Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Beating Up On The Zebras

The latest trend when it comes to those out there in the NHL Media is to praise the game and tell about how great it is since it has come back from oblivion. That's good-- most of the columnist have a point about it and the game is a better for it. The speed is up, the goal production is up, attendance is up in markets where it needs to be up. However, that's just the media perspective of it. It seems some players, retired and active, don't like the new game and don't see why it is being so hyped up.

First, of course, you had the fiasco with Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn and Mighty Ducks coach Randy Carlyle who were fined for their comments. After that, you had the most penalized man in the NHL's history, Tiger Williams, complaining about how there are too many power plays and how he'd rather watch Pee-Wee hockey. Then finally, this past week, Steve Yzerman was on a tirade saying that this game isn't hockey and that the refs are calling too much.

At least they are all consistant on the fact that the refs are the ones causing the problems by calling so many penalties. However, you have to respect the fact that we're a quarter way into the season and they haven't really stopped calling, what some would call, ticky-tack calls. Plus, I can see the reason everyone is ganging up on the refs, but you also have to realize there is a "higher power" to this all.

When Stephen Walkom first came into power as the new Director of Officiating, it seems he went up to Gary Bettman and Bill Daly and ask what needed to be called and how it should be called. After he got that all straightened out, he relayed that information to his staff and told them they better do it the way they have it mapped out, or else. Of course, the refs, not wanting to get a bus ticket to ref the beer league in Churchill, Manitoba, have been calling it like they should be calling it in the first place.

Granted, I can see what all of the above and others are talking about. It seems that everyone is tenative when it comes to mixing it up in front of the net or along the boards. I can understand the defensemen and goalies when they say there needs to be something done about players in the front of the net, and if there needs to be some pushing and shoving it has to be in front of the net. That being said, the calls that the refs are making are ones that should be called regardless of how big or small it is.

The main goal in calling these penalties is to make the players learn that it's going to be body-on-body or stick-on-stick contact. No more stick-on-body contact, no more free arm gripping to get advantage, nothing. It's finally being called by the book and the refs are doing a fine job in making the calls they should be. The players are the ones that need to learn what is legal and illegal when it comes to the penalties. Sure, if they haven't learned by now, they won't learn, but in the converse to that; they shouldn't be able to bitch and complain when it comes to the calls if they have figured out what they can and cannot do.

Personally, outside of a few minor things that I have seen here and there, the NHL is better off without the clutching-and-grabbing and hooking-and-holding. It makes the game faster, it shows off the talent that these world-class players have, and it shows who should be there and who shouldn't be there. The new rules is slowing become the Darwinism of the NHL and really making it interesting when a 3rd line defense pairing is out there with a 1st line supersquad of forwards. Plus, as mentioned above-- if the players haven't learned 20 games in, they deserved to be called every single time.

This has been ScottyWazz. Take care of yourself and someone else. PEACE!!

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