Sunday, 1 April 2012
NHL Responds to Rangers - Devils Brawl
On March 19th the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils started a brawl at the 3 second mark of their game, causing considerable outrage in the press. It took almost two weeks for the NHL to address this incident, no doubt after considerable internal discussion to ensure that the official response was reasonable and reflected positively on the league. Concerns for player safety, how the game is marketed to the fans and how to protect the sanctity of the game all needed to be considered.
At a press conference held at league headquarters, Bettman addressed the media. "We have heard loud and clear the message sent to us over the previous two weeks. The NHL recognizes that we have a responsibility to protect the game, to eliminate all aspects that detract from our sport, and to deliver to our fans more of what hockey is really about." The NHL Commissioner then paused and took on a more serious tone, "That is why, effective immediately, we will be doing all that we can to limit the skating, shooting and goaltending stuff and get the game focused on what it's all about – fighting."
"The fans have spoken on numerous web polls," continued Bettman, "and the NHLPA voted 98% on a Hockey Night in Canada survey to keep fighting in the game. Even one of the most respected sports journalists in North America, who is here with us today, Don Cherry, agrees that it's a good idea. Therefore the NHL has decided to market the game around its most popular feature, marginal hockey players pounding each other in the face." Bettman then presented several initiatives that they hope will expand the fan base and make hockey a truly unique professional sport.
For the 2012-2013 season, when two players decide to drop the gloves, the section of ice that they occupy will be turned into a virtual boxing ring by having an image projected onto the ice surface and a bell will signify the start. The referees will use their microphone to call the play-by-play and, if needed, to provide the count-down when one of the combatants is knocked out. Bettman grinned and explained, “Fans will come to a hockey game and a boxing match will break out….get it…a hockey game will break out….I’m here all week, try the veal”.
The NHL also announced that they have purchased HockeyFights.com and will integrate the popular website into the NHL Network. The management of HockeyFights.com will take over all league marketing and will direct advertising and promotion centred on the new focus on fisticuffs. This acquisition is expected to be finalized by the end of June and HockeyFights.com will move from their mom’s basement to league headquarters during the off-season.
A Fan Fantasy Fighting Feature will be included as part of the NHL All Star weekend of festivities. A series of fan qualification bouts will be held by NHL teams that will send a representative from each city to the big weekend. All bouts will be held on the ice, perhaps at intermissions, to select these lucky combatants. Rigid NHL-like rules will be followed and teams will be looking for fans with no hockey experience and the ability to skate will not be required. It will be just like the real thing. Fan fights will be scheduled throughout the weekend in an elimination style event. The finalists will be given the opportunity to fight during the All Star game itself, which will address the critics that say the All Star game has no hitting and is not real hockey.
The question of player safety came up from numerous reporters in the audience, interspersed with shouts of “Pinko” from Don Cherry. Bettman responded, “As most of our fans know, more people are hurt by hockey hits than from fighting. Therefore if we are fighting more often, and eliminating that other hockey stuff, we think concussions will go down. And GMs and coaches have told me for years that enforcers actually reduce injuries because they keep the rats out of the game. So if we double the number of enforcers on each team our league will become really, really safe.”
Another member of the liberal media suggested, rather sarcastically, that if the league was only interested in promoting violence and bloodshed, why not simply allow the players to use their hockey sticks on each other, Bettman answered tersely, “That’s a stupid question. First of all stick swinging is against the rules. And the last thing we want to do is make a mockery of the sport.”
--- Relax, it's only April Fools and only seems like reality ---