Now that the NHL is on the verge of returning from self-imposed exile, we are starting to hear about contraction as a means of strengthening the game. Obvious candidates to become this sacrifice to the know-it-alls in the northeast and "Great White North" are the Florida Panthers, Atlanta Thrashers, Nashville Predators, and Phoenix Coyotes.
I say not so fast. Some of the games most exciting young players and some of the emerging best teams play in these fast growing cities. If the focus of this new version of the game is going to be on teams of affordable players and letting skill players demonstrate their skill without interference, then some of these teams might put the best product on the ice. Think about it. Haven't you, the real hockey fan, had enough of plodding old sweater grabbers like Tie Domi and Bobby Holik? Are you sitting there thinking, I can't wait to see Eric Lindros back on the ice? No way. If the marketing gurus around the league are smart this time, they'll start to sell the speed, the youth, and the skills of these emerging superstars.
Wings fans will always be there. Hurricane fans are going to have to be won and won back. I think clubs like the Hurricanes will use this CBA and the forcasts of impending doom to rise from the ashes with a new and better product and more focused marketing effort.
Yes, I'm one of the few-the proud-I'm a Carolina Hurricanes fan. I hope my club makes it through this transition. I'm excited at the prospect of a season with young guys like Eric Stall, Justin Williams, Erik Cole, and Andrew Ladd taking the ice in red, black, white and silver.