THE NHL LISTENING ? FANS SPEAK OUT
Poll results revealed
we don't change direction soon, we'll end up where we're going."
- Prof. Irwin Corey, ( 1914 - present ) -
response to Puckin' Around's first ever online Poll was overwhelming and filled with
opinions from truly remarkable hockey fans. From Yellowknife all the way
to Finland, readers made some excellent points, many of which I decided to
include in this column, along with the results of the poll. Some comments
had to be edited to keep this column as tight as possible, but I made sure to
keep the opinion & ideas behind them intact. One thing's for sure, most
hockey fans are traditionalists, and hate to see changes done for the sake of
change alone. In the NHL's continuing effort to dumb-down its game to
attract more fans, it is in danger of losing its core: The faithful fans who
have stood by the mockery our game has now become. I for one, am
starting to wonder if the NHL is even listening to its fans while it tries so
hard to gain our confidence & trust in the media war we're currently
subjected to concerning the upcoming CBA negotiations.
are not out of the rink yet, and many more controversial proposals are
forthcoming, but I have to remind the NHL looking for fan support at this
time is futile & a great waste of time. Fans aren't looking to lay blame
and don't care who is right & who is wrong. Fans want hockey, the sooner,
the better. Enough trying to win us over, get in your offices & work
something out already !
further ado, the results to the Improvement Poll:
majority seems to like the idea of taking out the red line to help open up the
game & make it difficult to set up the trap. Many of you praised what it
did on the International front, while others were quick to point out
International competition has also become a defense-first system.
The widest margin of the
whole poll. Pretty much says it all - nobody wants to see the size of
the nets increase. Seems too desperate a measure, along with
making pucks smaller & only allowing midgets to play goalie.
majority would like to see goalies shed a few inches. Most of you found
this could be a way to increase goal scoring, whereas I am skeptical.
My opinion is goalies are able to move a lot faster than they did years ago
since they no longer have to wear pads which soak up water & triple in weight by
the time the periods reach the 2 minute mark. They are lighter, more
agile, and work with their own coaches. Goaltending has become a position
of angles & rebound-control. Although I think there should be a cap on the
size of their equipment, I don't think goal-scoring is down simply because of
the extra 2 inches on pads the league proposes to cut.
"The equipment is larger and more protective
than in the past, but players also shoot harder today for a number of reasons.
Should the goalies not be suitably protected? The fact goals are down has a
lot more to do with talent and modern goaltending fundamentals, coupled with the
defensive systems teams implement, than it does with the size of goalie
- Dave White, Yellowknife -
majority wants the tag-up rule re-implemented in the game. This will do
wonders to keep the flow going, as Gary Bettman himself said: "The sense in the
room is the tag-up offsides will lead to less whistles." How this
will improve scoring is anyone's guess, as it seems the league is facilitating
the dump & chase system with its new rule proposals. The dump & chase
system was about as popular as the trap is now, and the reason this rule was
implemented in the first place.
think everyone who watches regularly would agree this rule will save at least one
player's career. This should be implemented right away. I don't
think anyone would protest it.
readers were split on this one. I think the main reason for it is
alone, this change makes no difference, but with other rules implemented, such
as goalies not being able to play the puck, this change could be good for the
game. The bottom line is, how many goals are scored from behind the net ?
Reducing the space behind it would make cycling the puck harder & give players
in front a bit more room to get open.
funny how one of the changes the league seems the most bent on is so
overwhelmingly contested here. Surely, all the readers answering aren't
New Jersey Devils fans ! This will increase injuries more than it will
increase offence. The NHL is only looking at this from one side, only
seeing how goalies good at handling the puck act like defenseman & stifle the
opposing team's offence by stopping the dump-in & throwing the puck right back
out of the zone. What the NHL doesn't realize is how beneficial this is
not only to the defenseman who has to pick up the puck in his zone, but also his
team breaking out quicker - resulting in a rush, meaning offense. Only a
few goaltenders are adept at handling the puck like a third defenseman; after
Brodeur, Belfour, DiPietro, Turco & Brathwaite, most of them are awkward handling
it. Just ask Marc-Andre Fleury ! I have to wonder about the
motivation of the GMs who support this change. Ken Holland, Detroit's GM
was very vocal about it, and since you need a stick to handle the puck if you're
a goaltender, this rule hardly affects Hasek's abilities. Would Holland &
co be pushing for this rule if they had Brodeur on their rosters ?
"The biggest joke is not allowing the goalie to play the puck
behind the goal line which is ridiculous and why should be self-explanatory for
anyone who has played defense in hockey. The goalie stops the puck and gives you
that much extra time to get it out or make a pass to break out of your zone."
- Gord McKercher, Yellowknife -
"It's like telling a pitcher
he can't throw curveballs because we need
- Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils -
aren't so much for shootouts, but would like to see it implemented to force
teams to go for the win in OT. One reader was willing to suffer triple
overtime during the regular season, something TV networks wince at, I'm sure.
"Although I find the shootout exciting, I would prefer to not see
it in the NHL. Having said that, I think we see to many teams playing for a
tie. A 5 mins of 4 on 4, followed by a shootout would force teams to play for the
win and it might add excitement to the end of a game, as seen in World
competitions. I would not want to see this rule included in the playoffs, which
must remain play to win!!"
- anonymous -
idea of giving 3 points for a win doesn't fly with traditionalists.
Neither does serving the full 2 minutes of a penalty. No
extra point for an OT win or an OT loss seems to be the consensus. The
idea behind allowing a point after a regulation tie was to encourage teams to go
all out for the extra point. Nice try.
most surprising results of all. Seems like a third of the readers would
like to see the goaltenders be fair game. This would definitely cause
goalies to think twice about coming out of their crease, and create offence once
a goalie would get knocked down by a punishing hit. It would also increase
injuries to goaltenders, as they are already punished enough by being knocked
into their own nets when players come crashing in.
majority agree, 4 eyes are better than 2, but still not effective enough.
AHL is currently trying this out, and so far, goal scoring hasn't increased.
The biggest joke of the proposed rule changes is the fatter
lines, what is it going to do, they will be in the same place, widening them
isn't going to magically produce goals.
- Gord McKercher, Yellowknife -
rule alone is not clear enough. How much will be allowable as far as a net
being off ? Will a goal stand if any player knocks off the net ?
This rule brings with it a lot of video-replay, and I'm getting flashbacks of
the dreadful "foot in the crease" era.
"Many what ifs. For instance goal stands unless net
is off unless the goaltender hits the net off."
- Stephane St-Martin, Orleans -
consensus is while every fan wants to see an increase in scoring, they do
not want to see it at the expense of the game's integrity. The NHL should
consider this before altering the game we have all come to love. Surely if
the NHL can afford spending $1.5 million on a team of independent financial
advisors & lawyers to go over the revenues & losses of each team, it can surely
find the capital to fund a team who can look & find exactly what caused goal
scoring to come down, as well as what could be done to increase it again,
instead of proposing a bunch of rule changes & hoping to hit the bulls eye with
a lucky shot... This idea, coming from a fan of the game, will fall on the
NHL's deaf ears & is unfortunately, wishful thinking. I leave you now with
a final reader-submitted quote, and my usual Randumb Thoughts.
"The rapid improvement in goaltender skill and subsequent decline
in goals against average, or goal scoring across the league, is merely a
function of goaltending improving. Those affected by the change will adapt in
time, the goal scorers of the NHL are no different; already new sticks have been
introduced, new offensive strategies, and players consistently shooting high in
the net when ‘in tight’ are some examples. Now whether fans of the NHL are
willing to wait for the players to adjust, or not, is another issue."
- Dave White Yellowknife -
|Punishing Fans (Rimouski Oceanic): The Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL have
hit an all-time low, announcing they will sit league-leading scorer &
superstar Sidney Crosby for the next 2 road games against Lewiston & Drumondville. The Oceanic contend
referees have allowed too much physical abuse of their superstar and say
Crosby draws extra attention from opponents and requires additional
protection from the officials. It's also worth mentioning games featuring the Oceanic have been playing at
an average 103% capacity this year, with fans wanting to see the 16-year old phenom. Both games are sellouts, but the biggest sellout of them all
seems to be Crosby & the Oceanic.
|Hope For Rangers (Jason LaBarbera):
LaBarbera broke a 61-year-old American Hockey League record with his 10th
shutout of the season in the Wolf Pack's 4-0 victory over the Philadelphia
Phantoms Friday night. The old record of nine shutouts belonged to
Gordie Bell in 1942-43. LaBarbera plays for Hartford, the New York
Rangers' farm team which brings the question, why hasn't he played more than
10 minutes for the Blueshirts this year ?
|Quitter Eyeing Comeback (Shayne Corson): After walking out on his team in the
playoffs last year, Shayne Corson has just announced he is eyeing a return,
with several teams interested. Hopefully, none of these teams are
looking help in the playoffs. In his final 3 years, Corson appeared in
32 playoff games with Toronto, scoring a grand total of 2 goals !
Toronto, always willing to add depth, have already expressed they have no
interest in picking up Corson.
Hypocrisy 101 (Patrick Roy): So St. Patrick all of a sudden takes a
stance on goaltending equipment saying: "I'm not going to have a lot of friends after what I'm going to say, but I
think the goalies should go back to 10-inch pads. You barely see the
net when you come in on the angle, and I think that's what the shooters
need. They need to see a bit of the mesh." How thoughtful of Roy, one
of the game's biggest cheaters of all-time. It was Roy who used to
wear 14 inch pads, a jersey 4 sizes too large (to help trap the puck
between his body & arm) and extra 2-inch blocks on the side of his pants to
take up more room. Roy was also one of the first goalies to push snow
on the side of his posts to slow down the puck's progress on
wraparounds ! How nice of him coming clean once he's retired !
Memo to Patrick: What you are hearing right behind you is Martin Brodeur catching up to your records
|You Never Know When You've Played Your Last Game (Al MacInnis): Sportsnet.ca has just reported Blues
defenseman Al MacInnis' days may be over in the NHL. Explaining how
he has lost some of his peripheral vision because of extensive nerve damage
in his left eye, Blues captain Al MacInnis said there is still no way of
telling when - or even if - he'll return to playing hockey. He added
his field of vision is so poor he can't practice with the team because
he can't see what's coming over his left shoulder. This is terrible
news for the Blues & all fans of MacInnis. As of February 1st,
MacInnis was 28th on the NHL's All-Time Scoring list with 1274 pts.
This also ranks him as 3rd in all defensemen, behind Paul Coffey & Ray
|Quote of the Week (Conan O'Brien in Toronto):
they like a joke here, they say 'Ha, ha, ha, ha. Go Leafs Go !' "
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