Tag Archives: Hockey

Three is a Magic Number

Good for the NHL for changing up the overtime rules. Next season, OT will consist of five minutes of 3-on-3 hockey instead of 4-on-4. This should, and the key word is should, reduce the number of shootouts each season. It’s a good start, but if the NHL really wants to do away with shootouts (and I agree they should) they should think about making each regular season win count as three points instead of two.

The current point system in the NHL makes no sense. If you get a win, no matter when, you get two points. If you get to overtime and lose, no matter when, you get one point. So, some games see two points awarded and some see three points awarded. It’s and awkward way to handle games. International hockey figured this out a long time ago. Award three points in every game. If a team wins a game outright, they get all three. If it goes to overtime, the winning team gets two and the losing team gets one.

That makes sense and it also incentivizes teams to play for outright wins in regulation time. Currently, teams play a bit of a shutdown game when they are tied in the final minutes. They are content to get to OT and see what happens, rather than keep pushing for an outright win. Adding an extra point to the mix should change that dynamic. Teams, especially teams trying to make the playoffs, will grind it out until the final of regulation.

That would be great for fans and great for the NHL. Let’s hope they make that change soon.

Time For A Visor Rule

If you haven’t seen this video, don’t watch if you are squeamish. It’s not a pretty sight. What it reinforces is the fact that the NHL needs to require every player to wear a visor.

I can hear the howls from “old-time” hockey fans about how it cheapens the game and I can hear the howls from people who claim that it will adversely affect play. But, here’s the thing. Those were the same arguments against the adoption of mandatory helmets and the AHL, which a majority of NHL’ers graduate from, already mandates visors.

The players won’t want to look like wimps so the only way this happens is if the NHL gets together with the NHLPA and makes this rule change. For the sake of the players’ eyesight, I hope they don’t wait too long.

 

Drop The Puck!

Some of you who have been paying attention to this blog have probably figured out that I am a hockey fan. Guilty as charged, I love the sport. In fact, next to baseball, I think hockey is the best sport to see in person. So, you may be wondering how I could have missed commenting on the start of the NHL season last Saturday.

The answer is, I took this idea to heart. Well, almost I guess. I don’t know exactly how many games the Rangers didn’t play as scheduled after 12/21/12, but I skipped the first five games of their 2013 schedule in retaliation. I can hear the cries now, it was an empty gesture. You are probably right, but I really have no idea what else I could do to try and send hockey a message that they have behaved insanely over the last 18 years. So, I haven’t been a part of the first five Rangers games, but I am coming on board now. (Full Disclosure- My wife, who is the biggest Rangers fan I know, didn’t join me in this boycott so I have heard a lot about the Rangers’ uninspired play despite the fact that she is a girl.)

So yes, I know the Rangers are 2-3,  Lundqvist looks ordinary and they can’t score unless the Gaborik-Richards-Nash line is out there. That’s ok, these 48 games are not about proving who is the best team, they are merely about qualifying for the playoffs. In 1995 the Rangers were the 8th seed, but knocked off the #1 seed in the first round. I would prefer they took an easier path to the playoffs, but barring injury, this team can play with anyone and that’s what matters.

43 games to go, I’ll be here for the duration.

 

The Fans Fight Back

There is a movement afoot called “Just Drop It!” which is aiming to hit the NHL and the NHLPA in the pocketbook if they do not resolve the lockout by December 21st. You can watch the video here.

Here’s how it works.  For every game cancelled after December 21st, supporters of Just Drop It vow to boycott a similar number of games once the lockout is resolved. By boycott, they mean they won’t attend games, watch games or spend any money on anything NHL-related. So, if the Rangers have ten games cancelled after 12/21, I would pledge not to have anything to do with them for the first ten games of the 2012-13 season. 

The video I linked to says it best, this is the third stoppage in 18 years it is “embarrassing”. The NHL and NHLPA make over $3-billion in revenue, why they can’t figure out a way to share that is beyond me. Let’s send them a message.

Slip Sliding Away

The NHL announced the cancellation of all games until the end of 2012 today.  That means they have cancelled around 40% of the season. Yet they still won’t have constructive dialogue. Last week, the NHL owners pulled their proposal and currently no talks are scheduled. The real question now is when is the date that this absolutely has to be settled by?  “Luckily”, the NHL has already given us plenty of previous examples to go by.

In 1994-95 the NHL resolved the lockout on January 11th, 1995 and proceeded with a 48-game regular season with no inter-conference play.

In 2004-05 the NHL cancelled the entire season on February 16th, 2005.

So, despite Gary Bettman’s pronouncements that this has to be resolved soon or the season will disappear, I think we have at least one month and possibly two for this to drag on. If the two sides reached a deal on say February 1st, they could conceivably start playing by February 15th and get a 48-game season in by the first week of May. It wouldn’t be pretty and the hockey would be abysmal on some nights, but they could do it.

One sticking point will be the conference alignments. In 1995, they abandoned inter-conference play and just had the teams from each conference play each other. The problem now is Winnipeg is part of the Eastern Conference and it wouldn’t be fair for them to have to fly to Boston, New York, etc. to play their games in a truncated season.

So, I expect that one of the final issues the league will decide is conference alignment.  The league had a proposal in 2011 that made a lot of sense, but the NHLPA didn’t allow it to go forward. They will probably have to this time, but there are a lot of bigger hurdles to cross before we get to that.

Do-Or-Die

If the Rangers’ season ends tonight there will be plenty of time to reconstruct how they reached this point.  For now, let’s focus on getting to a Game 7.  Obviously, the odds are stacked against them, but if they win tonight, you have to feel pretty good about their chances Thursday.  The thing is, how can they win tonight?

One thing in their favor will be the return of Hagelin.  Since he got suspended, the Rangers haven’t really clicked on offense and Gaborik and Richards have been put on a myriad of line combinations in an attempt to get them going. While you can’t blame all of the offensive woes on this, it is worth noting that the Rangers scored six goals in the first two games of this series and have only three in the last three. And, two of those three goals came on the power play. 

But, they will be without Brian Boyle.  Torts is quoted as simply saying “he is not here” when asked about Boyle, which I take to mean Ottawa.  If he has a concussion as has been reported, they probably didn’t let him fly up there.  So with Boyle gone, who gets his ice time?  My hope is Mike Rupp.  Rupp knows how to do the dirty work in the corners and he is a smart veteran. The Rangers signed him for games like this, but he has been buried on the bench, averaging five minutes per game.  Boyle’s injury should change that.

But ultimately, the Rangers will have to solve a very hot goaltender. Anderson has been amazing.  He singlehandedly held the Senators together in Game 4 and he made 41 saves in Game 5.  The Rangers out-hit and out-shot the Senators in Game 5, they will need to do so again and hope the puck bounces their way for really the first time this series.  

Will the Rangers succeed and avoid flushing a great season down the drain?  We will find out tonight. 

When Do We Get Our Winter Classic?

The NHL announced today that the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will face off in the 2013 Winter Classic at “The Big House” in Michigan. It’s a great selection and nice to see that the NHL has remembered that there were two Canadian teams in the Original Six.  With the Red Wings playing host to the Winter Classic, the Rangers and New York are now the only American team from the Original Six not to play host.  The Bruins and Blackhawks already have hosted at Fenway and Wrigley no less and Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have as well.  So when will New York get the classic?

The answer is a depressing, “not soon”.  The problem is the Pinstripe Bowl.  Yes, that bastion of mediocrity that the Yankees and ESPN insist on forcing down our throats along with 20 other pointless bowl games keeps the NHL from being able to setup the ice at Yankee Stadium. The NFL regular season usually doesn’t end until the start of January and with two teams calling Met Life Stadium home, there isn’t enough time to setup the ice there. That leaves Citi Field, but the Mets are so toxic right now that I can’t see the NHL going anywhere near them. Plus, Citi Field doesn’t have the cache that Yankee Stadium does.

So when will it end?  Well the Pinstripe Bowl contract runs two more years. Unfortunately, they have somehow managed to have attendance of 38,000+ for both games so it may get renewed. If that’s the case we can look forward to many more years of Rutgers-Iowa State at Yankee Stadium before we see something like Rangers-Penguins. That’s a real shame.

Hockey In Brooklyn?

Interesting move by the Islanders, scheduling an exhibition game at the Barclays Center when it opens this fall.

As the article I linked to says, the Islanders have the right to move anywhere on Long Island without having to relocate and since Brooklyn is on Long Island, a move to the Barclays Center is permissible.  The Coliseum (or Mausoleum) is a dump and it doesn’t look like the Islanders are going to trick the voters into raising their own taxes to improve it.

The Nets have already done the heavy lifting in Brooklyn.  They bulldozed part of a neighborhood and got some sweet taxbreaks from the City and State.  Like it or not, and plenty don’t, a basketball arena will be at the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush this September.  So, why not lure the Islanders to Brooklyn and at least keep the place busy most nights?

The thing is, would the Islanders go for it?  The Barclays Center is about 30 miles from the Nassau Coliseum geographically, but will the traditional Islanders fan follow the team into Brooklyn?  (I should point out that one of the things the Barclays Center has going for it is the fact that it sits on top of a spur of the LIRR and the subway.) Additionally, the arena will only seat 14,500 for hockey.  That would make it the smallest arena in the league.  But, you would would probably get a much higher average ticket price and the Islanders only average about 12,000 fans a game now.

The big question is, what kind of reception would the Islanders get in Brooklyn?  The Rangers have a pretty solid lock on the five boroughs and the Islanders would have a tough time breaking that.  Would their existing fans follow them into Brooklyn?  October’s exhibition game will be a good place to start finding out some of those answers.