The NHL's silliest of seasons is over. The rosters are (mostly) set and it's time to get down to who goes where in the NHL playoff brackets.
And it's time to get down to about the only period all year when the NHL approaches being at the forefront of sports. At least in America. Huge conference games, huge division games, battles between four and five teams for the last couple of playoff spots, and juggernaut slugfests for the President's Trophy will all pique the interests of the casual hockey fan and maybe even non-hockey fans. For a brief period of time starting very soon, our favorite sport will be spotlighted for the entire sports world. At least until some third-in-the-rotation MLB pitcher breaks a nail in the second inning of his second start of the season. Then we're out of luck.
But it begs the question:
It's getting to that time of year where the NHL actually gets some attention from the sports community, the time where the league can showcase its sport to a wider audience. If there was one thing you could change (or change back) in the game - anything: scheduling, playoff format, no fighting, the hell is that trapezoid for anyway?, etc. - what would it be?
The Raw Charge staff will answer after the jump. But more importantly, let's have your answers in the comments.
Clark Brooks - Staff / Ridiculously Inconsistent Trickle of Consciousness
I would give one free ticket to every sports fan who says they don't like hockey but has never attended a game in person. I'd ask that they eat dinner at home or some nice restaurant so they don't feel obligated to buy concession stand food. I'd encourage them to catch a ride with someone who's going anyway or take public transportation (if available) so they don't have to pay for parking. I'd make sure there was a hat or t-shirt giveaway scheduled so they didn't have to buy a souvenir. Then I would ask them to just soak in the experience of watching a game in person without worrying about the peripheral stuff. Afterward, I would ask if their opinion had changed. If not, I would put them in a sack weighted with rocks and throw them off a bridge. Because I can respect an individual's opinion, but come on.
Clare Austin - Staff
Get Pierre McGuire and Mike Milbury off the air. That'd probably get people who are already hockey fans to watch more games on NBCSN as well.
Editor's note: I think we can all agree with that one.....
Cassie McClellan - Staff
What are you saying?! The NHL is absolutely perfect the way it is. I would change nothing. The officiating is fantastic, the ownership around the league is excellent, the commissioner is the best, and all of the fans in every city are top notch. What's not to love about it? I mean, seriously....
Other than, you know, market more than just two players & teams in the league, have better camera angles & camera work in arenas, start showing regular season games in October instead of January on national TV, and have more than three teams play in the Winter Classic.
Dani Toth - Staff / Lightning Hockey Blog
It's simple but it won't happen: re-negotiate a new CBA before September 15th and don't go into a lockout.
Not only will a lock-out lose steam in gaining new fans, it will lose current fans and people will lose jobs.
John Fontana - Managing Editor
The question sort of contradicts a thought I have with the NHL as a whole. See, the league changes itself often. Too often. So often, in fact, that a casual fan can't recognize the game if they caught a match during the playoffs ("Exciting!") and one in November "That's a penalty? They could do that back when I watched last spring...")I'm not a tradition-minded fan, but the NHL has this serious problem when it comes to consistency in implementing itself. The precedences of the rules and other guidelines within the sport change so often, you'd think the NHL Board of Governors were a used car salesmen, asking the general population "how can I get you to view one of our fantastic sporting events today?" with a wide, goofy grin on their face while asking.Change and the NHL is a constant. Maybe that's what I'd "change": Actually set a precedent that makes sense and stand by it.Enforce the rules of the game - all of them, from pre-season until the final horn of the last game of the Stanley Cup Final - and bear criticism from the media and the public freely, because what's in place and being enforced should be in the best interest of the game....And if this means cleaning out every person in hockey operations, so be it. That is a crime that the NHL has committed - letting insiders run the show to the degree that they have no empathy or understanding why the general population is pissed off with a non-suspension, or a disciplinary gaffe, or an incompetent on-ice failing by refs and linesmen that effects a game's outcome (I'm looking at you, Stephen Walkom and Tim Peel).