Thursday, May 14, 2009
Saving the NHL
The following is written by David Kamoe, a life-long sports fan whose sister is a close friend. David is an avid A's fan, wen to to high school with Drew Gooden and can't believe that Giants commentator Mike Krukow used to refer to the right-centerfield expanse at Pac Bell Park as "Finley Alley," referring to Steve Finley who remarkably wore a Giants uniform for a season. David will likely be stopping by these parts a few times a month, so treat him right. And no sister jokes.
Okay, maybe “saving” is a strong word -- look at it as helping to get the NHL back on ESPN. I mean, John Saunders loves the hockey talk just as much as Barry Melrose’s cream pinstripe suit in HD does.
What follows then is a quick and dirty plan to contract and/or move teams in the NHL to take it from a thirty team league down to twenty-two teams. This is brought on by the chatter around the Phoenix Coyotes nee Winnipeg Jets filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Most people -- including interested buyer Jim Balsillie, chairman of Blackberry/Research in Motion Ltd. -- want to move the Coyotes to Hamilton, ON. As a hockey novice, but a history intermediate and a slight sports purist, I have other ideas.
Firstly, the Coyotes should be returned to the place of their birth: Winnipeg, Manitoba. The next several moves are all entirely too easy as all the following teams would be contracted: Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Atlanta Thrashers, Nashville Predators, Columbus Blue Jackets, Anaheim (Mighty) Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, and Minnesota Wild. I understand that the Kings were in the first wave of expansion in 1967, I don’t care. If it weren’t for Gretzky, nobody in L.A. would ever have cared about hockey.
To salve the wound of ripping the Wild from Minnesota, the Northstars will be returned and the Dallas Stars shall cease to exist. The general rule of thumb with NHL expansion should be this: look at the NCCA top 25 hockey standings and try to find a warm weather college. Go ahead. When you do, you can expand there. Along with the Northstars relocating back to Minnesota, the Whalers will be reunited with Hartford, the aforementioned Coyotes with Winnipeg, and the Avalanche to Quebec City.
Additionally, the NHL shall rename the Western and Eastern Conferences the Campbell and Wales Conferences respectively. You must embrace your individuality Gary Bettman. The A’s aren’t ducking the fact they wore Kelly Green, Fort Knox Gold, and Wedding Gown White. Just another Charley Finley strategy; although to be fair Charley O. also thought having a Donkey as a mascot and not paying Catfish Hunter and Reggie to stay was a good idea.
Sorry, back to the point. The most important part of the NHL makeover is getting back on ESPN. Yes, I know that ESPN runs the sports world to the point that it feels like the Red Sox and Yankees are playing every day and the only teams that matter on the West Coast are the Lakers, Dodgers, Angels, Raiders, and 49ers. That’s true. It is also true, however, that as good a job as Versus does, people are not seeking it out unless they're hockey fans. As a result, coverage of the NHL on ESPN is usually limited to ESPN news or an occasional segment with Barry Melrose’s suit (see above). The NHL needs exposure and ESPN can provide it 24/7. All it takes is a phone call and hello again “NHL2night.”