The Rant Blog: Schedules, fights and realignment angst!

I continue to be amazed at the level of angst among our puckheads in the rant blog. Let's take a look.

jlabelle120586: Anyone who is against fighting in the NHL needs to watch the fight between Cam Janssen and Brian McGrattan in the first period of Saturday night's Devils-Preds game. The Devils are down 2-0, and looked terrible getting there. Janssen challenges McGrattan and proceeds to get hammered for the first 30 seconds of the fight. But being the guy he is, Janssen hangs in, waves off the linesmen and battles for almost another 2 minutes.

By the end, both players have huge smiles on their faces as they pound each other with all they strength they have left. When neither guy can lift an arm anymore, they put down the fists and skate to the locker room, to thunderous applause from the fans and their teams. It was beautiful and it was 100-percent hockey. Take something like that away and it kills the sport.

My take: I will never question the fact that a fight can change the momentum of a game, ignite a team and certainly entertain the fans. That's 100-percent true. However, as the years go by, my growing concern is a player won't get up off the ice one day. I want to avoid that kind of tragedy. Just like the players are faster than ever and bigger than ever, they also punch harder than ever. I used to love the fisticuffs in the NHL; I wrote about them all the time as a younger reporter. But now I fear the worst. I also disagree that taking out fighting would "kill" the sport. Was the 2010 Olympic hockey tournament that bad?

BrianB0422: I have to take issue with your article claiming that the Pens/Caps game was "marred" by the Asham/Beagle fight. Not liking fighting is one thing, but using the fight to minimize what was an AMAZING game is definitely an injustice. I personally enjoyed the fight, the KO and the showboating afterwards, but can understand if someone didn't. I certainly did not enjoy your tunnel vision pertaining to the matter.

My take: I did four radio hits the day after the Caps-Pens game. All four radio hosts asked me about the Arron Asham-Jay Beagle fight, none of them asked me about what a great game it was (which it indeed was). I think I made my point here.

meatbomb2003: Dallas draws 7900 for a game, not a word about relocation. So for all you ignoramuses saying the Thrashers move was due only to poor attendance, it wasn't. It was due to terrible ownership who never wanted a hockey team in the first place. But good luck to the boys in Winnipeg. I won't stop being a fan of most of them.

My take: You don't hear relocation talk for the Stars, despite their abysmal attendance this season, for two reasons:

1. Vancouver businessman Tom Gaglardi has already put in a bid to buy the team through the bankruptcy court process and he wants to keep the team in Dallas.

2. Dallas is a better hockey market than Atlanta with a more proven track record. What has killed ticket sales recently is the ownership situation, but this is a market that has proven in the past it can sell out for hockey.

gladius710: Funny that the picture of the "send your rants in," blog is a picture of the Avalanche, because that's just what I wish to rant about. Kinda upset with the lack of hype around my boys in Denver. Even after we solved our goaltending issues this offseason, the Avs were still ranked extremely low in the power rankings ... I am just wondering how long it is going to be before people start noticing that when this team doesn't give up 10 goals per night, their young offense is going to bring lots of wins. The avalanche are being very overlooked right now but I think they will turn heads pretty soon here.

My take: Well, well. Guess that makes me your favorite hockey writer ever. My Avs story from Monday afternoon. The big test for this team, tied for the second youngest in the NHL, is to prove it can do it for 82 games. Young teams tend to exaggerate slumps into bigger, longer losing streaks, especially when injuries are factored in. The key for these kids is to prove they have the mental toughness to grind it out.

bluebucks04: I'm a CBJ fan. My team is horrible. Our 2 best years were the year we finished 7th in the west and got swept in the first round and the lockout year. Nobody in this city wants to buy season tickets and the public bought the stadium to keep a losing team here so we can watch them be mediocre at best on a good year. Our draft picks fizzle and our free agent signings hate us making nobody else want to sign here. We are most likely the most forgettable team in all 4 of the major sports. Why am I a Blue Jackets fan again?

My take: And now, Jeff Carter has a foot injury. When it rains, well, you know the rest of it. The Jackets have one of the league's highest payrolls. Something's going to give in Columbus at some point this season if there isn't a turnaround. You don't spend that kind of money to be last in the league. It starts in goal; the team needs to get more saves from Steve Mason.

IcemanSabre: Regarding realignment: Why is it so difficult for sports leagues to think outside the box? With the NHL being a much more East-team-heavy-located league, isn't a 3-conference setup a lot more logical than a 2-conference-split? Think of all the time-zone issues that would be resolved and how teams like the Red Wings, Jackets, Preds, & Stars would all be appeased instead of just one.

West Conf-Pacific: SJ/LA/Ana/Pho/Van, -Plains: Colo/Edm/Calg/Win/Minn

Central Conf-South: Dal/StL/Chi/Det/Nash, -North: Cbs/PIt/Buf/Tor/Ott

East Conf-South: Fla/TB/Car/Wash/Phil, -North: Mon/Bos/NYI/NYR/NJ

Play home and home against teams in other conferences (40 games), 4 vs In-conference/non-division teams (20 games), and 5 vs Division teams (20 games) with 2 extra games to play with. This way you keep the distances and time zone shifts down for the majority of games, so fans can watch their teams at a reasonable time and players have more consistency too. Plus, fans get to see every team come to their city and play at least once.

My take: Actually, to go back to your opening sentence, it's the other way around. The league has in fact thought out of the box on realignment, but it was met with resistance from the board of governors when realignment was discussed Sept. 20 in New York. You see, it takes a two-thirds majority from the board to approve any realignment. The league privately supports the idea of going to a four-conference set-up, which it believes would better alleviate geographical concerns, but the majority of governors pushed for the current six-division format (with a few changes) to remain.

We'll see what prevails Dec. 5-6 when the board votes on realignment, but the prevailing feeling amongst most governors is to fix the Winnipeg issue without making too many drastic changes. This is far from over. There is an incredible amount of discussion/lobbying going on behind the scenes.

Ludlumtc: With this young season under way, the complaint I have so far is the scheduling. What is the nhl brass thinking about when they draw up this schedule? Teams play back to back and then don't play for a week or they play every 3-4 days. Why not make the schedule more conducive that we're not playing hockey in June?

My take: We had a few schedule rants this week. I contacted a league official and he passed along the following:

"The schedule configuration and matrix is not dissimilar to previous seasons; the league constructs the schedule based on home dates that teams provide; most teams will have a multi-day break at some point in the season."