Thursday, November 29, 2007

Newsflash: Sidney's Popular

No frickin' kidding, right? It isn't a secret that Sid's popularity is universal. Fans of all NHL teams want to see The Kid in action. (It is MORE than obvious that Sid has fans all across the entire globe, as evidenced by the various locations of the visitors of this site!) But for Western Conference fans, there is a problem with the NHL's current schedule matrix. West coast fans don't get enough Crosby time in their teams' schedules to provide everyone that wants to see him with that chance. Next week, the Penguins will visit Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver for the first time since adding Sid to their roster. And for West coast hockey fans, that means when Sid finally does come to town, tickets are very hard to come by:
Naturally, interest in seeing Crosby play is far outstripping the available ticket supply. ..."Our ticket demand has been very high," confirmed part-owner Cal Nichols, the chairman of the Edmonton Investors Group. "I don't know if it would sell out Commonwealth Stadium, but it would certainly be a lot higher than we can provide."
So, how can this be fixed? The NHL governors will be getting together this week in Pebble Beach, California, to discuss the current schedule matrix. There are a couple of possible solutions floating around. One idea is to revert back to the prelockout schedule matrix that had teams playing 18 out-of-conference games per season. (The current number of out-of-conference games is 10.) Another idea is a bit more drastic:
A more radical proposal - put forward by the Detroit Red Wings - would see every team play every other team in a home-and-home series. With six games against divisional opponents and three against conference opponents, that would bump the schedule up to 84 regular-season games.

There is some interest in the Red Wings' proposal (who at the governors' level wouldn't want to see an extra home date on the schedule?), but likely not enough to get the required two-thirds majority.

Heading out West

With three wild-card or at-large games included on the schedule, it also means the Canadian teams could go back to playing each other, home and away, every season. This is the first year since Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver were admitted to the NHL that they will not have Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa on their home schedules.
That idea makes perfect sense. (HA! What Pens fan ISN'T sick of facing the Devils or the Flyers every other day?) Unfortunately, as author Eric Duhatschek pointed out, this idea isn't expected to be adopted. Although simply returning to the prelockout schedule matrix would be a welcome change:
By reverting to the prelockout schedule, it means Crosby will visit every NHL city every other year. It isn't perfect, but a baby step forward is better than the alternative - the stuck-in-the-mud status quo, which no one with the best interests of the game in mind can defend any longer.
True, it's not a perfect solution, but even a handful of extra out-of-conference games would mean that more Western Conference fans would get the chance to see the Eastern Conference stars like Sidney, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, and Alexander Ovechkin, and vice versa. I know if Sid wasn't on my team, I'd want to be sure I got at least one chance to see him on the ice in person. And since Sid is "the new face of the NHL," shouldn't the NHL brass do their best to make sure he's available to fans of all teams? We'll just have to wait and see what the outcome of the meeting brings...

TSCS PREVIEW: Tomorrow night I will be recapping the Pens v Stars game as usual, but I wanted to let you know that I'm working on something special for you guys this weekend. It originally started out with an idea I had that I just kept expanding upon, but it ended up being a HUGE post, so I decided to break it down into a two-part series. Look for part one to be posted sometime on Saturday... ;)

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