Tuesday, June 03, 2008

State of the Game

Hello Readers

Yes I am still deeply involved in the playoffs. Last night’s triple overtime win by the Penguins only adds to the intrigue of this hockey playoff season. And frankly who cares if Tiger Woods doesn’t watch hockey.

Thoughts to ponder. The local tab ran with two stories on the game of hockey. One articulate hack flowed forth on the beauty of Game 5. I agree with him. It wasn’t the Olympics or a Canada Cup but it was about the best hockey we’ve seen in quite some time. Young Marc-Andre Fleury faced 58 shots. Stopped 55 of them including 24 in overtime. As the series goes on, we all expect the older wiser Red Wings to win the cup. The intangibles within the innocence of youth may just say "hold on here Detroit the parade isn’t ready to happen just yet." Given a Game 7, even if it is in the Joe Louis Arena all bets are off. Fleury could stop them all and Malkin surely has another post season goal in his young career. Pens win 1-0 in Game 7? Totally not out of the question.

The second story was one of how the NHL General Managers are not talking about no touch icing. The story also touched on the AHL to test one minute penalties in overtime next season. This aggravates me to no end. I’m not a hockey purest but ENOUGH!

Why do we have to keep on going about changing the game to please the collective Tiger Woods. That American TV audience Tiger represents will never buy into hockey. Hockey is not a sport suited to commercial TV audiences. The game is too fast. The game is too unpredictable. Hockey requires an attention span most Americans do not hold. Trying to shoehorn a hockey game into a TV commercial timeout framework, and the resulting trips to the fridge, just ruins a good hockey game. You can sell a few Buicks during a golf game and nothing is lost. The same can not be said for hockey coverage.

I’ve previously written about a Captain’s Club. This season will see a new member inducted to this honored fraternity. Nicklas Lidstrom could win his fourth Stanley Cup and first as the team's Captain. Sidney Crosby and the Penguins intend to stand in the way. Lidstom could become the first European born player to lead a team to the cup win. To me this represents what is right with hockey. Rather than idiotic tweaking of icing and OT penalties what hockey needs is its’ traditions to continue.

Crosby and his band of young guns rise from 3-1 down to win the cup. Sidney hands the cup to team owner Lemieux and the Canadian legacy of hockey leadership continues.

Or… The 50-50 group of North American and European players prevail. This Summer, the cup visits Sweden, Russia, Finland, Czech and Slovak nations. Local boys (and girls) come out to meet the cup and marvel at its beauty of silver and symmetry. They smudge little fingers on the names. The great names Orr, Gretzky, Beliveau, Howie, Messier, Lemieux, Richard, Bossy & Trottier, Roy. Then they recognize the local names. Selanne, Larionov, Forsberg, Khabibulin, Jagr, Fedorov. The little spark that resides in every Canadian boy is kindled. The thought of their name forever etched in that silver amidst the great European, American and Canadians of the game. Their being immortalized as one who has paid the price to be the top is planted. As more Europeans win and now begin to lead teams to win the significance of winning for the North American and European players will balance. And the game, as it was last night, will be always better for it.

No touch icing is pretty irrelevant isn’t it… If you have a comment please add it below.


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