The NHL has come under significant fire lately for all kinds of reasons. Franchise bankruptcies, franchise stability (or instability) in warm-weather locales, players running others and getting away with it, and various other sordid bits of badness.
So let's take a moment and give the league credit for what it gets right.
... Hang on, I can do this.
(Assuming "The Thinker" pose.)
I didn't think this would be so hard. Sigh.
OK, all joking aside. Here's a partial list of what I like about the NHL, in no particular order:
--Tag-up offsides. That delayed offside garbage the NHL used was ridiculous on so many levels, I can't even think straight when I recall those days.
--Seeing my team score a goal in person.
--Not just a salary cap, but a rookie salary cap. The NFL also uses a cap system but has no limit on what rookies can make, and that can lead to nasty holdouts like Michael Crabtree this season. For those unfamiliar, Crabtree was considered the top wide receiver in this year's draft but was not the first wide receiver chosen. He was drafted 10th overall, after Darrius Heyward-Bey was selected seventh. Crabtree felt he should've been paid as if he was drafted higher in a startling lack of common sense.
Crabtree ended up not signing until well after the season started. On the other hand, and I've mentioned this in a previous blog post, there was never any concern over whether the Penguins could sign Sidney Crosby, or Tampa Bay getting Steven Stamkos under contract, or the Islanders locking up John Tavares. NHL rookies can make only so much and their first contract can run only so long, so their signings are almost technicalities. This system helps the have-nots because they can get their top picks under contract at reasonable amounts.
--Zambonis. I think this is self-explanatory.
--Having faceoffs in the attacking zone after a team goes on a power play. Wonderful idea.
--Instant replay, even if there are sometimes silly rulings. (I happen to find merit in the "intent to blow the whistle" ruling, but some of the recent explanations for disallowed goals don't make sense.)
--No more two-line passes. (As a rules violation.)
--Delay-of-game penalties for shooting the puck into the crowd from your own end.
--No appeals for suspensions. The league still needs work on handing out proper penalties, but it doesn't allow players to appeal their suspensions. One of my biggest pet peeves about baseball is a player arguing against his suspension, sometimes not having a hearing on it until possibly a month or more after he was supposedly suspended; in the meantime, he plays on as if nothing happened. That doesn't happen in the NHL. (Where you probably won't be suspended anyway. But that's a different topic.)
--Playoff overtime. Sometimes not changing anything is the best move.
--And the goals that go with it. (As long as they don't come against my team.)
--The 'C' and 'A' system.
--Only three TV timeouts per period, none in overtime.
--Coaches dress up.
--Alyonka Larionova. (Just don't sing the national anthem, please.)
--Speaking of that, though, Jeff Jimerson, one of the finest anthem singers in the league.
--In the same vein, Lyndon Slewidge.
--Did I mention the Zambonis? Those things are awesome.
--The Stanley Cup. Doesn't matter who gets it. I stayed behind in 2008 after Game 6 to watch Detroit hoist it. It was bitter but still an experience to witness in person.
--Lastly, Zambonis. Seriously.
There are probably other things, subtle things, that I didn't list or overlooked. So, Gary Bettman, you screw a lot of things up, but there are some good things about your league.
(See, I can't even give the league a compliment without making it a backhanded compliment. Such is the life of being a fan and follower of the NHL.)
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