Commissioner Gary Bettman says the NHL is "keeping an eye on the cost of tickets" and adds that "the average price is misleading because most teams provide an inexpensive option." While many clubs sell $10 to $20 seats that enable some less affluent fans to attend games, those fans typically get lousy views of the ice. "We've priced fans out of the lower bowl," observes one general manager. Adds another, "Somehow we've got to be fairer than we are to the normal person who has to make a living and wants to be a hockey fan."
The Red Line
Can't Live Without It
Play at the World Junior Championships in Sweden earlier this month may have put the kibosh on one of the more drastic ideas for changing the NHL game. As the league has tinkered with the rules in recent years to boost scoring, some observers have suggested that it imitate the NCAA and eliminate the red line. Because a pass that crosses the center line and either blue line usually results in an offsides call, the theory goes that abolishing the red line would enable the NHL's swift skaters to take advantage of long passes and generate more scoring chances.
For the second straight year the World Juniors was played without the red line, and once again the result was plodding, defensive hockey. Defenders were so wary of surrendering a bomb that they routinely retreated to their own zone instead of forechecking. Fans whistled derisively each time the defense fell back, and near the end of the tournament Tommy Tomth, the head of the Swedish junior program, called hockey without the center line "a disgrace." All of which should mean that, no matter how badly the NHL wants to increase scoring, the red line is here to stay.