Sunday, February 06, 2005

Will they play?

With the Super Bowl over, I started thinking about hockey - NHL hockey. I've played organized hockey in one form or another 28 of my 32 years. My brother, and best friend, has played a like amount of time. I live in Hockeytown. I skated on a pond last weekend. I've been to the Hall of Fame in Toronto, where I took photos of a plaque of Rocket Richard (and my wife thought I was nutty). In grade school I had my stick busted by Alex Delvecchio in an oldtimers' game. When I was in high school, I dated the girl who went on to score the winning goal for the womens' U.S. Olmpic team to win the gold medal in Nagano. I know hockey. I love hockey.

I don't miss hockey.

It's odd. I can't fully explain it. I suppose around June, I'll be praying for Stanley Cup playoffs. The problem with the NHL is that the season means nothing, so no one misses it. Too many teams make the playoffs. Scheduling is awful. The Red Wings, one of the Original Six, play only one other original six team more than twice in a year (Chicago). I think the Wings play Nashville 28 times.

The NHL has also lost is mythic aura. Changing the conference and division names to the NBA-like east and west was a mistake. Does anyone under the age of 35 even remember the Norris division?

The instigator rule (an automatic extra penalty and 10 minute misconduct for a player who starts a fight) prevents teams from protecting star players. Ever wonder why Wayne Gretzky was hardly ever run when he played for the Oilers? Meet Dave Semenko. Take a cheap shot at Steve Yzerman and Bob Probert or Joe Kocur would track you down and pummel you. Now we have guys on 10 day contracts taking hits at the Lemieuxs and Kariyas.

Hopefully they will get the labor problem fixed and be able to play this year. They've got a huge hole to dig out of.

Come to think of it, maybe I do miss hockey...

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