To all hockey leagues: accept the game’s nature

When I was thinking back to my childhood while writing about this subject, we – perhaps this concerns only people in my generation – were taught to accept the rules of each game we played. Often we played football or outdoor hockey.

It was rough a lot of times: not just cold outside during the winter, but we also slipped on the hard and bumpy street where we twisted our hands and feet.

Sometimes we lost our teeth when we battled for the puck in front of the goaltender or other places within the boundaries wherein the games took place.

But we all accepted the rules no matter if we won or lost, and we all came back the next day for new street tournaments.

That kind of thinking and way of acting seems to be a remote phenomenon and memory as well, and we can see that as there are other kinds of conduct everywhere.

Not just in sport, but also elsewhere, a lot of people in several and varied contexts can’t agree with the rules.

And, I don’t think it is actually about being a bad loser, or as some say that they “hate to lose,” it is rather an unscrupulous and childish behavior.

However, if we talk about hockey, don’t you also feel it tiresome that the rules or the game order change almost each year for no good reason at all?

I find it very boring in most aspects, to be honest.

For example, the Swedish SHL and the Finnish Liiga have cut off as much as possible the opportunities for the second league teams to reach the highest division, and some of them who have set in these rules have the nerve to call it fair.

Moreover, both leagues have also implemented the “eighth finals,” which means that the teams who are positioned 7-10 after the regular season play something they call play-in and through that, they have to qualify for the quarterfinals.


It has nothing to do with developing the game, only being afraid to lose the position, I’d claim.

But the worst thing of all, even if this is a side-track in this text, is that this has been ongoing for a long, long time now, the ignoring of the regular fans, and all is aimed at the business people including the sponsors instead.

According to the Swedish media site Expressen, the chairman of the Swedish hockey association wrote in a PM that they should all focus on the regular people (source, use the google rough translation as it in Swedish:–samsta-siffran-pa-14-ar/)

I totally agree as hockey was once a game for everyone no matter the social background, and it should be that now as well. It is worth repeating the words over and over again: don’t forget the regular fans.

There seems to be a correlation in all this: the lack of regular attendance, high ticket prices, and a too-big focus on business people, no true competition for the playoff spots or the spots in the highest divisions in some leagues.

No wonder the teams have a lot of empty seats in general.

Therefore, it wouldn’t hurt at all for every big league in Europe, including the KHL, and the NHL over in North America would take this into consideration at some point.

Find a way that makes it easier and cheaper for everyone to join in the game and make the games more exciting as it was once upon a time.

In other words, a road straighter than a ruler to the playoffs without annoying wildcards or play-in or whatever they call them.

Most of all, we should all take a look in the mirror and be adult enough to accept the game’s nature, as simply as it is: you either win or lose.

 Hockey historians say the handshake dates to English settlers in Canada, who preached an upper-class version of sportsmanship in the 19th century. Soon, tough kids in urban and prairie rinks began imitating imagined dukes and earls of the old country.

-George Vecsey