Thursday, March 31, 2005
Necessity is the mother of invention - yet again.
Just as with politics, or anything else for that matter, change often doesn't happen until events force change to happen. This is certainly true for the NHL, which is finally addressing the possibility of substantive rule changes to make the game watchable again.
Damien Cox of the Toronto Star, who is usually whining about something, writes a good piece this time about the amount of net shooters have to aim at to score goals. Since equipment has turned goalies into a bunch of Demolition Men, Cox argues the nets should simply be made larger. This would restore the natural balance between skaters and goalies, which has been skewed for the better part of the past decade.
Cox makes a compelling argument about the necessity of changing the nets, as opposed to changing the ice surface. Changing the nets means defenders will be forced to cover players farther away from the goal crease, which means more room will be created for players where it counts: in prime scoring locations. Changing the ice surface means you'll only have more room on the outside, which doesn't matter a whole lot anyhow.
And as long as I'm in Damien Cox admiration mode at the present moment, which I hate to admit, I have been in agreement with him over his two basic suggestions for changing the game: increasing the size of the nets, and taking one skater from each team off the ice, making it four-on-four as a matter of routine, instead of just overtime.
The other basic suggestion bouncing around the hockey world is to decrease significantly the size of the goalie equipment, which would address the size of the nets problem as well. Smaller equipment means more net to shoot at. It also means goalie equipment would be reduced to the function originally intended for it: protecting goalies instead of stopping pucks.
My only problem with this one is that of practicality. It is far easier to regulate the size of the nets than it is to regulate the size of goalie equipment. It is virtually impossible to cheat with the former. Not so with the latter. But I would have absolutely no problem with both: making the nets bigger and addressing goalie equipment. I just think the nets should be farther up on the list of proposed changes.
If this is the time to tinker, let's really tinker. Don't listen to people who think the game is fine. I love the game. If I didn't think there was a problem, the thought of ever writing about it would never have crossed my mind. As is, I could produce a whole volume of work. The game stinks right now. I'm not the only one who thinks that. There is a crying population of hockey fans out there who thinks the same. Too bad it takes a tragic lockout for the guardians of the game to finally listen to us. Necessity has a way of doing that, doesn't it?