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Ulmer: How About 58 Minute Hockey Games?

by Mike Ulmer / Toronto Maple Leafs
Just a thought.

How about 58 minute hockey games?

I mean, 48-minute games work in the NBA.

Why do you have to play 60 minutes anyway?  It’s not like Moses came down from the mountain with 60-minute games written on a tablet.

60-minute games are stale, passé, boring. You want to know when three 20-minute periods came into vogue. The answer is 1910.

If you go back in time (which you can’t since you don’t have a time machine) but if you look up 1910 you will find little good from that darkest of years.

The first Zeppelin took flight in 1910. That would end with the catastrophic crash and fire of the Hindenburg and, much later, a reunion concert of deaf rock musicians.

Sweden performed its last execution in 1910. They used a guillotine. Now you know why they stopped.

Clyde Barrow, the boy side of Bonnie and Clyde, was born in 1910. Mark Twain died in 1910. Not a good trade.

The only good thing that came out of the whole blasted year was John Lardner’s inspired lead about the murder of boxer Stanley Ketchel…

“Stanley Ketchel was shot in the back by the common law husband of the woman who was cooking him breakfast.”

The best headline of all time, by the way, appeared a few years back in the Chicago Tribune. It was a story about Angels’ pitching prospect Trevor Bell whose grandfather was Bozo the Clown. “Prospect,” the Trib noted dryly, “has big shoes to fill.”

But I digress.

If we cannot legislate 58 minutes for the exclusive benefit of the Maple Leafs, perhaps a moratorium on exploding sticks is in order. Pavel Kubina’s exploding one-piece cost the Leafs a badly-needed point, Thursday, in a 2-1 loss in Tampa.

The numbers say players prefer one-piece sticks. Only a handful of players use wood models league-wide. No Leafs use wood and that includes slew-footed defenceman Hal Gill. Even the players who rarely score say the lightness of the stick makes it ideal in traffic.

But Senators’ sharpshooter Jason Spezza uses a wood stick and he has more points than any Leaf. Clearly, it isn’t working for everyone.  If I am Jason Blake, Darcy Tucker, John Pohl, Kyle Wellwood or Chad Kilger, I’m rethinking my choice of hardware right now.

How many scoring chances are lost when the stick explodes, as it did in Kubina’s hands? One-piece sticks blow up far more often than the wooden variety, some players go through several a game.

Someone has got to fix this. Either the league mandates wood sticks, which isn’t going to happen, or at the very least, players should keep wood sticks for late in the game when they need to be sure their sticks aren’t going up like dirigibles.
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