LCS Hockey: Born Again
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June 26, 2019
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Would Rick Tocchet Even Take This Bett-man?

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Since I'm still focusing on my book writing and whatnot, I've decided to let others in on the hockey shenanigans. Former LCS correspondent Glenn McCready was kind enough to send over this here article. Keep in mind, I don't agree with everything he says, but c'mon, it's for charity. And if you'd like to get in on the fun with your own article, feel free to drop me an email.)

I think we've seen enough, and the time has come to say something. We, the lifelong fans of hockey have had quite enough of Mr. Gary Bettman. He has stripped away and watered down what was once the ďCoolest Game on Earth.Ē †

Gary Bettman

This is not a game for the casual fan. Alas, ask most people that are not regular fans, and to be sure the first thing likely to come up is the fighting. That is not a good way to be remembered. There is a lot going on in this game, and to have dropped gloves and loose teeth as some peopleís overriding image is not a good thing.

This is not a game that requires more scoring or bloody noses to be interesting. We do not need "no touch" icing.†We do not need smaller goalies. We do not need larger nets. We do not need trapezoids. With no offense intended, we do not need Carolina, Nashville, or†Atlanta. We do not need Tampa or Sunrise Florida.†We do not need rules made up in the middle of a playoff season. We do not need the face of the league protected by awful officiating. We do not need a salary cap. We do not need a second-rate, third-line administrator ruining the game we love.

What we need is really quite simple. We need our game back. We need Gary Bettman to go away. We need a hockey person to run this league. Maybe we donít need an ex-player, but certainly someone who cares. Someone who cares about the history, cares about the tradition, and most importantly about the game. And we need it soon. Let me go into this a bit more, before consigning me to the ranks of The Flat Earth Society and others that resist progress.

††††††††††† I am not asking for a return to the days of no teeth and sweaters, (though the new uniforms were a major flop). I believe in the sport evolving, but there also comes a point when progress becomes devolution. †

When I was younger, there were still two goalies that didnít wear masks. As a goaltender myself, I know itís a good idea. Everyone having to wear a helmet is a good idea. While some change is good, change for the sake of change isnít. †I am all for a solid fan base, if for no other reason than there might be a better television contract. By better, I mean on a network with more households than there are Nielsen families. Letís break this down now to some of the points in my initial rant.

I realize some people may not like this, but this is a case of addition by subtraction. I have no beef with the fine cities involved, and yes, I do realize Carolina and Tampa have won Stanley Cups, but in point of fact, hockey in Carolina makes about as much sense as NASCAR in Buffalo.

Are there hockey fans in these cities? YesÖfor now. I grew up in New York City and was really beginning to think I was never going to see my team win the Cup. There were some really, really horrible teams at MSG for a long time, not to mention the team from Nassau County was winning four in a row. But was MSG ever empty? Hardly. It would be unthinkable. There will always be Ranger fans. I canít say the same for everyone.

Hereís the plan: get rid of Carolina, Tampa, Florida, Nashville, Atlanta, Dallas, (sorry, but they belong in Minnesota), Anaheim, (thereís really no need for two teams in L.A. area), and Columbus. Iím on the fence about Washington, because they are quite cyclical indeed, and they are on an upswing now, having one of the top players in the league.† And there has been hockey in Phoenix for a really long time, so they can stay. Sorry my article, my rules.

Anyway, take all of the players from these teams, put them on the three new Canadian teams. Remember Canada?† Place one in Manitoba, one in Ontario, and one in Quebec. Anyone left can be taken in a dispersal draft. And players would actually have to be real hockey players, because every job would be important.

What happens now is you get all teams with quality, not some false sense of parity created by stopping an owner from spending his or her money and rewarding the business school dropouts that donít realize you need to spend it to make it. This brings me to my next point...

Sports have always held a very interesting spot in the world of American business. Though the ultimate in inter-state commerce, they are not subject to the same rules. But one thing is for sure: none of these owners will ever be on line for soup or government cheese. The entrance fee into any of the professional leagues is very high indeed, so rest assured, these guys are all comfortable. Youíd never know it from the way some of them carry on, however.

ďWeíre not making any money,Ē they bawl.

"We need a new building," they whine.

"If you donít give us a new building (built with tax money, of course) and tax breaks, weíre going to leave," they threaten.

The amount of absurdities in all of this is numerous, but let me mention a few.

1.††Maybe the team stinks because you don't pay your players enough to stay? Could that be why no one buys tickets? Say what you want about George Steinbrenner and John Henry spending money, they always put a good product on the field. That sounds like Business101 to me.

2.†Maybe all of your crying isnít so good for public relations? Nothing warms the hearts of Mr. and Mrs. Average fan (who canít even afford tickets for the family to attend a game) than hearing some millionaire whine about how his profits are down.

3.†Asking a municipality to foot the bill for your toy box? Enough said. So with the help of our little administrator, they come up with a salary cap. Now, the cheapskates running these teams can hide behind a cap. You know, it seems to me someone once said, ĒIf you build it, they will come.Ē It seems as simple as that.

While we're at it, I have a few other proposed changes.

The Trapezoid: This little bit of geometry is behind the net, and it restricts goalies from playing the puck. I always thought it made for exciting hockey, guys like Martin Brodeur and Ron Hextall displaying their skills. It was a little too exciting watching Mike Richter try to handle the puck, but my feeling is, you take that chance, you take what happens. Lose the trapezoid

2.†Size Doesnít Matter: We donít need to make the goal bigger. Hereís a little piece of news for Mr. Bettman, and actually all of the other commissioners that somehow link more scoring to better games: if you ask any REAL fan of any sport, not the corporate hacks, or the guys that show up only for the playoffs in the company seats what they would rather see, and you will almost always hear a 2-1 game over a 7-6 game. (Note to baseball: put the mound back where it was, and put the seams back on the ball)

3.††Shootouts: Yeah, ties arenít great, but I guess as long as you keep them out of the playoffs, shootouts are tolerable.

4. †No Touch Icing: I was on the fence about this one for awhile, but I think itís a bad idea. Touch icing encourages hustle, and as long as the goal of the chaser isnít to cripple the defenseman going for the puck, itís okay.

5.†The Avery Rule: Okay, we all agree it was kind of bush league, very schoolyard. But you donít change or add a rule IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PLAYOFFS! Do you want the league to be any more of a laughingstock?

And having the referees watching certain players a little closer than others has to go. Yes, every sport has done it forever, but letís set a precedent here: everyone treated the same. And that goes for the Crosbys and the Averys of the sport. If someone falls down and Avery is anywhere near him, Avery gets the call, but someone can mug him and nothing gets called.

6. Playoff Seeding: winning a division is wonderful, but if youíre in a division that is really bad like, say, the Southeast, why should you be seeded ahead of a team that has had to claw its way through five teams that could all have won your division?

Either bring in a straight 1-8 point seeding, or if you must be rewarded for winning your group, at least put the team in its proper place. Of course, if some of my other suggestions are taken to heart, this one may be moot.

But for any of these to happen we have to hope for the biggest change of all, and that would be to get rid of the current commissioner. Now Iím sure Gary Bettman came into this gig with the best of intentions, though we know what road that paves, and never truer than now, as he is slowly destroying the game we love.

Bettman seems to have no idea what he's doing. He gives the impression of a really bad substitute teacher that never goes away. We need to get a hockey person to run this league, or at the very least, a hockey journalist. We donít need a second-rate lawyer. Weíve had enough things ruined in this life by second-rate lawyers.

This humble plea may have no effect at all. It may end up being another bit of stomping left to the vastness of the Ethernet. But if it does nothing else, it may clear our heads, and maybe clear some heads in the league offices. The game should still belong to us the fans. I am not naÔve enough to think it isnít a business, run by businessmen, but I know there has to be a better way and a better person for the job (John Davidson, anyone?).

So, Mr. Bettman, please do the best thing you could do for this game that we love. Go away... NOW!

LCS Hockey: Born Again
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