Four-on-four hockey is the answer
By Rob Vanstone, The Leader-Post
May 15, 2012
- The National Hockey League's shot-blocking mania underlines the best and worst aspects of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The players' dedication is demonstrated by their willingness to flop in front of shots that are travelling 100 miles per hour, assuming considerable risk to their personal safety in the process. However, this practice is injurious to the game as a whole, being that the shot-blocking is yet another impediment to offence.
- The NHL has never been so robotic. Creativity is being extracted from what should be a free-flowing game. The most skilled players in the sport are all too frequently reduced to automatons who "get pucks deep'' (the next player or coach to utter those three words should be banished to the Industrial League), cycle, cycle, cycle, manage the puck, chip and chase, and block shots. The New York Rangers/Washington Capitals slog-fest accentuated everything that is wrong with the NHL.
- Monday's game, in which the Rangers blanked the New Jersey Devils 3-0, wasn't exactly a thriller, either. At one point, I turned to Channel 7 and watched the city council meeting.
- Ultimately, the only remedy is for teams to play four skaters aside. As it stands, the ice is hopelessly congested. The NHL and other leagues can tinker all they want, but hockey will not come close to maximizing its potential until on-ice traffic is reduced.
- Rangers head coach John Tortorella - he of the truncated post-game media conferences and accustomed condescension toward reporters - has become an embarrassment to the NHL. Someone as intelligent as Tortorella should grasp the notion that the media is a conduit to the fans - the people who pay exorbitant prices for tickets, concessions, jerseys, etc. He is, in effect, treating every-one who follows the Rangers and the NHL with disdain. The league office responds by yawning.
- For the record, Tortorella's media session after Monday's morning skate lasted one minute 35 seconds.
- While NHL teams go out of their way to negate skill - as evidenced by the Capitals' de-emphasis of Alex Ovechkin - the star system is very much in effect in the NBA. For confirmation, watch the Miami Heat and marvel at the amazing show that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade invariably produce.
- That said, I may have been watching too much basketball. I saw a story on receiver Dwayne Jarrett, whose signing was announced by the Saskatchewan Roughriders last week, and thought that his first name was a typo.
- Every time the Roughriders' uniforms are altered, it is not for the better. Nothing will top the classic greenand-white garb of the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s.
- Members of the Edmonton Oil Kings' organization should take a bow after capturing the 2012 WHL cham-pionship. That includes Regina-based Oil Kings scout Shawn Stieb.
- Has anything meaningful ever been said during a between-periods interview?
- One highlight from a two-week vacation in New York: No hockey panels!
- Sportsnet magazine is always an outstanding read. The latest issue, in particular, is a gem. The feature on former NHL goalie Clint Malarchuk and his battle with depression is engrossing from beginning to end.
- It is refreshing to see that Canadian quarterbacks Kyle Quinlan (from the McMaster Marauders) and Kyle Graves (Acadia Axemen) have signed with the Montreal Alouettes. The presence of homebrew pivot Brad Sinopoli on the Calgary Stampeders' roster for the entire 2011 season is also an encouraging sign. Now the CFL must go one step further by ashcanning a rule that effectively discriminates against Canadian signal-callers. The league's roster provisions allow for three quarterbacks, regardless of nationality, so the scales are tilted in favour of imports. Sinopoli's presence on an active roster was a notable exception. Teams such as Calgary should be rewarded ratio-wise if they dress a quarterback who hails from our home and native land, thereby freeing up an American spot elsewhere on the 42-man roster.
- John Leake, who meticulously investigated the tragic disappearance and death of former Saskatoon Blades defenceman Duncan MacPherson, has been honoured for his fine work. "Cold a Long Time: An Alpine Mystery'' recently won a bronze medal in the true crime category of the Independent Publisher Book Awards.
- Nice people who deserve a plug: Mick Panko, Clint Malarchuk, John Branch, Bruce Headlam, Aubrey Kovacs, Sinorice Moss, Taj Smith, Drew Remenda, Michael Kay, Steve Gersten, Mariano Rivera, Janice Rathgeber, the ever-personable Regina International Airport personnel and, for succumbing to a weak moment and marrying me 13 years ago today, (inhale) Chryssoula Filippakopoulos (exhale).
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