Wednesday, March 30, 2005
WATCH OUT FOR BLACK ICE
These National Hockey League owners are an interesting bunch, aren't they?
They're not content with "saving" the game by effectively killing it through the stubborness that occurs when labour relations strategies are put forth by individuals whose hearts aren't pumping enough oxygen to their brains. Now these same owners are now looking to make a save of a different kind.
They've decided -- once again -- that the game that the Hockey Gods gave them isn't good enough. Except that the game no longer resembles the game that the Hockey Gods created. Thanks to a rule book from the rink that time forgot, the game has de-evolved into something that is more reminiscent of professional wrestling than the fastest game on ice.
But there's good news. And, what would good news be without some bad news, eh?
The good: The owners are considering (threatening?) some changes to the game with the aim of improving it. Whether there is actually a game to come back to remains to be seen.
The bad: Their ideas are, well, bad.
Oh, where do we start? Well, let's go back a week or two to Buffalo, where it was decided that white ice was screwing up the game. In case you missed it, the American Hockey League experimented with a different coloured playing surface. White ice became blue ice. Blue lines became orange lines. The red line became a, um, blue line. All of this was done to make the game easier to watch on television. A noble attempt, to be sure, but I don't see how a black puck will be more visible against sky blue ice instead of the usual white, but hey, I have 20-20 vision. What the hell do I know?
Moving forward to the here and now, the owners have been meeting to discuss some other changes, including the addition of shootouts to decide winners and changing the size and/or shape of the net.
The shootout issue is a sore one for anyone who thinks a game should be decided by actually playing it. Purists like the idea of a 60 minute game followed by a hard played overtime. No winner? So what. Ties are okay, especially when worn with the right suit.
But to settle a game with a penalty shot contest? Why not just flip a coin, or play Rock-Paper-Scissors? The integrity of the result would be the same. Long story short: Leave the freak show stuff to the All-Star weekend where it belongs.
As for the other notion, changing the nets is a bad idea. They're not too small, the goalies are too big. Just make the goalies wear equipment that's not made at a Michelin factory. Anyone who doesn't think the equipment is too big should compare a picture of Patrick Roy from 1999 with a photo of Bernie Parent, circa 1975. One of Roy's pads is about the size of both of Parent's combined. And what shoulders that Roy had. That couldn't have all been padding -- he must have had one hell of a trainer.
Anyway... What the owners need to do to save the game, other than putting it back on the ice, is to get back to basics. Make the players wear equipment that isn't made for a mountain gorilla. Call the obstruction penalties. Call all the little hooks. Hell, give the referees carte blanche to call anything where the stick is used for anything that doesn't involve shooting the puck.
"Penalty to number 12, two minutes for illegal use of the stick."
Kinda has a nice ring, doesn't it.