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How can the NHL win you back?


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An interesting blog by Pierre Lebrun got me thinking, what would be enough for the NHL to win you back besides just ending the season?

Be realistic, they arent going to lower ticket prices or crap like that. But they acknowledge those who are season ticket holders and keep their subscription.

Read his blog first:

10 ways for NHL to recover from lockout

By Pierre LeBrun | December 26, 2012 10:00:21 AM PST

Let’s look ahead to the moment when this abominable, revolting and shameful NHL lockout finally ends.

Whether that’s this season or next, who knows at this point?

But either way, the road to win back the hearts of fans will be a long one.

With that in mind, here are my 10 recommendations for the NHL for when it ever opens shop again -- moves that I believe would help the league make itself more appealing to fans and regain some form of relevancy in the marketplace:

1. Give away the NHL Center Ice package for the entire season after you return, as well as the Game Center package online. If you’re going to beg fans to return, might as well make it easy on them.

2. Ensure that realignment happens for the 2013-14 season. The buzz that surrounded the realignment conversation last season during the NHL’s failed attempt at switching up its conferences and divisions was surreal. Fans loved debating the future look of the league. The NHLPA, which blocked realignment last year, must work with the NHL to make realignment happen for next season. It’s what the fans want.

3. Add a "play-in" round to the playoffs. Depending on realignment, this could take on different forms. But the essence of it in my book is that you have four teams play a preliminary playoff round, two concurrent best-of-three series (perhaps two teams playing each other in the East and two in the West), to determine the final 16 spots in the playoff dance.

4. Bring back the World Cup of Hockey, but make it permanent. More importantly, have the tournament played in February every four years, right smack in the middle of the NHL season -- just like the Olympics. And yes, send your NHL players to the Olympics. So in February 2014, you’ve got NHL players in Sochi, Russia, followed by a new World Cup of Hockey in Toronto/Montreal/New York/Philadelphia/Boston in February 2016, etc. So every two years you either have the best in the world playing in the Olympics or the World Cup. Playing it in February instead of September, like the old Canada Cups/World Cup, would bring more legitimacy to the event. As for the All-Star Game, all of you know I’d like to see it canned. But for the kids out there who still get a kick out of it, I can live with having All-Star Games in the years we don’t have a World Cup or an Olympics.

5. Let’s bring in Ken Holland’s idea regarding three-on-three overtime as a way to freshen up the overtime/shootout format. You still play four-on-four for five minutes, but if there’s still no goal scored, you also play a three-on-three, five-minute period. If there’s still no goal, then you get your shootout. Three-on-three, wide open would be exciting to watch. Plus by lowering the number of shootouts, given that the three-on-three would end more games, you preserve the novelty of the shootout so it doesn't become a tired exercise. Right now there are too many shootouts deciding games.

6. Shorten the preseason, start the regular season the third week of September and make sure there's not a single playoff game played past May 31. People don't want hockey in June. OK, so maybe that’s the Canadian in me, but I’m going with it anyway.

7. Change the start of free agency from July 1 to an extension of draft weekend. So when the draft ends on that Saturday in the third week June, I would make Day 1 of free agency that Sunday and keep all 30 NHL front offices (and player agents would be welcome, for obvious reasons) in the draft city for three to four days to create a huge buzz for the start of free agency.

8. In a similar vein, why not also gather all 30 front offices in the same arena for NHL trade deadline day? Make it an even bigger media event with fans in the stands when trades are announced?

9. Strongly study the merits of having NHL teams in Europe. I'd move my six weakest NHL markets to Europe and create a European division. I know people will laugh when reading this, but I’m dead serious. Unlike some southern U.S. markets, you don’t have to explain the icing rule to folks in Helsinki, Stockholm, Prague, Zurich, Berlin and Moscow. They love and know the game there. I know there are travel issues that make this less than perfectly ideal, but it’s worth it.

10. And finally, the NHL and NHLPA should agree to a 20-year CBA with mutual options to back out in Years 7, 11, 15 and 18. I would think 20 years of labor peace sounds pretty good to everybody who cares about this game right about know.

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My opinion: the Center Ice offer would be extremely enticing for me to come back and watch as many games as I wanted, and not miss out or have to find a stream online.

Realignment I hate the thought of it, the four divisons and playoff format stinks and isnt fair for all teams.

European teams? Hell no, the Canucks have enough travel issues and plus I dont want to watch games early in the day, most people will be at school or work, but I believe this has zero percent chance so I'm not worried.

World Cup would be great, cut the All Star game the year of the tournament, revenues from such an event would be massive!

The Free Agency proposal is an interesting one, maybe not to the extreme as Pierre suggests, but having it a day after the draft could be nice.

Preseason, cut it down and end it earlier I agree, rather have games start sooner.

Last but not least, long term stability in a long CBA agreement!

Sorry if there is a lot of mistakes, I'm on mobile.

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I like 1 and 2, maybe 4, but no to the rest.

3) You're basically killing the 8th seeds. They're going to be battered going into a #1 vs #8 seed playoff series, giving the #1 seed an even larger advantage than they previously had. Also, it doesn't work at all with the proposed re-alignment discussed in the second suggestion (where it would be #1 vs #2 in each of the 8 conferences). Strongly dislike.

4) I don't think we really need a World Cup/Olympics style event every 2 years and, I mean, come on, let's face it. If owners don't want to go in for the Olympics, what makes you think they'll go in on the Olympics AND a World Cup? I'm not against a World Cup, but reality suggests it isn't going to happen.

5) I'd rather have a 20-minute 5-on-5 OT with a tie at the end (so it's only a 3-point game if someone actually scores in OT) than 5 minutes of 4-on-4, 5 minutes of 3-on-3, then 5 minutes of 1-on-0 ... I don't see 3-on-3 as being any more legitimate in deciding a winner than a shootout, personally.

6) Start 2 weeks earlier, stop 2 weeks earlier ... I don't really see where the advantage is.

7) What's more Canadian than Free Agent Frenzy? July 1 and Free Agency belong together, IMO.

8) God no

9) God no

10) LOL

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The only thing that can win me back is if the NHL and the PA agree on a long-term deal (think 10-15 years long). No more of this stupid "play 7 years and then lockout" crap. As a spectator, I can't put up with the uncertainty anymore, and I'd much rather become a fairweather bandwagoner than a bleeding heart league enthusiast.

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An interesting blog by Pierre Lebrun got me thinking, what would be enough for the NHL to win you back besides just ending the season?

Be realistic, they arent going to lower ticket prices or crap like that. But they acknowledge those who are season ticket holders and keep their subscription.

Read his blog first:


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1. I love this idea, this would actually be really enticing, and would certaintly win over alot of fans.

2. I like the idea of realignment I just don't like how the last one was proposed, if that is the realignment they are suggesting then no.

3. I don't like this idea, I like the playoffs the way they are now.

4. I love this idea, I love the World Cup, the last one was so much fun to watch. I would love this idea.

5. I like this idea too, It's exciting because of the variables that would go into it, like if you would put 2D and 1F or 2F and 1D or maybe 3F, but if there are penalites, 3 on 2 seems kinda much for me, that's my only issue otherwise I like it.

6. I like having Hockey in June myself, I'm fine with the pre-season being the way it is, it just extends the overall length of the NHL season which I want to be as long as possible so I can enjoy as much NHL hockey as possible. Keep it the way it is.

7. No, I like it the way it is now.

8. I also like this the way it s now, no need for change.

9. I actually like it, I think it is far far far away from happening (If ever) but honestly European countries have some very passionate fan bases, it's unrealistic because of the travel. This is just to hard to do, interesting idea but too unrealistic.

10. Well that would be nice but I doubt it will happen.

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There's this misconception that us Canadians will easily go back to the NHL..

The people who suggest this forget we have far more other means of enjoying hockey than merely watching the NHL. Also, there are other professional leagues in North America who don't regularly have such extended work stoppages.

The NHL can win me back by getting a time machine and pulling it's head out from it's ass to show it cares for it's fans and people who rely on it's business for a living by avoiding yet another lockout rather than using it as a negotiating tactic and likely killing a second season in the last decade. This lockout to me was the straw that broke the camel's back for this league, made me completely fed up with it.

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There's much to like on that list, but not all of it. I'm at the point where I may not even bothering to follow a shortened season if there is one. I'm probably just lying to myself though. If the Canucks start putting a good string of wins together I would probably be back in a heartbeat.

As for the list...

1 - I have no interest in Game Center in the first place so making it free wouldn't sway me at all.

2 - Absolutely. Division realignment was a great idea. I know there were a lot of complainers about fairness, but with a couple of tweaks I think the NHL can make it work. I grew up watching 4 division hockey with one division having an extra team. It never seemed to be a problem then. Granted, you really had to suck to miss the playoffs back then.

3 - I like the playoff team ratio the way it is now, but I have a feeling this is going to happen. My prediction is that they will move to 4 divisions, and the top 5 teams from each division will make it in. The first round will be a quick best-of-3 between the 4th and 5th seeds. I don't like it, but that's my prediction.

4 - I like it. I used to love the Canada Cup and I went to the World Cup game when it was in Vancouver. I would keep the World Cup in September though. I know the NHL owners have an issue with the Olympics, but that's because they don't make any money off of it. Having the World Cup might balance that out.

5 - I don't like this one. We've tweaked OT enough as it is. What I would change though is the point system. 3 points for a regulation win, 2 for an OT (or SO) win, 1 for an OT (or SO) loss. That way 3 points are awarded for every game, not just the ones that go to OT.

6 - I like this one too. Except I would take it a little further. Have training camp in August. Start the season on Labour Day.

7 - Leave free agency where it is. The teams need time between the end of the playoffs and the start of free agency to get their free agents signed before they hit the open market.

8 - I don't think this would work as a TV event.

9 - I would rather see a Memorial Cup style tournament with the Stanley Cup Champion, KHL Champion and European Champion. Still, a European division could work. If WHL teams can make an Eastern bus swing through Saskatchewan and Manitoba, why can't NHL teams make an annual trek through the European division?

10 - If there are options for either to back out, is it really a 20 year CBA? I don't mind a 5 or 7 year deal. We just needs guys at the top of the NHL and NHLPA that know how to work together to get a mutually beneficial deal, rather than the combative egos we see there now.

I would also add in...

Change players' gear so that there are no hard caps on elbows and shoulders. Make it a little safer out there.

Get rid of the trapezoid.

Change the puck over the glass rule to a defensive zone faceoff with no line change (same as icing).

Have players serve their entire penalty even if a goal is scored. Along those lines, also have a player serve their penalty even if it's a delayed penalty and a goal is scored before he can head to the box.

Increase the draft age to 19 for the 2nd round and beyond. It would lead to more reliable drafting. Exceptional players could still get drafted at 18, they would just have to get taken in the first round.

Still... for any of this to happen, they have to actually get a deal first. Come on guys, it shouldn't be this difficult...

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If the NHL wants to seriously win me back as an avid fan and spend the amount of time/money on hockey games and merchandise then they will find a way to create a time machine so they can go back to 2004 and stop that lockout as well as this lockout from ever happening. Then maybe I would be as committed to the NHL as I once was.

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Received an email from my ticket representative this morning, responding to an email I sent to him Nov 22 and Dec 19 (no reply after the first one). He indicated that since season ticket holders haven't received their refunds, what the organization is doing to make it up to us is that we will be receiving interest at a much higher rate than what banks would be able to compete with.

Haven't responded yet. But to me, that's not good enough. First off, I invest my money just fine without the aid of the NHL. Secondly, and more important, I didn't buy season tickets to the Jets so they can hold my money, earn interest on it themselves, then give me a refund with a pretty pathetic return on my investment.

I really hope this isn't their strategy to get their fans to come back. If so, that's pretty sad. "Hey guys, thanks for sticking with us for a third lockout. Now, the game isn't more exciting and we won't be lowering ticket prices, but we will refund your money from your deposit, with interest." Uh, thanks.

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Giving away the centre ice package could work. Above all I'd like to see Bettman axed, I don't want him affiliated with this league if I'm going to continue being a fan. In terms of merchandise, they've lost me. I will watch every Canucks game on TV but I am not paying a dime for any Canucks tickets or apparel. Time for the NHL's 'businessmen' to learn they shouldn't piss off the consumer.

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