Monday, January 15, 2007

The next generation of hockey

I'm growing weary of the NHL. This is in part to being a Leafs fan, who over the course of my life have given me very few spurts of joy and reason to cheer. It's partly due to the strike a couple years back, which pissed me off to no end. Although not specifically to do with the NHL, it really irked me that Wayne Gretzky didn't choose Sydney Crosby for Canada's 2006 Olympic team. Todd Bertuzi over Crosby? What the hell? And Canada went on to get humiliated!
A recent blunder is the falling apart of the deal by Canadian business icon Balsille to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins, with the likely intent to move them to Canada.

Pittsburgh doesn't deserve an NHL team. Under normal conditions, it's an unsustainable market. They have however been blessed with superstars, first in the form of Mario Lemieux, and recently thanks to the best thing since Lemieux, youngster Sydney Crosby. This is the only reason a hockey team still exists in that city, and even with Crosby they are trying to move the team.

But not to Canada.

Rumour has it NHL commissioner Gary Bettman wants to keep the superstar in the US market where they figure he is desperately needed to revitalise their junk franchises.

What the hell is a hockey team doing in Phoenix? Carolina? Two in Florida? Three in California? The list goes on...

Here is my solution to revitalize hockey.

Crunch the NHL down to two divisions, a Canadian division and an American one.

Canadian division

Toronto
Montreal
Ottawa
Calgary
Vancouver
Edmonton
Winnipeg
Quebec City

American division

Detroit
Boston
Chicago
NY Rangers
Philadelphia
Los Angeles
Minnesota
New Jersey

Create a European league with something like the following teams.

Western Europe

Stockholm
Geneva
Oslo
Munich
Germany 2
London
Paris
Helsinki

Eastern Europe

Slovakia
Berlin
Belarus
Moscow team 1
Moscow team 2
St Petersburgh
Czech - Born
Czech 2


Create a second league for second division teams. For the former NHL teams, relegate them to the division 2 league, with about sixteen teams, and a similar division 2 league in Europe.

The Stanley cup - given to the North American Champions.
The Euro cup - given to the European Champions.
The continental cup - given to the world Champions - winner of Stanley vs winner of Euro.
The shoe cup, described below. (shoe being a temporary name.)

A sixty game regular season, with a massive tournament in between.

Take all 32 teams, plus another 32 teams from the second divisions.

A World tournament in the middle of the season. Round robin format followed by single elimination similar to Olympics/World Cup.

Who wouldn't love to see Montreal vs. Moscow in the World finals? Certainly better than watching Carolina, or Tampa Bay, or Anaheim.

I hope to one day see things kick started by the creation of a European League to rival the NHL. Come on Europe, there are hundreds of Soccer teams making millions. A dozen or so hockey teams can surely survive, especially with popularity in the big seven European hockey countries. Sweden, Finland, Russia, Czech rep., Slovakia, Germany and Switzerland. Not to mention Belarus and Norway.

Christobal Huet playing for team Paris.
Matts Sundin playing gor team Sweden.
Ochevkin for team St. Petersburg.

Seriously, is there any hockey fan out there who wouldn't prefer this to the current lacklustre NHL?

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