This week the NHL GMs got together to compare their notes and discuss the direction of the game. NHL-mandated visors was one of the key topics. Many players say they don’t feel comfortable with the shield or that their vision is impaired by the optics and the condensation of vapor on the shield. Every player in junior hockey wears the shield. US colleges go one step further demanding players wear full-face shields or full face cages. Expect this to be grandfathered into the league sooner rather than later.
Bravo to the NHL for their new realignment and schedule and playoff system. Fans should be thrilled with the fact that every NHL team will visit HP Pavilion every season. Players should be pleased with some travel reduction.
Travel is a fact of life for players in the NHL. But make no mistake NHL travel is nothing like vacation travel. Teams fly on charter jets, with AC power, internet, video and mounds of food. Upon landing in a enemy city there is a bus parked on the tarmac. Players walk down the plane steps straight to the bus. The bus takes the team to the front door of a not-too-shabby hotel. In the lobby room keys are laid out in alphabetical order. Next to the keys are fresh fruit, power/granola bars and sport drink. Something new this season…each player gets his own room. In the past it was only the goalies and well-seasoned veterans who got their own room. Part of the new CBA changed that.
Where in the arena is your favorite place to buy tickets? I like to be at the blueline first row of the upper bowl. I love the space in front of me…close enough to ‘feel’ the game and high enough to see the tactics. I’ve sat in row one by the glass a few times, but I didn’t like it. It’s great to see the guys crashing and banging but not so good to see the game. Veteran scouts like to sit high in the corner section of the lower bowl. Reason? The game is in front of them and they don’t need to move their head to watch the game and their prospects.
Years ago I was told of a story where hall-of-fame coach Scotty Bowman wanted to cracking down on his team missing curfew. He made it clear to his players that they needed to be in their room by midnight. One night Scotty went to the bellman at the hotel and asked him to have any player that returned after midnight sign a hockey stick that Bowman provided. Needless to say the next morning he had evidence pointing directly to the guilty parties.
Answer this for me. Why does the NHL give points to teams that lose the game? Teams losing in overtime or in the shootout are given one point in the standings. C’mon man…this is pro sports not your neighborhood little league team. I say make 2 points or nothing. To heck with making everyone feel good about themselves.
Sometimes it’s the little things in hockey that give me satisfaction. One of those are when the game really gets in a flow. End to end action without a whistle for several minutes. It’s special when the game provides long stretches action with both teams changing on the fly. I remember one night in Dallas…must have been around 2002 where we went without a whistle for over 12 minutes. The crowd roared after about eight minutes sensing they were seeing something special.
The NHL schedule is already hitting the home stretch. Every game is so important in this shortened season. The playoff race in the west could go into the final weekend of the season. I find myself watching and pulling for the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Jackets have gone 7-0-3 in their last 10 games and are just 2 points out of a playoff spot. The poor fans of Columbus deserve to see some success.
Just 2 games left in this 5 game trip. The Wild now lead the Northwest Division and are starting to hit on all cylinders. Should be fun to see former Sharks Devin Setoguchi, Dany Heatley, Torrey Mitchell and prospect Charlie Coyle. The trip ends Monday night in Anaheim. The Ducks are on fire, especially at home. The Sharks would love nothing more that knocking the Ducks down a peg or two.