The NHL is clearly the little brother of the four major North American sports. The NFL, MLB, and NBA have a clear-cut advantage over the NHL, especially in the United States. Hockey is exciting enough that the NHL could in fact boost their popularity, but how? There are lots of different avenues the NHL can take they just have to buck up and give the fans what they want.
No More Blackouts
This should not even be a thing anymore. Some fans do not have access to cable television so they toss out the money to watch their favorite teams play, but sometimes they get hit with blackouts. Why is this a thing? It is most likely a cash grab. The NHL and their telecommunication networks are multi-billion dollar corporations, they can afford to abolish blackouts. Just cut blackouts and don’t look back.
We came, we saw, we’re over it. Let’s ax the shootout. Sure they can be fun, but it’s a glorified skills competition. The NHL doesn’t use shootouts to determine winners of playoff games, why should shootouts have the potential to determine if a team makes it to the playoffs or not. This can be replaced by a different method. Maybe a three on three continuous overtime. If the player safety is a concern there make it a 10-minute three-on-three overtime period and if it is still tied after that the game ends in a tie and both teams get one point. Please just abolish the shootout.
New Point System
The NHL point is not bad as is but there is always room for improvement. Although the current point system is not necessarily broken a change may give the league a different outlook. Currently, a team is awarded two points for a win and one point for an overtime loss. With the new system, a team would be awarded three points for a win, two points for an overtime win, and one point for an overtime loss or tie if they abolish the shootout. A new point system would give teams move incentive to win games in regulation or work harder for an overtime win. In general, this would make the already competitive game more competitive.
Officiating is a topic of issue for every major and minor league sport at one time or another, this will never change as long as humans are in-game officials. Although there are ways to improve it. A start is fair officiating. Many might think this is already a thing but sit back and watch Connor McDavid or Sidney Crosby play. The NHL always has and likely always will favor their stars, much like other sports. This needs to change, they also need to cut out the make-up calls. If a team is playing a cleaner game of hockey reward them. Another fun idea for the NHL would be putting mics on all officials at all times. Although they might catch a thing or two that my walk the line of appropriation fans will know what is going on at all times, this would bring some more intrigue to the fans and hopefully boost ratings.
The draft lottery sucks unless you are the Edmonton Oilers. Why does a pro sports reward losing? The worse you the better chance you have at getting a potential franchise, that is just a glorified participation trophy. Add in the fact 16 of the 32 teams play into the end of April while fans of teams like the Buffalo Sabres have had to jump bandwagons come June for the past decade. Next thing you know, Eichel is unhappy with the team he is on in Buffalo.
The NHL needs to run a draft pick tournament during the playoffs. It may affect television ratings, but more teams could pack stadiums throughout June. Every non-playoff team competes in a best of three series playoff to determine the first 16 draft picks, win the tournament and you win the number one pick in the draft. With this system, you would see more value in draft picks as well as teams less likely to sell stars for lower prices. To add more incentive especially for teams who decide to trade their picks, give players of the winning a winning bonus. There is a lot of details that need to be worked on here but the idea is there. Make teams earn everything, don’t leave it up to a ping pong ball that is tacky.
Some may love some may hate these ideas, but the fact of the matter is the NHL has the potential to be the most popular sport in North America. The hard-hitting fast-paced sports have their issues as much as others. You can’t change money-hungry billionaires but you can make minor or major changes to the game to entertain the people paying their hard-earned money to attend and have no say. What do the fans think?
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