Making Hockey Cool Again

With the NHL's collective bargaining agreement set to expire, the NHL's final four consisting of three out of four teams playing the trap, and the Todd Bertuzzi incident the NHL is presently in one of its darkest periods. Hockey has evolved into a game where creativity is punished and dullness is rewarded. For a sport that wants to be entertaining this is not a good thing. As the NHL's status diminishes, some of the game's biggest personalities are attacking it. Brett Hull called hockey boring and he would not pay to watch it. Bobby Clarke complained hockey is dull because most of the players of today do not care where the puck is on the ice. Ken Dryden, one of hockey's most foremost experts is also worried that hockey could be turning into an extreme sport.

So how bad is it. Can hockey be fixed by a few rule tweaks or does it need to undergo a radical transformation. Bobby Smith has suggested improving hockey can be as simple as widening the blue and center ice lines. Alternatively, does hockey need to change from the ground roots up where at a young age players learn defensive tactics and positioning to shut down the opposing team's offence?

If hockey can be zest up by rule changes, a good start would be getting the players out of the neutral zone. Take your pick at the rule change. Forbidding certain players from skating backwards, calling trapping penalties on team's that spend the whole game clogging up the neutral zone (extremely complicated solution), or limiting the amount of players that can be in the neutral zone. However, hockey should keep the red line because it was intended to create more offence. Maurice "The Rocket" Richard used it to his advantage become the game's first 50 goal scorer. It also encourages more passing that was certainly an important part of Wayne Gretzky's game.

Besides the trapping hockey's black eye came from Todd Bertuzzi's cheap shot. Only four years after Marty McSorley's infamous slash this was not how the NHL wanted to market one of the game's biggest superstars. The incident gave the NHL the media coverage it wanted, except it was all negative. Hockey is the fastest game on Earth and needs to encourage more finesse and less dirty plays. The NHL missed an enormous opportunity to come down hard a second-time offender who probably ended Steve Moore's career. No NHL player has ever, been banned for life or received a full season suspension. Earlier in the season, Don Cherry ridiculed hockey Canada for telling hockey parents to come down. Hockey Night in Canada needs to dump Cherry for his out of date views. In addition, it was inexcusable that he defended Patrick O'Sullivan's dad for beating him, by stating that it made him a better hockey player.

After, the collapse of communism no other sport changed more. With the flood of European players that arrived, the NHL has failed to seize this tremendous opportunity to make the game more fan friendly. Each team's roster needs to be shorter to give the elite player's more ice-time, the instigator rule needs to be removed to protect the franchise players, and the NHL needs to react faster to new coaching methods that slow down the pace of the game. Hockey will be cool again with the upcoming work shortage that will force the league to evaluate itself, and the coming of Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin.

Related Links:

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10 Revolutionaries That Changed The Face of Hockey

Going Outside



Updated: January 10, 2011

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