I love hockey. I enjoy the one-timers, amazing goaltending, hits, and fights.
The problem is the NHL isn’t growing with new fans.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman needs to be proactive about making changes that will broaden hockey’s appeal.
Hockey has some of the most loyal fans in all of sports, but many Americans dislike hockey for a similar reason as soccer: there’s not enough scoring. The NHL thought about making the goals larger, but instead abolished the two-line pass rule, which was the dumbest rule in the sport.
A a result, it opened up the ice a little more, with some odd man breaks and a couple more breakaways, but it hasn’t completely solved the problem.I’m glad to see games ending in 5-3, rather than 2-1, and non-die hard fans would probably welcome even more scoring.
There have been talks about making the rink larger in order to make more space for players, which isn’t a bad idea.
My major problem is the fact that most goals are deflections, rebounds, or just bad bounces. It’s rare for those who aren’t NHL enthusiasts as myself, to marvel at a goal, because most are used to the grace and finesse of the NBA scoring or the explosiveness of NFL touchdowns. I did see a beautiful pass and one-timer in the Pittsburgh game on Sunday, but other than that, most goals were hustle goals and not exactly poetry in motion.
The rule that NEEDS to be changed in order for the NHL to take the next step in popularity and viewership is abolishing the offsides rule.
I know hockey purists may not like that idea, but just think if you can catch a team on a line change and pass the puck across the blue line to a player streaking down along the boards. It would create the same excitement as an NBA fast break. But instead of a thunderous dunk, it could showcase the stick handling and finishing skills of a gifted winger or forward.
The flashy breakaways or 2-on-1 outlets would keep fans on the edge of their seats and give the goalie more opportunities to make those amazing kick saves.
I think icing should still be in effect, so if the pass isn’t touched, icing should be automatically called once it breaks the plane of the goal. Currently, the defense needs to touch the puck first in order to get the call, but with this rule change, it would be called automatically.
This change would open up the game and still stay true to things that make hockey unique, such as icing.
I don’t mind offsides in soccer, because the field is huge and the angles are endless for how to get the ball behind a defender. The problem with the NHL is using a stationary line as their offsides measurement.
I hope Gary Bettman is on his way out as commissioner, because he may be the worst in all of sports. He can’t seem to keep his sports from locking out and isn’t doing much to further the game.
If he doesn’t implement major changes such as these, we can only hope a new commissioner, who has a more open mind, would step into the role and bring the sport forward to the mainstream audience.
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