Barry MacDonald has an interesting column about how the Canucks won’t play the Penguins, Senators, Habs, or Leafs at home this season. It’s all a part of the NHL’s plan to build rivalries. And it’s not a bad plan. But it does have fallout. For instance, consider how come playoffs, almost no one on the East coast has any idea what’s going on in the Western Conference. Consider, if you have consideration room, that while people are able to stay up for Avs/Red Wings games, it’s a lot to stay up for California/Vancouver/Alberta match-ups. So basically, about half of the NHL is dead to a big part of the hockey-watching community in the East.
I’m not one to think along with Jeremy Roenick, but in this case, I’m going to. He thinks the media should be all over the Coyotes, considering they’ve got Wayne Gretzky coaching and Ed Jovanovski on the blue line (my sources tell me their goalie isn’t awful, either). But you don’t hear about the Coyotes because they don’t have that East Coast exposure.
The NHL needs to think not just about the health of individual divisions, but the health of the league as a whole. The only way to grow the sport is to let everyone see as much of the good of the sport as possible. There’s a lot of amazing hockey in the Western Conference and the NHL needs to figure out how to widen that exposure. Sure, the travel sucks for the players, but maybe it just means it’s time to shorten the season to better spotlight the product.
Also, maybe it’s good the Blackhawks are almost never on TV.