Every fan has their own ideas of how they would change their favorite league or sport in a way they think would make it better. I have 10 ideas on my mind in which I think would make the NHL a more unique and attractive league. Not every idea but mostly all of them.
A lot of NHL fans agree the NHL lacks in the marketing department because the commissioner does not know about the game, therefore he does not know about the fan and what type of sports fan he should try to reach out too in trying to attract new ones. If the game can't be marketed the right way, I thought why not switch up some things and make it unique and standout from other sports leagues, then maybe it will sell itself.
Here are my 10 minor and major ideas to help promote the game of hockey and the NHL.
Retro NHL jersey's are arguably the greatest sports jersey's in all of sports, so why ignore them so much? If I was Commish, this would be one of the first things I would do. Make all NHL teams dawn at least a "retro style" type of jersey/uniform. Original six teams as well as teams that already have their original style (Devils for example) don't have to mess with their jersey's because they are already in a way retro. Every team that does not have a retro uniform from their past (Thrashers for example) will get a new retro, more professional style look to them.
Pros: Better and more professional looking. Honoring the past.
Cons: I don't see any considering most NHL fans prefer the retro style look.
Mirror tinted visors are really nothing more than cool looking. I don't think it would hurt the NHL if something cool looking was added in the game, right? Plus, some goalies (Martin Brodeur) claim the dark/mirror tints don't allow them to see the offensive players eyes on breakaways which goes against their advantage. This can only be a good thing for promoting more scoring, I guess.
Pros: Slight advantage to offensive players (especially in shootouts), and it looks sleek. Kids will think it looks cool.
Cons: Some goalies will complain. Fans won't be able to see players full face.
The only time we ever get to see the real international hockey teams with their full rosters is during the Olympics which is only every four years. It's just not enough.
The World Hockey Championships every Spring run during the time of the NHL playoffs, so it leaves out some of the best players. Plus most of the time those tournaments are played overseas, so most fans in North America have a hard time following it all because of the time difference.
Taking a week off during the NHL season every year to play international exhibitions (two, maybe three games tops) in North America will give countries more opportunities to build a better team for the Olympics, and it will help promote the game of hockey and the NHL itself (especially in places like America) because doing it internationally reaches a wider audience.
Pros: More international exposure for players which will help build better teams. Helps promote the game. True hockey fans love it, potential hockey fans will find it interesting.
Cons: Injuries which could cause players to miss NHL games if the level of competitiveness is too high.
Overtime in the regular season does not have a real overtime feel to it. And this is all because two points are given out (one to each team) if teams are tied at the end of regulation, meaning half the job is done on both sides. If points are not awarded after regulation, this means all points are up for grabs in overtime, meaning overtime will actually feel like a real overtime. A shootout will still be the same it is now. You're trying to win it for one point.
Pros: More intensity in overtime = more entertaining. Less three point games to the liking of hockey purists.
Cons: Some teams will lose out on points they could have earned, potentially leading to not as a competitive/exciting final stretch to the NHL season because less teams will be in the race.
I wrote an article about this several weeks ago with all potential matchups.
You can read about it by clicking here.
This rivalry weekend is similar to Rivalry week in college sports, only done over a weekend where all NHL teams will be involved in playing one game against their main rivals (two in total).
With something like this, there would have to be off days on Friday and of course Monday, maybe even Tuesday as well because back to back rivalry games with some teams is too intense and takes a lot out of the players.
Pros: Creates rivalries, makes existing ones more intense. It will always make for entertaining hockey.
Cons: Could be an Injury filled weekend.
Here is how I'd make up for the potential loss of more competitive teams down the final stretch of the season because of the two point overtimes I proposed a couple slides up.
How this play-in game would be done is making ninth place the final playoff spot, which reaches out to more of the bottom placed teams in each conference for a chance at making the playoffs. Only with that ninth spot you're not guaranteed a playoff spot, as well as the eighth spot. These two teams will have to play in a playoff play-in game. The eighth seeded team gets home ice, and the winner advances to the playoffs.
Think of it how the final two bids in the NCAA basketball tourney have a play-in game and the winner gets placed in the tourney.
Pros: Gives more teams a chance to reach the playoffs. Makes bottom half potential playoff teams play harder to avoid that eighth spot. Exciting and unique way to finish the regular season.
Cons: Ninth place team could make the playoffs over the eighth place team with less regular season points, which means there will be a feel of unfairness.
If Canada (mainly Jim Balsillie) is having trouble trying to lure a non traditional hockey team in southern/western America back to it's home land in Canada, why not just expand and give Canada two more teams?
I know I'm making it sound so simple, but Canada has a few markets that could support an NHL team. Toronto could easily support another NHL team if New York could support three and a half teams. Quebec and Winnipeg once supported NHL hockey, and they can again if Arena issues are worked out.
Put it this way. If two teams are placed in any Cities in Canada with enough support to support them, they automatically crack the top ten list of most profitable NHL franchises. That's not a fact, but damn, it's gotta be close.
Pros: Makes Canada happy, and they deserve it.
Cons: Watering down of player talent on teams.
Seriously, does anyone care about how much curve is on a stick except annoying goalies who look like the Michelen man? With more curve allowed in sticks, it's let's players show more puck handling skill and shoot more accurately. Hockey is hard enough as it is, so why not allow them to curve their stick more so we can see more dangles?
Goalie pads have evolved much more than the hockey stick over the years. Time to make it even.
Pros: Let's players express themselves with more skill.
Cons: Too much trickery.
I never understood the three player shootout. Maybe it's because they don't want to drag the game along any further than they have to. But what's a couple more players in a shootout that seems to be loved by most fans at the game? Three minutes at most? Having five players also makes it a little more fair, don't you think? By the time a goalie is on his third skater is the time he finally gets warmed up.
Pros: Makes it more fair to goalies/teams. Fans at games for the most part like shootouts, so more shooters = more fun.
Cons: Dragging the game along too far.
I don't know about you, but I can not stand how far into the Spring the NHL playoffs go. The Stanley Cup Finals do not end until Mid-June, the time when it's at least 80 degrees just about everywhere in North America. Warm weather is a sign playoff hockey is on the horizon or here, but hot weather is not.
So why not open training camps on September 1st, begin preseason a few days later, then start the season a week and a half later? This way the season ends in late May at worst, which gives players a feel of a longer summer, and now those Stanley Cup Finals have no interference with the NBA Finals.
Pros: Season ends where air conditioner does not start. No interference with other sports (i.e Pistons and Red Wings last season). Longer summers.
Cons: I can't think of any.