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Really good predictions for what will happen to hockey in the 2020s

I know the future. Right now, sitting on my sofa and writing this article, I share with you the insights from 2020. Yes, it’s already January 2020. But you know what I mean. From THE future. Instead of looking into a crystal ball, I look at what was happening in the last few months. And I shit you not, I do know what to expect in the hockey world this year. Before I start. If it all turns true, don’t burn me for witchcraft. Praise me for providence.

  1. We begin to value our players a little bit more and want them to entertain us longer. So head contact becomes a no-no and the player who decides to crash the opponent’s skull is to be punished. This becomes possible thanks to an expanding group of ex-players, such as Ken Dryden, who recommended to introduce this new rule. Sure thing, it will make hockey games a tiny bit less interesting to watch. But we can’t blame players for wanting to keep their brains (or whatever is there) safe and sound. Besides, nobody banned fighting, so we’re still gonna see good old ass-kicking during matches.
  2. Good news for all the owl hockey fans and, especially, for hockey players. The decades-old tradition of exhausting the team on practice in the morning prior to a game is almost dead. So instead of making players sweat and bleed (figuratively), coaches give them a chance to rest before the game. Although some coaches still stick to morning skates, the majority has changed their attitude to them. All hail scientists who have spoken up for overtrained hockey players!
  3. The NBA has set an example and the NHL successfully follows it and introduces load management on a regular basis. Following its principles, teams now give their star players some time to rest and recover. I mean, more than it used to be. Not all fans are fond of it because they selfishly wish to see their heroes more often. But screw them! We need our players in their best shape! And it turns out, that well-though load management helps players show very, very good results. They overperform and overdeliver. So isn’t it worth waiting for?
  4. Please, welcome! Hockeeeeeyyyyyyy! Streamiiiiiiing! Yeap, no more NBC monopoly on broadcasting NHL games. This cannot but benefit the hockey industry with more providers, which leads to higher competition and results in better service and more coverage options to choose from. And streaming, god bless whoever invented it! The fly in the ointment is the disruption in hockey-related revenue which creates problems for the salary cap and labor relations.
  5. For the NHL it is never enough when it comes to draining a little bit more money from fans. To say it business-like, they are in search of new revenue streams. They are inventing new ways to get into your pocket and it seems they are to succeed. The plan is to use team-generated content that appeals to many fans today. Teams are encouraged to make more sponsored videos to distribute on the Internet and local sports networks. So prepare to see more of your heroes on-screen advertising some shit.
  6. I’ve never thought it would be a thing, but professional women’s hockey is becoming a thing. It gains more popularity and brings more money which are the key factors to keep it rolling. More and more games are streamed thanks to the divine duo of Twitch and YouTube. And teams sign a few big deals with sponsors so players can expect better money for their performance. 
  7. Alas, we are to farewell our beloved heroes. The current set of hockey stars retire and make way for the new generation. Although expected, it is still sad to see many of all-time favorites to leave the game. The newcomers can be divided into two distinct groups. The first is of polite, media-presentable hockey automatons that have zero interest to them as personalities. The second includes the complete opposites who draw attention to being toxic bois. What wonderful games we are to see.
  8. Welcome the era of proprietary data. Today teams tend to rely on data models in making decisions. Especially when paired with tactical analysis supported by easy-access video-on-demand. It’s great to see technology drive the sport forward, but. The further it goes, the less we can see. More and more data gets restricted, hidden, taken away and secured. Hockey-relater free and public resources disappear one by one either swallowed by private companies or becoming subscription-based services. Because who owns the information, owns the world.
  9. Gambling has infected online territory and now deeply penetrates the sports industry. It brings a lot of cash and it is advertised everywhere. Banners and flags, in arenas and during broadcasting. The sweet spot for money-generating ads is, of course, native video sports journalism. But don’t worry, they have a regulatory eye on them. 
  10. Garry Bettman may not be the best commissioner and people won’t miss him so much when he leaves his position. But together with him will go the firewall of support for teams in struggling markets. It will be surely followed by relocation, but no way teams will want to get to the old markets where they used to be.
  11. The shortest points of all as I don’t even want (and need) to comment on it. China.
  12. The saddest points of all. True hockey heroes of our time, who showed passion and skill on the ice, Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby retire. They retire at the same time and they leave the ice, leave teams that initially drafted them, but never leave our hearts.

This is what to expect to see in hockey in 2020. Again, don’t blame me a witcher if it all turns true. Better toss me a coin. 

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