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Monday, December 18, 2006

New System, Same Result

In 2004, when the owners decide to make a lock-out, it was to make the NHL better. To implant a system where the economic will permit to every team to compete and assure that, financially, the league will be ok. The owner decide to revamp the rules and crackdown on obstruction. The goal was to give talented players exposure they didn't have in the past. But,looking at the assistance this season, the owner should start to worry.

In fact, when you look at the attendance around the league, it's depressing. Of course, some teams like Buffalo and Carolina ( who had trouble in the past with attendance ), are doing well. But old market ( and important one ) are struggling. Chicago and Boston are a good example of that. That said, it's not only the product who can be blame for that drop of the attendance around the league. What about... too many team? The lockout was a good thing if you consider that, for the first time, owners decide to get real and look at the problem. Before that lockout, the owner choose th easy wayout: add teams ( and collect the money ) in order to get their business on the good track. Short term, the solution was perfect. But now, this solution is awful.

At 30 teams, it become difficult to assemble a very good roster and give, to the fans, a quality entertainement; nights in, nights out. The Cap system may help some team on the free agent market to get good players but the problem is deepest then that. The real challenge here is the amateur draft. Considering the low percentage of players who will, eventually, play in the NHL; the question about the"pool" of talent must be raise. In fact, even if the NHL is going outside North America; there's no certainty about the number of players who can make it to the NHL. Filling rosters with 3 or 4th line NHL players is not the solution. Long term, the only solution will be to buyout franchise who are struggling and re-spread the talent among the existing teams.

It might take a long time to get a consensus about teams who should disappear but, in the long run, this process is unevitable. The owner made a mistake before the lockout and, now, this bomb is ready to explode. The question here is whether or not the owners are willing to do something about it.


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