For a coupla years now I have had an idea rolling around in my head about saving the NHL.

Now that the CBA negotiations are almost upon the NHL and NHLPA I thought it would be a good time to unveil my own “Roadmap to Peace”If anyone on the board knows about English Football, you should be familiar with the promotion/demotion system used to keep the teams competitive within the league and it’s divisions.

My idea to save the NHL is similar to that tier system. This is how it works:

Each team which advances to their conference semi final (8 teams in the NHL) would begin the next season as a Premier Division team. Premier Division teams would receive the biggest cut of NHL revenues, from sponsorships and television, and be free to spend it however they wish (free agents, rookie signings, new jerseys, whatever).

The NHL would play the same as now, but each team would face each Premier Division team at least twice in a season, once at home and once on the road. Thus, the fans get to see all of the best players vs their team live or on TV.

If a premier division team missed the playoffs, or was eliminated in the first round, they would be ‘demoted’ to a second tier team, and to the victor would go the spoils.

No salary cap needed. The demand for high end players (your $10M+ players) would be limited to eight teams. Other teams would just have to develop talent. I know that some will groan and say ‘I don’t want to watch some old guys and raw rookies play college hockey’ but rest assured, my friends, after a few years teams would all begin to see the benefit of signing guys to reasonable, long-term contracts, rather than risk having free-agents leave each year you don’t make the second-round.

Some players will become ‘gun for hire’ type players, but those guys (cough, cough Cujo) would soon find that if they can’t win, no one will want them.

Thus, this system would encourage teams to develop and retain players, it would encourage players to perform better, and the winner in the end? The fans, because we get to keep hockey playing forever, see the best players each year, and at the worst (Buffalo, Calgary, etc…) nothing would change, except that the regular teams (non-Premier Divison) would now have a little less talent available and we would have more parity in the league, excepting the Premier teams.

This idea also gives the ESPN’s and ABC’s what they want, run and gun, shoot-em-up games to broadcast each week and all the fancy graphics, promos, glowing pucks, celebrity goal judges, sound effects, fireworks, and laser lights you can put in a hockey broadcast.

Is this idea reasonable or ridiculous?

50 Responses to SAVE THE NHL

  1. Donovan says:

    I find it too confusing. Keeping along the lines of English Football, ya ever heard David Beckham talk? He’s got the stupidest voice I’v ever heard!

  2. beefer says:

    English Football….or SOCCER sucks! We like to use our hands in this country. And if what they do over there works so great, why do they feel the need to riot all the time. When is the last time people got squished to death at an NHL game? We do not need hockey to resemble soccer in any way.

  3. DG says:

    Guys, this isn’t about soccer. It’s about adopting a system similar to that used in European soccer for the National Hockey League (i.e. having seperate divisons based on how good the team is).


  4. CechmanekForVezina says:

    Did you have to bring up glowing pucks again?

  5. beefer says:

    I get the idea. Just don’t like it. And is it still OK if I think soccer sucks? I’m at work, half way through a 12 hour shift and bored. I just thought I might be able to get into a debate about soccer to pass the time.

  6. cwthrash says:

    If the current NHL setup was close to what the setup is for European football, then it has possibilities. But as it is, I can just see a boatload of legal issues that could be brought up if this was instituted. The television rights to the game would probably have to be given to Court TV.

    I’m not smacking your idea in the face. A few months ago, I actually talked with someone about this. Using things like transfer fees and relegation in the NHL. My ideas were quite a bit different than yours, but the ideas came from the same place.

    Not everyone is a soccer fan though (more’s the pity). There must be a reason why it is by far the most popular game in the world. But that’s a topic for another time.

  7. cwthrash says:

    I might have actually given you that debate.

    But I understand why people in the US and Canada don’t like soccer. One of the big ones is the over-abundance of vastly different sports; soccer seems more slow and boring in comparison.

    There is a great beauty in soccer, for those that want to see it. But for those that don’t, I understand.

  8. leafs2003champs says:

    I was watching a part of a soccer game last week I gotta say the guy doing the play by play sounded like he was going to die of bordem if I didnt know better I would have thought all he wanted was for someone to shoot him in the head and get it over with. I think I will stick to the fast paced hard hitting world of hockey.

  9. beefer says:

    Thanks. In my world of boredom, you gave me a good chuckle outta that one.

  10. leafs2003champs says:

    ok was that ment to be an insult or not?

  11. cwthrash says:

    I understand why you see the boredom. Believe me, I’ve had many a friend ready to smack me for watching a soccer game.

    But where you see boredom, I see a lot of grace and athleticism. For me, it’s in the subtleties. It helps a lot if you played it at a young age (of course that has turned people off of it as well).

    Different strokes for different folks.

  12. leafs2003champs says:

    yes and I will be honest with you I would probly smack you 2 if you made me watch a soccer game

  13. cwthrash says:

    It’s a game where you either love it or hate it.

    I’m not trying to convince you on the merits of soccer. I know better, after trying a long time ago.

    Let’s just say it’s too different for some. I can live with that.

  14. beefer says:

    Not at all. I did LOL.

  15. leafs2003champs says:

    ok cool not that I will let a little insult get to me but ya know still was a little curious

  16. headpushslap says:

    I just figured that as hockey fans we could band together, march on the NHL offices and drop a plan to save the NHL from the impending doom of CBA negotiation, strikes and lockouts.

    But, if flaming soccer is more important than saving hockey, well, so be it…

  17. jon95616 says:

    Keep things the way they are…just fix the CBA

  18. NYR88Express says:

    I’m am a player and fan of both hockey and football(what you call soccer). I love both sports but football is by far the more popular of the two sports. It is internationally reknowned and the World Cup and Champions League are the 2 biggest sporting events, forget the Olympics.

    As far as the demontion/promotion of teams to other divisions, thats not just the Premiership system. It’s the system of EVERY football league in the world. Except for the MLS, boooooy does the MLS suck. No talent, no players, they can’t play ball. It looks like a bunch of schoolkids.

    The NHL does NOT need a salary cap. What it does need is a player-contract cap. In other words, limits will be set to the min and max amount of US$ that a player can make. For example, the minimum contract is to be 1,000,000 and the maximum 7,000,000. The judgement on who shall earn what will be left to the GM’s. This way, you want have nutcases like Fedorov and Holik begging for more money than they are worth. I’d love to have both of those guys on my team, but not for $8M and $9.6M.

  19. NYR88Express says:

    “This way, you WON’T have nutcases…”

  20. TheHoJoMan says:

    I understand the basics of how a tier system works, but how is it supposed to help out the small market teams like Calgary, Edmonton, and Pitsburg? If the top teams in the league (Colorado, Dallas, Detroit, New Jersey etc.) get the majority of the revenue (which they don’t really need) then how are the small market teams supposed to survive? Soccer is so huge in Europe that all the teams get revenue because their huge stadiums are packed every game. Some teams in the NHL struggle to keep attendance above 10, 000. The Presidents Trophy winning Ottawa Senators managed only a handful of sellouts this year despite being in a prime hockey market. Some of these issues have more to do with other aspects of hockey operations, but I don’t think a tier system is the answer.

  21. GpDogs41 says:

    As many people that will tell you how bad this idea i think it is actually good but i do like having the NHL be traditional thats why i probably wont watch the WHA who i think will go under as fast as last time. I think the end of the year strike isnt going to happen i think we will all have our NHL hockey to watch again.

  22. Gattopardo says:

    Yeah, I agree that the two are far too different – in far too many ways to detail here – to be reconciled. The two leagues have developed in very different ways, and this makes it very difficult (in my opinion, almost impossible) to introduce, say, promotion/relegation in the NHL.

    A for transfer fees – I would be VERY wary of them. I know that in the NHL, the rich teams still dominate. BUT the trade system prevents them developing a monopoly and at least allows a window of opportunity for smaller market teams which, let me assure you, does not exist here in the UK for equivalent teams.

    If you want a system that encourages fiscal responsability, that is not it – as the financial crisis that has swept through European football will testify.

  23. Gattopardo says:

    Ah yes the delightful tones of our national captain. I especially like the range of his vocabulary:

    “It’s good to be here at Real Madrid. It’s a good club with good players. But being at Man Utd was good too, I had a good time and my relationship with the Manager was good.

    But I think it’s a good thing to move, good for the family and Sven (for the uninitiated, England national team manager) said it was good too.”


  24. PlayballK says:

    I think that that would be a stupid idea. It is a worse idea than the the revenue sharing plan that MLB has. The NFL has the best set-up of all the professional leagues because almost every team has a shot at the Super Bowl at the beginning, but if there was the premier league thing it would mean that those teams would almost be locks for a shot at the title. It may work in Europe, but it would not work here in the States.

  25. PlayballK says:

    I think that that would be a stupid idea. It is a worse idea than the the revenue sharing plan that MLB has. The NFL has the best set-up of all the professional leagues because almost every team has a shot at the Super Bowl at the beginning, but if there was the premier league thing it would mean that those teams would almost be locks for a shot at the title. It may work in Europe, but it would not work here in the States.

  26. cwthrash says:

    I never got to the point in my debate where transfer fees were a viable alternative to what the NHL has now. Didn’t take me long at all to figure out the teams willing to spend would only increase the gap that is there right now (if it was transfer fees instead of trading).

    The idea of trying to borrow from another system was good. At least someone else was thinking outside of the box. Even though it wouldn’t work, I like the effort.

  27. cwthrash says:

    I’m doing my best to restrain from going after your comment about the MLS (considering this is a hockey site).

    I’ll agree that the MLS isn’t the best in the world, but it sure as hell isn’t the worst that I’ve seen. And that is tremendous compliment given that the league is so young. They should still be taking baby steps, but they’re taking strides that can see them compete with other leagues that have been around for decades. An no MLS team has a payroll anywhere near what even the lower teams in, say, the EPL or La Liga has.

    Ok maybe I did attack your comment a little. Couldn’t help myself.

  28. B_Shanahan14 says:

    The problem with this is that you will further increase the gap between the haves and the have nots. What player would want to be playing for a team on the lower levels? Those current 8 teams will take on all the better players leaving you with the lower teams filled with a bunch of lower tiered players. Hence, this would change NOTHING.

  29. matteo says:

    doooon’t be reeeedeeeekulous……..

    What if we just did away with the puck and used an inflatable version instead….but round so it rolls….

    Then we can increase the net size, do away with the ice and grow some grass…

    I like soccer and all, but that dog just won’t hunt son…….

    SCTP – We didn’t have to blast ’em, but we did anyway…..

  30. NYR88Express says:

    Serie A: Christian Vieri, Alessandro Del Piero, Fransisco Totti, Gabriel Batistuta, Giorgos Karagounis, Zisis Bryzas

    Spanish League: David Beckham, Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cafu, Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos

    Bundesliga: Aggelos Haristeas, Stefan Effenberg, Kahn

    Premiership: Michael Owen, van Nistelrooy, Stelios Giannakopoulos, David Seaman, Nikos Dabizas

    Greece A: Manolis Olisadebe, Nikos Limberopoulos, Mihalis Konstantinou, Giannis Okkas, Predrag Djordjevic, Lambros Houtos, Christian Karembe, Giovanni

    MLS: Clint Mathis, Mike Petke, Cobi Jones, Alexi Lalas, Tab Ramos, Ernesto Guevara, Tim Howard

    now why dont you make a comparison to that? MLS hahaha man my high school league has more talent than the MLS

  31. FlyersGoCupCrazy says:

    Isn’t this kinda the way it wlready works? You have the big teams (Detroit, Colorado, Flyers, Leafs, Dallas, Rangers) that spend big bucks, get the best players, and have the best chance of winning (the Devils of course being the exception to the rule). Do we really need to put them in their own division?

  32. cwthrash says:

    Like I said, those leagues have been in operation much, much longer than the MLS. They have a much richer tradition. Of course they will command the bulk of the talent. That was a given on my part. If it were possible to compare the leagues and players when these European leagues had only been in operation for less than a decade, the MLS would have a head start. It’s gonna take quite a few more years before the MLS can bridge that gap, but they are doing it faster than expected.

    Please don’t get too arrogant about your comparison chart, MLS is doing fine for the position they are in. Especially since you missed quite a few name players worthy of inclusion in each league. Don’t forget that Howard is now playing for ManU. And last season, the fans and writers named Keller and Freidel the two best keepers in the EPL. Two Americans voted the best in one of the toughest leagues in the world, with a third keeper on his way to the always powerful ManU. We must be doing something right on this side of the pond.

  33. peeler69ca says:

    Its not the NHL that need saving, its the small market franchises. NYR, Det, Tor, Col, Bos, Was, Chi, Stl, Dal, are all teams that survive just about anything. You have other teams that are about 75% but then you have a vast majority ( CAL, EDM, PHO, FLA, CAR, BUF,) that are in needs. They need to be competitive. If you look back over the last ten years, its usually been the same teams that have missed the playoffs and have been bottom feeders. Since 95 when the Huge blowout contracts were introduced, the league has been in trouble. Three teams have relocated, (Que, Wpg, Har), others have filed bankruptcy (Pit, Ott, Buf) and more teams just constantly miss the playoffs.

    A SALARY CAP IS NEEDED. 50 Million and thats it. You go over, you pay and have to get under just like the NFL. Heck, NFL is the largest money producing league in North America and they play for 17 weeks plus playoffs. They have managed thier sport well and have adressed every key department to keep both the owners happy and the players happy. The NHL may not have the huge t.v. contracts but they can still share what they do have. Force ESPN to show Flames games. Fox was broadcasting Houston Oilers games when the fans never even wanted to watch em. BUT THATS BUSINESS. The league controls the t.v. coverage, not the other way around. Bettman is such a pussy to stand up to anyone, he just bends over every time and grips. firing bettman would be the best start.

    BTW, I love it when Mclean has him for an interview. You can just see the hatred and loathing they have for eachother. CLASSIC

  34. NYR88Express says:

    omggg the ever sooooo powerful ManU…Arsenal my man…and wow, big shyttt, 3 american players ranked top…and top in what category? riiighhttt

    the best soccer players in the world are Italians, and I’m a Greek saying that…I don’t care who the MLS has. Even if other leagues “have been in operation much, much longer than the MLS” and 100 years pass, the MLS will still suck.

    Team USA is only good to beat teams like Costa Rica, Panama, and god knows what other 3rd-world nation. Remember USA vs. Poland? Olisadebe scored in the 11th minute on your great goalies.

    Americans can’t play soccer. Period.

  35. defenestrate says:

    Riots! Woo Hoo!

  36. defenestrate says:

    Any game that has major fan riots, and where you can kick someone in the testicles, has at least SOME redeeming qualities.

  37. defenestrate says:

    I understand the principle, but, as the resident doomsayer, I don’t think you would see any positive effects from it quickly enough to turn things around.

    Whittle down the franchises so the talent pool is less diluted, and base salaries on an incentive system based on the players’ performance from the previous year, with incentive clauses and tiered “seniority” and “loyalty” clauses.

    All entry-level players receive a flat base salary with playoff incentives.

    Get rid of the red line, and make the goalie “fair game” outside of the crease. Eliminate the “instigator” rule.

    Get Gary Bettman to grow a spine and some balls.

    Ta – Da!

  38. Donovan says:

    When the CBA expires I think it would be cool if they came back with 16 to 18 teams. I can’t keep track any more

  39. dkball7 says:

    I agree with you 100% and soccer really does suck.

  40. Petr89 says:

    Actually the Devils came in at 8th in team payroll last season, which is in the top 30% of the league (i.e. 22 teams have lower payrolls than them). They’re definitely not the Rangers, but I don’t think Minnesota is crying any tears for them. I know this is nit-picking but I’m really sick of hearing about the genius of Lameriollo -Elmer Fudd could build a team around Brodeur.

  41. cwthrash says:

    Top in the most important position on the pitch, in one of the best leagues in the world (Serie A and La Liga being the other two).

    And I like how you picked the one game out of five that the USA didn’t play well in. Some pretty powerful opponents either under-estimated the US or got outplayed by them, on the world’s biggest stage. Portugal, S Korea, Mexico, Germany: that’s not the third world of soccer. Even after the Germans won, they commented on how the Americans outplayed them. Granted, Germany is a better team and waited for their moment. But I very much doubt that is the way they envisioned playing that particular game.

    I don’t really care if you believe me or not. In fact, you shouldn’t take my word for it. Go to sources that have good reputations, ones you can believe (and not propoganda machines). None of them will rate the US as the best, but they will give them credit for their abilities.

    Unless of course you want to keep that mind closed. Remember, tunnel vision can give you some bad headaches.

  42. NYR88Express says:

    USA USA USA!! go team go!



    1 game out of 5..u mean 5 games out of 1

    bro deal with it, soccer in the USA is just as good as hockey in the sahara

  43. NYR88Express says:

    lol Matteo, i loved that show!! “Perfect Strangers”…lolol Balki from Mipos, dont be redeekulos

    hahaha man, you reminded me of that show! thanks

  44. cwthrash says:

    Maybe you didn’t read too clearly what I wrote before. Don’t believe me. Go to sources that are trustworthy, and open the mind a bit.

    But it looks to me like your happy in your own ignorance. Suits me just fine.

    Never let it be said that I didn’t try.

  45. cwthrash says:

    You know the old saying,

    “I went to a boxing match and a hockey game broke out.”

    Soccer has its own version,

    “I went to a riot and a soccer game broke out.”

    Both games are born out of chaos, that’s why I love ’em both.

  46. B_Shanahan14 says:

    I love the idea of a salary cap, even with me being a Wings fan who loves more and more superstars coming to Detroit. but one thin I would have to say also is that if there is a ceiling on team salaries, there needs to be a salary floor as well.

  47. guinsfan4life says:

    Look there isn’t a magical plan that is going to work. IT isn’t freaking rocket science. The NHL needs a cap, revenue sharing for it to survive. If it doesn’t get this it won’t, bottom line.

  48. NewYorkRangers says:

    Ok, I haven’t been on here since god knows when cuz i lost my password, but your comments on American soccer motivated me to find it.

    Italians are very very good, but if I recall the World Rankings…ah yes, I believe that is the United States in front of them at #9, where as Italy has dropped considerably to #14.

    You are right, the MLS isn’t much of a powerhouse league, but as cwthrash has stated they are extremely young. And considering how long they’ve been around they have done a very good job. And the U.S. played extremely well in the World Cup. And that Germany game…they actually scored a goal. The german at the post had his hand in the goal and knocked it out…so nevermind a handball, it was a goal in itself.

    Every American that has gone over to Europe has done well (ex: Reyna, Stewart, Keller, Friedel, O’Brian, McBride, Moore, etc.) And now Howard.

    And I’m guessing ur an Arsenal fan, but yes Man U is a powerhouse, and Howard is amazing. He is still young, and he will be very good and possibly one of the best in the world for years to come. Did you see that Man U – Jueventus game?? Howard was SUPERB! just excellent!

    Soccer in the U.S. was never big, so obviously they are behind Europe in terms of talent, but we are growing fast.

    And yes, like cw said, look at the money comparison between MLS and the rest of the big leagues.

    No one goes to MLS games, therefore they don’t rake in as much money as europeans. in europe soccer is a religion every goes to games, buys the merchandise, watches on tv, and so on…so obviously the clubs will have more money to bring in the big names and make youth teams to develop young talent.

    You can say all you want about american soccer, but you have to expand your mind. They are better than you think and they are continuously getting better.

    oh and what’s going on with Bergkamp and Arsenal…did they reach a deal??

  49. NYR88Express says:

    actually no, i’m not an Arsenal fan…i just said that Arsenal is the team to beat in England…in fact, i don’t like the premiership much…i’m a Panathinaikos fan and my favorite foreign league is the serie a

  50. NewYorkRangers says:

    very good choice…panathinaikos is a really good team. im not too big a fan of serie a, im more of a la liga and premiership fan.

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