North America

When I’m Commissioner of the NHL…


  1. Stanley Cup Playoffs 

Reward regular season success and increase fan excitement with an Opponent Draft: the 1-seed gets to pick its first-round opponent from any of the bottom-four seeds (or ideally even from any of the bottom-eight seeds, if you make conferences irrelevant in the playoff bracket). Then the 2-seed picks from among the remaining bottom-four seeded teams. Then the 3-seed picks. If you ignore conferences – which arguably you should do, given that with modern private jets it is no longer very cumbersome for teams to fly cross-country in the playoffs – then the top seven teams would get to draft their first-round opponents.

  1. All-Star Weekend
  • Have the All-Star Game be an Offense-Defense Game (forwards vs defensemen) or a Junior-Senior game (20-year olds vs 30-year olds). My vote goes to Offense-Defense
  • In the speed-skating contest, have the racers skate at the same time as one another, like they do at the Olympics
  • Power Play Elimination Contest: The top power play units in the league compete in an elimination contest, with AHL all-stars providing the penalty killers and goalies. You are eliminated from the contest if you do not score a goal in two minutes. You can pull your own goalie at any time for a 6 on 4, but if the penalty-kill scores short-handed you are out. If there are time constraints in the contest, the team that scored earlier in the clock wins
  • Sharpshooter Elimination Contest: instead of shooting from a stationary position, which never happens in real hockey games, the sharpshooter has to skate into their shot, like they would on an odd-man rush. They should maybe also be aiming at something more interesting than a usual target: perhaps at a bottle on a ledge (Coca-Cola could sponsor…) at the equivalent location as a top-corner shot. If you miss you are eliminated: the last shooter standing wins.
  • The Imperial Box: the NHL needs more helmet-off exposure for its all-stars. The Imperial Box, then, is a special VIP box in which only the all-stars are allowed to sit and watch a game together. You could have this box at Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, or at a regular season game played on the Thursday or Friday of All-Star Weekend.


  1. 4-on-4 Outdoor Game

The current outdoor games should continue to be played the way they are, but in addition to them there should be another smaller-scale outdoor game, one in which the stands are actually located next to the rink, like they are in indoor arenas. Obviously, there would be significant attendance limitations in such a game, since no outdoor arenas built specially for hockey exist. Still, this might be worthwhile as a result of the television implications: it could be much more telegenic than a normal outdoor game, especially if you put it a location like Central Park in New York.

I would suggest also that it – or perhaps the Winter Classic instead – be played entirely 4-on-4. 4-on-4 hockey is great, and we don’t get to see enough of it any more due to the (also great) 3-on-3 OT. It would be a good foot forward for the NHL to put for those who do not usually watch hockey but tune in for a few minutes to view the outdoor game being played in their city. Plus, it might make the puck easier to follow for those sitting very high up and far away in a football stadium.





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