Make NHL Stars Actual Stars | Tony X
Bovada welcomes back Tony X, @soIoucity, who gives his take on the NHL’s current format and how it can be improved to take it to the next level.
After watching the WBC (World Baseball Classic) tournament that featured some of the best players of each participating country playing in a tournament to crown the best team, (basically a FIFA World cup but for baseball), you realize how important it is to display stars on the center stage.
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Even just looking at social media numbers, the eyes on these players have exploded during the few short weeks of the tournament. Shohei Ohtani, who by far is one of the most gifted human beings to walk on Earth for being able to pitch and hit at an elite top tier MLB level, went from 1.8 million followers to 5 million in a matter of weeks. Lars Nootbaar went from 59k followers to 992k, Randy Arozarena went from 125k to close to 600k– and that’s just a few examples.
The NHL needs something. Connor McDavid is probably the best player at their sport in the entire world and unless you’re in the hockey bubble you couldn’t spot him in a police lineup with 10 million dollars on the line. It’s more than just hosting some big huge tournament in the beginning of the NHL season every two or so years, it’s deeper than that. The NHL hosts several outdoor games yearly– the Winter Classic and the Stadium Series, which are showcases of two of the best teams/rivalries in the league. The Winter Classic that’s usually held on New Year’s Day should be the only NHL game on that day. Let’s put all eyes on one of your biggest games of the year, on the first day of the New Year and bring it in right. Even non-hockey fans would be interested in a primetime hockey game played in their favorite team’s baseball/football stadium. It makes little sense to schedule Winter Classics and Stadium Series games during full slates of other NHL games!
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Sure, this season’s game between the Penguins and Bruins was one of the first Winter Classics played with fewer competing games, but it was also played on Jan 2nd at 2pm. Isn’t it the day after a holiday when most people are off? Sure, it avoided the king– NFL Sundays, so I can’t blame them for that, but what about the Blues vs Wild 2022 Winter Classic that clashed with a Toronto Maple Leafs game? You may not like them, but the Leafs have possibly the biggest fan base in the league, and to remove all those eyes off your “big game” doesn’t make sense to me.
The NHL needs to start with the basics and that means simply elevating your star players during the regular season. There are too many days where you’ll get 12 games in one night, oh and guess what– seven of them start at exactly 7:00pm (how about staggered start times for TV?). The next night will feature two games with smaller teams like the Ottawa Senators and the Arizona Coyotes. Stuff like this happens way too often. I can understand them not wanting to take a mid-season break to play in the Olympics, but how fun would it be to see McDavid on the same line as Sidney Crosby? Auston Matthews to Matthew Tkachuk etc.
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I think the NHL needs to hire some smart analytic guy on Twitter with only 234 followers and has also perfected the schedule algorithm. Guys like McDavid, Matthews,and Jordan Kyrou should be seen by everyone!