Gary Bettman and the board of governors met on Tuesday in Chicago to discuss a few important issues facing the NHL.
The biggest issue addressed was the current, division dominated and based schedule. Most in attendance agreed that the schedule needs to be changed after this season. The biggest complaints with the current schedule are that all the teams in the league do not get to play one another, that eight intra-divisional games is too many, and that the Eastern Conference teams do not have to travel nearly as far as the Western Conference teams, which gives them an advantage.
This whole scheduling discussion should have taken place after the first year that it was put into place. Gary Bettman has put forth a strong marketing plan of pushing Crosby and Ovechkin as the stars of the league… you would think he would have wanted other teams and fans of those teams throughout the league to see these two stars play in person. Since Crosby has been in the league, he hasn’t played in at least three NHL cities. Both players have had very limited exposure throughout the league. This lack of exposure is also due to the laughable television contract with Versus.
Furthermore, some of the old rivalries in the league have been broken up by the existing schedule. Two years ago, Detroit and Toronto did not play one another. During this upcoming season the Flames, Oilers and Canucks will not be playing one game against Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa. There will also not be a Hockey Day in Canada, where all the Canadian teams play a Canadian opponent. Just more proof that Gary Bettman is trying to make the NHL an American league and take it away from Canada.
The other big issue briefly touched upon in yesterday’s meeting was league expansion. Bettman did not say much, but the comment that he did make would lead one to believe that the league is seriously considering expansion:
“As we continue to explore the expressions of interest we will decide on how we want to proceed.”
So there is definitely interest from both sides… the league and owners in new/other cities, as we have pointed out here on FB many times. We tend to agree with the anonymous statement of “We’ve got too many weak spots right now to think about expansion.”
The sale of the Predators and Lightning was briefly discussed as well. It sounds as though things are moving forward in the purchases, but neither sale has been completed. Things have been very hush-hush since news broke that the Nashville group who is buying the team has made some very strong demands of the City of Nashville. We’ll continue to keep our eyes on this.
The other big news that broke this week was the announcement by Gary Bettman of an outdoor game to be played on New Year’s Day 2008, between the Penguins and Sabres at Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson Stadium. Apparently, the 42,000 seats sold out in less than half an hour. Now the league might need to hire 42,000 more to shovel all of the January Buffalo snow so that the game can be played . The game will be televised on NBC, where fans from all over can watch Sidney Crosby freeze his tail off in Buffalo.