Hockey player

Three Conversation Starters for Non-Hockey Fans

Canadians love talking hockey as much as folks from the U.S. love talking NFL and NCAA football – maybe more. If you tune into TSN, the Canadian answer to ESPN, you will see hockey coverage pretty much year-round. While enjoying the party at the Hockey Hall of Fame, you may find yourself engaged in some hockey conversation. Worried about what to talk about? We have you covered. Here are three easy hockey conversation starters to get you into the hockey talk game:

1.    Conor McDavid and the 2015 Draft: Connor McDavid has been called a “generational” talent by many hockey pundits and is the crown jewel of the 2015 NHL draft class. The Buffalo Sabres were an early favorite to secure the number one draft pick. In fact some suspected that Buffalo wasn’t really trying that hard to win games last season in hopes of picking up McDavid. I actually saw a hopeful Sabres fan with a custom Buffalo McDavid jersey at a game in March. But it wasn’t to be – The Edmonton Oliers landed the top pick and won the McDavid sweepstakes.  But it’s not all bad news for the Sabres. They picked up Jack Eichel with their number two pick. Many think Eichel will be just as good as McDavid in the NHL, maybe better.

Who has a brighter future in the NHL: McDavid or Eichel?

2.    Expansion: The NHL has 30 teams. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is interested in expanding hockey’s territory in the near future and got that process started this year. He asked prospective ownership teams to submit bids, along with a hefty non-refundable application fee, earlier this year.

The problem? Only two cities submitted before the deadline. Las Vegas – where a new arena is underway, and Quebec City – where they have an NHL-ready arena already built. The league had hoped for bids from Seattle, a second Toronto team, and maybe bids from Kansas City or Portland.

There is no question that Quebec City would sell out every home game. But the TV audience is small compared to other expansion cities. Las Vegas would be the only professional sports team in town – and would likely draw away team fans to see their club on the road. But can they sustain a club in the long term?

Should the league move forward the new teams could take the ice as soon as the 2017-18 season? What do you think of potential expansion markets? Should the league expand at all?

3.    New Overtime Rules:
The NHL did away with tie games starting with the 2005-06 season. Should a game end in a tie after a 5-minute overtime, the game is settled with a shootout. Many fans, myself included, don’t care for shootouts. It is like ending a basketball game with a free-throw competition or a baseball game with a home run derby. Still, a shootout, where one skater starts at center ice and tries to score a goal, is better than a tie game.

To reduce the number of games settled with a shootout, overtime will now be played three-on-three. That is, each side will have three skaters and a goalie versus the usual five per side. It is hoped that fewer skaters on the ice will lead to more scoring and thus fewer shootouts.

What do you think of the new overtime rules? Will we see fewer shootouts this season?

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