I could go off on head shots, like the one that has left Crosby out of play since the game after the Winter Classic with concussion-like symptoms, but honestly, why beat a dead horse. Hitting is part of hockey, just like fighting, and I hope it remains that way.
The game of hockey is not played by men or athletes, it is a game played by gladiators with swords and skill. They are beings that can endure punishment and give it right back; they can battle hurt and overcome adversity unlike any real human being. So trying to fix injuries in a game like this is impossible, even superstars get hurt. There really is only one simple fix to returning the game of hockey to a game that can be injury policed and you all know what it is; get rid of the instigator rule and the days of protecting superstars can return. It will also increase the number of fights we see and that’s something the fans love – there is nothing like watching a good donnybrook.
To quote NHL great and hockey broadcaster Bill Clement; “more people come to watch the fights than stay away because of them.” So, like it or not, the only solution is to lose the instigator rule. If you don’t like fighting then I suggest that you start watching sports like soccer or basketball – basketball can be viewed on campus at the EAC and next year Vancouver will have an MLS team. I certainly won’t be going into the new BC Place stadium expecting to see any fights; I would go to watch a scoreless draw of sorts with a hand shake at the end.
While we are on handshakes, it was great to see the Winter Classic did not feature one for the first time this year. This is an annual epic event, but when it all breaks down, there are two points on the line, and, after that late hit on Crosby and all the rough stuff at the end, it was nice to see them go off as rivals fighting for their division, instead of shaking hands. Handshakes are for the playoffs. I hope the same thing happens at the Heritage Classic.
TV timeouts are another thing I would like to touch on after Grapes brought up a very good point on Coaches Corner last week. Since the television timeout was introduced, the fourth line players have seen a significant decrease in their ice time because the top three lines get to rest during these timeouts. This can be looked at two ways: one, it gives the fans an opportunity to see the NHL’s premium players more and for the coaches to have them ready for action; two, it leaves the lesser skilled players on the bench longer and gives them only 4-9 minutes of ice time. Don Cherry described it as caging a junkyard dog for the majority of the game and them turning them loose when needed. In the old days of Dave “The Hammer” Schultz, fighters and fourth liners were known to get 20 goals the odd time and maintain a regular shift. Is it time for the NHL to get rid of the television timeouts? Of course not, the NHL needs to generate some sort of advertising revenue from the game. Again, there is a solution; they could reduce the number of television timeouts and charge more for the add space, but television timeouts need to stay in the game in order for the revenue to keep coming in and for the league to continue stay out of the red zone, revenue wise.
To end this week’s Locker Room, let’s get some rumours circulating. With all the turmoil going on in the Calgary Flames organization, with it becoming more likely that they will miss the playoffs again this year, it appears that they are going to deal their franchise player Jerome Iginla for some draft picks and young blood to begin their rebuild process. Some of the teams that are in the running for the aging superstar are the Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins, and the Montreal Canadiens. All of these teams have a lot of draft picks and young assets that they could offer the failing Calgary Flames in exchange for their aging captain. Jerome Iginla also has a “no trade” clause in his contract so it may be difficult for both the Flames and Iginla to come to an agreement of where he may go, but it is very likely that he will be moved after the Heritage Classic and before the trade deadline.