The NHL has cancelled preseason games in September, and it won't be long until regular season games are erased from the schedule.
But what's to stop another league in the US and Canada from starting? And if that happened, what would we want that League to look like?
Well Florida wouldn't have any teams. If I had to pick cities that had franchises, it would be the following:
That's it, 21 teams. Divide them into 3 divisions of 7 teams, or don't divide them at all. Whatever. But the root problem with this NHL labor dispute is that small-market teams can't keep pace with large ones. The players want revenue sharing to remedy this problem, the owners want players to get less money. My solution is: eradicate the small-market teams in cities where hockey is seen as a weird side-attraction.
But finding billionaire hockey fans in so many cities might be tough, so let's keep the league at 16 teams, in these cities:
Boston, New York, Chicago, Detroit, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Denver, Minneapolis, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, Newark, Los Angeles
Fewer teams, higher talent level, more familiarity between teams, and no Phoenix Coyotes or Florida Panthers dragging the League down.
How hard can it be? Just adopt the NHL's rules, hire the officials, hire the players. Many of the rinks are owned by cities and states, not the NHL teams that play there. Boston might be a problem, for instance, because Jeremy Jacobs owns The Garden. But offer him high enough rent rates and he'll succumb to his greedier instincts.
To be honest, the players are the attraction. All us hockey fans love the NHL because the best players play in the NHL. We don't care about franchise rights, or anything like that.
So let us start our own League. We'll call it the North American Hockey League, and we'll plunder the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto and commandeer the Stanley Cup.