Gone are the days of clutch and grab hockey and thank goodness for that, but smash-mouth hockey also appears to be gone forever.
Prior to the most recent work stoppage in the NHL, players were water skiing and hacking their way across the ice, a truly frustrating game for the players and fans. During the lockout, the NHL stepped in and gave its referees a mandate to clean things up.
What ensued post-lockout was a wide open, free-flowing game, prompting the NHL to pat itself on the back for rectifying a style of play it deemed detrimental to the evolution of the sport.
Don't get ahead of yourself Gary.
Last season was bad and this season is just as unimpressive as the men in stripes are dictating the results with quick whistles and poor judgement.
The Montreal Canadiens took 11 consecutive penalties in a game against Carolina recently. Carolina had ONE. At least 10 of Montreal's penalties were merited, but the Hurricanes were certainly guilty on more than the one occasion.
That's just one example of the lack of balance that exists these days. It happens far too often and the fans are the ones who suffer.
The flow of a game is severely affected when the majority of a 60-minute hockey game is spent on power plays. It's hard to fathom that the NHL is pleased with the current brand of hockey being played, especially when a number of markets (i.e. Phoenix) are having trouble keeping the casual fan interested.
The Vancouver Canucks are averaging about 20 penalty minutes per game this year. Luckily they're in a voracious hockey market and the fans can see past the fragmented play.
Every true fan wants to see quick skating and adept playmaking, but the over-application of the rules has created a league where contact is rare and gaining body position on your opponent is a tricky task because any errant stick or misplaced hip can result in questionable hooking or interference calls.
The experiment is over and if the league wants to progress in the right direction, it needs to tell the refs to back off and let the players do their jobs.
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