1. 4.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My Christmas List, Gary Bettmanclause

It’s my turn in line and I would like to think I have been pretty good this year. So I thought I’d ask for three things this Christmas to help grow my favorite sport.

First, please restructure the NHL schedule. This is a specific request, so here’s what I mean:

1. Go to 84 regular-season games.

2. Each year, give us an inter-Conference home-and-home set so we can see every team in our building at least once. (That’s 30 games.)

3. Give us three games each of inter-Divisional play in our conference scheduled any way you want to make the season’s scheduling problems easier. (Our total is now 60 games.)

4. And give us six, intra-Divisional games in three-games-in-one-week sets. Do one set in the NOV/DEC timeframe to give us weekly rivalries (like a Red Wings’ “Blackhawk Week,” or an Islanders’ “Rangers Week”) in the Thanksgiving/Christmas period to build NHL excitement going into the Winter Classic(s). Then end the season with the other set of rivalry weeks so everyone feels like they have played some playoff series regardless of whether or not they get to compete for the Stanley Cup. (And that makes 84 games.)

This present gives us all of the stars in our building every year and two stretches in the regular season feeling like playoffs. (We will love our Hockey even more and come to games even more often!)

Next, give us (almost) a week of so much excitement about the future of our teams and our past and current stars that we don’t know what to do with ourselves. By this I mean give us the Trade Deadline on a Wednesday. Then hold the entry draft the following Friday night and Saturday. And cap it all off with an Old Timer’s game Sunday afternoon and the All Stars’ game Sunday night (the skills competition can go on Friday morning). One additional note for the All Stars’ games…

In Year 1, have U.S. players play the world

In Year 2, have Canadian players play the world

In Year 3, have European players play the North Americans

In Year 4, play in the Olympics. Combined with the schedule changes above, drop one of the games against each of our inter-Divisional rivals to put that 10 games into a three-week break in order to support travel and some practice time before the Olympics begin. With profits lowered over 74-games in NHL buildings, work out an agreement with the NHLPA to either:

1. Ensure appropriately lower salaries ensue in those seasons, all for the betterment of the Great Game and so players can support their nation’s Olympic efforts; or

2. Take a 1% contract escrow amount from each of their non-Olympic seasons and give it to them during the Olympic season. This gives them an average salary over the four years that is equivalent and does not make the owners pay a hefty price for the loss of five home games in an Olympic year.

Please consider giving us this (nearly a) week of Hockey emersion about half-way between the NOV/DEC inter-Divisional series and the season-ending set – we will need a little break in between the three to lower the blood pressure as we cannot wait to see who we have to take our teams on into the Playoffs, who we will have in the future to continue our team's dominance, a respectful look at or Hockey elders, and a tribute to today's stars in a format that is truly meaningful.

And lastly, work with each team to ensure they play one pre-season game in a non-NHL market city each year. This will bring at least 15 NHL games to new cities every year. Have each team partner with their assigned city in the off-season in order to plan some great interaction like a road hockey tournament and player’s autograph sessions the day of the game. This cannot help but grow the game’s fan base and future where there is no NHL team to watch all of the time.

Thank you for your consideration while I continue to do my best to be good through the year. I'll put the milk and cookies on the table...

Waiting Patiently For ‘The Next Level’

P.S. And if possible, can you throw in a pair of tickets to that Hockey Trade Deadline/Draft/All Star Classic next year? I'll get my flight and hotel reservations booked - just give me a hint on where to go to get there.

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