Thursday, June 21, 2007

NHL Adopts Silly Rule Changes That Will Affect No-One, Once Again Refuses to Move Sport Into 21st Century.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Deuce:

The NHL’s Board of Governors met yesterday, and decided on these fantastic rule changes intended to make the sport more exciting and increase scoring:

• A player may be awarded a penalty shot if he is fouled on a clear breakaway outside his defensive zone.
• Referees are now allowed to assess a major penalty and a game misconduct when an injury results from an interference infraction.

Wow. I mean, wow. I am SO much more excited for this season now that I know improved the NHL product will be as a result of these changes!

What the NHL needs right now is a shot in the arm, not a band-aid. Why do the league higher-ups refuse to face facts, and continue to do business as usual as the sport we love is lambasted in the press. What is the shot in the arm I’m talking about….wait for it….wait for it… The Deuce is talking about BIGGER FRIKKIN’ NETS. Note: If there are any Canadians reading this website that belong to that all-important old-school of “Hockey Traditionalists,” just go ahead and stop reading now before you go apoplectic. For those of you with open minds, read on.

Here is why the NHL must, and will (hopefully within the next 5 years), increase the size of the nets:

Here’s what a BIG NHL goalie looked like in the 1940s:

Here’s Tony Esposito, one of the greatest from the 1970s:

And here is a Ken Dryden, maybe the best goalie ever, who was a giant when he played at 6’4”, 207 lbs:

(This picture can also serve as a rebuttal to those who think the new “tight” jerseys are a travesty and destroy the so-called “traditional,” loose-fitting hockey look).

Now let’s take a look at a picture of J.S. Giguere, who stands 6’1” and weighs 200 lbs:

Sooooooooo, you’re an NHL forward breaking down the ice -- which one of these guys would YOU rather face. Exactly. And no disrespect to Giguere, but it’s simply a question of how much open net there is to shoot at.

With that visual evidence, is it any surprise that the NHL has seen such a huge drop off in scoring in the last 15 years? And that’s without even mentioning that G*d D*mned Jacques Lemaire and his Neutral Zone Mind Sucking Trap. (May he be forced to watch replays of a typical Devils’ Game for all eternity).

Americans have short attention spans. They like action, hitting, and scoring (see NFL football, America’s most popular sport). Why is it Americans have never taken to soccer? Because they cannot watch a 90-minute 0-0 tie, where the only action may be some “nice crosses.”

I know the “traditionalists” out there will scream that bigger nets will ruin the game, destroy all that is good in the world, and that they would never watch another game if it happened. They are lying. Those people are hockey fanatics, and they are hooked. They can never stop watching (if they’ve been able to watch the sh*t product the NHL put out in the late 90s and 2000s, they’ll watch any hockey.)

The NHL needs to make the game more exciting to the casual observer. Not everyone understands great defense, great schemes, icing, offside, etc. Everyone understands a goal. How do you increase scoring? Well, getting rid of that stupid 2-line pass rule was a start. That stupid trapezoid is another idea. Fractionally smaller goalie equipment is yet another (by the way, you can’t convince me that we can make small, lightweight, bulletproof body armor, but goalies NEED all that stuff they’re wearing for “protection.” I guarantee you they could safely play goalie in protective gear that’s NO BIGGER THAN WHAT A REGULAR SKATER WEARS…but that’s a different post).

Why is this so hard for these old-school GMs to understand. Let’s break it down Barney-style: Bigger nets = more goals. More goals = more excitement. More excitement = more fans. More fans = more money for the league.

I want to see these kinds of stats again:
93 Goals, 120 Assists, 212 Points (Wayne Gretzky, 1981-82)
85 Goals 114 Assists, 199 Points (Mario Lemieux, 1988-89 (100 of them vs. the Caps))
Last year? Crosby had 36 goals and 120 points. The year before, St. Louis had 125 pts. Before that? 94, 106, 96, 121, 96, 127, etc.) Just more evidence of the drop-off in scoring. Something drastic must be done. Now. The NFL and NBA, who have much better numbers than the NHL, both recognized that sports = entertainment, and adjusted accordingly. The NBA outlawed the zone defense in 1974, because it was boring to watch. They instituted the shot clock, so teams could not sit on a lead (I hate you, Devils). The NFL recently instituted rules changes that make it nearly impossible to guard wide receivers. Before that, they instituted a little thing called the “forward pass.”

Hockey used to be played with straight sticks, no forward passing, and goalies were not allowed to fall to the ice to make a save. So things change. Necessarily.

And always remember this. Those thousands of hockey traditionalists who write in to ESPN and SI to skewer any writer who suggests any change to the game (new jerseys, shootouts, 4-on-4 in playoff overtime as opposed to 5:30 am ending snooze-fests) will NEVER stop watching the game. They love it too much. As do I. I am simply capable of recognizing that any product requires updating from time to time. We’re not all working on DOS right now at our computers, are we? I didn’t think so.


Sarita said...
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Kevin said...

The pictures of Esposito and Dryden were very revealing in regard to the tighter sweaters this season. Good find.

As for the nets, i think there should be a compromise between enlarging the nets and continuing to cut down on the size of pads. The size of the nets has been substantially the same, but over time, it's the pads that have grown exponentially. I think we should address the problem directly, rather than simply making the net behind them bigger. Maybe a little on both ends would soften the blow for traditionalists, while helping to increase scoring for the rest of us. Just my 2 cents.

Great blog, I really enjoyed it.

Roger Padre said...

Excellent article Deuce! now send it to every GM in the NHL and to the League office.

the deuce said...

I agree that the first step SHOULD be reducing the size of the pads. Unfortunately, the goaltenders will NEVER allow this. And when they cry "safety," the league has to back down. But they can't cry "safety," about bigger nets, so it will actually be much easier to implement bigger nets than smaller pads. Maybe if they actually say they are going to bigger nets, the goalies will relent on the "protection" issue, but I doubt it. But maybe if these stay-puft marshmellow men actually have to move laterally and use quickness, they'll reduce their equipment size after all, out of necessity.

Anonymous said...

No need for a bigger goal. Just reduce the size of the bushel basket, er, catching glove now in use.

I'm old enough to remember when goalies had to buy a first baseman's glove and take it to a shoe repair guy to have a leather collar attached.

Reduce the size of the catching glove and you increase scoring.