I have ideas. Big ideas. Unpopular but powerful ideas. I'd wield my Commish powers with Mjolnir like brutality. Secretly (most) of the fans would love me, but the owners would loathe me. But they would never outyell me. I promise. I can yell. And this is what I want to yell about right now- 30 teams. Yeah 30 fucking teams. Why? Why are there that many teams in the NHL? Seriously. Name a star player on a team other than your favorite. Now name 2 more from the SAME team. I'm talkng stars and super stars on the current roster. Did we give up competition for league parity so we can have 30 mediocre teams with a few superstars, a few stars, a few fan favorites, and a handful of underachieving role players?
I've seen the dregs of the minor leagues. There is nothing nearly entertaining about seeing IHL or ECHL games live as compared to watching true professionals in the NHL on TV. And even then, why am I watching 5-10 guys per team that have no business wearing a professional team's crest on their sweater? It's ridiculous.
To begin with the NHL-caliber talent pool is depleted. Now that Russia is starting their Soopre Leeg, or whatever the hell they're calling it, we're going to be getting less Russians in our league. But they aren't happy with just having their own countrymen on those teams. They're going after top players and prospects from all across the hockey world. The talent pool for the NHL is already thin. It's going to get worse considering the bags of cash Russia's throwing at these players. We're going to be watching some sad hockey if we continue to keep 30 teams in the NHL without a better system for replenishing these rosters with high quality players.
So this is what I think NEEDS to happen: Pare the league down. I understand the idea of spreading the "Gospel according to Gordie" across the United States and Canada for that big National television contract. So don't get me wrong. But what I am saying is, something has got to be done and soon.
So far the NHL has bounced back from the devastating adversity that was the Lockout (*shudder*), but bringing up cement headed minor leaguers to fill in missing international players' slots won't be doing anyone any favors.
So the way I see it, we pare the league back and keep a high level of play across the board. 24 teams is my prescription which means 6 teams are getting the boot. But I have greater plans than that. This is how it works:
Original 6 immunity:
Red Wings, Habs, Blackhawks, Rangers
Leafs-Team stays put, but the Teacher's Association is forced out of ownership.
Bruins-Sinden gets the boot. Let's the door hit him where the Good Lord split him
Class of 1967,1970, and 1972 Immunity:
Kings, Flyers, Penguins, Canucks, Flames
Blues: Owner is put "on notice". He has a few years to get things righted or he gets a Sinden like send off.
Sabres: Owner gets the royal ass booting. Real ownership is brought in like their fans deserve.
Islanders: Say good bye to Wang. This team needs real front office help
The Royal boot:
Lightning-Why there are TWO teams in Florida. I will never understand. Between the two of them this is the worst attended. Nevermind their Stanley Cup run.
Ducks- C'mon! It was a Disney movie! 1 Cup and a handful of playoff appearances don't a franchise make
Blue Jackets-I have never understood why there is a team in Columbus, Ohio.
Predators- Despite giving it all they have in Nashville this team is as much a late night soap opera as anything else. I'm just pulling the plug early to save the family's feelings.
Wild- Cheapness at the fans from "The State of Hockey"'s expense does nothing to impress me.
The barely made its:
Panthers-Having one of the more loyal fan bases. This team from Florida has got the right stuff going for it more or less. They might need some m ore exposure. But not fighting the Lightning for a fan base in Florida will help.
Thrashers-It was hard for me to not scratch them, but my heart is not quite black enough to swipe two franchises from the city
Caps-Having a full Arena pushes them over the hump. Of course having Alexander Ovechkin doesn't hurt.
Sens-Hey. It's Canada. They already have fans.
Oilers-The owner is on notice. Stop screwing around with the players. OR ELSE!
Sharks-Filling the Shark Tank with loud enthusiastic fans is good enough for me.
Avs-This team has filled the Pepsi Ice Center pretty much from day one. Hockey has a home in the Rocky mountains.
Devils-With all of the success they've had, the Devils aren't going anywhere.
The Not So Fasts!:
Stars:No point pretending that Dallas has been hockey mad. Why this team ever left Minnesota would boggle my mind if it weren't for the fact that I suspect a massive payoff was offered to move the team to Texas. In my world the Stars return triumphantly to Minnesota and regain the "North" to their title.
Hurricanes: Remember this is my fabntasy world. Ergo the 'Canes are forced back to Hartford by gunpoint and regain their beautiful Whalers colors and title. The Whale returns to New England.
Coyotes: Hockey in the desert? I think not. While Wayne Gretzky behind the bench is nice publicity, this is the NHL not some bush league in Peterborough. But the guy has had 3 seasons and an overall losing record. The boot should be extended. And what better place to give the "Overated one" the boot then in Canada? Specifically Winnipeg. All hail the Jets! But then again I'm a jerk like that.
So then what happens? Well you see 6 teams just got the boot, right? That means their rosters and prospects are floating in space. So what teams do is take those 6 teams' rosters and prospects and do a special draft. The talent suddenly is a bit thicker on each team already. Not to mention that teams show back up in hockey mad markets. The NHL stays on top as they were. A better product=better ratings. Better ratings=more money.
Yeah that's the way I see it. You can take your shots whenever you want. I like a good open conversation. Even a hostile one. But then again that's why I call it "Game Misconduct". I'm hitting the showers. I don't need 10 minutes in the box.