It has been 4 days since I started this blog and as a Canadian i feel almost embarrased to admit that I havent discussed the NHL yet. Although I am a little ashamed to admit it, I think I understand why.
For those of you who dont know, the NHL experienced a lockout just two years ago in which the entire season was lost in order to establish a salary cap and and a new set of rule changes. The salary cap was supposed to create parody throughout a league that had quickly become a dynasties league. Big market teams were able to become the class of the league by throwing more money at great players than small market teams had to spend on their entire roster. The salary cap was implemented immediately after the lockout and it did its job exactly as expected. Thanks to the salary cap, small market teams are able to compete for the services of superstar players like Chris Pronger and Joe Thornton thereby transforming their teams from relative obscurity to real Stanley Cup contenders. The new rule changes also did their job well. They increased offensive performance in every way including average goals per game and individual scoring creating a more dynamic and high octane game…Basically, the game became funner to watch, which is all that counts.
So why haven’t I spoken about this exciting new MY NHL yet? It’s actually very simple. The NHL was and still is, as sad as it is for me to say it, a dying sport. Scoring is up but ratings are still down and they continue to decline despite the NHL’s efforts to “reinvent” the game. Very recently, Hockey Night in Canada (as Canadian a tradition there is) admitted that their ratings are down yet again but not only are they down, they are down 18 percent from the year before the lockout! The NHL is on its last legs and it seems like despite their efforts, nothing will be able to save it…although they certainly will try. Gary Bettman, the NHL’s Commissioner, is going to try literally everything and anything to “reinvent” the game and prevent it from reaching complete obscurity…and I sincerely hope he succeeds.
Hockey has been around for almost a century and has provided us with some of our greatest and most cherished memories, from The Summit Series to The Miracle. Let’s not turn our backs on it now.