I promised Sherry, the brains and beauty behind Scarlett Ice, that I'd make a post about the challenge that she posed to the world. In three words or less, what hockey really needs right now is a...
I came up with three main ideas: fewer teams/teams in markets that actually give a crap about hockey, Commissioner Wayne Gretzky, and especially an ESPN contract.
First off, the NHL is complaining that these teams in markets like Atlanta and Florida really aren't making any money. Hmmm, I wonder why that might be? It's really effing hot in both of those places. The only time people would ever see ice is in an arena. Playing street hockey just isn't the same as ice hockey. Give the teams to places that want them. I hear that they are begging people to take Panthers tickets. Part of the reason Quebec lost their team was timing. The area was going through a recession. Now with the Canadian dollar getting stronger and all, perhaps expansion into Canada is once again feasible. The only concern is what might happed in the financial world by the time the league gets its act together. Things could change completely. The other solution in my eyes would be be to have fewer teams in the league. Keep hockey in places that it does well, and stop losing money for the league by having to baby along the struggling southern franchises. Bringing a team to Portland, Oregon isn't the solution either. I can tell you first hand that almost no one here really knows what hockey is, much less follows it. I will be writing an essay about where I'd like to see NHL franchises for Teebz's essay contest, so I'll be posting those essays once I write them.
Most everyone in the hockey world still listens attentively and with respect when Wayne Gretzky speaks. Thus far he seems reluctant to talk about the state of the game, and I can't decide if that's because he owns/coaches a team (in a struggling market no less), or if he just doesn't want to piss anyone off and lose his godly status. I think he's in greater danger of losing his status if he contines to keep his mouth shut. As fore Bettman, no one listens to him, except to find new reasons to mock him/gather new material for their rude signs that they hold up at games. Fire Bettman! Gretzky for Commissioner! He'll have plenty of lawyers surrounding him and the like to take care of whatever Bettman uses that law degree for. You can't tell me that Bettman has more hockey sense than the Great One. Well, you can try, but I probably won't be listening.
Most Americans couldn't tell you what TSN, Rogers Sports Net, or possibly even CBC are. Fox Sports is sort of making up for the fact that the US does not have a united/good TV contract. In Minnesota they broadcast a ton of Wild games, but what the NHL really needs is ESPN. That network is synonymous with sports in the United States. There is talk that the NHL might be on ESPN2 as early as next season, and that would be a huge leap forward. VS is pretty much ignored by most people that I know, and you have to pay extra to get it. ESPN comes with a basic cable package. More than 85% of Americans have cable or Satalite TV, and that number is expected to rise. This would be tremendous exposure for the "new NHL", and ESPN does some pretty awesome commercials. Exposure on ESPN could lead to the more lengthly articles in Sports Illustrated and ESPN Magazine (and whatever the other major sports magazines are..those are the two I read besides the Hockey News) that the NHL once enjoyed.