Putting the Red Line Back In- Bad Idea for the NHL

The NHL has seen increased scoring, a larger fan base,  and higher revenues since coming back from the lockout a few years ago. The league met it’s goal to increase scoring and have gotten more fans interested in hockey during that time period. Higher revenues have also been obtained and has helped with the current NHL business model.

Scoring, fans and revenues have increased and injuries have as well. Injuries this season have been a concern and the idea of putting the red line back in has surfaced. Scoring increased when the red line was taken out after the lockout and fans and some general managers have already opposed the idea.

When the red line was in prior to the lockout, low scoring games occurred quite often mainly because of the two line pass rule. The two line pass rule prohibited passes from going over two lines and limited certain players and teams. Older and slower players were able to stick around longer and scoring was more difficult. Teams that had perfected the neutral zone trap were often dominant in games and making a comeback was next to impossible. The red line may have prevented some injuries here and there but prevented games from being high scoring.

Putting the red line back in would not only encourage teams to use the neutral zone trap again (something that is not easy to pull off without the red line) and would prohibit some of the league’s best stars. Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin and teammate Sidney Crosby have both benefited greatly without the red line in place and other superstars such as the Capitals Alex Ovechkin and Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos rely on open ice opportunities. Taking away this ability would hinder these players and several others and reduce their scoring capabilities.

Injuries have been a concern this season and while putting the red line back in may prevent some of them, other ideas may be put to better use to prevent injuries. One key idea that has been mentioned is to have no touch icing instead of putting the red line back in. No touch icing would prevent players from rushing down the ice to touch the puck on an icing call and would reduce the number of collisions. It could also make the games go faster and prevent rushes that could create injuries.

Hockey is considered to be a sleeping giant in certain areas of the United States and low scoring games prohibited its fan base from growing when the red line is in place. Prior to the lockout, fans wanted more scoring and complained that the red line made it difficult for teams to get shots on goals and score. There were numerous instances in which games would only have one goal or in some cases, no goals at all (at one point, there were games that ended in a 0-0 tie). With limited dollars for people to spend on entertainment, the NHL cannot afford to decrease it’s fan base by taking a step backwards. Games need to be high scoring, the action needs to be fast paced and fans who spend the money on tickets will want a good product to go back to.

 

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~ by jeffrsabo on March 18, 2012.

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