Earlier this week, the Washington Capitals debuted their brand-spankin’-new Web site—-which, as an article posted on the site details, makes the Caps “the 13th of the NHL’s 30 teams to transition to the new league-wide web design.” The “new-look, fan-friendly design,” the article says, “will be seen on each of the team’s 30 sites before the beginning of training camp in September.”
For many of the teams throughout the NHL, the league-wide shift toward a standardized Web site design will undoubtedly make for an improvement. For the Washington Capitals, however, it may actually be a step down. As AOL Sports FanHouse blogger Jon Press noted last month, regardless of the organization’s recent on-ice struggles, its Web site has consistently been among, if not the league’s best for the past few seasons:
The Caps were the first team to offer full media credential to bloggers (thanks in enormous part to our FanHouse colleague Eric McErlain), have had the League’s best web site for years, are the first team in professional sports to offer a team-branded Internet browser, and now they’ve done it again by sending bloggers to the World Championships in Moscow and making their coverage available via the embeddable widget below, which updates with all the latest news from over Russia.
Indeed, the new site is pretty cluttered and, in general, far less aesthetically pleasing than the old one. Among other complaints registered by members of the Web site’s message boards are the lack of Caps-related blog links on the main page and the fact that whoever was in charge took their damn time in getting the Web site’s original URL to redirect to the new one. Personally, I’m just confused why, of the 10 names listed on the “Which of These Players Do You Think Will Go First Overall in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft?” poll on the main page, Halifax Mooseheads right-winger Jakub Voracek isn’t included. (The 6-foot-one-inch, 188 lbs. Voracek, who at one point was ranked No. 1 by the International Scouting Services, has since fallen to the No. 5 slot; many Caps fans hope the 18-year-old will still be available for the Caps to select with their first round, fifth overall pick.)
Of course, the site’s color scheme will change as soon as the team unveils its new red-white-and-blue jerseys at its Draft Day party next Friday, which may give it a slight boost. But I’d still argue that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Then again, this is just one of a long list of ways in which NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has taken an aspect of hockey that wasn’t broken and “fixed” it for the worse.