Thursday, August 04, 2005

The NHL (New Hockey League)

One thing is certain: this brand new 2005-2006 NHL season and the following Stanley Cup could be up for grabs by anyone starting October 5th. I would consider myself an avid hockey fan and I'd like to think I know a respectable amount about each team and who some of their key players are. Some of the classic player team associations, Pronger-Blues, Hatcher-Wings, Forsberg-Avs, Peca-Islanders, are no longer in effect as the salary cap forces teams to part ways with their big money superstars. On top of the new rules, this might be one year where it would be worth getting the latest version of NHL for console/PC.

Growing up as a kid, I was always a big fan of the Habs. A large part of this was due to the influence of my dad who was and still is a big Canadiens fan. However, for the past 10 years I've been a huge fan of the Colorado Avalanche. I believe my allegiance shifted over to Colorado for a number of reasons. One was the huge Patrick Roy trade back in 1995. I was always a Roy fan and I figured any team he went to was okay in my books. The other big factor was the opportunity I had to go to Denver at around '95/'96 to visit my Aunt and Uncle who were living there at the time. I got my first Avs t-shirt and my uncle bought me a hat. I was quite happy to have an Avs hat that was actually from Colorado.

The biggest reason that I never became a Flames fan was that they sucked. Sure, they had the glory days with Fleury, MacInnis, Otto, Nieuwendyk, and Vernon...but those were long gone by the time I started following hockey. Nobody wants to cheer for a team that doesn't win. I like cheering for the underdog but when you're close to the bottom of your division, there's really no point. If the team doesn't make the playoffs when like 2/3 of the teams made it back then, then it's pretty pathetic. It's like the post Ken Griffey Jr. Mariners for baseball right now...except even they have Ichiro. Back then the Flames had nobody.

Then came the great playoff run of 2004. Suddenly everyone in Calgary was a Flames fan and I have to admit even I got caught up in the craziness. Although my reasons were at least semi-hockey related, my guess is that 70% of the people on the red mile were there for good times, getting drunk, and hoping to catch a glimpse of some topless, intoxicated girls. The Flames had transformed themselves into a team worth watching; they were a hardworking team that played a fast paced, physical game that was interesting to watch. None of this lame turnover hockey that the Devils perfected with a oscillation of dump ins/turnovers and icings.

Which brings me to the point of this entire blog entry: how hockey (especially in the Northwest Division) is going to be awesome this year...

Reason #1: $39,000,000.00

Everyone is on the same playing field now. This definitely benefits the lower budget Canadian teams, many of whom even have room to grow under the new CBA agreement. In conjunction with this, the talent base has already been spread out tremendously over the 30 teams. It will be interesting to see who can come up with the perfect mix of skill and depth.

Reason #2: Offense Offense Offense

With 2 line passes gone, less goalie puck handling, crack-down on obstruction penalties, and smaller goalie pads, we're bound to see some football-esque scores; well, maybe not that high. Defensemen and goalies have their work cut out for them. It's going to be awesome watching players like Forsberg and Iginla, who were already able to fight through the checks, work their offensive magic.

On the same note, teams like the Canucks, Avs, Flames, and Lightning are going to find their style of hockey grow to become even more effective.

Reason #3: No more ties

Ties are lame. Nothing is as unsatisfying as watching a close game end without a winner/loser. Can you imagine ties in boxing or in the olympics? "I'm sorry but you're going to have to share that heavyweight title...it's a tie." Ties are meant for elementary school when you don't want to hurt the feelings of the children on the losing team.

Some will win, some will lose
Some were born to sing the blues...

Besides, everyone loves shootouts; but not for playoff hockey. Sudden death is paramount for playoff hockey and I'm glad they kept those rules the same.


After all this trade madness has settled down, I'm going to do an in depth analysis of the Northwest Division. I was very sad to see Foote and Forsberg go to Columbus and Philadelphia respectively. However, I just heard that the Avs got Pierre Turgeon and Patrice Brisebois. They aren't as good as Foote/Forsberg but there's no way the Avs could hope to replace them under the salary constraints. They're two of the best players at what they do in the league...

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1 Comments:

Blogger threeup said...

Yes, I wish the rules changes happened two years ago. The Flames wouldn't be able to handle the likes of Colorado and even Vancouver. Funny thing is that Detroit would probably been even worse. As it is I'm still a bit baffled with the last NHL playoffs.

I dont know if really like the shootout, i might have rather seen like 3 on 3 or something that resembles normal hockey. Maybe take the goalies out? That would be a wild scramble for possession.

But the obstruction should be the big one, I hope they get that right.

5:15 PM  

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