The ink on the tentative deal isn't even dry yet and is it possible that the NHL has already made its first mis-step of the brand new era of pro hockey?
The various media outlets which spent the last year filling their broadcasts with filler material while the NHL did it's Rip Van Winkle act, figured that the time was at hand to return the NHL to the media spotlight. Numerous requests were made to the NHL offices to let the cameras record the draft lottery, better known as the Sidney Sweepstakes which apparently will take place sometime in the next ten days.
The draft itself is to take place in Ottawa apparently at the end of July and won't be the great televised spectacle that TSN and Sportsnet brought to us previously. This years scaled down roster stuffing sessions will take place in an Ottawa Hotel, no audience in the stands, no hoopla, no sense of anticipation. Instead it appears it will have all the excitement of a tax audit at Revenue Canada.
What is wrong with the folks at the NHL? They should have been busting their butts to make the entry draft a splashy return of the game. Sure there might be a few boos from the crowd when Gary B takes to the stage to announce the lucky players heading for training camp, but surely he is made of stern stuff and could take a few hits for the good of his game.
Instead after keeping hockey fans in the dark for 301 days, the NHL decides to keep them in the dark a few more days just for good measure. This is no way to rebuild your brand folks, the entry draft over the last few years has been one of the most anticipated of events on the Hockey schedule. Over the years it has become a major effort from the sports networks who turned it into a must see event for hockey fans, it presents a real chance to keep the fans hooked and talking hockey.
Well Gary the fans will be talking no doubt and the words won't be kind for the brainiacs of the NHL.