LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Not that it will ever happen, but can the NHL play this shortened season thing every year? That would be cool.

Bang, every night there are games that matter. And if your team loses one night, heck, you only have to fret for about 24 hours until it plays again.

This 48-game thing is just tremendous for the fans because you're never far away from the next game. There's barely time to wash your official team "sweater" before you have to put it on again.

It's not so good for the players because playing pro ice hockey hurts (jeez, playing amateur hockey hurts, especially if you're not so, um, young anymore).

Guys get banged up and there really is no time to get healthy. Just look at how many players are getting shuttled back and forth from the minors by every team. Coaches and general managers are trying to keep their troops fresh, but it's hard.

And it's not so good for the owners because they make most of their money at the gate and 48 games ain't close to the usual 82.

That's a lot less ticket revenue and buckets of popcorn flowing into their pockets.

But let's take it back to the fans for a minute and see what it means.

Pro ice hockey, like the NBA, suffers from seasons that are insufferably too long. Eighty-plus games in each is just too long of a trek for fans to follow.

Fans hit lulls and players hit lulls and games, way too many of them, end up being listless affairs where the effort is not there.

NBA players admit when they're playing that fourth game of six-day road trip against a home team that's had two days off, it's going to be hard to win.

Same deal in the NHL under normal 82-game seasons. The body can only take so much before it has to rest no matter what kind of shape you're in.

The catch for the fan is, though, while the players might not be able to put forth all of the effort you'd like to see, the ticket price doesn't change.

You're not getting the same bang for your buck, and that stings.

But, with only 48 games this season, NHL fans are getting more for their money.

Yes, as mentioned, players are hurting, but with such a short sprint to the playoffs, a player taking a night off is less likely to happen, making for better games.

It's perfect. Again, it's perfect for the fans. The owners don't want to see it again.

But only disparaging the NHL and NBA for having seasons that are too long wouldn't be fair.

Baseball, too, plays too many games. I, as much as the next guy, love the tradition of baseball, but 162 games is too many. Not that it will ever be changed, but slicing the schedule by a dozen games would help.

That's less than 10 percent of the season, but it would keep the players fresher for the playoffs.

The ones who seem to have it right are in the NFL. Sixteen games is right on the mark. Having that few makes every one of them scream importance.

Lose a couple in a row and you're done. Lose a couple in a row in ice hockey, basketball or baseball and you just go back out tomorrow and try again.

Pro football does play too many preseason games (four), but that's not going to change because the owners won't let it (few games in any sport are worse than the fourth and final NFL preseason matchup, when veterans don't play and penalty flags fly all night).

Overall, though, the NFL seems to have the perfect model.

But our subject today is ice hockey and what we're seeing right now. So, enjoy the great 48 of the NHL season because, who knows, it might be three or even four years before we see it again.

Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several Philadelphia- area newspapers for over 25 years.

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://on.11alive.com/NRfsfT