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Perfect? No, but changes are worth embracing

by Brian Duff
Listening to sports talk radio the other day, I was reminded of the appetite for change that remains among broadcasters and callers alike when it comes to the NHL.

Granted, it must be stated that I was listening in Toronto where no one is happy with anything, and haven't been for years; therefore the appetite may be greater in TO than in other hockey locales.

But I digress. I read it everywhere too.

* The shootout is no way to end a game.

* Overtime needs to be extended.

* Three-point games are killing the NHL.

* The League needs more trades.

* Teams should be allowed to eat a portion of an outgoing player's contract to encourage more trades. (The theory being trades are needed to boost interest in the game.)

And on, and on, and on it goes.

In many ways, it's just like every other season, where those who presumably love the game can't help themselves from complaining about it 24/7.

As noted in many past ramblings, I don't lose an ounce of sleep over overtime, the shootout or the three-point games.

Is it perfect? No, but tell me a sport that is.

Coin toss for overtime in football, extra inning baseball games that end at 1 a.m. in front of 300 fans, or basketball games where a foul is defined as ... ? Right, just what I thought.

And those are admittedly very easy shots to take, but no different than the ones hockey fans aim at their own game on a daily basis.

What piqued my curiosity most in the midst of all this public griping is this notion that still exists that trades are necessary to generate a "buzz" around the game.

First of all, the games and playoff races, not to mention the individual skills on display nightly are -- or should be -- generating more than enough buzz.

Secondly, considering how the game has evolved in so many positive ways on the ice, isn't it time to embrace change off of it?

Case in point. At its most basic level, what is/are the reason(s) behind a trade?

Presumably to make one's team better, but often it's a case of addition by subtraction (otherwise known as "finding a way to get rid of a mistake").

Why should general managers/media/fans feel like their team should be entitled to have this "option" at their disposal?

Because that's the way it used to be?

Not wearing seatbelts was a common option at one time as well.

Yet we evolved.

Why take a step backward, re-work the CBA, and give GMs more concessions to help them undo they're own, in some cases, ridiculous mistakes.

It's called accountability.

Remember, one of the goals of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2005 was to save GMs from themselves, as so many hockey types stated at the time.

That hasn't really gone according to plan, now has it?

Never before have long-term deals have become commonplace, and while in some cases they may pan out, it's fair to say many feel they could end up crippling some franchises.

Instead of giving them protection, how about just letting them learn from their mistakes? After all, they're bright guys, with a whole new wave of bright young executives on the rise pushing them.

And when the dust settles in five, 10, 15 years, maybe -- and it's a big maybe -- the talk radio focus will be on how far NHL managers have come, or how few bad contracts are being handed out, or how good the game is.

Like I said, it's a big maybe.

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