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Saturday, February 7, 2004
Updated: February 9, 6:05 PM ET
Nation says: If it's broke, fix it!

Help us help the NHL!
While commissioner Gary Bettman sat on the hot seat in a press conference in the Xcel Energy Center answering questions about how to fix the NHL, SportsNation was busy giving him all the answers right here.

We asked you to provide the remedy and you responded, sending in over 1,500 e-mails on the hot topic. Here are some of our favorite solutions:

First and foremost, drop the red line for the trap-busting breaking out pass. Second, call penalties like you're an NFL ref. Whether the clock reads 20:00 or 0:02, holding is holding. Third, copy soccer. Yes, I said SOCCER. Next, three points for a win, zero for a loss, one point per team for tying after 60 minutes -- OT is a shootout (regular season ONLY). A full two extra points in the standings puts the pressure on EVERYONE and the fans will leave breathless.

As for the CBA, drop free agency to 29. 2004-05 and 2005-06 have a luxury tax at $45-50 million and $40-45 million, respectively. 2006-07 the cap kicks in, with the rate set every year as the 1.5 x league average.
Brian Stevens

Has anyone noticed the increase in the size of goalie equipment? I know the NHL put limits on equipment size last summer, but goalie pads need to be smaller. You hear goalies complaining about shots so hard they hurt. This isn't baseball, it's hockey, it's supposed to hurt.
Matt Alcock

 Brett Hull
Hockey players need to keep their gloves on if they want to be taken seriously.
If the NHL wants to become a serious sport, they must stop fights. Fighting is a silly tradition that adds no rule value to the game and keeps potential fans away who are not attracted to a sport that glorifies fisticuffs. Very few people in this country take hockey seriously because of hockey's image as a sport for Canadians who derive great pleasure from maiming each other. Take a cue from the college kids and clean up the game.
Notre Dame, Ind.

Instead of giving teams a power play on a two-minute penalty, give them the choice of either taking a penalty shot, or getting a two-minute power play that doesn't end until the two minutes are up, not when a goal is scored. Everyone knows the penalty shot is the most exciting thing in hockey, why not use it more often?

Salaries are out of control in all professional sports. They are very fortunate to be playing a game they say they love for a living but yet whine about more money. I'm in the military and my job is to put my life on the line for other's freedoms. I can't renegotiate my contract. I don't watch the NBA or MLB anymore, the NFL and NHL are next. I may only be one fan but we're all just one fan, without us there is no game.
Fort Collins, Colo.

I'd fix the NHL by returning to the one-referee system. There's clearly a lack of quality officials in the NHL, resulting in inconsistently called games. Go back to one ref per game, and you'll have enough good referees to call the games well. Oh, and lose the stupid instigator penalty -- let the players police the game, and watch the stick-related penalties disappear.
Dave Forbis
Austin, Texas

I love hockey to the point where my wife says it's an obsession. I've been fortunate to have been at the Stanley Cup finals in 2000 when New Jersey won it. It was one of the best experiences of my life. Saying all of that, I think that the game definitely needs to be tweaked. The three things that stand out in my mind the most that should be changed are: 1) Make the ice wider. Action during the Olympics was outstanding. 2) Shorten the schedule. This would give the players more rest between games to be able to perform at a higher level. 3) Eliminate the two-line pass rule. Let the puck cross two lines as long as the receiving player is not camping out two lines down the ice. This would, hopefully, produce more breakaways and add some more excitement to the game.
Shawn Liddick
Sayreville, N.J.

You want "out there"? You want excitement? How about the following: Scrap the whole two points for a win, one for a tie, one for an overtime loss ... instead your point standings are based on goals scored. Last game of the regular season and your out of the playoffs by seven whole points? No problem -- you're playing Pittsburgh!

 Brett Hull
Even Brett Hull says current rules make NHL hockey "borr-rring."
I really think the NHL should crack down on all the stick work that goes on during a game. Watching a game has become a three period ordeal of watching players get hooked, poked, prodded, slashed and corralled with each others sticks. Its simple, to open up the ice for players to skate, kill the stick work!
Paul Zatyko
Westland, Mich.

Bring back the tag-up rule. Actually ENFORCE the interference (i.e. clutching and grabbing) through the whole season, not just the beginning. Maybe look at eliminating the red line, there by making it harder for two-line passes to happen. Lastly, something needs to be done as far as suspensions go. One minute a player gets two games or more for high sticking (no blood) and the next player that high sticks (with blood) gets less than two games ... Well, it just doesn't make any sense.
Flushing, Mich.

Fix the NHL? What's wrong with it now. It's a competitive sport that requires the players to master its skills. That's what makes it interesting to watch. If you start changing everything about the sport to make it easier, where's the challenge? These teams with high payrolls cry about the net being too small, or about the trap. If they had THAT much talent, they would figure out a way to get the puck in the net or come up with a defense that works. Maybe they're not as good as everyone thinks.
Apple Creek

The main problem of the NHL is that it turned from the game into the business. Recent NHL expansion to promote ice hockey to non-hockey parts of the USA was the GREATEST mistake. There's not enough skilled players for 30 teams! So, the way to fix most of the problems, is simple: CUT DOWN THE NUMBER OF TEAMS. Dismissing, say, four teams will remove 80 less-skilled players. The concentration of the remaining skill will be higher and that's when the increase in scoring will come. This will also reduce the number of games played and consequently players will be not beas fatigued -- also increasing scoring.
Andrei Zhukov

As a born-and-raised Canadian enjoying the amount of NHL coverage on American TV, there is one major thing that bothers me about hockey today: everyone complaining about how boring the game has become to watch. I am a hockey purist that has been surrounded by the sport all my life and in my opinion, it is still the greatest game on earth. You can't tell me there is no offense in hockey when the final scores each night are sometimes up at 6-4, 7-1, 4-3, etc. And believe it or not, there is such a thing as a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat, 1-1 tie. If both teams play great fundamental hockey and the goalies stand on their heads and the each score once -- THAT is a great game! But maybe I'm just old-fashioned.

Okay, fine, if I HAVE to fix one thing, I would actually take away a few teams. Thirty teams each carrying a full roster means that there are guys in the NHL that shouldn't be.
Greenville, S.C.

Many things could be done to change the game to try to make it exciting again, but eventually players and coaches would adapt to the changes and we'd be right back to where we are now. Bigger rinks, different rules, whatever it might be...players and coaches have adapted to any change in the past, so I don't see why they wouldn't again.
Jerry G.
Virginia Beach

I could watch Scott Neidermayer skate for hours. I could sit in awe of Pavel Datsuk for as long as it would take me to spell his name right. I could study Al MacInnis and his wooden-propelled slap shot for hours and never understand how he does it. I could look into Scott Stevens eyes for a second and forever respect how much of himself he puts into each moment on the ice. I could watch a game played in the Xcel Energy Center and feel the electrifying atmosphere through my TV every night of the week. But for now, I will spend my days wondering why people constantly feel the need to question the integrity of this game. You wanna know how to fix the game? I'll let you know when it breaks.

New Jersey