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Top Prospect

8 Posts

Posted - 11/17/2003 :  13:44:00  Show Profile
Contributed by: Fred Lajeunesse.

Goal scoring in the NHL is down this year. This is a phrase that we have heard for the past several years….every year! So, is it still going to be that way for the next few years? What if we catch ourselves saying that every season? Will we end up with hockey games that end in a 0-0 tie every night? Well, I feel the NHL is trying to correct the problem but is unsuccessful at doing so. Take Saturday November 15, 2003 for example: 12 games were played and a total of 45 goals were scored. That gives us an average of 3.75 goals scored per game! 3.75? That’s insanely low! We had a 1-0 game, a 1-1 tie, and 4 teams were shut out. Are goalies becoming so good that goals are almost impossible to score? Perhaps but there has to be a way to improve that.

What are some ways to improve the scoring in the NHL? The NHL has decided to crackdown on illegal goalie equipment. No longer will we see a Giguere and Garth Snow covering the entire net with their humongous equipment. That’s a start but it is obviously not enough.

Here a few suggestions coming from both players and owners:

#1 – Take out the two-line pass.

This is from the owners who think that by taking out the two-line pass, it would increase the scoring. How so? Well, by taking the centre line, it is believed that it would reduce the trapping teams’ ability to clog the middle. But my take on this is that it would only make the defensemen on those teams play back a little more to counteract the potential breakaway pass or long breakout passes. You’d see one forward fore-checking and the other players sitting back. Let’s scratch this idea.

#2 – Crack down on Obstruction/Hooking.

Well, this is an experiment that is ongoing and is failing. This past week, Joe Thornton said in an interview with the TSN network in Canada that he is even considering retirement. Is it so bad that one of the NHL’s brightest stars is considering leaving the game he loves. Now, let’s not get too excited, I really don’t think he’d retire but, it is no longer only Mario Lemieux who’s complaining about the obstruction. I feel that this is the most important issue at stake here. Cut back on obstruction for the entire season and scoring should improve. We have a two referees system now; can't they pick up on the hooking?

#3 – Take out the instigator penalty.

This is a wacky one but it is coming from Grant Fuhr, a newly appointed Hall of Famer, so we should listen. He argues that if you take the instigator penalty out, the star players will be able to roam more freely on the ice. This is due to the fact that the tough guys can go and whisper in the ears of the hooker and obstructers and make them back off a little. A valid argument but I do not think that this alone can increase the scoring.

#4 – Bring back the old off-side rule.

Yes, I’m a supporter of the delayed off side. It would increase the flow of the game. With the NHL wanting to speed up the games, why wouldn’t they revert back to the old way? No more will we see plays whistled down when a quick break out opportunity is available. That rule is just plain stupid. That’s all I have to say on this one; stupid rule!

#5 – Prohibit goaltenders to play the puck behind their nets.

This one is debatable. If the goalie cannot play the puck, we’d see a lot more aggressive fore-checking going on. That’s for sure. And when we say fore-checking, we think more goals, right? Let’s make it that if a goalie goes behind his net, it's fair game. He’s part of the play and can be hit. Hey, the goalies are more athletic these days so let’s do that. No?

#6 – Let’s make the ice surface bigger.

Well, this one would be costly and there’s no way that this would fly with the NHL team owners. Besides, we see bigger ice surface in Europe and they’re the ones who started the whole trap system, so unless this is combined with other changes, it wouldn’t work anyways. Scrap this one too!

Do all players want to see more scoring? I know the goalies don’t want that. But one interesting quote that was mentioned to me and is from Brendan Morrison of the Vancouver Canucks. He claims that he doesn’t want to see the old 8-7 games back (along with others players). And this is because he feels that when you score a goal nowadays, it’s special. We don’t see as many hat tricks and now if you get one, then you are good and it’s unusual. Good point Brendan.

All and all, I think a combination of a couple of these ideas could improve scoring; not just one. Let me know what you think of my points and also what you think could improve the scoring in the NHL. Reply to my article…I encourage debates!

Until next week, enjoy the low-scoring games!

Frederic Lajeunesse

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PickupHockey Pro

365 Posts

Posted - 11/18/2003 :  18:48:14  Show Profile
Hi Freddy. This time I think I agree with you....this time

Here are the 5 things that I think will improve goal scoring.

1) Smaller goalie equipment. I think this alone could increas scoring by 30% or better. Considering that the equipment is easily 25% larger and 50-60% lighter than the 70's it would be wise to reel the tenders in a bit.

2) Delayed off side. I agree with you entirely! Keep the game moving.

3) Soft shelled elbow and shoulder pads. Keep the goal scorers scoring goals instead of sitting on the sidelines with concussions. A goal scorer is often preoccupied with scoring and not with the big guy coming to blind side him. Now-a-days all this gear has a hard plastic or composite as the outer layer. I think anyone who plays hockey knows that this stuff hurts and often leads to serious injuries including career threatening head injuries. Just ask Eric Lindros, he'd probably have 5 answers for you (although he might only be able to count to 4)

4) Lose the instigator rule. I'm agreeing with Fuhr here. But my concern is that this will never happen. With the implementation of this rule several years ago the league showed it's critics that it was cracking down on fighting. Now with all the talk about removing it from the game entirely and the bad press the NHL gets for being the only high profile sport which allows bare fisted fighting, I find it unlikely that they make a move that in essence allow it to thrive once more. Even though I think it's a good idea to remove the instigator rule, I don't think the society we live in today will allow them to take a step backwards like that. After all, we live in a day when the Police can press charges for a slashing incident in professional hockey. So my point is that this one is unlikey to happen so we can scrap it.

5) Lower salaries. The players are a little too princess these days. They demand too much and for some (not all) their hearts aren't in it. When was the last time you saw a forward drive to the net? I mean REALLY drive to the net! Now-a-days it's too much agent and not enough desire. Instead of worrying if they're beating a guy in salary they need to be worrying about whether they're beating them on the scorebaord.

I know the rules have evolved for a hundred years but at some point you have to say "No more!". Just like a painting you have to know when to stop adding brush strokes. Notice that nothing I'm suggesting changes the game. No new rules like removing the red line, no modifications to buildings and no dancing monkeys (although that could be fun) Just bringing the game a little closer to what it used to be. That is...a game that was a little more pure and a lot more entertaining.

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Top Prospect

8 Posts

Posted - 11/18/2003 :  19:56:22  Show Profile
Thanks Ripley for your input,
Here is a little insight:
I read an article where Wayne Gretzky was saying that the hockey game goes through cycles.
He based his assessment on the fact that low scoring games were the norm in the 70's and that in the 80's in turned around and now we're back on the low-scoring game. I disagree with him simply because the talent pool nowadays is diluted and that grinders and defensive players are outnumbering the goal scorers by a wide margin. Unless the NHL does something to change this trend (low scoring), nothing will change.

But i must say that i do not think that lowering salaries will result in more scoring. Don't get me wrong, i agree with you that salaries are out of control. (That's another topic, see "irreconceivable differences" in my Forum)

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PickupHockey Pro

365 Posts

Posted - 11/19/2003 :  11:17:19  Show Profile
I'll definitely read that. I've heard people discuss it before but I'm unsure as to its credibility. But if Wayne is speaking I guess it's at least worth listening.

As for the salaries I did list that one last. I may be subconsiously attempting to add yet another reason to lower the player's salaries??? I do think that it is a factor with the scoring however. Guys aren't driving the net, new players aren't being called up for extended periods of time because teams don't want to pay the extra money because it will invoke their contracts etc. Or how about this one...agents are whispering in players ears, take Gaborik and Comrie for example. Two of the games brightest young stars; in fact both are potential superstars but their agents were/are holding them back. Gaborik missed the first 5 weeks and is off to a bad start. Comrie isn't even playing and now is in a media frenzy that can not be good for his emotional state let alone his career. We've seen what impact that can have on a player and the game (Lindros). And for what? MONEY! These days it seems that a players dissatisfaction on a team doesn't stem from locker room relationships it stems from money and media. And the media love money. anyway I'm getting off topic, although the media plays a huge role in the state of the game both good and bad. Hey that would make a good subject for an article Freddy.

Anyway I'm rambling now so I'll ease off and let someone else have a poke at this.

Good article Freddy.
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