Sitting back, since the ugly demise of the Canadiens last Wednesday against the Bruins, I found myself fuming about the fact that this team simply has no tough aggressive type players that can hit and fight as well as find the back of the net! I was ready to come out here and lambaste Bob Gainey and Pierre Gauthier and the entire organization for failure to see what we all know is the key to success in the NHL.
It was a few days later that I started to calm down, and look at the situation with a little more perspective, and I came to the conclusion that for all intensive purposes this is NOT the fault of the Canadiens rather the fault of the NHL. After the lockout in 2005, Gary Bettman had announced the plethora of changes that were going to take place in the “new NHL” The most poignant being that the game was going to be all about Skill and speed and much less about aggression and toughness! And it would appear that the Canadiens had structured the organzation’s drafting and aqusition philosophy around that style of play to evolve to the up-coming changes that were to be implemented in the “new NHL”!
Well, here we are 5 years later, and yes there has been some improvements where the speed and skill really affect the result of the game, especially in the regular season, but come playoff time it’s a completely different story. The changes have done a great job of creating serious parity in the league, by implementing the point for a loss and the shootout for the extra point the NHL has managed to get people out of their seats for the end of the game, as well as making the fight for the playoffs very entertaining down the wire. Where the problem lies, is once the playoffs begin.
Come playoff time, the refs seem to turn a blind eye to the calls that are supposed to be the ones that keep the ebb and flow of the game all about speed and skill! The hooking and interference calls more specifically are all but forgotten, excuse me, but is this NOT the time that you wanted the players TALENT to be what shines on the ice? Knowing that there is a huge difference come playoff time is what has made teams like Philly and Boston keep the same “bruiser” mentality, simply because they didn’t alter their teams in accordance to what the NHL said the changes would be. It’s such a joke the Paul Holmgren (GM of the Flyers) publicly said that the NHL will NEVER enforce the rules, and I’ve built my team around that philosophy! I’m sorry but that combined with the fact that the flyers went to the Stanley cup final last year, and are in first place this year, is the ULTIMATE slap in the face to the NHL, and teams like the Canadiens that have moved forward in a different direction, the direction that was dictated by Little napoleon himself, Gary Bettman!
So here we are 5 years later, and it would seem that the NHL is now worse than ever before, there are more dirty blind sided head shots and concussions than ever before, the game is becoming more and more one of aggression and violence. Why you may ask? The answer is simple, it’s what GB believes will sell the game in the U.S. And unfortunately he may be right, considering the mindless knuckle dragging idiots in Philly and Boston, need to be entertained by fights on the jumbotron before the game and between periods, just to keep them from seeking out someone in the stands that they can pour beer on because they may be rooting for the other team. Is a prime example of the fact that TRUE HOCKEY, (unlike Baseball, football, fighting and aggressive behavior) is just not part of American culture, and attempting to change the game in order for it to be successful is WRONG and Harmful to OUR sport.
As long as the mandate is to expand in the U.S and “bend” to what Gary Bettman believes will be appealing to the American audience, expect the beauty of what all that hockey is to slowly but surely become a thing of the past. And as long as teams like the Canadiens continue to build around the “dream” that the commissioner had sold them 5 years ago, teams like Philly and Boston will continue to have success, Hell , you may even see a cup in Toronto in the near future… NAH!
Check out all the action in the wild second period between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens, with plenty of goals and fights. NHL Video February 9 2011
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The New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins all-out brawl. NHL Video February 11 2011