Whiter than Rice

Friday, August 12, 2005

The "New" NHL

Before I start, I'd like to apologize if the following entry seems disorganized. When i get angry, I become disorganized.

So, the NHL is back! That'll get anybody excited right? After a year of lockout where professional hockey has completely lost its foothold in the battle for dominance between the four major sports and all the major TV networks have cancelled their contracts with the league, what could be more exciting?

WHAT? THEY'VE MADE RULE CHANGES TO OPEN UP THE GAME??? I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW PEOPLE WERE DISINTERESTED IN THE OLD "CLOSED UP" GAME OF CLOG-UP-THE-NEUTRAL-ZONE-HOCKEY!!! PEOPLE LOVE THE TRAP! I DON'T KNOW THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT! THIS WILL BE GREAT, AND WHEN THEY MEAN "RULE CHANGES", THE BY NO MEANS ARE DUMBING THE GAME DOWN FOR STUPID AMERICANS! Of course not, how could they do such a thing? I mean, the glowing puck was one of the most glorious technological breakthroughs in the history of sports broadcasting!

Without further ado, here's me being more angry:

The New CBA

The Owners got everything they wanted. So the players deprived us of a whole year of hockey just to take it up the ass. Lovely.

The salary cap, the free agency changes, whatever. Those changes were going to be made anyway. How they managed to accept a league wide 24% PAY CUT ACROSS THE BOARD is beyond me.

And even though the owners got almost everything they wanted, did they learn anything? Do they now know not to overspend on high-priced mid-tier free agents and then bitch about burgeoning losses?

Yeah that and a dollar will buy me a cup of coffee.

Mike Rathje 3.5 mil/yr for 5 years
Adrian Aucoin 4 mil/yr for 4 years
Marek Malik 2.5 mil/yr for 3 years

I gotta qualify the next part of my little rant with the fact that the first 2 guys are actually pretty good defenseman. Nothing special, but excellent guys to have around. They're all around the age of 30, and they've all established themselves as solid NHLers.

So what do the owners do?

Give the lot of aging veteran defenseman large contracts that run up until the Obama administration. This is smart, give a #3 veteran defenseman Rathje a 3.5 mil/yr contract, and then pay him that amount when he's 36, by which time most of his speed and strength will have disappeared, not to mention the War on Terror will have liberated Iran, North Korea, and possibly Sweden.

Also, despite the presence of a salary cap, there's been no actual new SOURCES OF REVENUE for the owners. In fact, there is no actual solid TV deal for the league. They're talking about putting NHL hockey on THE OUTDOOR LIFE NETWORK and SPIKE TV. And then they're still money. Just genius.

The Rule Changes

1. "The General Crackdown on Obstruction: The total elimination of clutching and grabbing that will open up the game for fast skilled players."

Bullshit.

They'll crack down for two weeks, then people will bitch about the 200 Powerplays a game, saying the "refs are not letting the players decide the game", and then it will be business as usual. And the NHL will just let it happen, because otherwise the Americans will see their beloved Hatcher Trolls and other no-skilled 6'4 pieces of shit go unemployed. Not to mention our friend Keith "Captain Stickwork" Tkachuk might actually have to skate while backchecking and not be dragged along by some 5'11 European dude.

If you think the NHL will truely open up and the neutral zone clutch-and-grab will go, I have a bridge to sell you.

2. "The Shootout: The Most Exciting Play in Hockey"

No.

Just No.

Obviously teh spirit of this rule is to prevent teams from playing for the tie, but what the fuck is this, soccer? Teams now will just trap the shit out of the 5 minutes of OT, and then bring out their one-dimensional penalty shot players to try to win the game off that.

Of course, the Canucks have Cloutier, what could we possibly worry about?

3. "The Removal of the Red line: Creating more breakaways!"

In principle this sounds great, and I actually like this rule change, but I doubt we'll actually see more breakaways, because even though Jagr or Yashin gets to camp out at the opposing blueline for a breakaway pass that's never coming, the puck will never actually reach them because there will still be 5 New Jersey Devil Uniforms standing in the neutral zone cutting the pass off and dumping it back in.

4. "Restricting Goalie Puck-Handling: Creating Extra Forecheck opportunities!"

This is just really stupid. I actually really enjoy watching the goalie come out to handle the puck, because the good ones create rushes for their own team, and the bad ones create glorious opportunities for the other team. I personally think they should just let the goalies do whatever the hell they want. My proposal is to let the goalie skate out to whereever he likes, do whatever he wants to do with the puck, anywhere. (Short of shooting it out of the arena of course) And him fair game outside of his crease. He can bodycheck guys, he can be hit. But that's just me.

Also, defenseman will now have the shit forechecked out of them, which is in itself not a bad thing, but you know Tie Domi will take the opportunity to ram some guy's head first into the glass when his back is turned towards him. But hey, what the fuck do I know, I'm just an Asian guy typing in front of his computer, not a bloody oracle.

5. "Touch Icing: The Excitement of teh Chase for the Puck"

There is never a fucking chase for the puck. 95% of the time the defenseman floats back to his own zone to touch the puck because everybody is fucking tired, and that takes like 5 seconds the damn clock. Nobody wants to see the defenseman float back to his own zone to touch the puck.

Of course, the 5% of the time there is a chase, somebody slides head first into the boards and gets injured.

Did I mention that the team that ices the puck won't be allowed to make a line change? The spirit of the rule is to "award the team with pressure", but you know some asshole is going to get injured because he'll have to stay out on the ice for like 2 minutes straight, catch an edge, be too tired to balance himself, and break his ankle.

6. "Decreasing the Space behind the net"

I got nothin' for this one. The only forseeable consequence for decreasing the size of Gretzky's office would be less room for the Sedins to endless cycle the puck with a purpose.

7. "Extra Penalties are Fighting: Cleaning up the game of hockey."

I may not agree with Don Cherry a lot of the time, but the instigator penalty is one of the sources that is causing all the Steve Moore/Peter Worrell/Bryan Marchment/Matthew Barnaby/Jarkko Ruutu/Tie Domi bullshit in the NHL. There are so many things wrnog with the instigator penalty and placing extra penalties on fighting (too lazy to specify right now) its not funny:

a) LET THE PLAYERS POLICE THEMSELVES. The Todd Bertuzzi thing would have never happened had Steve Moore had his ass kicked the night he hit Naslund. You didn't see any 4th line no talent hack run Gretzky. I don't recall seeing some AHL douchebag run Yzerman back in the day. You know why? Because Semenko would have beaten the shit out of these cheapshot artists. Now Steve Moores and Bryan Marchments run wild, shoving people head first into the boards and lining up knee-on-knee hits like its the Boxing Day sale at Future Shop.

The instigator penalty and the addtional penalties on fighting simply handcuffs the enforcers (like the real ones ie. Laraque, not the fake cheapshot artists ones ie. Domi) from doing their job of protecting the star players. God knows Colin Campbell won't protect the players. Everybody knows Bertuzzi what Bertuzzi got. And he deserved it. What everybody DOESN'T know is that Marchment rams Ritchie's head into the boards first the next night, breaks his collarbone, ends his season, and got like 3 games. (I just did a little searching: I don't think he was suspended)

2) The only reason Americans watch hockey is because they like to see people beat the shit out of each other. They don't watch it for the skill that's been diminshed by the clutch and grab. They don't watch it for the 5 guys lining up in the neutral zone. They watch it because White Canadians will beat teh shit out of each other.

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