Monday, November 07, 2005

A Dissenting vote on the New NHL

While Gary Bettman extols the virtue of the new NHL, the fast paced action, the reduction in fighting, the changing of rules to speed up the game, there are some that suggest all is not positive with the new brand.

Stephen Harris of the Boston Herald dissected the play of a recent Bruins game, his opinion is that with the increase in penalties and power play opportunities, the idea of five on five hockey is an endangered species. It's an argument recently proposed by Pat Quinn, which unfortunately for Quinn cost him a few dollars. Harris gets a paycheck for his ideas.

With the crackdown on hooking and such, the offensive zone is much more of a free fire zone on the goaltenders, incoming wingers can't be slowed down anymore, free to crash the net, if a defender should get in the way it's off to a penalty box and a two minute powerplay.

Harris suggests that the new NHL resembles the free flow of an all star game, those notorious no hitting affairs that regularly fill the net and leave the goaltenders wondering when their twenty minutes are up. A recent study of the scoresheets of a few games gives a bit of credence to that argument, in the last week the Ottawa Senators have scored over 25 goals in exhibitions that resemble the old showdown features on Hockey Night in Canada.

Harris says that this Harlem Globetrotters style of hockey may be an enjoyable brand but is it really entertaining the crowds. A valid point with over 20 penalties a night, the only overly enthusiastic fans would be those with power play specialists in their hockey pools.

No one wants to see the NHL return to the clutch and grab days of a few years ago, where play dragged on and on, players with limited skills latching onto the skill players and dragging the game down with them. But do we really want to see the equivalent of taking shots in the driveway, or the wide open days of river hockey.

It's a brand new NHL, some good changes have been made to make the game entertaining. But as with anything changed, sometimes you have to work out a few of the bugs.

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