The European ice surface is 15 feet wider than the 200-by-85 foot rink the NHL uses. Over the last 30 years the average NHL hockey player is 2 inches taller and 20 pounds heavier so it only makes sense to give these bigger players a bigger ice surface.  A bigger ice surface would also mean more scoring with forwards having more room to navigate and defencemen having more ice to defend.
There is a lot of interest in hockey in Russia, Finland, Czech Republic, Sweden, Switzerland and Slovakia.  However, there would be domestic resistance to establishing NHL teams in those countries because they already have strong leagues.  There might also be resistance from within the NHL itself because those existing leagues provide plenty of players to the NHL.

A European division might be set up in Germany and the U.K where there is interest for hockey but their domestic leagues are weak. Having the NHL come in could be seen as positive step to grow interest in the game.  London, Berlin and other cities in those countries are large enough and wealthy enough to support NHL teams.

The main problem I see with a European division is the time differences. An evening game in Europe would be seen on TV in the afternoon in eastern North America and in the morning in the west. This might be OK on the weekends but few North American fans could watch during the week. The way is solve that problem is to have the European league that operate separately but at the end of the season compete for the Stanley Cup.

The Sun newspapers are reporting that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has proposed a major realignment for the 2012-13 season.  The current six divisions would be replaced by four divisions: Pacific, Midwest, East and South. 2 divisions would have 8 teams and 2 divisions would have 7 teams. There would still be an 82-game schedule with teams playing every team outside their division twice and playing teams within their division to make up the 82 games.

The realignment would fix the odd arrangement currently in place where Winnipeg are in the Eastern Conference while Columbus and Detroit are in the Western Conference.

I would award 3 points for a goal, 2 points for a first assist, 1 point for a second assist. When you look up scoring stats under the current system, you find Mario Lemieux behind defencemen Ray Bourque and Paul Coffey on the scoring list.  Its pretty obvious Mario is a far superior scorer with 200 more goals than either Bourque or Coffey and a graduated scoring system would reflect that.
While there is a long history of fighting in hockey, it is now strictly prohibited in Olympic and international hockey, in U.S. college hockey and in European professional hockey leagues. Is it time for the NHL to implement rules that curb fighting in its league?

Those who defend fighting in hockey say that (1) it helps deter other types of rough play (2) it allows teams to protect their star players (3) some fans attend games primarily to see fights.

The problem with these arguments is (1) NFL football is as rough as any sport but they don't condone fighting (2) the hockey goons don't play with star players so how do they protect them if they are sitting on the bench (3) there are now only 1 fight every 2 games, if there are fans who come to see fights they are disappointed half the time.



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