The year is 2021, and I am Vince McMahon. Despite the XFL season ending in a thrilling championship QB duel between Robert Griffin III and Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, ratings for the league simply were not high enough to justify continuing operations for another year.
My white whale continues to be expanding my wings beyond wrestling and creating a marketable team sports league that can compete with the Goliaths. Despite my past failures, I feel driven to continue the hunt. I have just become informed of a sport that is said to be the fastest on Earth. A sport where the players supposedly wear blades attached to their feet. A sport where bare-knuckle fist fights are not just commonplace, but are encouraged. A sport whose main league is so poorly marketed and mismanaged, even I may be able to compete. This sport, known as “hockey,” will be my next endeavor.
Hockey’s premiere league, “the National Hockey League,” attracts the world’s most exciting and electrifying talents. To compete, my league will have to offer attractions that the NHL does not. To do this, I have proposed some changes to the game that my league will make to maximize hockey’s appeal to the common fan.
Old Fashioned Goalie Masks
The goalie masks of the modern era are an eye sore. Sure, they offer a blank canvas for artists to create a masterpiece. Sure, they protect goaltenders from potentially life threatening head trauma. But the twisted metal and various colors cause sensory overload. I want my players to be equipped with trappings that elicit excitement. What’s more exciting than movies? Goalies in my league will wear the beautiful masks of hockey’s simpler days that will make fans feel like they’re watching a game and the hit Hollywood blockbuster, Friday the 13th all at once. That’s two sources of entertainment for the price of one, for the folks counting at home.
High Stakes Ref Fights to Dispute Penalty Calls
One of the first aspects of hockey that caught my eye was the sport’s liberal regulation of fighting. While this adds violence, intensity, and intrigue, I think the concept can be expanded upon. I could not help but notice that the NHL goes out of its way to prevent players from attacking referees. This gives refs astoundingly little accountability for the calls they make. To add accountability and justice to the game’s officiating, I plan to allow players to fight referees if they dispute a call. However, the players must be held accountable as well. There must be a punishment for losing a fight to an official. If you are rag-dolled by one of the zebras, you must play the remainder of the game without skates. Thus, players will be forced to think long and hard before violently disputing a call, as they risk being forced to shuffle around the rink for the rest of the night like a new-born deer on a frozen pond.
No more Plexiglas
When I first became aware of the sport of hockey, I wondered how fans would be protected from rogue pucks and flying equipment. Fortunately, the great minds of hockey’s past have accounted for this, creating a system wherein Plexiglas is placed around the perimeter of the rink to protect fans from objects that are ejected from the playing surface. However, in doing so, these minds missed out on a tremendous opportunity that I plan to capitalize on. One of the basest human instincts is an infatuation with shattering. Whether it’s an ornate vase, dad’s favorite coffee mug, or just a simple dinner plate, any time a human being sees an object that appears fragile, he immediately feels the urge to shatter it. To appeal to this instinct, I’m getting rid of all Plexiglas and replacing it with old fashioned, normal, shatterable glass. As players slam through the glass at extremely high speeds and risk severe bodily harm and potential life-threatening gashes, fans get to feel the unmatched rush of watching glass shatter into smithereens.
The NHL’s divisional structure is confusing and counter intuitive. Atlantic?Pacific? Central? Metropolitan? Is this a sports league or the regional makeup of high school glee club? There’s only one thing sports fans love more than sports, and that’s their country. For that reason, my hockey league will have just two divisions: the Canada Division and the United States of America Division. Every season, national pride will be at stake. It’s tough not to choose a side if refusing to do-so could result in public shaming for being unpatriotic. Players will flock from around the globe to determine who’s the real boss in North America, while fans will be filled with the bitter passion of geopolitical rivalry in addition to loyalty to their teams.
Championship Battle for the 49th Parallel
People often refer to the Stanley Cup as “the best trophy in sports.” To me, it’s a snooze fest. It’s just a big clunky shiny metal container that serves no real purpose. It might as well be a giant travel mug that you bought at the dollar store. I want my championship to have higher stakes than determining who gets to lug around some hunk of junk for a year. To accomplish this, I will front the money to purchase a sizable landmass on the border of Montana and Saskatchewan. Instead of a trophy, the league’s winner claims this landmass for their country. Many sports are often described as territorial battles, but my hockey league will be the first to become an actual territorial battle to determine whether a real territory is part of Canada or the United States of America. If that’s not intrigue, I don’t know what is.
Mike Milbury Beating a Guy with a Shoe
I present this as my final idea because I am not sure how to specifically implement this into my league. All I know is that it needs to be included. Mike Milbury charging into the stands of Madison Square Garden and bludgeoning a fan with his own shoe was clearly the greatest moment in National Hockey League history. It had everything you could ask for: fan engagement, violence, and even a hint of fashion (Milbury would never assault a man using an ugly shoe). Somehow, this moment has to be rekindled. Whether that means signing Milbury as a player, making him a coach, or having him parachute into the arena during certain games to choose a lucky fan to tango with, I do not know. Me and my people will work on the perfect way to recapture the magic of one of sports most perfect moments.