Posted on: May 15, 2009 12:19 am
Edited on: May 16, 2009 9:23 pm

How to fix the NHL: An Overview

Back in the early 1990s, the NHL was poised for a breakthrough into mainstream American sports.  Rappers wore hockey sweaters in their videos; the Rangers brought a lot of attention to the league by winning their first Stanley Cup in 54 years in 1994; the league expanded into new markets (San Jose, Tampa Bay, Ottawa, Florida, and Anaheim), and got the resulting revenue from merchandise sales for the new teams; after a short-sighted decision to abandon nationwide coverage on ESPN to go after a bigger-money contract with Sports Channel in the late 1980s, the league went back to ESPN, as well as showing a game of the week on FOX; and Sports Illustrated even ran a cover story in their June 20, 1994 issue, titled "Why the NHL's Hot and the NBA's Not".  That all came to a crashing halt by the fall of 1994.  The 1994-95 lockout was the league's second labor stoppage in two-and-a-half years, and cost the league half of its season.  Fifteen years later, the NHL still has not recovered.

Hockey is a great sport, and it can succeed as a major sport in America.  But changes have to be made for that to happen, both on-ice and off-ice.  Over the next few weeks, i'll post a series of blogs with my ideas on how to improve the NHL.  For now, here is an overview:

1.  Fire Gary Bettman

2.  Fix the problem franchises like Phoenix

3.  Get rid of the instigator and third-man in penalties to allow the players more leeway to police themselves, and accept that fighting allows them to do that

4.  Crack down on the cheap shots, head shots, and use of equipment as weapons

5.  Get the NHL back on ESPN

6.  Address the failures of the league's "Southern Strategy"

7.  Improve marketing of the game

8.  Start a Champions League format similar to what UEFA does in soccer featuring the top teams from the NHL, European leagues, and the KHL

9.  Develop alternate sources of revenue to ease the cost burden of fans attending the games

10.  Remove the salary cap and increase revenue-sharing

If i think of any other changes, i'll add them to the list.

Posted on: May 2, 2009 1:00 am
Edited on: May 16, 2009 9:27 pm

Why I love fantasy sports

Why do i love fantasy sports?  there are a bunch of reasons...there's the competition factor.  Bonding with friends through competition and trash-talking.  I love sports.  I've always been interested in the front office/player personnell and league administration side of sports (which comes in handy since I'm a Sports Management major).  And it frees me from suffering the brainless moves made by idiot owners, GMs, and coaches of teams that I'm a fan of (this is ESPECIALLY true right now since I'm a Broncos fan).  In fantasy sports, I'M the idiot owner/GM/coach.

I'm involved in many different sports, at different levels of interest.  Yes, i go as far as playing Fantasy NASCAR and Fantasy Premier League (English soccer for those who don't know), but with them, I'm at the level where i'll go check my lineup and the standings each week, but i don't do much more than that.  I'll do like the Tournament Pick 'em and playoff fantasy football on CBSSports.com, but for me, they're at the same level.  Make the picks, and hopefully i'll do good enough to win some cash.

Football, baseball, and hockey are different matters, however.  I orignally started playing fantasy sports in the early 90's, when i tracked everything myself, including pulling stats from the paper every day.  The leagues were all keeper leagues, and they all folded in 1995.  In the late 90's/early 2000's, i started to get back into it, playing in throwaway leagues on Sandbox (when it was a free site) and Yahoo!, and well as a commissioner league on Sportsline in 2000.  Then in 2005, i decided to restart MY leagues.  With the football and hockey leagues, i brought back the league names, as well as my first team in each league, doing what the NFL did with the Browns and treating the leagues like they were suspended for 10 years (with baseball, i just did that with my team, and not the league itself). 

For baseball, we have an 8-team keeper league, featuring disabled lists that have up to 6 players during the regular season, 25-man rosters, and minor-league rosters which we can keep up to 5 players on.  I write a 126-game regular season schedule and pull the scores every day (much better than pulling ALL the stats).  The schedule is written with home teams and away teams scheduled (for tiebreaking), and teams play in 3-game series.

In hockey, it's set up the same way.  The regular season is 76 games long, followed by the divisional playoffs and the finals.  It's a keeper league with 22-man active rosters, and an IR that holds up to 6 players.

Football is where it REALLY gets serious.  The league is IDP, and we start 22 players total.  We have 15 bench players, practice squads of up to 5 players, and an IR that expands to as many as 8 players during bye weeks.  The owners in all the leagues picked a city to base their teams in, and weather is a factor in the games.  We also do something called the Franchise Championship, which combines a team's on-field performance with a bunch of off-field factors taken into account such as payroll, attendance, and sales of tickets, merchandise, etc., to determine the overall best-run franchise in the league.  One of the things i strive for in my leagues is to give them an element of realism, and i do that in the way that they're run.

I know that there are some people who DESPISE fantasy leagues, and i've never really understood that.  There are the ones who say that they don't like it because it makes you root against your "real team".  I could see where they're coming from with that, but honestly, if one of my fantasy players are up against one of my "real teams", i'll root for my player to do good, but i still root for my "real team" to win.  There are other people who think it wrecks sports somehow, but i don't see that either.  If anything, i think it gets people MORE into sports, like gambling does (although for a better reason).  I think that, as a sports fan, it lets me get involved, and burn off some of the competitive energy i have since the days of being able to go outside and play a sport every day after school are long gone.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com