Earlier this week it was reported that the NHL was finalizing the addition of 5 more outdoor games to the 2013-2014 NHL schedule. Honestly, this is the last thing that should be on their mind. Below are four things I find to be more important than adding 5 outdoor games.
1. What is going on with the Coyotes?
Honestly, does anyone know what is going on with the Coyotes Organization right now? Are they staying? Are they going? Is there a buyer? At the end of the season if there is no viable income coming from the organization I say shut it down. Don’t even think twice about it, just shut it down. I know that sounds callous but this has been a hot button for a few years now. At what point do you stop talking and start doing?
2. Where are the two new teams going?
The NHL took the time to release the finalized realignment yet no one knows where the new teams will be located. I’ve heard rumblings of Seattle and Ontario. Although putting a team in Ontario will likely mess with the realignment and force a newly moved team back to the East. Toronto would also benefit from having a second NHL team. Unfortunately, the NHL would have to deal with the same issue as putting a team in Ontario. Quebec would be out for the same exact reason too. So where should the NHL put two, maybe three, teams?
a) Anchorage, Alaska
Anchorage has a lot of attractions to draw people into the idea of going to see a hockey game there. I know I would travel from Ohio to Alaska to take in a game, go to the zoo, and see a few glaciers before they all melt. Plus, Brandon Dubinsky is from Alaska. Need I say more?
b) North Dakota/ South Dakota
You can’t honestly tell me that people in those two states do not like hockey. The question is are there enough people in either state who would come out to a NHL game.
c) New Orleans, Louisiana
This one is probably the biggest reach of them all. I have no clue where they would build a stadium or if people in the area would go to a game. For some reason the thought of putting a team in NOLA intrigues me. In the off season, which is most of hockey season, travel is inexpensive. Plus, believe it or not, there are a lot of hockey fans in Mississippi and Arkansas. Could the NHL corner the market on the southern fans by putting a team in NOLA? Is it worth the risk?
d) Regina, Saskatchewan
I don’t know much about Canada but I do know that I enjoy saying the word Saskatchewan. I’d also like to see the country that invented the game have a few more teams. Plus, it would be nice for the Jets to have a Canadian team nearby.
One of the biggest challenges of expanding the NHL is creating a buzz for these new teams. I would have no problem with adding two, or three, extra outdoor games next year. This would be a one year only thing and it would be in the town of the new team. Their opponents for those games should be the 2012-2013 Stanley Cup winner and whatever two teams would draw in the biggest crowd. If you’re in the business of making money and not making your fans angry this would have been the route to take.
3. Where’s my All-Star Game?
The city of Columbus has been asking this question for quite some time. When Columbus lost the All-Star game with the lock out an estimated 72 million dollars in earnings went with it. A lot of time and effort went into preparing for the All-Star game. Shirts were made, banners hung, and new hotels were built. Let’s take a moment to reflect on the havoc you wrecked upon the wonderful Columbus Blue Jackets ticket reps. Can you even imagine what it would be like to have to take those angry/frustrated calls from fans? Bless their hearts. So NHL if you could give the All-Star game back to Columbus that would be great.
4. The Olympics
Apparently the Olympics are still a hot topic right now. Should the NHL let them play? Should the NHL not let them play? For me the answer is “Yes, we should let them play in the Olympics”.
Every four years hockey becomes relevant in the United States. For two weeks “mainstream” sports fans are glued to their televisions watching games. They are constantly checking their phones for updates. Names like Kane, Kesler, Howard, and Johnson become household names through out America. People begin to realize that the term “icing” does not just apply to cupcakes. Yes, during those two weeks our favorite players names get slaughtered. Yes, we field a lot of elementary hockey questions. Who cares people are finally invested in hockey.
The NHL constantly talks about wanting to create more revenue and draw in new fans. Letting the players participate in the Olympics can do just those things. Pretty much every television around the world is tuned into the Olympics. If any of the NHL players do well people in other countries are going to order “Game Center Live” and different television packages so they can continue to watch their favorite player. They are going to order jerseys and fan gear. Who knows they may even come to America and Canada to see their favorite Olympian play in a NHL game. So why even entertain the thought of not allowing players to participate in one of the most prestigious events to ever exist? What does the NHL gain from not letting them play? I’ll tell you what they gain : angry fans and angry players. Especially since these guys are already entering into Olympic training mode.