NHL Changes Schedule, All Crosby’s Fault


Normally, the NHL board of governors spends Thursday night tickle-fighting their besties, plowing through a vat of cookie dough, and finishing it up with 60 minutes of Ugly Betty. Since the Writer’s Guild went on strike, it’s re-runsville and man can not live by cookie dough alone. Which is why they got to work last Thursday night and changed the NHL schedule. This is actually a big deal.

Under the old schedule, each team would play every team in their division eight times a season, play every team in their conference, and play a fewer number in the opposing conference–but not every team. It was a strategy to build division rivalries and, in many cases, it worked. But in the Southeast division, this meant that fans had to endure eight annual games between the Florida Panthers and the Washington Capitals, which is the real reason Terry Schiavo wanted to kill herself.

Next season, under the new schedule format, at the expense of these new division rivalries, each team will, holyfuckingshit, actually play each other at least once. Given that there’s 82 games to play, this should have been obvious. Anyway, the division rivalries will remain (six games against each divisional team instead of eight), 40 games against other teams in the conference, and 18 games against the opposing conference.

For some, such as Detroit GM Ken Holland, this wasn’t enough. In the near future, he’ll push for an 84-game schedule, enabling every team to have a home-and-home series with another–allowing every NHL player to visit every NHL city in the league.

NHL insiders believe this is the key to “saving” hockey. There’s abysmal attendance in once solid hockey towns like Detroit, who’s center ice logo reads “hockey town,” along with long-good teams like Dallas, and original sixers like Boston and Chicago. Changing the schedule, they think, will magically fill up arenas where only asbestos-tasting cotton candy and $7 Bud Lights once could.

Right–Crosby. We’re getting there. Allowing every NHL star to play every team, the thinking goes, creates star power buzz. And that, sadly, is the long and short of their strategy to save hockey.

The problem is that NHL Commissioner Bettman, a former NBA man, is looking at other sports. He’s trying for the Michael Jordan effect. The Yao effect. The Nash effect. Whatever.

Hockey’s had it’s share of it. It happened when Gretzky arrived in Los Angeles, when Messier became a Ranger, when Lindros was skating with his head up his ass. But this era, when the NHL was a violent novelty coming to conquer America in the early ’90s, is over.

The NHL doesn’t see the real problem: Hockey is simply too fast for never-ever watchers to understand it inside its current television incarnation. When the images are tiny and fast, how can the new audience appreciate the subtleties–the toe-drags, angling of players to the perimeter, and headfakes–of its highest-level talent? How can they measure the unmeasurable and see that, yes, even when Sidney Crosby doesn‘t score, he’s a fucking force of nature on just about every shift?

Despite this, which is as self-evident as Bernie Mac comedy, Bob McKenzie, TSN’s analyst, actually believes that Crosby is the panacea to the league’s woes. But if you look at the standings, he isn’t even a panacea to Pittsburgh’s woes.

Nevertheless, the hockey establishment has unofficially shouldered a 20-year-old kid with riding a cloud, eating lightning, and flying like a Valkyrie painted on a boogie van while he brings the NHL into public consciousness…by himself.

Right. Hockey’s poor attendance has nothing to do with watering down talent to stretch it into irrelevant markets. It has nothing to do with the fight-killing instigator rule and the general decline of physical play–the two events that bring fans out of their seats other than anthem singing.

And it has nothing to do with most TV broadcasts that look like the camera lenses were retrieved from a latrine and then smeared with mayo for good measure. It has nothing to do with fuzzy pictures on FSN and Comcast and one-angle broadcasts that show the ice as the world’s largest antfarm that’s been endorsed by Geico at its margins. It has nothing to do with zero coverage on any major network in America; or that the most reliable coverage is on Monday and Tuesday nights on Versus, which I get on channel 603.

The takeaway? Crosby could pull an octopus from his vagina at center ice and America would STILL remain preoccupied with wearing white Nikes with suits and buying terrible mortgages. If televised hockey doesn’t receive substantial investment and creative changes, the NHL better pray that Ugly Betty gets canceled. They’ve got work to do.


9 Responses

  1. oh my god. do you know that the capitals played 4 of their last 10 games against the panthers?? i really do want to kill myself now. thank god the next game against them isn’t for another 6 weeks, otherwise i might actually do it.

  2. Nice. I was getting rather sick of Blues-Predators games myself. As a Blues fan living out east within 4 hours’ drive of 5 NHL teams, I think the fact that the Blues didn’t play a single one of these five in ’07-’08 on their home rinks is rather absurd.

  3. Ok, so I’ve been a devout fan of hockey all of 3 years so I understand my opinion is worthless, then again I am the demo they are going after young, male, doing ok at the bank. So…. why can’t hockey take the best of football and baseball. Every week Thurs Fri and Sat (or Fri Sat Sun) 3 game series against a team. Set days would help fantasy leagues, cut back on travel expenses, easier for promotion, 27 weekends (1 for the all star game) means 78 games, 2 series against division (8 series), 1 series against rest of conference (10 series), 1 series against 1 division of the other conference(5series), and then 3 more to balance strength of schedule. 6 less games, but healthier happier players with a true structure to Hockey night.

  4. sonia sent me here! and i totally blew sunshine up your ass on my blog, so look for my 4 regular readers to pay you a visit! also i think i am in love with you because YOU ARE HILARIOUS!!

    this is precisely why bettman needs to get the fuck out, and now. yeah cros can do a lot for the league, when he’s not hawking timbits or fritos or powerade or his clothing line or, you know, playing hockey. but someone who knows the US and knows hockey needs to be in power here. or a group of someones. mostly, i’m thinking of myself here, but i can see why people might not like it when i named kari lehtonen supreme lord and commander. um. where was i? i got distracted mentally designing his cape and costume.

    right. nhl. nothing’s gonna save it until it gets saved from itself. time to revive the ‘fire bettman’ campaign again.

  5. You spelled MJ’s name wrong.

    COME ON!

  6. You’re right about factors such as over expansion, less physical play, and lousy television contracts, but the current schedule is killing hockey. Being a Kings fan and going to 10-15 games a year, I’m sick of seeing Dallas, Phoenix, and San Jose. I used to like seeing the Stars and the Sharks, but it’s been way too many times after the last couple seasons. With the Ducks, it doesn’t matter how many times we play them, it could be only twice a season, and the rivalry will still be intense. I want the chance to see all of the teams. I hope Ken Holland and his cohorts succeed in getting at least a home-and-home with every team in the league. I don’t want to wait a year or two to see certain Eastern Conference teams.

  7. “Crosby could pull an octopus from his vagina at center ice and America would STILL remain preoccupied with wearing white Nikes with suits and buying terrible mortgages” that’s fucking brilliant.

  8. […] NHL Changes Schedule, All Crosby’s Fault [image] Normally, the NHL board of governors spends Thursday night tickle-fighting their besties, plowing through a vat […] […]

  9. […] of the NHL scheduling gnomes? So shouldn’t the NHL be purchasing those credits? Or at least Crosby picking up the tab? Oh, we forgot… Bettman’s culpability is only this […]

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