Here's how the NHL can reclaim its share of the spotlight
Travel back with us to the year in sports that was 1994, when hockey was at its zenith of popularity.
Mark Messier led the New York Rangers to their first Stanley Cup in 54 years. Wayne Gretzky made pucks fashionable in Hollywood. NHL '94 was one of the coolest sports video games available. Michael Jordan was out of basketball, and Sports Illustrated even hinted that the NHL could be poised to eclipse the NBA.
We all know what happened. The first lockout. The neutral-zone trap. Overexpansion. Some fans started paying less attention. Then the second lockout wiped out an entire season, and more fans tuned out entirely.
But with a potential sexy Stanley Cup finals matchup pitting the Penguins and Red Wings, hockey has a unique opportunity to squeeze its foot back into the sporting forefront • and Page 2 is here with a list of things the NHL should do to reclaim its fair share of the spotlight.
• Return the "glow puck" and join it with "glow sticks," "glow skates," "glow beards" and "glow blood!"
• Foster the return of real rivalries.
• Have players get into the public eye more often by hanging out with Hollywood types.
• For the same reason, have Elisha Cuthbert date every North American-born player and have Anna Kournikova date every Russian-born player.
• Install a mandatory dress code, enforced by Don Cherry.
• Relocate the teams with the three lowest 2008-09 attendance figures -- to Winnipeg, Quebec City and Hartford in 2009-10.
• Bring back colorful nicknames like "Rocket," "Boom Boom," "Grim Reaper" and the "Golden Jet."
• Four words: Bring back Peter Puck.
• Reprise an ultrasuccessful marketing vehicle in conjunction with the NBA and NFL by having Sidney Crosby star in a cartoon with LeBron James and LaDainian Tomlinson.
• Make Keith Tkachuk and Paul Kariya wear this jersey at all Sunday home games.
• Generate more fan interactivity, like what we saw at Panthers games in the 1995-96 season.
• More flaming mascots.
• Make Rick Tocchet CFO.
DJ Gallo, Paul Lukas and Thomas Neumann are being held accountable for this article.