It's time to welcome 2014. The new year should not only be a time to reflect on the year that was, but it should also be a time to see where you can improve in the year ahead. In the case of the NHL, the league has plenty of areas they need to work on in 2014.
The PDL crew sat down and compiled a small list of things we'd like to see the league address, improve on or focus on in the new year. As always, feel free to ridicule or add on to our list in the comments section.
Discipline and Suspensions
Keep improving the NHL discipline system. This year hasn't been as bad compared to others, but keep pushing towards consistency. Make an example of guys who go above and beyond to harm another player. Most fans would agree that Shawn Thornton's punishment fit the crime and that's a perfect indication that you're finally doing something right.
Where to begin? If you follow the Bloguin family of blogs, you may have seen a couple posts from Awful Announcing detailing how the network is failing to capitalize on a glorious opportunity. Remember when the lockout ended and NHL Network was showing replays of old World Junior Championship games instead of the sport's biggest story? Embarrassing.
Look to MLB Network and design your channel so that it's actually something fans want to watch.
Outdoor Games – Don't Ruin It
Tread lightly with all of these outdoor games. By scheduling more and more outdoor games, you run the risk of watering down the idea and ruining what's currently a special, unique event. The Stadium Series has maxed out the idea. Don't push it further. If anything, scale back.
Take a stance on expansion. We understand the need for some secrecy, but there's no need to keep all of your intentions veiled. We all know you want to add a few more franchises (the new alignment kind of depends on it), so quit pretending like you don't.
However, before dealing with expansion you need to …
Pay Attention to Struggling Teams
Before you even entertain the thought of new teams in the league, make sure the existing clubs are all performing well financially. We all know about the problems Phoenix has had, but other teams (Florida, Columbus) have had their problems as well. Sort out these issues and make sure every club has a strong foundation before bringing in new teams to the fold.
Puck Over Glass
You've proven you're willing to change traditional rules (icing), so why not change one of the silliest rules in the league? Treat the play as you would an icing call and penalize only the players who are obviously trying to cheat the system.
The league has made some adjustments to fighting in the NHL over the past year. New rules (helmets on, mandatory visors) were designed to curtail, but not eliminate fighting. Again, tread carefully. Players are overwhelming in favor of fighting (98%) and though we've heard some fans protest against players dropping their mitts, there's a large percentage of fans in favor.
What did we miss? What do you want to see from the NHL in 2014?