With the fragile state of the economy both in the U.S. and Canada, it's no secret that some NHL franchises are struggling. The Florida Panthers, Atlanta Thrashers, Columbus Blue Jackets, and even our neighbors to the east, the Islanders, are having attendance issues, money issues, arena issues, or all of the above.
So for as long as these teams continue to barely tread water and hemorrhage money, the debate over contraction will always rage on. While NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is on record saying that contraction is "not an option" for the NHL, it's a topic that won't go away.
For the sake of this story, your opinion on contraction doesn't really matter. There are good arguments for contraction, and good arguments against it, and to be honest, I'm not even sure how I feel about it, because I don't see any NHL teams being dissolved as long as Bettman is running the league. In case you haven't noticed, Gary's a tad stubborn.
So my question is: What about the fans? Love them or hate them, there are at least a few devoted Islander fans out there, cupcakes in hand. What about those diehard Panther fans, or the Blue Jacket Faithful? What would they do? Where would they turn?
Better yet, what would you do?
Let's say tomorrow morning, you got out of bed, hit the bathroom, went to your computer, and signed onto Blueshirt Banter (as you should do immediately following your morning trip to the reading room), and you saw this headline:
NHL TO CONTRACT
Now please understand we are dealing strictly in the hypothetical here. I don't want to see a headline on the Creature Report tonight that says "NHL to Contract Rangers?" I am merely posing a "doomsday what-if" scenario.
All Redden and Sather jokes aside, I am curious as to what you would do without the Rangers in your life. No Ranger fan would ever consider rooting for the Islanders or Devils, so that's out. Same goes for the Flyers, Pens, and probably the Capitals, I could never root for any of those teams either.
Would you give up watching hockey altogether? I guess that possibility exists, and I probably wouldn't be able to look at hockey for awhile, but I love the game too much to stay away forever. I guess minor league hockey would work for some, and while I enjoy it, there's only one NHL, and I think eventually I would have to come back to the game and have a
For me, it would have to be an Original 6
While I don't have anything personally against the Canadiens, I don't really feel like I fit in with their fan base. Habs fans come off as a little elitist to me.
Detroit? Too easy, they've had too much success in recent years; I'd always feel like I'd jumped the bandwagon. I couldn't root full time for the Blackhawks either, just can't see myself hitching my wagon to their star, even though my wife is from there. Boston? Forget it, I could never say "That Bruins game last night was wicked pissah!" and keep a straight face.
This brings me to the only choice for me, the Toronto Maple Leafs. They have a passionate, knowledgeable fan base, and their history is full of the same questionable moves, bad coaches, and unpopular ownership that I have grown accustomed to as a Ranger fan. Plus, with their 43 year Stanley Cup drought, for me it would be like turning back the clock to 1983. I think becoming a Leafs fan would be a pretty easy transition, and I bet I'd look pretty hot in one of their jerseys.
Maybe Julian and Chemmy over at Pension Plan Puppets would even take me on as a co-writer.
So what would you do?