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How would you fix the NHL?


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#1 PatrickDougherty

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 06:27 PM

Observational Studies Co-Founder Brendan Porto and I took a stab at evaluating a number of things fans keep bringing up as ways to change the NHL for the better. Most of them are aimed at increasing viewership. This series was spawned by a Grantland article from August. How you would fix the NHL?

 

Intro, Rules, and Links to All Topics

By the way, if this sort of cross-promotion is frowned upon, let me know!


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#2 SportsGuy

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 07:35 PM

Not a hockey fan at all...but my take based on what I hear other people talk about is that the NHL rules should be similar to the Olympic rules.



#3 JeremyStrain

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 07:51 PM

Not a hockey fan at all...but my take based on what I hear other people talk about is that the NHL rules should be similar to the Olympic rules.

 

It's funny, cause the people that say that are complaining that the game isn't exciting enough, but the Olympic rules will make it more boring.

 

Hockey is hockey, you like it or you don't. You aren't going to change the rules and suddenly like it, so the casual sports fans who aren't interested in it, should just stay out of it.


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#4 PatrickDougherty

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 08:22 PM

It's funny, cause the people that say that are complaining that the game isn't exciting enough, but the Olympic rules will make it more boring.

 

Hockey is hockey, you like it or you don't. You aren't going to change the rules and suddenly like it, so the casual sports fans who aren't interested in it, should just stay out of it.

I don't really like it but want to. I think I'm one of the casual fans that I think the NHL is trying to reach. It's hard for me to follow a non-Baltimore team and I lose the puck when it disappears behind the boards on TV, so maybe I'm a pretty hard target for the NHL.


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#5 BSLMikeLowe

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 08:22 PM

As far as the rules, I hate the aforementioned loser's point if you lose in OT, but I think you should award a point to the losing team in a shootout. As much as I am against ties and can live with the shootout, it's also a bastardization of the game to the point where I don't think it's fair for the winner to get 2 and the loser 0. I'm not sure you would be able to negotiate longer OTs with the player's union though to lower the possibility of going to a shootout. I'd try my idea and see how it goes, at least.

 

Most of my focus would be on off-ice things. Primarily, I would embrace ice hockey's status as a niche/regional sport in the US that can succeed in some markets, but will ultimately fail in others. And that means relocating more teams back to Canada, where it will undoubtedly succeed. Of course it would also mean Bettman essentially admitting failure, which won't happen. But once he's gone, that would be Action Item #1.



#6 PatrickDougherty

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 08:29 PM

As far as the rules, I hate the aforementioned loser's point if you lose in OT, but I think you should award a point to the losing team in a shootout. As much as I am against ties and can live with the shootout, it's also a bastardization of the game to the point where I don't think it's fair for the winner to get 2 and the loser 0. I'm not sure you would be able to negotiate longer OTs with the player's union though to lower the possibility of going to a shootout. I'd try my idea and see how it goes, at least.

 

Most of my focus would be on off-ice things. Primarily, I would embrace ice hockey's status as a niche/regional sport in the US that can succeed in some markets, but will ultimately fail in others. And that means relocating more teams back to Canada, where it will undoubtedly succeed. Of course it would also mean Bettman essentially admitting failure, which won't happen. But once he's gone, that would be Action Item #1.

I'm in total agreement. I was pretty hamstrung by the rule against contracting the league, since I think the NHL has tried to spread the sport to markets that will never accept it. It would be cool to see a more international league and more or less move the current map of teams north so that the league straddles the US/Canada border.

 

I would guess the argument against this to be that Canadian cities are already full of hockey fans with or without a true hometown team, and the only real way to grow revenues is to create new fanbases. Doesn't make it the right thing to do for the sport or the league though.


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#7 JeremyStrain

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 08:32 PM

I don't really like it but want to. I think I'm one of the casual fans that I think the NHL is trying to reach. It's hard for me to follow a non-Baltimore team and I lose the puck when it disappears behind the boards on TV, so maybe I'm a pretty hard target for the NHL.

 

Yeah but if you REALLY want to, you'd get into it. I think the idea of getting into it sounds fine to you as it does to a lot of people that don't follow it because it's one of the "big 4", but it's really kind of a niche sport here in the states.

 

I know on these boards a lot of discussion pops up that since there's no team in Bmore people don't follow, but if there was a local team, more people would watch, that's simply just not true though. The Caps are 40 miles from Baltimore, which is closer than a large majority of cities in the country are to their "home" team. This area BARELY supports the team we have, and only has periods of success when the "bandwagon" fans buy in. When the team is middle of the pack or struggling, the fans disappear. There is ZERO chance that there are enough fans in the region to support two hockey teams.

 

Being a hardcore fan of hockey in general my entire life, and seeing the ebbs and flows of attendance in this area, both IN the city and in the suburbs closer to Baltimore I can tell you first hand this area is just too far south to THRIVE as a hockey area.

 

Like you both touched on in the other posts, this sport is a niche sport here, and gets worse the further south you go. The southern expansion experiment is over, and it's time to either move those southern teams that are terrible year after year back to Canada, or just contract them all together.


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#8 BSLChrisStoner

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 08:42 PM

It's funny, cause the people that say that are complaining that the game isn't exciting enough, but the Olympic rules will make it more boring.

 

Hockey is hockey, you like it or you don't. You aren't going to change the rules and suddenly like it, so the casual sports fans who aren't interested in it, should just stay out of it.

 

I find Olympic hockey interesting, and you could not pay me to watch the NHL.  Olympic hockey seems more open (larger rinks?).... but I know part of my interest is the waiving of the National flags.



#9 JeremyStrain

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 08:52 PM

I find Olympic hockey interesting, and you could not pay me to watch the NHL.  Olympic hockey seems more open (larger rinks?).... but I know part of my interest is the waiving of the National flags.

 

The more open leads to less physical play, more back and forth puck sliding down the ice, more icing, and less scoring. It comes out kinda like a soccer match. The North American game is far different from the European/Olympic style of hockey, it's meant to be more physical with more scoring. You see a lot more scoreless ties, and 1-0 games in the Euro style (and it's why you don't see the stats for Euro based players coming overseas to play look the same as you will in the NHL.

 

It's not a great analogy because it's not as severe of a difference, but it's kinda like watching FIFA and then watching the Baltimore Blast play.


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#10 BSLMikeLowe

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 08:54 PM

I would also add that in addition to relocating to Canada that there might also be some northern-tier US cities where the NHL could do better. I would definitely say a team here in the Pacific NW could work, whether Portland or Seattle. Portland is the only one of the two that has an existing arena that would suit the NHL (and they were were actually active in trying to get the Coyotes up until they finally reached an agreement with Glendale). There's also Hartford, though I'm not sure how they would do attendance-wise, as they only averaged about 14,000/game during their prior NHL stint. Maybe somewhere in Wisconsin? Probably not Milwaukee, since they already have 2 major league sports teams. But Madison perhaps?



#11 BSLMikeLowe

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 08:59 PM

The more open leads to less physical play, more back and forth puck sliding down the ice, more icing, and less scoring. It comes out kinda like a soccer match. The North American game is far different from the European/Olympic style of hockey, it's meant to be more physical with more scoring. You see a lot more scoreless ties, and 1-0 games in the Euro style (and it's why you don't see the stats for Euro based players coming overseas to play look the same as you will in the NHL.

 

It's not a great analogy because it's not as severe of a difference, but it's kinda like watching FIFA and then watching the Baltimore Blast play.

 

Yeah, good analogy. Or comparing NCAA Lacrosse to the old box-lacrosse league they had years ago. I think people's enjoyment of Olympic Hockey has much less to do with the style of play and more to do with the unique national format of the Games, and that you only get to see it once every four years. And for older types like me, Olympic Hockey still stirs memories of the Miracle On Ice, even though we'll never see anything like it again.



#12 JeremyStrain

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 09:09 PM

I would also add that in addition to relocating to Canada that there might also be some northern-tier US cities where the NHL could do better. I would definitely say a team here in the Pacific NW could work, whether Portland or Seattle. Portland is the only one of the two that has an existing arena that would suit the NHL (and they were were actually active in trying to get the Coyotes up until they finally reached an agreement with Glendale). There's also Hartford, though I'm not sure how they would do attendance-wise, as they only averaged about 14,000/game during their prior NHL stint. Maybe somewhere in Wisconsin? Probably not Milwaukee, since they already have 2 major league sports teams. But Madison perhaps?

 

Yeah Seattle and Wisconsin would definitely be on my list. As well as Hamilton, ONT, maybe something in Nova Scotia, or out East that way, and probably back to Quebec.

 

Teams like PHX, FLA, Columbus, and maybe even CAR should be on the chopping block. I also question why having so many NYC area teams is the best course of action...but I guess as long as they are all drawing, c'est la vie.


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#13 BSLMikeLowe

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 09:25 PM

Yeah Seattle and Wisconsin would definitely be on my list. As well as Hamilton, ONT, maybe something in Nova Scotia, or out East that way, and probably back to Quebec.

 

Teams like PHX, FLA, Columbus, and maybe even CAR should be on the chopping block. I also question why having so many NYC area teams is the best course of action...but I guess as long as they are all drawing, c'est la vie.

 

The Islanders have had abysmal attendance for a long time, either at or close to the bottom of the league. But crappy teams and the worst arena in the league (as of now) are probably primarily responsible for that. It will be interesting to see what moving into Barclays does for them. Much nicer digs, obviously, but farther away from their fan base.



#14 SportsGuy

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 09:33 PM

The more open leads to less physical play, more back and forth puck sliding down the ice, more icing, and less scoring. It comes out kinda like a soccer match. The North American game is far different from the European/Olympic style of hockey, it's meant to be more physical with more scoring. You see a lot more scoreless ties, and 1-0 games in the Euro style (and it's why you don't see the stats for Euro based players coming overseas to play look the same as you will in the NHL.
 
It's not a great analogy because it's not as severe of a difference, but it's kinda like watching FIFA and then watching the Baltimore Blast play.


And a lot of people think there is way too much fighting and it's not needed.

Not that some fighting isn't ok but that it's going overboard at this point.

I would rather watch what you are describing than fighting all the time.

#15 DJ MC

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 09:33 PM

Yeah but if you REALLY want to, you'd get into it. I think the idea of getting into it sounds fine to you as it does to a lot of people that don't follow it because it's one of the "big 4", but it's really kind of a niche sport here in the states.

 

I know on these boards a lot of discussion pops up that since there's no team in Bmore people don't follow, but if there was a local team, more people would watch, that's simply just not true though. The Caps are 40 miles from Baltimore, which is closer than a large majority of cities in the country are to their "home" team. This area BARELY supports the team we have, and only has periods of success when the "bandwagon" fans buy in. When the team is middle of the pack or struggling, the fans disappear. There is ZERO chance that there are enough fans in the region to support two hockey teams.

 

Being a hardcore fan of hockey in general my entire life, and seeing the ebbs and flows of attendance in this area, both IN the city and in the suburbs closer to Baltimore I can tell you first hand this area is just too far south to THRIVE as a hockey area.

 

Like you both touched on in the other posts, this sport is a niche sport here, and gets worse the further south you go. The southern expansion experiment is over, and it's time to either move those southern teams that are terrible year after year back to Canada, or just contract them all together.

 

I get what you're saying, and there's a reason I've advocated for an AHL team with a strong (preferably wholly-owned) relationship with the Capitals.

 

However, there are extreme differences between this region and others you might name to talk about their "home team" that can account for much of the issues in supporting teams 40 miles away.


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#16 JeremyStrain

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 09:38 PM

The more open leads to less physical play, more back and forth puck sliding down the ice, more icing, and less scoring. It comes out kinda like a soccer match. The North American game is far different from the European/Olympic style of hockey, it's meant to be more physical with more scoring. You see a lot more scoreless ties, and 1-0 games in the Euro style (and it's why you don't see the stats for Euro based players coming overseas to play look the same as you will in the NHL.

 

It's not a great analogy because it's not as severe of a difference, but it's kinda like watching FIFA and then watching the Baltimore Blast play.



And a lot of people think there is way too much fighting and it's not needed.


Not that some fighting isn't ok but that it's going overboard at this point.


I would rather watch what you are describing than fighting all the time.


Those people complaining about the fighting don't even watch now though. You shouldn't be able to complain from the outside in. There used to be like 3 fights every game back in the day and no one complained. Now there is one or less per game and people cry about it. Same people that say football is too physical. We are just getting too PC as a society I think.

And trust me, no you wouldn't. If you watched 60 minutes of back and forth hockey with one goal you would be bored to death. We aren't talking near misses and high octane, we are talking turnovers and fewer shots on goal. Its worse than watching baseball.
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#17 JeremyStrain

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 09:40 PM

Yeah but if you REALLY want to, you'd get into it. I think the idea of getting into it sounds fine to you as it does to a lot of people that don't follow it because it's one of the "big 4", but it's really kind of a niche sport here in the states.
 
I know on these boards a lot of discussion pops up that since there's no team in Bmore people don't follow, but if there was a local team, more people would watch, that's simply just not true though. The Caps are 40 miles from Baltimore, which is closer than a large majority of cities in the country are to their "home" team. This area BARELY supports the team we have, and only has periods of success when the "bandwagon" fans buy in. When the team is middle of the pack or struggling, the fans disappear. There is ZERO chance that there are enough fans in the region to support two hockey teams.
 
Being a hardcore fan of hockey in general my entire life, and seeing the ebbs and flows of attendance in this area, both IN the city and in the suburbs closer to Baltimore I can tell you first hand this area is just too far south to THRIVE as a hockey area.
 
Like you both touched on in the other posts, this sport is a niche sport here, and gets worse the further south you go. The southern expansion experiment is over, and it's time to either move those southern teams that are terrible year after year back to Canada, or just contract them all together.

 
I get what you're saying, and there's a reason I've advocated for an AHL team with a strong (preferably wholly-owned) relationship with the Capitals.
 
However, there are extreme differences between this region and others you might name to talk about their "home team" that can account for much of the issues in supporting teams 40 miles away.

Yeah I've argued to bring ahl back to bmore too...there is just no way this area can support two hockey teams. We can't support the one we have. Just like last year when they started slow and the place wasn't half full on weekends.
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#18 Oriole85

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 10:08 PM

It's funny, cause the people that say that are complaining that the game isn't exciting enough, but the Olympic rules will make it more boring.

 

Hockey is hockey, you like it or you don't. You aren't going to change the rules and suddenly like it, so the casual sports fans who aren't interested in it, should just stay out of it.

I feel like the same thing is said about baseball. There's a fine line IMO between changing the fundamentals of a sports versus altering to make it more fan-friendly.


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#19 Oriole85

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 10:10 PM

I don't really like it but want to. I think I'm one of the casual fans that I think the NHL is trying to reach. It's hard for me to follow a non-Baltimore team and I lose the puck when it disappears behind the boards on TV, so maybe I'm a pretty hard target for the NHL.

I was saying this the other day of all the major sports, I think hockey has the best in-game experience compared to watching it on TV. It's just so damn expensive though to go to Caps games now, maybe there's a good deal on StubHub or something.


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#20 Oriole85

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 10:17 PM

Yeah but if you REALLY want to, you'd get into it. I think the idea of getting into it sounds fine to you as it does to a lot of people that don't follow it because it's one of the "big 4", but it's really kind of a niche sport here in the states.

 

I know on these boards a lot of discussion pops up that since there's no team in Bmore people don't follow, but if there was a local team, more people would watch, that's simply just not true though. The Caps are 40 miles from Baltimore, which is closer than a large majority of cities in the country are to their "home" team. This area BARELY supports the team we have, and only has periods of success when the "bandwagon" fans buy in. When the team is middle of the pack or struggling, the fans disappear. There is ZERO chance that there are enough fans in the region to support two hockey teams.

 

Being a hardcore fan of hockey in general my entire life, and seeing the ebbs and flows of attendance in this area, both IN the city and in the suburbs closer to Baltimore I can tell you first hand this area is just too far south to THRIVE as a hockey area.

 

Like you both touched on in the other posts, this sport is a niche sport here, and gets worse the further south you go. The southern expansion experiment is over, and it's time to either move those southern teams that are terrible year after year back to Canada, or just contract them all together.

I think I know what he means, I've heard it a lot with want-to-be hockey fans and I'm not using that term pejoratively. It's a harder sport to follow IMO compared to the other 3. I'm a casual fan more-or-less. I like getting into it, but it's not at the top of my priority list. 

 

Jeremy, you've mentioned it before with regards to a Baltimore hockey team. I tend to agree with you. For some though, a DC team might as well be 1000 miles away. I've never taken that approach between the two cities, but I get it. I do find it funny how some of these same people have no problem rooting for European soccer teams, they have absolutely no ties to. But to each their own.


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