NHL has some major problems

Chris Donaldson, Staff Writer

The National Hockey League has been in a bit of a flux the past ten years. The NHL has experienced two work stoppages during that time, one of which canceled the whole season. The NHL ranks fourth in the USA as far as popular sports are concerned. Not only that, they have no easily recognizable star, a less than effective commissioner, and violence that would make the NFL blush.

The NHL has a lot of problems but it start with the lack of a recognizable star to draw fans to it. All the major sports league have major stars in their league. The NBA is home to LeBron James, Derrick Rose, and Kevin Durant. The NFL is home to Tom Brady and Robert Griffin III. The MLB is home to Albert Pujols and Justin Verlander. The NHL does have Sidney Crosby, but because of nagging injury issues, he has not been able to play that much over the past two seasons. Theses stars like Albert Pujols and LeBron James are synonymous with their respective leagues. They can bring in the average sports fan.

Gary Bettman started his career as the first commissioner of the NHL in 1993. He was hired be the owners to expand the game to America. Since 1994, there have been three work stoppages under Gary Bettman. As far as television exposure goes, Gary Bettman made a very controversial decision to switch TV contracts from ESPN, following the 2005 work stoppage, to a Comcast network called Outdoor Life Network. The name would later be changed to Verses and then again to the NBC Sports Network. This upset a lot of fans that thought the game would be less exposed because Outdoor Life Network was not a well known network. Gary Bettman is considered, by NHL fans, as the worst commissioner in the history.

The 2011-2012 NHL playoffs were one of the most violent playoffs in recent NHL history. The head of player safety, Brendan Shanahan, handed out nine suspensions in the playoffs which was double that of suspensions in the 2010-2011 playoffs. Because of recent medical studies on the effects of brain injuries have later in life, the NHL, tried to cut down on the violence. If anything, the 2011-2012 NHL playoffs showed a lack of respect among fellow players in the same league

The NHL has sort of a minor league sports feel in this country. There is a small, devoted group of hockey fans and that’s about as far as it goes. They need a playing star, less violence, and a commissioner that is more effective than their original one. To be real contender, the NHL has some real demons to exercise or else they will be nonexistent very soon.