Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Not that it will ever happen, but can the
NHL play this shortened season thing every year? That would be cool.
Bang, every night there are games that matter. And if your team loses one
night, heck, you only have to fret for about 24 hours until it plays again.
This 48-game thing is just tremendous for the fans because you're never far
away from the next game. There's barely time to wash your official team
"sweater" before you have to put it on again.
It's not so good for the players because playing pro ice hockey hurts (jeez,
playing amateur hockey hurts, especially if you're not so, um, young anymore).
Guys get banged up and there really is no time to get healthy. Just look at how
many players are getting shuttled back and forth from the minors by every team.
Coaches and general managers are trying to keep their troops fresh, but it's
And it's not so good for the owners because they make most of their money at
the gate and 48 games ain't close to the usual 82.
That's a lot less ticket revenue and buckets of popcorn flowing into their
But let's take it back to the fans for a minute and see what it means.
Pro ice hockey, like the NBA, suffers from seasons that are insufferably too
long. Eighty-plus games in each is just too long of a trek for fans to follow.
Fans hit lulls and players hit lulls and games, way too many of them, end up
being listless affairs where the effort is not there.
NBA players admit when they're playing that fourth game of six-day road trip
against a home team that's had two days off, it's going to be hard to win.
Same deal in the NHL under normal 82-game seasons. The body can only take
so much before it has to rest no matter what kind of shape you're in.
The catch for the fan is, though, while the players might not be able to put
forth all of the effort you'd like to see, the ticket price doesn't change.
You're not getting the same bang for your buck, and that stings.
But, with only 48 games this season, NHL fans are getting more for their money.
Yes, as mentioned, players are hurting, but with such a short sprint to the
playoffs, a player taking a night off is less likely to happen, making for
It's perfect. Again, it's perfect for the fans. The owners don't want to see it
But only disparaging the NHL and NBA for having seasons that are too long
wouldn't be fair.
Baseball, too, plays too many games. I, as much as the next guy, love the
tradition of baseball, but 162 games is too many. Not that it will ever be
changed, but slicing the schedule by a dozen games would help.
That's less than 10 percent of the season, but it would keep the players
fresher for the playoffs.
The ones who seem to have it right are in the NFL. Sixteen games is right on
the mark. Having that few makes every one of them scream importance.
Lose a couple in a row and you're done. Lose a couple in a row in ice hockey,
basketball or baseball and you just go back out tomorrow and try again.
Pro football does play too many preseason games (four), but that's not going to
change because the owners won't let it (few games in any sport are worse than
the fourth and final NFL preseason matchup, when veterans don't play and
penalty flags fly all night).
Overall, though, the NFL seems to have the perfect model.
But our subject today is ice hockey and what we're seeing right now. So, enjoy
the great 48 of the NHL season because, who knows, it might be three or even
four years before we see it again.
Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several Philadelphia-
area newspapers for over 25 years.
The Sports Network