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October 05, 2005

Hockey Returns, With New Innovation-- Offense!

Interesting, and I don't even really like hockey:

Even the NHL hated what it had become.

Tonight, as the world's premiere hockey league limps back on to centre stage after 16 months of painful exile, it believes it has healed itself.

The NHL returns armed with bold promises of an attractive, open and very ambitious new version of the game that should create more scoring and fan excitement. There'll be less hooking, tugging and mugging of players, (or more penalties for doing it) giving the creative among them a chance to shine.


In the league that your parents and grandparents watched, a player carrying the puck with speed was a dangerous opponent, for unless you could knock him down with a bodycheck or otherwise shield him away from the net he was in an advantageous position.

Beginning in the 1970s, however, a curious little trick began to weasel its way into the game.

The hook, using the blade of the stick to tug at an opponent's arms and body as he attempted to control the puck, had always been on the books as a foul to be penalized, but teams and players began to understand that not all hooks were penalized, and that in fact it was a useful and very coachable defensive technique.


Forget exciting, offence-first squads with 400-plus goals. The last season played before the lockout saw Detroit lead the league with 269 goals, a total that would have put the Wings dead last in NHL offence 20 years earlier.


That the NHL has now voiced an intention to remove hooking and its bastard offspring from its game is nothing short of revolutionary.

The exhibition season has featured an unprecedented crackdown on fouls on those carrying the puck, forcing defenders to either quicken their pace or make that long, lonely skate to the penalty box.

The game is being returned to its essence, speed and skill interrupted by violent collisions. Hockey with scoring and hitting, not grabbing and hooking.

The NFL, I think, made some smart moves recently. We'll see if the NHL can right itself as well.

And by "we," I mean people besides me. I'm not watching a bunch of retards skate around and swat a puck, no matter how many goals there are.

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posted by Ace at 11:28 AM

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