And ugly word….but it has been thrown around recently in sports. Especially the MLB and NHL. Well, we all saw how well it went for baseball….and they have a team that plays in 3 different countries!!!
But, the NHL may look at contraction to help deal with their financial woes.
The pros are that with less teams…there would be less travel. Less destinations. Also, the worst players in the league would all be in the minors or Europe. The worst officials would be back in the minors. Also, all of their TV money would be divided up with less slices.
Or course, just how much better played will a game be with less teams?? If the best of the best can’t score on these fringe players….then how will they do with these guys gone?? The game would actually have LESS scoring. The better defenders and goalies would all survive.
But, when the NHL was at 24 teams, back in 1992-93.…the top 10 scorers all had at least 123 points. Since that season, only Gretzky, Lemieux and Jagr have amassed 122 points.
A problem the NHL must realize is that there really is no pressure here. Unlike the NBA, NFL or MLB….there won’t be as many fans clamoring for the NHL to get back to business. The NHL isn’t as popular as those leagues. Also, when the NHL season is going on….there is the NFL, NBA, NCAA football and NCAA basketball filling up our sports appetite. Also, unlike those other leagues, NHL players can go other places and make good money. They all can go back to their home countries and make good money in their leagues. The NFL has nothing. The NBA has Europe…but who would want to go there?? They can’t even handle Toronto!!! MLB players could go to Japan…but again….why would they??
So, who to kick out?? How many?? And why? Well, there is a bunch of ways to decide this. Let’s just start with a basic SIX teams to contract….and get the league back to 24 teams.
*Carolina Hurricanes. This isn’t going to work in Raleigh. Yeah, it was pretty intense when they battled the Red Wings in the Cup Finals a few years back. But, the Carolinas aren’t “hockey crazy”. It is rumored that the Canes lost $20M last year alone. Good bye.
*Pittsburgh Penguins. I’m sad to say this….but if Mario cannot get this team moving…no one can. This franchise is barely holding on, even with its recent tradition. Please, put these fans out of their misery.
*Atlanta Thrashers. No offense, but nip this one in the bud. TheFlames didn’t work in Hot-lanta and the Thrashers will soon follow suit. This team is losing tons of money and doesn’t show any trends to suggest it can turn it around. People, Atlanta isn’t exactly the best sports town, either. No one cares about the Hawks. The Falcons need Michael Vick to get anyone to care about the Dirty Birds. The Braves have won 300 straight division titles….yet cannot sell out a playoff game. So, who are the Thrashers??
*Nashville Predators. Hmmm…a third southern team. Just one of those deals that everyone likes a new toy….but we grow out of it after a while. Especially now, with the Titans entrenched in Nashville. Attendance is very low…..as is overall interest. The Preds just do not fit and may need to become extinct like the Sabertoothed tiger, which is their logo.
*Florida Panthers. An early Cup appearance…but this franchise is finished. Maybe the Lightning could play some of their home games in Miami so those fans can get their hockey fix.
*….or just kill hockey in Florida. The Tampa Bay Lightning. That’ll be hard to do after their Cup.
If you wanted to slash even more….say down to 20.….here would be the next round of cuts:
*Mighty Ducks of Anaheim [great name, but just not the interest when you have Clippers, Lakers and Kings during the winter]…..Columbus Blue Jackets [another great name, just not tradition]…..Phoenix Coyotes [a hockey team in the desert…..riiiiight]……either the Edmonton Oilers or Calgary Flames….the Buffalo Sabres.
Most likely, contraction may not happen. Teams may just end up folding or closing up shop. Six teams [allegedly] have filed bankruptcy in recent years. The most likely candidates to fold are those franchises in the Sun Belt…..who are more endeared to NASCAR and college football…..sports that those fans will more than happily spend their money on. And, with most of those franchises fairly new…..not many would really miss the NHL if they closed up shop.
At least, they’ll get to find out starting now.