It All Comes Back To The Simpsons

Sunday, October 16, 2005

"Knock Him Down!...Go For The Face!...Ralph Wiggum Lost His Shin Guard! Hack The Bone! Hack The Bone!!!"

I'm sure this post will interest none of my regular visitors, except perhaps Shamus, but it's my blog, I can bore if I want to. Hockey is back!!! and while I was excited at its' return, I was also a little hesitant to fully embrace it, not because I am some fair-weather fan still miffed at the NHL lock-out, but because of the rule changes that accompanied the return to the rink.

I am what you would call an Old School hockey fan; the kind for whom a 2-1 game can be as exciting as a 7-5 one (and the kind who thinks that if you can't play hockey outside during the winter, your city has no business having an NHL franchise...seriously, is it a coincidence that we lost an entire season right after a team from Florida, of all places, won the Stanley Cup?). Most of the rule changes focus on making hockey more offense-oriented, such as doing away with the two-line-pass rule, keeping the goalie in net instead of letting him roam when he wants to, thereby not letting him clear the puck out of the zone...stuff like that.

Now that the season is a couple weeks old, I feel a little better about the rule changes. Teams that are built around solid defense and goaltending, like my Wild (love the team, cool looking sweaters, but dumbest name in sports history) are still able to compete, still able to hold their opponents to under 3 goals most of the time. I was, being Old School, not sure about the elimination of ties, but now that I've had some time to get used to it I think it's a good idea, at least you still get a point for losing in overtime. I wonder, though, how the rule changes might affect the record books; with more and more higher scoring games, will scoring records be that much easier to eclipse? Will names like Gretsky and Orr be erased from the books by long-careered players who are merely better than average?

I am still a little concerned about hockey, or the NHL at any rate, as an institution, as we still have the same problem of ownership, namely that many of the owners these days are more interested in hockey as an investment to add to their portfolio than in the game itself. What was once a gritty sport of the commoners has slowly been handed off to slick power brokers, more interested in profit margins than in throwing squids on the ice, who've jacked the price of souvenier hats so high that I fear we're past the point where one could carelessly flip them onto the ice after someone scores three goals.

Hopefully hockey will recover from it's lost season, and can stay true to it's roots and be successful. Do I believe in miracles? Yes!

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