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By Drew Markol, TSN Contributor - Archive - Email
Nobody asked me, but...
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - You have to give the NHL credit for its end result.

After sloughing through its never-ending regular season - one joke, what takes longer than the NHL's regular season? Oh, that's easy, the NHL playoffs - it does get really good at the end.

All of the overtime games, and the lack of fighting (yes, I'm one of those who doesn't believe the game needs fisticuffs to produce a good product) produce wondrous, white knuckle endings and fascinating theater.

And for those folks who say having a Los Angeles versus New York or New Jersey finals won't do the sport any good or increase its popularity, I ask just one question: how do you know?

What could it hurt to have an East Coast-against-West Coast deal going on? If you spread the gospel of the sport, the way the sport is currently set up, what better way to do it?

Having huge media markets (yes, it would be sexier if the Rangers played the Kings, but if the Devils make it, they'll still get their due) following the series is not a bad thing at all.

Even ESPN, which ignores the NHL at every opportunity because it no longer show the games, would have to pay attention.

And, to add some icing to the cake, here's hoping the series, whoever's in it, goes seven games. A little added panache is not a bad thing, either. Now, to be fair, there are some negatives to how the NHL handles its postseason.

The way overtime is handled comes to mind first. In the regular season, they play five minutes of overtime, with one fewer skater aside, and if nobody scores, they go to a shootout. If Team A wins the shootout, it gets another point, or Team B loses a point, or both teams can't take showers after the game.

It's just tricked up and gimmicky.

Either call the game a tie - remember ties? they are not so bad - or do it the way you do in the playoffs and play overtime until somebody scores.

The overtime all the way won't sell because the games could go on and on, but bringing back the tie would be fine.

And about the postseason going on too long, there's no doubt about it. The playoffs started on April 11 and could go, if the Stanley Cup Finals are the full seven games, until June 13 - the day before the U.S. Open starts. Holy smokes.

Man, I'm going to sound like a fossil, again, but back in the day, teams played the first two games of a series on Monday and Tuesday, traveled Wednesday, and played games 3 and 4 on Thursday and Friday.

It went quickly and you had a Stanley Cup champ in May. Smooth and easy. Today, it just takes a little too long and can kill momentum.

But, as far as the playoffs go, the good far outweighs the bad and the best looks like it's still to come.

Oh, before I go, here's one more item to add to the wish list for the soon to be offseason.

If the Phoenix Coyotes are indeed no longer going to be the Phoenix Coyotes in the very near future, let's hope the franchise is shifted to Quebec.

Personally, I hope they stay in Phoenix. Folks there are working on a deal to try to keep the team in the Arizona market and this nifty playoff run surely won't hurt the cause. The increased attention the Coyotes brought themselves by nearly reaching the finals can't be understated. It might have saved NHL hockey in the city.

But, if a deal can't be reached to keep the team where it is, I'd like to see the Coyotes move to Quebec, giving that wonderful city an NHL team again. Currently, of the 30 teams in the NHL, only seven reside in Canada.

That's absurd. I know Seattle also has been mentioned as a landing spot if the Coyotes depart, but here's a vote, or at least hope, that they go north of the border and become the Nordiques again.



Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several newspapers in the Philadelphia area for more than 25 years.

Copyright 2012