So we keep hearing that the game has never been better eh? True the players are faster than ever, fighting is on its way down, and parity has never been greater in any previous era. Not sure that "faster" is necessarily enough to make the game better.
But what if there were way to "spice up" the game we love just a tad more?
For example, raise you hand way up if you miss those old time rivalries (Bruins Canadiens, Nordiques Canadiens Flyers Capitals Flames Oilers etc etc) ? True these teams do play each other but not as often as they used to and certainly, almost never in back-to-back games (and yes I know the Nordiques no longer exist). So why not have more divisional games ? Increase the amount of more between Canadian teams . I think that could be one of the ingredients to add a little flavor and revive the flame in so many older fans I know who are not as much into watching hockey as they once were
Let's look at the recent covid-induced summer playoffs. The quality of hockey, at least from my vantage point , was quite good and provided for and exciting brand of hockey. I believe this was in large part to the fact players were RESTED. No countless (useless?) exhibition games, no all-star weekend, no strenous 3 games in 4 nights bits, heck far less injuries! All this would (and did) lead to better quality hockey. I know, I get it, I work in the business world. You need to play as many games as possible to fill the owners' coffers but at what price? I mean what if there was a way to play less games (or shorten the game times? ) and find revenues elsewhere? For example what if there was a possibility of playing say 65 games but replacing part of this lost revenue by allowing advertisement on players' jerseys? I know the purists will want to slap my silly face right there. But think about it, more rested athletes, greater likelihood your favorite player is ready and healthy come playoffs, with a few ads on jerseys as tradeoffs? I get it. It's not enough to replace the 15 or so less games. But perhaps scarcity would lead to renewed interest. Less but more exciting games, perhaps remove the Monday nighters, shift the schedule around , load up on games during peak viewing periods.
The other crying shame is how distant fans feel from the players. I grew up watching La Soirée du Hockey, and the intermission (or post game) often had a player come up to the booth (yes, sweaty and all) and a one-on-one interview would ensue. It felt like fans were closer to the players then. Like we knew a bit more about them, felt more of a connection with the players (weird its not the opposite today given all the social media means available to create an even greater bond with the fans? Or is it just that most of us cannot relate to today's multi-millionaire athletes anymore?).
Simply put, the point that I am trying to make is that the emphasis has been squarely put on making enhancements to the actual on-ice game, but perhaps there are other areas that would help not only improve the entertainment facet but also created a stronger bond with fans (and recapture some of the ones who were left behind).