19 May 2007
America's team loses a heartbreaker in the NHL playoffs.
What a sad state of affairs, Buffalo losing to the Ottawa What's-Their-Names in the something division's championship series for a chance to go to the Stanley Cup finals. Oh wait, the Buffalo Sabres aren't America's team? Well, since no one's paying attention, I'll stand by that statement.
It is too bad that no one pays attention to hockey (including me). Frankly, I'd love to root for the Buffalo Sabres, but their games are never on. And who wants to move to Buffalo, America's sunniest summer city? Actually, that sounds pretty good: the summer sun glistening off of four feet of freshly fallen snow. Picturesque.
But that's just it. Hockey is actually a very exciting sport. I'm not sure there's a more exciting sport to watch live than hockey. The cussing, swearing, mocking of the announcer, checking, hitting, blood on the ice...And that's just the crowd! (Drums, please.) When you're done "getting along with" the opposing team's fans, you can always watch the game. (Minor league baseball might be the #2 live sport...this deserves some more thought.)
Hockey teams, just like in basketball and baseball, play about one million regular season games, followed by 22 rounds of 7-game playoff series, in which the team that gathers the slightest modicum of momentum becomes the odds on favorite to sweep their opponent for the championship, making the regular season irrelevant. How long is the hockey season? 82 regular season contests, and it goes from October to June. The NBA? 82 games, over pretty much the same timeframe. Baseball? 162 games, from April to October. Football is only 16 games, from September to January, and is the one sport in which people pretty much universally call for more games.
My solution? Well, it's not brain surgery. I suggest cutting the NHL and NBA seasons back to 60 games. Baseball should be about 120, but I'd settle for 140. But cutting the seasons back is pretty close to impossible because it means less money for owners and players and the media, the three parties that have any real say in how this would go down. The fourth party, the fans (if you or I were fans, this would be us), has no real stake in the game except for handing over our money, which I'm okay with because it's the easiest.
I think cutting back the number of regular season games would help to heighten interest in hockey, basketball, and baseball. Heightened interest would create a demand for tickets and media rights, and hopefully help to put money back into the pockets of the three important stakeholders.
So let's get on this, people, so next year I don't have to move to Buffalo!