The NHL and NHLPA have a golden opportunity on hand to rescue the league from self-implosion.
Following new reports that the owners and players are close to reaching an agreement that would salvage part of the 2012-2013, the current World Juniors tournament might serve as the perfect catalyst to re-energize a hockey starved market.
Recently, the Winter Classic has taken the mantle as the league’s marque event, but its cancellation this season means another event must fill the void. Enter the World Juniors tournament.
The Canadian squad has certainly done its part, pushing hockey back onto the television screens of many Canadians. A decent run by the American squad may also be enough to rescue hockey from irrelevancy south of the border.
Right now the NHL and NHLPA enjoy a unique opportunity to capitalize on the success and popularity of the World Juniors tournament. By reaching an agreement before the tournament closes, they could benefit from a nearly seamless transition from amateur hockey to professional hockey.
For teams like Edmonton, there is another bonus: they can hope to pick-up on the sheer dominance of young players like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the tournament, translating their strong play into instant NHL success.
At the moment, I cannot think of any other player better positioned to take a run at the league leaders’ scorecard than Nugent-Hopkins. He’s unlikely to hold the title until the end, but it would make for some interesting and fun hockey to watch. That’s quite the change from a few week’s ago, no?
The timing for professional hockey’s return, although belated, is nearly ideal.
Let’s hope both sides realize this and make the right play.
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