Then the NHL tries new things that, well, need to be assessed before making a final judgement.
Taking a step away from a traditional hockey market in Toronto, the NHL awards ceremony will be held this year in the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, a move that might just pay off for the NHL.
You see, the league has had it's eyes on the city of Las Vegas for a number of years now, and along with Kansas City, has tinkered with the idea of expanding a franchise into Sin City as well. If you're a typical Canadian hockey mind like yours truly, then you're probably thinking that Gary Bettman needs to check his prescription and consider seeing a shrink. But then again, think about it for a second. Las Vegas is an economically sound city, where money flourishes and there are enough coins to sustain an NHL franchise without any real concerns a la Phoenix.
But aside from looking too far into the future, the NHL's decision to move the awards to Las Vegas gives the whole spectacle a bigger and brighter feel.
Yes, Toronto is the centre of the hockey universe (sorry Detroit and Montreal) and traditionally, the NHL likes to follow the traditional path. But here's a new idea, and having the awards ceremony in Vegas already gives the impression that the NHL wants the world to view the awards ceremony almost like the league's version of the Oscars.
And it makes sense. This is a night where we celebrate and anoint the best of the best. Trophies named after legendary icons of the game, given to players with god-like status within the hockey world, throughout the years.
This is a big deal, and the NHL is acknowledging this.
But does what happen in Vegas actually stay in Vegas? Could some players be tempted to celebrate the end of the season in their own unique way?
There are plenty of interesting storylines heading into the ceremony even before the fact it'll be held in Sin City. Here's my peg for top story, and how it could unfold (WARNING: Get some popcorn ready beforehand).
The Russians are certainly sending a distinct message to the hockey world that they are a tremendous power, and come Olympics next year, the odds-on favourites to win it all are clearly the boys from Russia. But before they can face off against Canada and the like, 3 of their best players will be duelling it out over the Hart Trophy for league MVP. And knowing the competitive nature of Evgeni Malkin, Alexander Ovechkin and Pavel Datsyuk, all three nominees might not go quietly into the night without that trophy in their arms.
So what could happen? Pfft, more like what couldn't happen? Here's how it goes down.
Fearing that he'll end up runner-up once again to his pesky rival from Washington, Malkin finds the envelope that the presenter is to read from to announce the winner, crosses out Ovechkin's name with a single line, and writes his own in a rushed fashion.
Catching him in the act, Datsyuk tackles Malkin, and they tumble onto the stage infront of the entire NHL gala. Nobody knows how to react, and soon enough, Malkin grabs the Hart Trophy from the pedestal on stage and runs through the crowd. Datsyuk follows in hot pursuit, and Ovechkin, eyeing his rightful hardware, is in tow.
The three run out into the street, and just as Datsyuk catches up with Malkin, the big Pittsburgh forward turns and smacks Datsyuk across the noggin with the trophy. Ovechkin dives at Malkin, who is now off balance from striking Datsyuk, and the two former friends roll into oncoming traffic.
The crowd is pouring out of the establishment to gaze on in wonder. Ron Maclean screams as the Hart Trophy comes to a halt amidst cars and trucks on the busy road.
Noticing the danger the trophy was in, Malkin and Ovechkin temporarily ignore eachother and shamble around to see where the Hart has gone. Once they see it, they nimbly dodge through traffic Frogger-style and just as they both reach out to grab it, Datsyuk swoops in on a broken telephone wire and grabs the trophy.
"Datsyuk greatest in world!" He declares upon his two hapless foes as he lands on the other side of the street, safely with the Hart in his hands. But just as he raises it in self-admiration, he is bodychecked into a nearby convenience store window. The trophy flips into the air, and is caught with a commanding graps by none other than Sidney Crosby.
He looks down at the Hart Trophy, looks back up at both the bewildered Malkin and Ovechkin, and says "Enjoy this while you can kids. Next year it's all mine!"
The crowd goes wild. Cut to commercial.