One of the many problems bedeviling the NHL is a lack of rivalries. Oh, there are a million other problems, such as the awful TV deal with Versus, a bunch of failing teams — the result of the owners' expansion money grab — and the monotonous Eurohockey style that has all but eliminated rough-and-tumble play.
Folks, you don't see it here in Minnesota, where the Wild are thriving. But hockey is dying in many other parts of the country. And that includes traditional markets such as Boston and Chicago. The sellouts you see at Xcel are the exception, not the rule.
Still, it could take a common-sense approach. (Fat chance.) Ask any general manager or coach what it takes to kindle a rivalry. He'll tell you: meeting the other team in the playoffs. So someone please explain to me why we don't do it like we used to: Team 1 vs. Team 4 and Team 2 vs. Team 3, right in their own division during the first round.
This added familiarity not only breeds contempt, but it also adds extra oomph down the stretch to divisional games. The NHL should get rid of this stupid six-division format and go back to four divisions. Take the West, for example. Switch Dallas and Minnesota into the current Central. Then merge the remainder of the Northwest and Pacific for a true West Division.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Time to Bring Back Traditional Divisions?
Tom Powers, from Minnesota’s Twin Cities newspaper, says that that the NHL needs to go back to a playoff/divisional format that promotes rivalries. According to Powers: