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As the buzzer sounded to end the seventh game of the Stanley Cup finals a sigh could be heard throughout Vancouver as the hometown team lost in a shutout. What happened next was a blatant disregard for sportsmanship as so called fans began a riot. Cars burned, shops were destroyed, innocent passer-by’s were injured and NHL fans around the world were disgusted. It’s time hockey takes a suggestion from other sports such as football and recognize their playoff methods are outdated. Rather than a best of seven, a best of three would help reduce the pressures of long running series, if the games were played on neutral ice a hometown advantage would be non-existent and if between periods entertainment was shown rather than constant replays moods would lift, even with the fans of the team who was behind.
In the past few years the NHL has embraced numerous changes regarding game play, salaries and suspensions. They were all met with apprehension and negativity by fans, but were accepted when it became clear the changes were going to stay. Currently the Stanley Cup playoffs have a minimum of sixty games before the trophy is rewarded, a maximum of a hundred and five. Keeping with the current top eight teams per conference, if a best of three was done instead at maximum there would be forty-five games. Overall one thousand two hundred and thirty games are played during the regular season, eighty-two per team. It seems like a lot but with a hundred and five playoff games to follow those regular season games are quickly forgotten. As playoff series approach game seven pressures run high with both players and the fans. Minimizing to a best of three series could relieve stresses throughout the NHL.
Neutral ice is also something the NHL hasn’t attempted yet, but could prove to have great advantages. If games alternate between cities with teams who didn’t make the playoffs it could help those cities bring in more income as hometown cities host parties in their local arenas for local fans unable to travel. During game seven of the 2011 finals such parties were hosted in downtown Vancouver, which brought together thousands of fans with alcohol and drugs and had them watch as their team lost. If the games had been on neutral ice and such parties were hosted indoors at Rogers Arena security personnel and police would have had a better chance of stopping the events that preceded the riot.
Money would be the NHL’s biggest concern in making such significant changes as these. The loss of income from the games not played would be substantial, but if they take a suggestion from the Super Bowl and offer entertainment during intermissions the NHL could draw larger ticket sales, even to the parties hosted at local arenas, and bring in a new audience through television and internet viewer ship. Music concerts, magicians, carnival type booths, the possibilities are endless. They could focus on a more family friendly atmosphere, or a more adult oriented one. Different cities could showcase local talents and even do fundraisers or charity events for local organizations.
The riots in Vancouver brought a lot of attention to the NHL and a lot of it has been negative. While the rioters planned the destruction beforehand, win or lose, the long process of the Stanley Cup finals enabled them to push the right buttons with tensed up fans. If the NHL takes measures to shorten the two month long playoffs, play the playoff games on neutral ice and offer various sources of entertainment during intermissions to calm fans as spirits run high and low. The riots may have been focused to Vancouver but they have opened an unique window of opportunity for the NHL to embrace some new playoff procedures if they will view the riot as an example of the need for change.
I wrote this for my English class. I recieved it back today, it got an A+. Now that I have it graded I wanted to share it here. The only thing I lost a mark on was grammar, numbers should have been numerical rather than alphebetical at times, but I’m leaving it exactly as I handed it in. Agree? Disagree? Tell me your thoughts!
- 5th October