First off, Gary Bettman, you dumb bastard, can’t you wait two seconds? I know this is a big moment for you with Roger Goodell pooping the NFL money bed with a domestic violence snafu thus making you the second worst commissioner in the history of sports. But, up until this past week, you still held the title, you know having presided over two lockouts and badly botching a television strategy.
Second, I know NHL owners think they can make a billion dollars with each new team — proposed in Toronto, Quebec City, Las Vegas and Seattle. That’s a lot of money but the long term effects might be damaging. Baseball and basketball have both shown that 30 teams is about the right number. The NFL gets away with 32 teams because of a short schedule and the fact that it is athletically the easiest sport to play (Quarterback is an exception). Think about it, a running back, for the most part, grabs the ball and then runs forward while trying to avoid getting hit. That’s the extent of his job. The hand eye coordination required for hockey — stick handling, passing, shooting, avoiding getting pulverized into the far boards by a 6-4, 225 pound monster — it requires skill few people possess.
The best thing going for hockey right now is that it is an entertaining product. Every team in the league has at least one great player and a few really good ones. This in part because, like baseball and basketball, hockey is played in multiple countries around the world. Because of this, the NHL is also rife with parody — not necessarily who wins Lord Stanley’s cup but at least who makes the playoffs. The owners should not dilute the product.
I agree that there should be a second team in Toronto, or maybe Hamilton, and a team in Quebec City. Seattle wouldn’t be a bad choice either but you might just want to put a second team in Vancouver. Las Vegas, I’m not as sure on. I think Vegas is ready for a major league, pro sports team, but it’s a warm weather town and historically those don’t work as NHL cities.
Instead of expanding, the league should relocate teams. Here’s what I propose: the Tampa Bay Lightning become the Toronto Lighting. I think that’s a perfect fit because they’ll probably be good and immediately challenge the Leafs out of a century’s worth of miasma. The Leafs basically caused Mike Myers to ruin his career. Hold on for a second: why was Verne Troyer, you know Mini-me, the coach in the Love Guru? That movie is so bad I can’t believe it was even in theaters.
Back to my relocation plan, The Florida Panthers go to Quebec City and assume the Nordiques name, awesome uniforms and entire history. The one thing the NFL got right was just putting the Browns right back in Cleveland and keeping the history (even though the team has been putrid since it’s return).
The Phoenix Coyotes and one of the California teams, how about Anaheim Ducks, go to two of Seattle, Portland or Vancouver and immediately change their names. I realize that owners would be hesitant to those last three changes because teams would be moving into smaller markets, even though Phoenix and Miami owners are being obstinate jerks because both franchises have proposed moving in the last two years. Trust me, no one in either of those cities is going to be forever dejected because the NHL team moved. Also, while you may be moving into a smaller market, if you play you’re cards right, you’ll pack an arena. Walter White and Jesse Pinkman used this strategy to sell meth. And really, hockey is a lot like meth, especially to Canadians; it makes people manic messes, treats most of its fans like crap and makes you lose your teeth.
Another argument for expansion goes something like this: well it will open up scoring because guys like Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby will playing against more scrubs. I have a bunch of ways to encourage more scoring without putting more crappy players in the game.
- Make every rink Olympic sized. I really don’t think it would be that big of a deal.
- Make the goals bigger.
- Make the neutral zone trap a penalty.
- Play five aside instead of six aside.
NHL, don’t expand — it’s dumb.