Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 07/23/05 at 07:09 PM ET
It took an act of attempted suicide, but the league has finally come to its senses and recognized that American hockey fans aren't enthralled by ties, low-scoring games, and goalies who wear more padding than attack dog trainers. Players will be allowed to make two-line passes across the red line. The size of the offensive zone will be changed to encourage more offensive play. And, in an astonishing moment of clarity, a shootout will occur if a game is still tied after a five-minute overtime session. Thank goodness. No more 19-12-10-8 records for teams. The NHL hopes the changes - and an increased emphasis on marketing - will enable the sport to recover from its work stoppage and grow to unprecedented heights. Sorry. Won't happen. Hockey is a wonderful game, but it's never going to step onto the same podium as football, basketball and baseball. It's a regional sport that plays well in the Northeast and parts of the Midwest - where kids grow up skating on frozen ponds - but in too many sun-splashed states hockey is and always will be an afterthought. More importantly, until someone can figure out how to translate hockey to television - thus assuring better ratings and, in turn, bigger rights fees - the NHL can't attract the widespread attention it needs to grow. There has been considerable speculation the last few weeks about whether fans will return to the rinks this fall. Of course they will. Hockey's core fans are incredibly loyal and passionate. They'll forgive, forget and scoop up season tickets because they love the game. But the millions of sports fans who never cared for hockey in the first place aren't going to rush to the game just because commissioner Gary Bettman has instituted a few rules changes. "Let's drop the puck on a fresh start and a wonderful future for the National Hockey League," Bettman said Friday. A wonderful future? At this point, the best the NHL can hope for is that it won't be ignored.
Read the whole article, the first part of the article questions Gretzky as the coach of the Yotes.
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