around or less than 30% of the leagues teams have them.
There are many positives to installing a system like this. The obvious is that the ice quality will be better. Not only does this lead to a better game, it also leads to less chance of injury. It's also a lot quicker than you would think. Even to cut the hole in the roof, install the system, and re apply the roof, the whole procedure only takes about two weeks.
Taking the humidification out of the building also makes for a better environment for the fans.
Like anything though, it does have its drawbacks.
The main thing, and the one that would be most focused on by quite a few owners around the NHL is the cost.
Last year the Toronto Maple Leafs reported that the system cost just under $4 million dollars.
For a few teams who are on self imposed caps, and for some that are in fear of having to move from their current residence, this price tag simply won't fly.
The answer lies in the salary cap rule that states the teams in the bottom five of the earning column receive compensation from the richer teams. This money can be used towards the system. Teams can also get help from the arenas that house them toward the new upgrades.
No matter what rule changes pass or fail this summer in the board meetings, one thing is for sure. The NHL needs to make dehumidification systems mandatory in all thirty buildings.
It's best for the players. It's best for the product. And it's best for the fans, who spend their hard earned money to see these superstars entertain them.
And that's a little hard for them to do when they are more or less skating in slush.
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