the-future-is-next-exit

In 1967, a man by the name of George Gross was tasked with writing about what hockey would look like in the year 2000. Among his predictions for the future, he had referees hovering above the ice – sorry, the ice has been replaced by plastic – and dropping pucks for faceoffs from the sky.

Sure, George Gross was wrong, but I’m pretty sure hockey would be the most popular sport in the world right now if his visions had come to fruition.

So since I’m always looking for a topic for our weekly Bag Skate, I thought I’d give it  a try and project what hockey will look like in 2046. I expect everyone to hold me to all of these guesses so be sure to come back to the comments section in 33 years to tell me how great I am. These aren’t necessarily things that will all happen in 2046, but between now and then. Thank you and sorry for this.

1. Hockey in the South will be unsustainable – There will no longer be NHL franchises located in Dallas, Phoenix, Raleigh, Nashville, Tampa and Sunrise/Miami. This has less to do with attendance and fan support in these markets and more to do with the planet’s overall temperatures in 2046.

In case you haven’t noticed, hockey in these markets during warm-weather months is pretty much the worst, and by the time 2046 rolls around, the average temperature will have risen by about 5-7 degrees on this stupid green and blue ball that is getting bluer. A ball that’s getting bluer by the day will mean things are getting hotter – almost too hot – and a mostly blue ball will mean unplayable ice almost year-round. Miami is practically underwater already.

But since you brought it up, yes, the lack of fan support in those markets will also play a role. There probably won’t be a franchise in Phoenix by then anyway, but this mix of non-hockey markets and rising temperatures will lead to the NHL taking a pro-active approach in some cases, relocating these franchises to northern locales.

2. There will be more franchises located in Canada – So where will those six franchises wind up in 2046? There will be new teams in Seattle, Cleveland, Portland, Hamilton, Quebec City and Surrey. In the United States, the Pacific Northwest is where it’s at. Population numbers have been steadily rising and there will be plenty of people living there to support hockey. I’m wildly guessing on the future dynamics of Surrey, but this site weirdly and coincidentally projects the city to grow by 300,000 over the next 33 years.

Quebec and Hamilton need no explanation. Cleveland supports NFL, MLB and NBA teams and the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters draw close to 8,000 a night. An NHL team wouldn’t have a hard time being a draw there 33 years from now.

This clearly doesn’t account for the expected expansion coming down the pipe in the next few years of the NHL. It will surely be a 32-team league very soon. So those other two franchises that will exist in 2046 will be a second team in Chicago and another in San Francisco.

3. Ice will get Zamboni treatment during each period – This will be made possible by the invention of a new machine designed to clean and smooth the ice more quickly. The machines that exist now seem like they should’ve been put out to pasture 20 years ago, yet we’re left with these slow-moving machines that take 10 minutes to do their thing.

Following the invention of the Ice-Vac 5000 (that’s what it will be called) that cleans the ice in less than 5 minutes, the game will be better than ever. The Ice-Vac 5000 will clean the ice during the first TV stoppage after the halfway point of each period. It will take just 3 minutes – the new length of time for commercial breaks because money won’t go out of style by 2046 – and the game will no longer resemble playing on a floor covered in sawdust at the end of a period.

4. Advertising will be absolutely everywhere – Every watch a hockey game from 1980s that has no advertising on the boards? Jarring, right? Well, at some point, someone had the wise idea of selling ad space along the boards, and here were are today in 2013 being sold facial cleansers and whatnot along the boards.

It’s only going to become more rampant in 2046. Those in-zone face-off circles will now become Target logos, and every face-off will be called The Target Puck Drop. Blue lines will be sponsored by either Twitter or a pregnancy test company. The checkered red line will be sponsored by, of course, Checkers, a family restaurant located right outside the arena. The goalie netting will be made of Twizzlers.

Corporate logos will be on jerseys, all over the ice, the boards, the glass, hanging from the sky, painted on your seat, etc. etc. And while it will seem weird to us, the 17-year-old in 2046 will actually find it weird when he watches games from 2013 and sees there *aren’t* corporate logos all over the ice.

5. Every team will play 3 outdoor games per year – Some people think the NHL is a big dummy for spoiling the Winter Classic by playing more outdoor games this year. Those people don’t work for the NHL, because outdoor games make a ton of money for the NHL, and people who work for the NHL enjoy money. It all makes a lot of sense.

I like the extra outdoor games. Let’s not pretend the Winter Classic wasn’t some genius idea to grab money. People talk about the Winter Classic as some whimsical treat that will no longer be special now that there are more games and wah wah blah blah. It was a money grab. Now the NHL will grab even more money. I wasn’t a business major, but that seems like a good business model.

To top it off, fans love it. Will they love it less as we move forward? I doubt it. The games will be so profitable that every team will want them, so every team will get a trio of games over the course of a week.

6. More Russians in their prime will play in the KHL – It won’t be a mass exodus, but it will be far more competitive than it is now. A lot of people want to tell you that Ilya Kovalchuk giving up the NHL to play in the KHL is an aberration, but it will happen a lot more over the next 33 years as the KHL becomes profitable. Seeing as how most North Americans have a disdain for Russians like most people have a disdain for steamed broccoli, there will be a “good riddance” attitude about it.

7. Fighting will not exist – It just won’t.

8. Just one more season for Selanne – No, not Teemu Selanne. Don’t be ridiculous. It will be son Eetu Selanne who will decide to hang around for one more NHL season with the Quebec Nordiques. Yes, the 48-year-old Selanne probably should’ve called it a career 11 seasons earlier, but the fan support in Quebec for Eetu will keep him around for one final season.

9. Hockey writing will change dramatically – Teams will universally realize that controlling the information will allow them to control their message, leaving hockey writers with very little to do in terms of reporting breaking news. It will be the teams who are always first to report signings, trades, injuries, any substantial news a fan would want to know. Reporters won’t be allowed to watch practices; teams will release line combinations at day’s end.

That will lead to writers having to become almost entirely analytical and opinion-driven. There will still be fluffy features for sure, but writers who don’t consistently add value to news released by teams will become obsolete. The concept of hockey writers “breaking news” will seem as foreign as having a hockey team in South Florida.

10. There will be a new NHL commissioner – It will be Darren Rovell. It will be awful. He will be the one that hammers home the point to teams about controlling the message and controlling their brand.

11. The NHL will have a two-sport star – And it will be a baseball player. There have been a few players drafted in other sports, Tom Glavine of the Atlanta Braves being one of them, but there will finally be an NHL/MLB player who is good enough to do both. The baseball season ends (for most teams) in September, right when the NHL season is getting ramped up. The NHL season concludes (for most teams) in April, right when baseball season gets ramped up.

This appears to leave this hypothetical man very little time for rest, but that’s what baseball season is for.

12. Other new things in the future will include –

* A chip in the puck that tells you if the puck is across the line. No longer will obvious goals be disallowed because the puck is under a goalie’s body or in his catching glove and cameras can’t see it. The chip will solve that problem.

* Ice cream of the future will still be called ice cream of the future. It will be available at all arenas.

* The NHL will add a third referee.

* With fighting gone, some teams will use lineups featuring 10 forwards and 8 defensemen. Conditioning will reach the point where teams will only need to roll three lines.

* The Montreal Canadiens, having retired 85 numbers, will open the 2046-47 season with half the team sporting three-digit jersey numbers.

* The netting behind the nets for fan safety will now be around the entire rink. Pucks will never make it into the stands again.

* Kiss Cam will be replaced by Sex Cam.

* The national anthems will no longer be played. Instead, Fall Out Boy’s “Light A Mup” will be played.

* The Stanley Cup will be replaced by a new trophy — The Viagra Jug. Players won’t get to spend a day with it. Instead, they will get to have it for no more than four hours.

Why there’s a Biz Nasty Two Point Oh

This is really dumb, but maybe it’s interesting. I don’t know. I always felt bad about it but not really.

Three years ago or so, the world became aware of Paul Bissonnette on Twitter. You remember how that sort of thing happened before everyone had a verified account. You’d read some tweets, laugh, retweet and favorite them, and next thing you know, that person became an Internet sensation. But sometimes that person would turn out to be an impostor. It still happens now but it happened way more often back then.

If you’re new to these parts, I am skeptical and cynical, and the tweets this “Biz Nasty” character was sending weren’t your standard hockey stuff. Nothing about the greatest fans in the world and being excited to play a game and looking forward to getting back at it after a loss. I can’t remember the exact tweet, but it had something to do with Ilya Kovalchuk’s massive contract and making it rain, maybe? I can’t remember. But it made me curious if it was real.

Biz Nasty wasn’t verified, so my immediate reaction was to assume it was some dude pretending to be him. I didn’t want to retweet or follow and become duped by an impostor, so I e-mailed the Coyotes to ask if it was him. That was it. I didn’t say I was offended or anything like that. I just wanted to know if it was real.

The response was immediate. It’s totally him, I was told. Neat, I said.

And that was it.

About two hours later, I checked my e-mail again, and essentially the response was, “Why? Is he offensive? Does he cross a line? We don’t want him to go over the line so we’ll talk to him about it.”

By the time I saw that response, the Coyotes had Bissonnette delete his Twitter, all because I was curious if he was real. I expressed no issues with it at all. Besides, who cares if I did? But I didn’t. I swear. Swearsies.

Of course, he’s back now and better than ever. I don’t know how long that window was between Biz Nasty and Biz Nasty Two Point Oh, but I would like to offer my apologies to those who had hard time getting by without tweets ripping the physical appearance of a dude or his girlfriend and retweets of things from Barstool Sports.

THREE LETTERS: Joffrey Lupul, The Stinky Rangers, Hybrid Icing

Hi Dave,

Do you think Joffrey Lupul is a legitimate PPG scorer? His numbers all say “highly unsustainable” to me, and yet he appears to keep sustaining them, at least since he came to Toronto, which is parts of four seasons (never a whole season, though).

Thanks,

Richard

Hi Richard. I think Joffrey Lupul is very good at hockey. He has a lot of talent, a very good shot and he plays with lots of other talented players. To me, that makes him a legitimate power-play goal scorer, unless I’m misunderstanding the question.

I’m assuming the “highly unsustainable” portion of Lupul’s game pertains to his 11 goals in 16 games last season and his hot start this season. Clearly he’s not a 70-goal guy, but he seems perfect for the power play. He’s smart, has great hands and a great shot.

Is he going to finish the year with 25 power-play goals? Of course not. He’s 68th among forwards since 2005-06 in terms of power-play goals, so yeah, he’s legitimate. Thirty teams, three forwards per power-play unit, he’s fine. He’s not Alex Ovechkin, but he’s a power-play guy.

(Update: I’m sarcastic and dry, but I genuinely thought this person was asking about Lupul’s viability as a consistent scorer on the power play. Admittedly, that didn’t make much sense to me and I had never seen points per game expressed as PPG. What can you do? But to answer, no, I do not think he is a point-per-game person and will tail off a bit. As long as he plays with Kessel he will be very good but he’s no PPGP (point per game person)).

Dave, 

Should the Rangers roll the dice on calling up guys like Kreider, Kristo and possibly even Lindberg to try and get some excitement and better play back into the team?  (they certainly cant play worse) Could it hurt while guys like Nash and Hagelin are recovering?

I’m all for Chris Kreider being in the NHL, not so much the other two. I understand why the Rangers want him in the AHL, because I’ve watched plenty of his games in person, and he’s inconsistent when it comes to playing without the puck. I know what a cliché that is, but he’s really not great in his own end with coverage and he seems to forget to move his legs without the puck.

But he’s incredibly fast and has a great shot and offensive skills galore, and overall, the Rangers can’t be much worse defensively than they are now. It’s a matter of finding him the right minutes – there’s no point in sticking him on a fourth line and playing nine minutes a night – and yo-yoing him between the minors and NHL. Having him play 10 games in the NHL, then sending him back down once Carl Hagelin and/or Rick Nash is/are ready isn’t what he needs right now.

With all the problems the Rangers are having, he’s certainly not the answer. Leaving him in Hartford and away from the mess in New York is probably better for him over the long haul.

Dave,

Is the hybrid icing rule the worst thing to happen to North America since the Quizno’s floasted commercial?

Dan

No.

It remains completely goofy, watching guys race to a face-off dot but perhaps the wrong dot because the puck is wrapping around the boards and it’s the other dot that matters, but I haven’t noticed it screwed up yet. I’m pretty sure Matt Duchene would’ve won the race to the puck late in the game against the Stars the other day, but he was tied at the face-off dot so it’s blown dead.

My stance remains it beats touch icing, but the NHL should just cut to the final scene of this movie and go with no-touch icing.

(E-mail me questions for next week’s Bag Skate by e-mailing me questions to the e-mail address dave111177 at gmail dot com with questions)


Comments (8)

  1. Hey, I meant PPG as in point per game! Close enough, I guess.

  2. How about this for a novel idea to make outdoor games a bit more interesting? An elimination-style outdoor game tournament akin to the UEFA Champions League? The top 16 records in the NHL are guaranteed at least one outdoor game. The teams are seeded 1-16 and play the tournament outside, with the last two standing playing in the ‘Winter Classic’ . That would be 1 outdoor game for 8 teams, 2 for 4 teams, 3 for 2 teams, and 4 for two other teams (including the Winter Classic).Gives the ability for a mid-level team from the previous season to make deep runs and realistically. To make it easier for these teams and the league logistically the final 3 games (the semis/Winter Classic) can take place over a weekend in one set venue sometime in January, with the previous two rounds being played in Dec/Nov.

  3. In the future, not only will there not be no fighting, the game will be barely recognizable as the opening faceoff will actually be a staged fight – the winner of which will get shootout chance. This will repeat for the remainder of the game – fight -> shootout, until no is left to fight. Oh, and hover skates. And strippers, can’t forget about the strippers.

  4. Is it just me or does Lozo try too hard to write like Lambert?

  5. Luv the third referee jibe!

  6. The point about climate change raising temperatures is definitely going to be right. The market for hockey is bigger in Canada anyway, I’m sure they could find some additional cities for some teams!

  7. Kiss cam will not be replaced with sex cam. Also the national anthem will not be replaced, lastly the stanly cup is the one thing of hockey that will never be replaced. Its like taking away hockey sticks from the players. It wont happen…

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