The current year has come to a close. The new year is upon us, offering a clean slate. The NHL has a chance to right the ship in the new year and get back to what matters most – actually playing.
Here are a handful of things we here at PDL would like to see happen in the NHL in 2013.
Play the Games / End the Lockout
We'll get the most obvious item out of the way first. The lockout must end and games must be played. That's what we want to see happen the most in 2013. Since the rest of this section is pretty much common sense, we'll move on to our next point.
We'd love to have the chance to give Teemu Selanne the farewell tour he deserves. We can hope that he'll at least have a shortened year to say goodbye but it'd be fantastic if he decided to stick around for just one more year to do the whole retirement tour properly.
Selanne is one of the most respected players to ever play the game and it'd be a real shame to have his final year scarred by the lockout.
Overhaul the Discipline System
The NHL tried something new by bringing in Brendan Shanahan. The move was made with good intentions. Unfortunately, the result was all too familiar. Inconsistency and confusion once again ruled while common sense and solid judgment escaped out the window. Players once again were confused as to what is expected of them and they were confused as to what the punishment might be if they were summoned.
The NHL needs to improve here and the answer to that probably lies somewhere outside of the NHL. An independent ruler might bring clarity to an extremely puzzling and frustrating situation. Unfortunately the need to bring in an independent ruling party makes a bit too much sense and might damage the egos of those behind making those decisions at the NHL.
Essentially, this probably won't ever happen because it would require the NHL to come out and say "Look, we can't handle this. Let's make it right." The odds of that happening are about as good as the odds that fans will cheer Gary Bettman when hockey returns.
PDL writer Laura Astorian would like to see additional parity in the playoffs. Specifically, she'd like to see a scenario where the usual cast of successful teams stumble and the teams not known for their accomplishments on the ice rise to the top.
Fresh blood is exciting.
PDL author Jeff Kleiman wants to see hybrid icing adopted at the NHL level. The reasoning is obvious. First, the current icing rule that requires the players to touch the puck is completely unnecessary and causes more harm than it's worth.
If the NHL is serious in improving player safety than they'll eliminate a portion of the game that's already been thrown out in international competition. The change would be one of the easiest ones the NHL has ever made. Blow the whistle when the puck crosses the red line and then treat it like a traditional icing call by not allowing the team at fault to make a change.
A Player Comes Out
We'd also like to see a gay hockey player in the NHL come out. The work Patrick Burke has done with the "You Can Play" movement has been fantastic. All it really needs is for a gay player in the NHL (There's probably more than you think) to come out and be the role model young gay hockey players are looking for.
The End of Gary Bettman
Is this an unrealistic request? Probably, but it's not as unrealistic as it once was. Bettman has three lockouts to his name. Three. Let that fact sink in for a second.
Despite the fact Bettman represents the owners (he sure as hell doesn't represent the fans) the fact he has been at the center of numerous work stoppages is a problem even for the owners that are most devoted to him. Clearly, Bettman has caused a major divide among players and owners. He has caused damage that can't be repaired.
We'd love to see a new face step in and take charge of the NHL. Sure, Bettman has led the league to record revenue but he has also led them through three lockouts where said revenues have to recover from the depths. Imagine what the revenues could have been if there hadn't been any stoppages.