Archives for category: Problem

To be a goaltender in the National Hockey League is tough.

One must have not only the physical abilities, quickness, lateral movement, reflexes, conditioning to withstand playing upwards of 70-games a season, but also the mental capacity to withstand playing the only position in hockey that is individual. When a team wins it’s a team win, most of the time, but when a team loses it’s the goaltenders fault.

The worst part of a goaltenders job is the traffic he has to battle through to make saves. How would you like it if you had someone like Detroit’s Tomas Holmstrom parking his backend in your face, and you had to fight through that to make a save? How about Dustin Byfuglien?

There is no doubt that goaltenders have the toughest job in hockey. However, I have a problem with them.

Goaltenders expect to be protected to the max, they’re like quarterbacks in football, lay of finger on them and expect to get a penalty. Yet, goaltenders stand in their crease and hack at the players standing in front of the net.

Steve Downie was hacked in the back of the legs by Penguins goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury in a game earlier this month. Downie responded by turning around and giving Fleury a cross-check. Downie was then given a shot by a Penguins defenceman for touching the goalie. If that had been a defencman who had originally slashed Downie there wouldn’t have been a problem, the two might have dropped the gloves and settled their differences, but since a goalie slashed him, Downie is seen as a bad guy for retaliating. Why though? Fleury should be seen like every other player on the ice is. If he doesn’t want to be touched then don’t slash the player, who wasn’t in the crease, in the back of the legs. Downie had every right to turn around and give Fleury a little shot back.

Another example of this is from last seasons Stanley Cup Final, when Tim Thomas body checked Daniel Sedin. Thomas was credited with making a smart play, but if Sedin can’t hit him, why should Thomas be allowed to contact and hit Sedin.

Another problem I have with goaltenders is how much they complain about getting bumped when they come outside their crease.

Now, I’m not talking about what Milan Lucic did to Ryan Miller, that play should’ve resulted in a suspension for Lucic. What I’m talking about is when a goalie comes out to challenge a shot, but comes a foot-and-a-half outside his crease to do it. A player has every right to screen the goalie, as long as he isn’t in the crease, and has just as much right to that ice as a goalie does. Why does the goaltender automatically get the right to that ice if he comes out to challenge the shot. If the player is already standing there screening, why should he be given a penalty for goalie interference, if the goaltender makes contact with him.

Finally, the last, and biggest problem I have with goaltenders is how much they flop, and how they are credited for being crafty and smart for drawing penalties when they flop.

A prime example of this happened this past weekend in the Penguins Senators game. Senators goalie Ben Bishop maybe had his skate brushed be Matt Cooke’s skate, and I mean the steel might have just barely brushed, but Cooke received a penalty.

Now, on that play, Cooke probably got a penalty for being Matt Cooke, even though he’s cleaned up his act considerably this season, only 34 PIMS this season, but he received a penalty for the most part because of the acting job Bishop did.

Bishop went down like he had just be shot, arms flying, head snapping back, and when a goaltender who is 6′ 7″ falls down like he’s been shot, a referee is going to notice that.

That is the part that bothers me the most, Bishop was applauded by the CBC’s Greg Millen as being clever for drawing the penalty on the play. Millen is a former NHL goalie, by the way.

Why should Bishop be applauded though. If he had been someone like Max Lapierre, or Alex Burrows, of the Vancouver Canucks, who flopped they would’ve been roasted by all forms of media, but because a goalie did it to draw a penalty, it’s a smart play. I just don’t understand.

In my opinion, the worst offender in the goalie profession is Tampa’s Dwayne Roloson. He complains the most and flops the most, yet is rarely called out on it, but rather applauded for being a crafty veteran for his ability to draw a penalty.

The NHL needs to start giving these goalies diving penalties for flopping all over the ice, and the referees need to talk with the goalies and tell them to lay off the hacking and stick work with guys standing in front of their net, and if they don’t, then maybe the goalies can come to expect a few more hacks and slashes on their gloves after the whistle go uncalled.

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The National Hockey League held it’s annual all-star festivities over this past weekend in Ottawa with Team Alfredsson winning the skills competition and Team Chara winning the game 12-9. While the fans were able to witness the amazing skills of this year’s stars, Zdeno Chara’s 108.8 miles-per-hour blast in the hardest shot competition anyone, there can’t be any denying that as usual there was something missing from the festivities.

Of course I’m talking about the complete lack of defence, competitiveness and resemblance to an actual NHL game. Although this is to be expected, teams and the players themselves don’t want to see anyone participating get hurt, to market this game as an exhibition of the best of the best the NHL can offer is a sham.

First off, let me point out that I do enjoy the concept of the all-star weekend. The players, for the most part, let their guards down when it comes to the media, and are very candid and open when speaking to the media. I mean when else are hockey fans watching a game at home going to get the opportunity to have players, Scott Hartnell, Joffery Lupel and Daniel Alfredsson, to name a few, mic’d up and speaking with announcers during the game. And although the skills competition can run a bit long, who doesn’t want to see Shea Weber and Chara tee up their booming shots. All-star weekend gives the fans the chance to get up-close and personal with the players, and that is something that the league does great. As well, the all-star game is a fantastic way for the older players, such as Gordie Howe in 1980, playing for Hartford as a 52-year-old, returning to Detroit as an all-star, to have a last memorable moment in their NHL careers.

My problem with the entire weekend lies with the game itself.

The all-star game is glorified shinny and unbearable to watch. I mean at what point do the goaltenders say to themselves, “screw this, let these guys play six-on-six.” The number of times I heard the goal horn on Sunday is enough to make me cringe, whenever I watch a Ottawa Senators home game now. The NHL needs to come up with creative ideas to make the game itself a little more appealing, and frankly, watchable.

Here are a few examples of changes that might spice the game up.

Firstly, play the game for a charitable cause. In the early days of the NHL, a number of benefit and memorial games were played in honour of players. Perhaps the most memorable of these games was the Ace Bailey Benefit Game, played on February 14, 1934, to help raise money for Toronto Maple Leafs player Ace Bailey after he was felled by a vicious check by Boston Bruin defenseman Eddie Shore. Bailey, who was nearly killed by the hit, would never play hockey again, but the game raised $20,909.40 for Bailey and his family.

The NHL could easily do something like this for it’s all-star game. Although this tweak wouldn’t make the game anymore interesting, it would be a feel good story in sports and give the NHL some very good publicity. The NHL, for example, could have given the profits made from ticket sales to the family of Jack Jablonski, a 16-year-old hockey player from Minnesota, who suffered spinal cord injuries, and is now paralyzed, after he was body checked into the boards.

Secondly, the NHL could hold the all-star game outdoors. The Winter Classic has been a very successful endeavour for the league, and the NHL could reward it’s all-stars by giving them the opportunity to play outdoors, just like they used to when they were kids. The problem with this idea is that it eliminates nearly two-thirds of the leagues teams from hosting an all-star game, but it would give the game a new sense of flair.

Thirdly, host the game in a small town. CBC has their annual Kraft Hockeyville, where a town in Canada receives upgrades to their rink and they get to host an NHL preseason game. This would be another chance for the NHL to expand the game into the smaller towns that don’t have the benefit of seeing NHL action live very often. This idea could add hype to the game itself, as a contest could be run to see what town would get to host the game.

Finally, play the game four-on-four. It’s unlikely that the game will ever resemble a regular season NHL game, so why not create more space for these ridiculously talented athletes to do what they do best, and that is wow us with their skills.