By Ryan Laverty
Its mid-June, and we all know what that means. No, it’s not the start of another outstanding baseball season as the major league is almost at the all-star break. I’m talking about the end to another dragged out hockey season.
Now, don’t get the wrong impression.
I am an enormous fan of the game, but something needs to be done about the National Hockey League’s current state of affairs. One of the simplest problems is the length of the season. Even the CBC’s Ron MacLean alluded to the fact that not many people would be watching game seven of the final. There really is no excuse for this.
As far as I am concerned, there is no better way to kick off the summer than by kicking back, throwing your feet up and spending a nice evening inside watching Hockey Night in Canada. There is truly no greater spectacle than watching a group of men, playing in an American city, hoist Lord Stanley’s cup high above their heads. It is the essence of what hockey is. When you sit back and reflect on what these men endured and achieved throughout an 82-game schedule, travelling to such hockey-hotbeds as Nashville and Atlanta, it makes you realize just how difficult and special winning the cup really is.
So I ask, Mr. Bettman, with all your hockey experience, why has is there no discussion about decreasing the season by a couple of weeks by shortening the regular schedule down to 74-games? Or better yet, have you given any thought to an earlier start to the season when hockey-starved fans are chomping at the bit for some NHL action? If you are able to usher in the two-referee system without causing more than a peep from hockey’s staunch believers, surely no one would notice if the regular season had 10 fewer games.
I realize that you are a businessman and not necessarily a hockeyman. That said, does it not make sense to cater to your customer’s needs? Do the laws of supply and demand not apply to the NHL?
Come May, surely your American customers, many of whom do not know what an offside is, would much rather spend their days frolicking on the beaches or taking in a double-header at the ballpark, instead of watching ice hockey.
Think of how many people would’ve tuned into game seven, had it taken place in the second round’s time frame. Consider the excitement and revenues the league could have generated from watching a 22-year veteran of the league hoist the Holy Grail for the first time.
So give it some thought Gary. I think you’ll realize it makes cents, dollars and cents. And really, isn’t that all you’re concerned about?