A letter to the NHL and its fans about the state of the league.
To whom it may concern,
Growing up in 90’s I had the pleasure of watching NHL Super-stars Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky, Luc Robitaille, Steve Yzerman and many others. During that generation we saw some incredible Hockey games, unfortunately the mid 90’s saw a transition to unnecessary goonery something that became very apparent to me during the 1995-96 playoffs. It was then the Penguins were on their way to another Stanley Cup Final but were manhandled by an opponent that had far less skill than them, the Florida Panthers . Now I’m not trying to take away anything from that Panthers team, they got on a hot run at the right time and attempted to make the most of it, the problem is that it was at the expense of the league and unfortunately the Penguins.
We saw clutching and grabbing, the left-wing lock, goalies adopting a new technique along with bigger pads as well as ineffective referees decide hockey games. No longer were we seeing the most skilled teams and players take control.
This went on for ten years before Gary Bettman and the NHL took notice and made changes in 2005.
But just like the dinosaurs in Jurrasic Park, what made the NHL a drag in the late 90’s through the early 2000’s has found a way.
As we are heading into the final month of the season we are looking at the possibility of no player breaking the 100 point mark, we are looking at a scoring title being won with the lowest point-per-game total in 60 years and we are watching our favorite players struggle night in and night out, but somehow this is okay with you.
The NHL, whether anyone wants to admit it or not, is on a slid. The T.V. ratings are struggling on NBCSports and many of the casual fans are looking for their entertainment elsewhere. So why is the league considering expansion thus lowering the amount of talent on each team and in the league and not worrying about fixing the product they have?
Here’s a question to ask yourself, If you happen to see a game on T.V. that does not have your favorite team in it and lets say the score is 0-0 with very little excitement in the 5/6 minutes between commercials are you still going to watch that game?
Yea fighting and BIG hits are exciting but they aren’t what sells the game. No one can sit there and tell me they go to games other than to see their favorite team score goals and get the “W”. All the other stuff is just a perk of the sport.
So again I ask, is it time for the league to change?
ABSOLUTELY! Some ideas such as widening the nets, making goalie equipment, which is supposed to be just protection for them to begin with, smaller or even holding the referees more accountable hoping it makes them call more calls have been thrown around for years. So why hasn’t there been any movement in the past 10 seasons?
Like I said above, I grew up in the 90’s I have been a fan of this sport since I can remember but just like I felt when I was a pre-teen I am beginning to get sick of what we are witnessing. Someone needs to explain to the owners, Commissioner and the players that the way to be a successful sports league is to adapt with the times.
The NHL made moves in the right direction 10 years ago but have made very little effort since.
So from a long time fan I am asking…..no pleading that we, the fans and the league help bring glory back to this sport once again!
– Robert Slavinsky