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Seeds of discontent emerging

Friday, 10.12.2007 / 2:00 PM / Ice Age

By Phil Coffey - NHL.com Sr. Editorial Director

Flyers' forward Mike Knuble feels that the
rule changes have allowed skaters to move more freely than before the lockout.
Nothing better than to kick off the mailbag with a missive from an angry fan. Tom, you have the floor.

***

I've been a hockey fanatic since 1967; however, last year I made it through 1 month and this year I made it through 2 games before turning away in disgust. Gary Bettmans's hockey is the the softest game on ice. There is more flow, continuity, and contact in curling. The league would be better served if teams alternated skating 5 on 4. The fan base, not the hollywood fareweather fans, is eroding and the NHL will either fold or end up in Europe. The kids need to be allowed to skate, pass, shoot, score, hit, and fight; that is the game in it's most basic form, in it's purest form, and Gary Bettman doesn't undersand that. It appears as if he wants to turn the best sport in the world into a form of basketball on ice, and he almost has. Yes, this is a vent for I love this game with all my heart and it has become so frustrating to watch the officals control the tempo of the game. Let them play!!!!!

-- Tom

Whew! Feel better, Tom?

I almost feel I can dust off one of my responses from last season and use it here. Harken back to the pre-lockout days when the hue and cry was that holding, hooking and the dreaded neutral-zone trap was killing – killing, dammit! – the NHL. Soooooo, changes are made, and now the whine fest has begun again.

But who cares what I say? Here is Mike Knuble’s take on things.

“Guys are not being held up,” Knuble told Wayne Fish of the Delaware County Times. “It used to be real hard to get places. Times you would come back to the bench and say; ‘Man, I just can’t get in on anybody.’

“But you very rarely feel that way now. As a forward you feel like you can skate all you want, get in on top of a defenseman as much as you can.”

He went on to say that because of the resulting hard hitting because of the lack of hooking and holding is also producing more fights.

Don’t know what else to tell you Tom.

***

Dear Phil,

I was shocked to see Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks wearing number "88" when I was watching the game with Detroit tonight. Number "88" belongs to Eric Lindros. It's customary, I thought, to retire the numbers of senior players when they retire. They're very personal and acquire an association with the player to whom they're assigned. Has this ever happened before? Shouldn't this require special permission from Eric?

-- Bonnie

Since Eric Lindros never played for the Chicago Blackhawks, he has no claim on No. 88. Also, only the numbers of the game’s great players are retired. Otherwise, we would be into triple digits by now.

***

Morning, Phil. I would just like to start by saying that you're my favorite column on NHL.com because you seem to always answer my questions. Appreciated.

A few this week.

1. We know the NBA had its fair share of problems when it was in Las Vegas, but what do you think the probability of success of an NHL franchise (new or established) would be in Sin City? A revolving door of people wouldn't make a great fan base - although many people do live there - but with millions of tourists a day, tickets might be a hot commodity. Would someplace like Seattle, Portland, Hamilton, Winnipeg, or KC be a better choice?

2. One of my favorite players is Scott Clemmensen, although I despise the Devils. He is one of the nicest players you'll ever meet. All he wants to do is play, which is why he was unhappy in NJ. However, when he did play, he showed he belonged in the NHL. Why do you think he signed on to play in goaltending-heavy Toronto, where he will be playing at the NHL level barring an injury to Toskala or Raycroft? He is more talented that some goalies out there, and would be a good presence somewhere with young goalies, like Pittsburgh, Nashville, Columbus, or Minnesota.

3. What's the deal with Tony Amonte? He's been one of my favorites since the BU/NMU 3OT game in the early 90s. I know he didn't have the seasons he probably wanted in Calgary, but is there no spot on an NHL team for him? Is he retiring, or debating his options and maybe coming back next season?

4. Might be hard to pick, but what's your favorite (or top 3) hockey moments of all-time? What's the best moment you've been live in the arena for?

-- Zach

Whew! Lots to answer there Zach. Let’s go in order.

1. I don’t think the problems the NBA experienced in Las Vegas would keep either league from considering a team there. That seemed to be a remote situation. You make a good point about a revolving fan base, just one of many things that have to be considered in deciding if a team can flourish there.

Scott Clemmensen joined the Toronto
Maple Leafs hoping to play more often,
but is currently with the AHL's Marlies.
2. On Scott Clemmensen. You can’t blame him for looking for a new home. Being Martin Brodeur’s backup is like being the Sunday editor at the Saturday Evening Post -- there isn’t a lot to do. As for picking the Leafs, it’s probably a case of the Leafs making a good offer that includes the opportunity to compete for a job with the big club. Remember, there were plenty of trade rumors revolving around Andrew Raycroft after the trade was made for Vesa Toskala.

3. Tony Amonte is one of many veterans who have yet to sign on with an NHL club. Time will tell if he comes back or calls it a career.

4. Just three? Hmmmm.

OK, in no particular order. The first round between the Penguins and Islanders in 1982 when the Penguins were on the verge of eliminating the heavily favored Islanders in the best of five series. The Isles scored late and then in overtime. Tremendously exciting game. Absolute hell for writers on deadline.

The NHL All-Star Game in 1993. Actually the whole weekend in Montreal was unforgettable. The Heroes game still is vivid in my memory because of the absolute greats. Rocket Richard, Jean Beliveau and Guy Lafleur carried the Stanley Cup on to the ice. It was awesome.

Not one game here, but the whole 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. All-star teams all over the place. NHL.com colleagues Rich Libero, Shawn Roarke and I spent about 14 hours a day at the rink and loved every minute of it. Shawn and I drove to the secondary rink in Provo and saw Canada play Germany. Not many media types made the trip, and I remember sitting about 10 feet from the ice.

***

Hi, I know I am probably 1,000th person to ask, but I am desperate, so here goes … I have been a big fan of Avs since they started in Denver, but am living in Kent, UK. Only way to see some games is NASN, which is rubbish. I have tried everything, but being from UK rules me out, is there anything I’ve missed? I know they started streaming games online, but what about UK?

-- Tom

Hi Tom. I’m told if you go to NASN’s Web site on Oct. 15, you will be able to sign up for NHL Center Ice Online, which should solve your problem.

***

Hello,

What do you think the Bruins’ chances are overall this year? How do you think they compare to last year’s squad?

-- Mike, North of Boston

Hi, Mike. Under Claude Julien, the Bruins figure to be an improved defensive team. Much rides on the shoulders of Manny Fernandez, to be sure. But that also shouldn’t surprise anyone. As for the playoffs, the Bruins face the problem plaguing a lot of teams in the East – how to shoehorn yourself into one of the top eight spots. Looking at the competition, it can be a daunting task.

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