Guest Author - Kevin Thorburn
It is a National Hockey League promoter's dream. Scoring is up, there have not been any incidents that can be called "violent," the two line offside pass does not exist anymore, tie games have been eliminated and replaced with a shootout and fans seem to be watching.
Selling the league outside of Canada has always meant hints of speeding up the game, decreasing the image (a la "Slap Shot") of fighting (also known as violence to the uninformed), increasing scoring and adding the drama of the shootout. Hockey purists have not been advocates of most of these changes, claiming they are too radical. Changing the game we have grown up loving so drastically it is almost unrecognizable. League promoters would argue that these are needed to make the game seem more exciting and less complicated ... traits that would cater to a younger and less experienced audience ... people relatively new to the sport.
The question is, should the look of Canada's game be changed so dramatically that the long time fan has to witness a new-look sport in order to bring in new fans? Which of these two groups of fans is more important? Those questions are, unfortunately, rhetorical since the regeneration is already taking place.