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Keenan wants red line back in

Wednesday, 02.09.2011 / 9:15 PM

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer / Gretzky in Vegas

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Gretzky in Vegas
Keenan wants red line back in
LAS VEGAS -- Dellapina has a point. I shouldn't expound on another man's strengths and weaknesses when I don't even have my skates with me. Then again, isn't that my job? Am I not paid to analyze and write what experts like Walter Gretzky tell me.

My job isn't to pretend I'm a hockey player.

Anyhow, in other news from my conversation earlier today with Mike Keenan, the ex-coach of eight NHL franchises told me he'd like to see the NHL bring the red line back.

What's that you say about the red line?

Gasp!

Yeah, I said it, too. I am perfectly fond of the game as it is today with how fast guys go through the neutral zone, but Iron Mike said that he'd prefer seeing guys have to think their way into the offensive zone rather than whip the puck in over two lines and immediately go on the forecheck.

I would think it's safe to say that Keenan is in the minority in this debate and the NHL doesn't have any plans to reinstitute the red line, but when a guy with a Stanley Cup ring who has coached in the League for three decades talks about the game as it's played today you tend to listen.

I did.

Here's what Keenan had to say:

"You don't have to be a skilled thinker to bring the puck out of your own zone. You don't have to be a skilled thinker in the neutral," Keenan said. "It's because of the red line. When they took the red line out, and Chicago did this last year and won the Cup, they whip the puck as hard as you can to a post-up man at the far blue line, he tips it in and now you're on the forecheck. See, I played Division I hockey and Cornell was winning the championships because they played like that. I absolutely hated the game because I played defense and you were backpedaling already to retrieve the puck. There was no thinking. The game was perceived to be faster because the puck went from end to end faster, but the thinking was not as acute as it had to be when there was a red line.

"I want thinkers. I think the game is a lot more fascinating to watch with the red line. They say the coaches devised all these systems to clog the neutral zone up, but you watch now, they play a 1-2-2 and the defensemen have to play from the far blue line to that end as opposed to the red line to that end.

"I like the athleticism of the people participating. I like the skill set. I've coached in the league for three decades and there is a lot of perspective. Some people are saying the game is a lot faster. In some ways it is, but in the design of the rules in a lot of ways you don't have to think as much."

Disagree if you want, but he's not changing his opinion.

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