As we all know in the hockey world this time of the year is when we unwind from hockey. The Awards are over, the draft is done and everyone in Long Island has run out of lighter fluid to burn John Tavares jerseys.
There is something that compared to other pro sports leagues that the NHL doesn’t have that there is a push to see during the dog days of summer. Real deal games between opposing teams, now an NHL Summer League would be cool but I want to make things a little interesting.
If one day we have a sanctioned league for the summertime, it should give fans and the hockey world something fresh, I know Art Middleton of JetsNation floated out an idea for a summer league but my plans for the league are a bit more radical…
1. Outdoor Air Rinks Only
It’s summer!!! Let’s enjoy this and keep the games outdoors on rinks at locations such as Venice Beach, Santa Monica or Las Vegas. Play these games at locations where fans and family can stay and spend a day watching 3-4 games or just check it out as they walk by on the beach or on the strip.
2. Skates? Nope, True Jerseys? Nope.
That’s right. The NHL Summer League is ball hockey either in roller blades or in sneakers. 99.9% of NHLers at some point played on the driveway or in a gym, running or gliding while deking past their pals, in shorts and a t-shirt or tank top. Yes, this is a little summer competition but why be in skates and full gear in the heat? This could also open up some true creativity in gear, what shoes do players rock on the rink? Does anyone dare play a game in Yeezys? (Hopefully not) Air Jordans? The new Kobe shoes?
We may get some real personality flowing with this.
3. Three on Three Format, Three Periods of 10 minutes Each.
Speed, speed, and more speed. This is hopefully going to be a back and forth high scoring league (my apologies to the goalies who take part), there should be as little downtime as possible in the summer league games. The three on three format on the rink allows plenty of room for the six runners and all minor penalties will result in a penalty shot, major penalties will result in a three on two, one-minute powerplay.
4. Young Guns Only
Like the NBA’s Summer League this will be intended for recent draft picks and younger players on the rosters. There will be a hard age cap though of no player being allowed to play in the league after 23 to make sure this is more of a showcase of the players of tomorrow.
If this was an actual up and running league this year and with it ideally being played in Southern California it would give Kings fans a first chance to see draft picks such as Rasmus Kupari and Akil Thomas in some form of organized action as members of the Kings.
For Oiler fans a group of Evan Bouchard, Kailer Yamamoto, Ryan McLeod, and Stuart Skinner may be fun to watch in this.
5. 16 Team Playoff Tourney, Seeded #1-16 in Single Elimination Play
Of course, this won’t go the entire summer just a couple of weeks so with that we need a compact season, each team plays six games, and the top 16 teams make the summer league playoffs. Your favourite team will have to be sharper once the playoffs start because it’s all win or go home games.
The #16 seed gets a chance to get hot and go on a run and play giant killers in this tourney while the top seeds have the chance to flex their muscles on the rest of the league on the way to a title.
With training camps not too long after with preseason action, it may be a bit too much for a calendar year but it would be a pretty unique event to the league calendar if it did become a reality.
Is my version of the summer league too radical? Is this way too much hockey? Feel free to express your thoughts to me in the comments and on Twitter, @Avry!