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Monthly Archives: January 2004
If you watch a lot of hockey, it’ll be clear that players have completely lost respect for each other and no longer worry about where their sticks land. think about the number of players injured just this season with sticks to the face in some way.
Adding a second referee hasn’t helped this problem; now we have four eyes missing calls instead of two. Linesmen used to be able to go to the referee and recommend a call in the case of a major, but that’s not being done any more.
And now that we have an entire league full of players who’s never had to play with guys not wearing helmets since they first strapped on skates, any sense of worry about doing damage seems to have disappeared. But since visors and shields aren’t mandated (or allowed, except for medical necessity), bad habits created in the pre-pro days when faces were protected carry on into the pros, and then players get hurt.
The Leafs are already missing Owen Nolan to a torn retina — and last night, Tucker went down with a similar injury. Watching that game, there were two other uncalled, serious sticks to the face of Leaf players, too. it’s clear players simply don’t care, because chances are, all it’s going to be is two minutes.
So it’s time to give the players reason to care again. If two minutes for careless use of the stick isn’t significant enough, let’s make the penalty something worth noticing.
1) A hockey stick should never get above a player’s elbows. Period. Any contact of a stick to the shoulder pads or above: double minor, four minutes in the box.
2) If the stick makes any contact at all neck or above, it’s a five minute major.
3) If blood is drawn, it’s five minutes and a game misconduct. The escalating suspension track for major penalties would apply to this, too, so with the third, it’s a game off, then two, then…
Beyond that, enable linesman to cal high sticking penalties. Not wait for a whistle and talk to a ref, blow the play dead and skate the guy off. And if all eight eyes miss it, give the video replay judge the power to call a penalty down at the next stoppage. let the “eye in the sky” take positioning out of the problem. Once players know they won’t get away with it, and when it happens, the penalties are severe for the team. And that’ll get the coaches involved in reminding players to get their STUPID STICKS DOWN ON THE ICE WHERE THEY BELONG.
High sticking should be called immediately and with no discretion. If you touch a player with your stick above their elbows, you take a penalty. Period. Otherwise, it’s just a matter of time before we have another Bryan Berard problem caused by a stick, or an Al MacInnis. In some ways, Owen Nolan got off lucky, at least, we think so. As Al MacInnis’s injury showed, once you mess up the integrity of the eye, problems can come back again later. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t have an easy supply of replacement eyeballs handy, and neither does the NHL.
Another end of the world as we know it article about the upcoming labor fight in the NHL.
This one is from the owner’s side, conspicuously timed to come out after the player’s griped about the league.
The league has serious issues, but please, don’t let Capitals owner Ted Leonsis talk about them: “I’m nervous,” said Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, whose club expects losses of $30 million this season and routinely plays before thousands of empty seats at MCI Center. “The league is in trouble.” Remember, this is the Ted Leonsis that signed known whiner and malcontent Jaromir Jagr to a hugely excessive contract and is now stuck with the underperforming, unhappy Czech for another $50 million dollars of disappointment or so. Ted, look in a mirror, okay?
Pronouncements of doom are going to continue until the bargaining agreement actually does expire, and expect both players and owners to try to spin this to their advantage between now and next fall, when Armageddon occurs (or doesn’t).
Fans need to remember a few things about the ongoing war of words:
First, all of this is aimed at getting fans to lean towards supporting one side over the other. It’s propoganda. It should be treated as such, meaning we should all pay zero attention to either side, and trust nobody in the discussion. The only talk that matters is the talk that goes on over the negotiating table, the rest of this stuff is PR.
Second, nothing is going on around the negotiating table. This worries some people — and it shouldn’t. In labor/union negotiations, nothing happens until the last minute. There is no incentive for anyone to settle early, because anyone who does will be criticized by people saying if they’d held out a little longer, they could have gotten a better deal (and they might well be right!). So don’t expect it to be solved until after the agreement actually expires, and don’t be upset that it’s not being solved.
Third, you’ll do yourself and this whole situation a favor if you just ignore it completely. Until they actually strike, or lock out the players, or agree on a new deal, everything is PR and propoganda, and has no useful value other than stressing fans out unnecessarily. And fans ought to be letting the players and owners stress out over this. It’s not our problem to solve.
We should just enjoy hockey while we have hockey, and if the two sides are stupid enough next fall to screw it up badly, go find something else to do while they argue over how to split up our money. Right now? all we do by paying attention to this garbage is give it more power than it deserves. Fans should just tell both sides to shut up and talk to us when it’s solved, and quite wasting our time with this kind of stuff…
Teemu Selanne takes a page out of Brett Hull’s book to tell the press how the NHL playing style sucks, and if it doesn’t fix it soon, he’s going home.
Given how Teemu contributed to the league’s style of play the last couple of seasons in San Jose, there’ll be surprisingly few Sharks fans sorry if he leaves.
I find it interesting (but not suprising) taht this article appeared shortly after Selanne admired a pass, and got a serious (but legal) body check as a result, as well as what the Avs called a neck injury.
So just what is it that Teemu thinks sucks? That superstars like him get bodychecked? The refs already are more than willing to call a different game for players like him than power forwards like Owen Nolan or third and fourth line grinders — should the rules be modified so that this goes even further, and if you make more than $5 million a year, nobody can block your shots?
To be honest — Teemu is correct, and so is Brett Hull. The emperor does have no clothes, and the league does need some tweaking to increase scoring, improve the quality of play, and make the game more fun for fans and players alike (although, watching San Jose this year, it seems you can do wonders if you have a team like the Sharks and a coach like Ron Wilson, even within the current rules and referee mindset)
What bothers me is when players say things like: The NHL should take a big responsibility — hey, how about the players taking a big responsibility? Instead of whining to the press, go to the union, get together as players, and take proposals to the league and ask them to be partners in the solution. This sitting back and saying “hey, this sucks, it’s their fault” — it, well, sucks. Especially since the guys actually out on the ice doing the job are the players. Look in a mirror.
So what should the players suggest? Teemu didn’t say, he was too busy complaining to suggest improvements. So I will for him:
1) move the goal line back. A few years ago, the goals were moved further away from the back boards, hoping to improve player’s ability to create plays from back there. Wrong — it merely made it easier for defensemen to catch them. Move it back.
2) Goalie gear. cut the maximum size of the blocker and catching glove by 30%, so it is only moderately larger than it was 20 years ago. Have you seen Martin Brodeur’s catching glove? What’s he doing with that, pulling marlin onto the boat?
3) Restrict goalie movement: I have argued more than once on the sharks list that restricting goalies so they can’t touch the puck behind the goal line would improve offense, because you don’t have that untouchable 3rd defenseman wandering around getting in the way (yet safe from checking) and breaking up dump-ins. And let’s get back to enforcing the rule on goalies dropping on the puck outside of the crease: that’s not a face-off, that’s delay of game. If no part of the goalie is in the crease when he freezes the puck — two minutes. If the goalies skates are behind the goalie line when he plays the puck, face-off in the offensive zone.
4) Most people feel overtime four-on-four is the best hockey many nights. So let’s see the player’s union agree to a phase-in over four years to 100% four-on-four action. This will mean teams need fewer players, of course, so it’ll require a cut in roster size over that time, also, from 23 to 21. Which means more ice time and money for the franchise players, no? Practically speaking, larger (international) ice surfaces aren’t going to happen; that should have been done ten years ago before everyone (but Pittsburgh) built new arenas. Now, it’s too late. So open the ice with fewer people. there is a precedent; the league cut a sixth player in the 40′s, ostensibly because of the war, mostly to save money. Remember the rover?
5) And as long a we’re making fundamental changes, a big issue is the grinding schedule. Fewer games would mean more rest, more injury recovery time, fresher players, and in theory, better hockey, especially in the doggy times of January and February. So — 74 game schedule in the same calendar time. 10% fewer games; of course, all players take a 10% cut to all contract payouts, salary and bonuses. Each team gives up 4 home and 4 away games, and everyone takes equal pain here.
6) No red line? I’m not convinced. I’ve seen plenty of college and international hockey with no red line that’s just as stultifying and boring as bad NHL hockey, and played on international-sized rinks, where if a team wants to play “come and catch me” hockey or dump and change hockey, you’ll never stop them.
7) instead, minor penalties count a full two minutes. Love that four-on-three action!
8) touch ups on offsides. Once you leave the zone, you can go back in and play the puck. Don’t let the other team sit back and relax on the breakout, let them be challenged.
9) on the other hand, automatic icing. I’m tired of guys getting hurt.
10) speaking of guys getting hurt, when will the union choose to protect its members from themselves and stop fighting the league over visors? Owen Nolan came this to being Bryan Berard recently, but the union continues to insist it’s a personal choice issue. When a player like Berard or Nolan is lost to a team, it has a significant impact — yet the team can’t protect those assets properly, because the union insists it’s up to the players. and frankly, the players have shown they shouldn’t be given control of that.
I know — let’s mandate that you can go without a visor, if you also agree to not wear a cup. notice how few players in the league go without one? Shows you where they have their priorities, right? going blind is okay; getting kicked in the nuts isn’t. That’s setting priorities for you…
So, what chances do you think we have of the union getting serious about fixing hockey and allowing for changes that might require (a) pay cuts, (b) fewer roster spots, or (c) giving up any power at all to the league on any issue, like, say, safety gear? or which might affect members like (1) goalies, or (2) journeymen third and fourth liners?
I thought so. So see why I get mad at players when they spout off about the league being screwed up? it’s players playing the game, not the owners, and it’s the union refusing to take a leadership position on needed changes, and standing in the way of changes that might, gasp, cost players a few bucks. so please, Teemu, don’t talk to reporters about how the league has to fix things, tell your union to get out of the way, stop resisting changes, and get involved in making sure the changes are the right ones.
Until the players start being part of the solution, and they and the union stop being part of the problem, I wish these guys would just shut up. It’s not the league’s fault — it’s everyone’s fault, starting with Teemu and the players with enough pull to effect change within the player and their union.