Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 03/17/13 at 03:38 AM ET
In his weekly Slap Shots column, the New York Post's Larry Brooks suggests that the Red Wings, Blue Jackets, Jets, Wild, Stars and Avs are the only beneficiaries of the NHL's realignment plan, and Brooks wonders how the heck Gary Bettman managed to convince the rest of the league to go along with a "benefit of the few" scheme (say what you will about Brooks' column, but he does point out that the Rangers are asking fans to pony up more $ for tickets, and I'm hearing that from many markets--including my own--about regular-season and especially playoff seats):
[T]hat accounts for 20 percent of the league, which means, if I can correctly recall math lessons taught at P.S. 87 by Miss Feldman, more than enough of the remaining 80 percent of the league’s owners signed on for a system that is of no benefit to their respective franchises or, most critically, to their own respective constituencies.
Nothing is more preposterous than pretending this structure benefits the Lightning and Panthers because of a few extra visits a year by the Canadiens, Maple Leafs and Red Wings (and fewer from the Rangers, Flyers and Penguins). Travel will be murderous, as it will be for the Predators, too, by the way.
Tampa Bay’s economic issue is not attendance-related. It’s a gate-receipts matter. Realignment can’t address that. And if Florida’s success is dependent upon a marketing campaign based upon its opponents, well, the move to Quebec can’t come quickly enough.
There was no reason, none whatsoever, for any franchise in the East (other than Winnipeg, of course) to support this realignment. Every team will travel many more miles. Every team’s schedule will feature fewer games against competitors for playoff spots and more against teams whose outcomes will produce diluted meaning in the standings.
There will be more dead spots in the schedule than at any time in three decades, since the NHL played a balanced schedule in 1979-80 and 1980-81 with a 1-16 playoff seeding structure. There will be more soft tickets in more Eastern Conference cities than in years, and honestly, does anyone think the good folks of Edmonton and Calgary will flock to the rink to see the Panthers or Sabres (or, for that matter, the Rangers if they’re terrible)?
It is, as usual, the big-market fans — whose money drives the NHL economy — who will pay for a system contrary to their own interests. It has been that way through the lockouts, and it is now that way regarding realignment. Taken for granted, as always.
Brooks continues and discusses one of his favorite topics ahead of the GM's meetings in possibly increasing the size of the net...
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