Posted by: emmaharger | June 15, 2011

Tonight, Tonight

It all comes down to this, folks. After tonight, there won’t be any more hockey until preseason starts. (There will be hockey things, like the draft and NHL Awards, but I mean games.) No matter who you’re rooting for, tonight’s a big night. The 7 p.m. hour will pretty much be one of the longest hours of my life to date.

That being said, there’s an idea that’s been gaining traction in my head since the finals started. It was suggested to me by my dear friend Bethany, who lives in the Boston area and as such decided to take a “woo, home team!” tack on the finals–until she started watching them and I think she might be infected with the hockey bug. Anyway, before the start of game 1, she wondered why they didn’t play the finals on neutral ice. I thought about it for a while but didn’t draw a conclusion either way.

Today, I wondered what former Bruin Blake Wheeler was up to (he was great on the 10-16-26 line with Bryan Little and Andrew Ladd once he got down to Atlanta, though), so I hopped on over to his Twitter page. His unorthodox username is a nod to his beloved dogs, by the way.

Here is a picture of Blake Wheeler for no apparent reason. (Well, okay, he's a pretty good-looking fella.)

“They should play this game at a neutral site tonight. This whole home ice advantage is getting out of hand,” he suggested.

I mean, yeah, he has a dog (ugh, terrible pun) in this fight as a former Bruin, but I’m starting to think the two Bs, Bethany and Blake, might be on to something.

Imagine with me for a moment a Stanley Cup Final series played at the same venue for all the necessary games. It could be chosen by a lottery televised on NHL Network, with all the other 28 teams’ home barns in the running. This would provide potentially millions for the host city in terms of tourism spending. Imagine all those hungry, thirsty hockey fans descending on, Dallas, Anaheim, Tampa Bay, Columbus, Toronto, Ottawa or Atlan–oh, wait, not that last one anymore. They have to occupy their time there somehow when they’re not taking in the games or parties, so they’ll drop dollars at area attractions and enrich the host city even more. They do this for the Super Bowl and for some big college football games, to my knowledge (I’m a deficient Southerner in that I know very little about football), and I’m sure it’s an arrangement that works out fairly well.

Also, good God, the savings for the teams in terms of travel would be worth its weight in gold. The environmentalist in me weeps every time I read about those transcontinental flights taken to jump between Boston and Vancouver, Vancouver and Boston. I’m aware not every final comes down to that kind of distance, but in this day and age, what an immense use of resources.

Of course, I’m probably just thinking pie-in-the-sky here, but if I were in the shoes of the highers-up at the league, I’d seriously consider an arrangement like this for future series. (There’s something else I would seriously consider too, but do I even need to say what that is anymore?)

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