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Quick Hits: The Mailbag Edition

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In Red Wings Land

We’ve got another reader question that I think makes for a good conversation starter today, so I’ll lead with this from Craig (not Custance):

In order to reduce travel exposure to the Covid, why not have divisional and conference teams play their respective home and away in one series? For example, if Detroit has a season total of three home games vs. Columbus, those home games would be played in one week (5-6 days) long homestand. Conversely, the three Columbus home games would be played in a week-long homestand in Columbus. Detroit’s homestand would be in the first half of the season and the Columbus homestand would be played in the second half of the season. This arrangement would be similar to Baseball’s scheduling. Such an arrangement would reduce season long travel to about 1/3 of a typical season. Less travel would produce better rested players and improve the consistency and quality of seasonal play.

Each series could have dramatic in-season consequences with regards to standings and playoff positioning, thereby increasing fan attention throughout the season.

Existing rivalries may be intensified and new rivalries established. As such, NHL and the players from both teams would be available throughout each series to “hype” the national/local media coverage. Players could visit with local sports radio, etc. A potential source of media coverage that the NHL is sorely missing.

Each NHL team would have to select a “bubble” hotel (subject to NHL approval and protocols) that all visiting teams would be required to use for consistency of maintaining travel protocols throughout the season. In today’s economy, I think any 4-5 star hotel (sponsoring chain) would gladly take on this opportunity.

Such a schedule would significantly reduce the number of trans-Canadian border crossings and with designated “bubble” visitor hotels may be more amenable to the Canadian government to consider a border travel waiver for the NHL.

I think this solution would be better as each team plays in its own arena and potentially in front of their fans and pump some money into each NHL city’s local economy.

Playing in bubble hub cities with teams flying 1 week in and 1 week out actually creates more travel than this proposal. It is harder to hype the local media for games being played remotely.

It would be an interesting experiment.

What do you think?

The more I think about this idea, the more it intrigues me not just from a pandemic perspective but as a consideration for moving forward. The idea of a team staying in a city for a week’s worth of games does very well for the kind of opportunity to drive interest and media appearances as well as in-season rivalries where they might not otherwise be. The downside outside of lockdown is that if you finish a heated series with a rival in say February, that can really dampen things if you’re going to have to wait until next November to see them again due to scheduling and playoffs.

In terms of the in-pandemic world, I think the main drawback for the league is that it takes a lot fo centralized control away and gives a lot more entry points for trouble. The NFL has had their hands full this season trying to make all their clubs be individually responsible for preventing stuff and I don’t know if the NHL can afford that kind of a black eye.

Still, the downsides of “maybe the rivalries cool” and “oh no the NHL has to do more work” aren’t exactly showstoppers compared to how things already look so I’ll pass it on to you all - what do you think?

BONUS (PAYWALL)

‘It came as a complete shock:’ Bobby Ryan on change, recovery and new dreams - The Athletic

I reached out to Dylan through mutual friends in the roller hockey world, we had some mutual friends in that. I shot him a text to ask about the city, the team, the guys, everything — coaches. We texted back and forth for a little while. He was good. He’s been around forever. He knows the ups and the downs of it and he’s adamant they’re going to be more competitive this year. He thinks they’ve got a lot to grow and they’re going to grow a lot throughout the year. That was refreshing to hear that.

Ryan makes for a really good and honest interview and I like Custance’s question-asking style.

Around the NHL

Cechmanek facing up to 10 years in prison - Broad Street Hockey

For those of us not up to date on the conversion rate from Czech koruna to the U.S. dollar, CZK 15 million is equivalent to $667,950 according to the internet. The former owner of the building was expected to appear as a witness in Zlin’s Regional Court two days ago but never showed, as Cechmanek continues to deny any wrongdoing.

He got a gold with the 1998 Czech Olympic team (some other guy played all those games though)