Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - You have to give the NHL credit for its end
After sloughing through its never-ending regular season - one joke, what takes
longer than the NHL's regular season? Oh, that's easy, the NHL playoffs - it
does get really good at the end.
All of the overtime games, and the lack of fighting (yes, I'm one of those who
doesn't believe the game needs fisticuffs to produce a good product) produce
wondrous, white knuckle endings and fascinating theater.
And for those folks who say having a Los Angeles versus New York or New Jersey
finals won't do the sport any good or increase its popularity, I ask just one
question: how do you know?
What could it hurt to have an East Coast-against-West Coast deal going on? If
you spread the gospel of the sport, the way the sport is currently set up, what
better way to do it?
Having huge media markets (yes, it would be sexier if the Rangers played the
Kings, but if the Devils make it, they'll still get their due) following the
series is not a bad thing at all.
Even ESPN, which ignores the NHL at every opportunity because it no longer
show the games, would have to pay attention.
And, to add some icing to the cake, here's hoping the series, whoever's in it,
goes seven games. A little added panache is not a bad thing, either.
Now, to be fair, there are some negatives to how the NHL handles its
The way overtime is handled comes to mind first. In the regular season, they
play five minutes of overtime, with one fewer skater aside, and if nobody
scores, they go to a shootout. If Team A wins the shootout, it gets another
point, or Team B loses a point, or both teams can't take showers after the
It's just tricked up and gimmicky.
Either call the game a tie - remember ties? they are not so bad - or do it the
way you do in the playoffs and play overtime until somebody scores.
The overtime all the way won't sell because the games could go on and on, but
bringing back the tie would be fine.
And about the postseason going on too long, there's no doubt about it.
The playoffs started on April 11 and could go, if the Stanley Cup Finals are
the full seven games, until June 13 - the day before the U.S. Open starts.
Man, I'm going to sound like a fossil, again, but back in the day, teams played
the first two games of a series on Monday and Tuesday, traveled Wednesday, and
played games 3 and 4 on Thursday and Friday.
It went quickly and you had a Stanley Cup champ in May. Smooth and easy. Today,
it just takes a little too long and can kill momentum.
But, as far as the playoffs go, the good far outweighs the bad and the best
looks like it's still to come.
Oh, before I go, here's one more item to add to the wish list for the soon to
If the Phoenix Coyotes are indeed no longer going to be the Phoenix Coyotes in
the very near future, let's hope the franchise is shifted to Quebec.
Personally, I hope they stay in Phoenix. Folks there are working on a deal to
try to keep the team in the Arizona market and this nifty playoff run surely
won't hurt the cause. The increased attention the Coyotes brought themselves by
nearly reaching the finals can't be understated. It might have saved NHL hockey
in the city.
But, if a deal can't be reached to keep the team where it is, I'd like to see
the Coyotes move to Quebec, giving that wonderful city an NHL team again.
Currently, of the 30 teams in the NHL, only seven reside in Canada.
That's absurd. I know Seattle also has been mentioned as a landing spot if the
Coyotes depart, but here's a vote, or at least hope, that they go north of the
border and become the Nordiques again.
Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several Philadelphia-area
newspapers for over 25 years.
The Sports Network