by Alec Brownscombe
It seems everyone is excited about a new-look NHL. The strong and skilled players are looking forward to establishing dominance over obstruction. Players like Jagr, and Allison are certainly going to thrive with this new crackdown. If the NHL is serious about the new rules, players that use their sticks for water-skiing rather than goal-scoring will be looking for new career opportunities- at least until the playoffs start. So let’s start picking out some guys that should have some serious troubles adapting to a new NHL.
There are players drafted for their offensive talent. There are players who are drafted as positional sound, hard hitters. Then there are players drafted whose defensive game is based on using their stick to slow down their opposition. It’s this third class of player that will struggle in the new NHL.
The use of the stick for purposes other than puck handling are as old as the game. Try watching some re-runs of games from the 40’s, 50’s, or 60’s if you have difficulty remembering what “old time hockey” really was… the backhand on the goalie was always prefaced with a hook, hold, and the occasional elbow. Gordie Howe, with his concussion inducing elbows, would not have lasted long with these new rules. Neither would Jacques Laperierre, who had trouble shooting or skating, but would select the longest stick he could find in order to extend the reach of his hooking arc.
I digress. Offence is great, and once we survive 40 or 50 minutes of power-play, we can all tune in to view the last 3 minutes of the game to see who might win…is it any wonder that the basketball commish has slain the Neanderthal player rep to re-imagine a game that will emulate a no-contact charade of hoops?
I digress again. I guarantee that the following players are going to have big trouble retaining employment (well not really, just will have some issues adapting) while the stripe shirts interpret the new Bettman universe. Be entertained dammit!
- Chris Therien, Darien Hatcher, or Mike Rathje – pick one (my feet won’t move, but I remember how to swing my stick) it just ain’t gonna work anymore.
- Nik Antropov – I’ve got two knee braces. Please don’t hit me because I need a paycheque.
- Radek Bonk – Offensive moves are no problem. I can see the ice, and hit the open man. But damn I just love chopping with that stick!
- Bryan McCabe – They made me stop separating the winger’s legs with the “can opener”. Now I can’t trip, hold, or run around out of position.
- Darius Kasparaitis – Enough said.
- Marian Hossa – I could score 50 goals, or, I could re-arrange your face with the end of this Easton.
- ¾’s of Calgary’s forwards – There’s no way Detroit and Vancouver will go down again to Calgary unless Calgary forwards are allowed the 2 steamboat rule for hooking and holding.
- Mike Peca – Gritty competitor who belongs to the era where black and blue arms were the signature of the professional hockey masochist.
- Mike Keenan – Can he bring himself to even pick a player who doesn’t obstruct?
- Hal Gil – I’ll hit you once I bring you closer with this $300 composite.
Of course, this top ten could be reversed once April rolls along, and suddenly games matter. Old GM Harry in Boston has already vented over the fact that he can’t sell seats to a game that features 50 minutes of odd man play. Hockey’s on the brink of unprecedented change, as it chases soccer moms with a sanitized new image. The question is – how long will the grass root fan stick with it?