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Fewer NHL Teams

from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail, 

The players believe the problem can be addressed by enhancing the existing revenue-sharing system, which would (from their perspective) have the added benefit of preserving jobs in every one of those struggling markets. But a second, far more draconian solution is equally plausible, one which would be supported by anyone who believes the existing NHL talent pool is spread far too thinly across 30 teams:

Just shrink the NHL to a more manageable size by dumping cities that cannot support their teams, without massive handouts from the league’s richest franchises.

Consider what a smaller NHL looked like on the ice, even a single generation ago.

In 1991, in the 21-team era, the Pittsburgh Penguins won a Stanley Cup with six current Hall of Famers on the roster (Mario Lemieux, Paul Coffey, Ron Francis, Joe Mullen, Larry Murphy and Bryan Trottier), along with one future Hall Of Famer (Jaromir Jagr), a two-time 50-goal scorer (Kevin Stevens) and a couple of other players that still have an outside chance at making the HHOF grade (Tom Barrasso, Mark Recchi).

At the start of their dynasty, the 1984 Edmonton Oilers boasted five players that would go on to becoming leading playoff scorers of all time (Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson and Coffey). They too are in the Hall of Fame.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, NHL Talk, NHLPA, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Comments

Vladimir16's avatar

I like it. It’ll NEVER happen as long as the garden gnome is “in Charge” but I like it none the less.

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 10/25/12 at 01:36 PM ET

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I am curious if the same people castigating the owners for being soulless vampires for trying to get 10-12% of player salaries back would sing the same tune if the owners tried to get rid of 10-12% of player jobs.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 10/25/12 at 02:01 PM ET

henrymalredo's avatar

While I believe the NHL needs to do something about it’s struggling franchises, this proposal is just a pipe dream.  The players wouldn’t be happy losing all those jobs and having a league this small, with only half it’s teams in the US would prevent the NHL from ever getting a decent tv contract or be taken seriously.  And seriously, the talent level isn’t really diluted especially with the continued growth of hockey in Europe and the US.

Posted by henrymalredo from Lansing on 10/25/12 at 02:04 PM ET

Bossy_Rules's avatar

The talent in the NHL is most definitely NOT spread thin at all.  The level of play is higher than it has ever been.  The argument about teams with a bunch of hall of famers is silly.  For HOF purposes your career is measured against your peers.  Also its confused.  What there were back then was more instances of dominant teams and the talent being distributed less evenly.  This has nothing to do with the number of teams or the overall level of talent.  30 teams is enough to follow so I don’t want more but there is plenty of talent for more teams.

Posted by Bossy_Rules on 10/25/12 at 04:04 PM ET

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Posted by HockeyinHD on 10/25/12 at 02:01 PM ET

Yeah, let’s all visit a fantasy world in which Bettman would suggest contracting because he was wrong to try to make hockey work in places that don’t give a damn.

Posted by Garth on 10/25/12 at 04:15 PM ET

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The talent in the NHL is most definitely NOT spread thin at all.  The level of play is higher than it has ever been.

This is the truth. Look at the disparity between first and fourth line players on so many of the teams from the 80s. What made the Oilers and Islanders great was the depth that no other teams had. Players on the high end put up huge numbers because they could take advantage of fourth line pylons.The only difference in players today is the level of skill, which is harder and harder to distinguish at the NHL level because of the coaching. There a very few athletic advantages and the reason goons see about 1 minute of ice time per game.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 10/25/12 at 05:52 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

Just shrink the NHL to a more manageable size by dumping cities that cannot support their teams…

Or, and I know this is just crazy talk, why not move teams to cities where people actually care about hockey? I know that’s weird thinking because the Fearless Leader has a vision of hockey being played in every geographical region of North America, including the desert. But maybe, just maybe, the people who live in the desert don’t really give a rat’s ass about a sport that’s played on ice.

As for the talent being spread too thin, just ask yourself who on the Red Wings isn’t qualified to be an NHL player. Emmerton? Kindl? Even if you removed those two, they could be replaced quite easily from the Griffins or another AHL team.

It’s not the talent level that’s too thin at the NHL level. It’s the fricking fan base – at least in the markets that the Garden Gnome covets so highly.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 10/25/12 at 06:50 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

if Barrasso wasn’t such Dick he would be in already, Recchi deserves to be in too

Posted by Evilpens on 10/25/12 at 08:38 PM ET

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Yeah, let’s all visit a fantasy world in which Bettman would suggest contracting because he was wrong to try to make hockey work in places that don’t give a damn.

Take it up with Duhatschek, eh?

Still, would you be as mad if the NHL tried to contract and 10-12% of NHLers no longer made any money at all as you are about the league trying to push player expenses down 10-12%?

It’s an interesting question, albeit a mostly moot issue.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 10/26/12 at 05:24 AM ET

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It’s not the talent level that’s too thin at the NHL level. It’s the fricking fan base – at least in the markets that the Garden Gnome covets so highly.

I partially agree.  The portion of the argument where I disagree is that on most NHL rosters what you have on the bottom half is largely unskilled players, comparatively.  So, once you get past the top line and probably the second line, you’re going to be dealing with lines that are focused on just not getting scored on.

Talent differential was, IMO, the incubation chamber for trapping defenses.  It turned out that a 25 million dollar team could stand up to a 70 million dollar team if they didn’t even try and score, they just sat back and waited for a mistake.  When that team would try and ‘skate with’ the clearly better team, they got their doors blown off.

The thing is, you’d have to engage in some pretty serious contraction to be left with a league that can put 9 skilled forwards and 4 quality defensemen on every team roster.

That’s why contraction as a quality of play device is unreasonable.  You’d have to drop 10 teams to effectively deepen the talent pool.  Contraction as a financial device works much better, but as Garth noted (and I agree), it’s completely unreasonable to think Bettman would ‘admit defeat’ so publicly re: expansion.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 10/26/12 at 05:31 AM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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