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The History of Hockey Relive great moments in hockey history and discuss how the game has changed over time.

Is hockey softer than it has ever been?

View Poll Results: Is hockey softer than it has ever been?
No, hockey is tougher now than any other time 9 15.25%
No, just more precautions nowadays 23 38.98%
Yes, the players and media are bigger wusses than ever before 10 16.95%
Yes, the game has changed for the worse 17 28.81%
Voters: 59. You may not vote on this poll

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Old
01-11-2012, 09:09 PM
  #1
Big Phil
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Is hockey softer than it has ever been?

Explain your answers and elaborate on them. Tell me why.

Is our game the softest it has ever been, or the softest you have ever seen it or is it more of a media driven brainwash to try and make the NHL more for the faint of heart?

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01-11-2012, 09:28 PM
  #2
Francis Vernal
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I have believed that appearances are deceiving. In the old days you had 5'9" regular guys who could play to the limit. Now most players are 6'3" perfectly conditioned cyborgs, but the trade-off is that they have to play by softer rules or they will kill each other, and they are dropping like flies from concussions anyway.

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Old
01-11-2012, 10:18 PM
  #3
RabbinsDuck
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No, in some ways the speed and size has made it more brutal.

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Old
01-11-2012, 10:32 PM
  #4
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Damn. I should not have voted. A wrong button and too tired to explain anything. Some other time.

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Old
01-11-2012, 10:40 PM
  #5
Hanji
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Today's players would be killing each other if game was as violent as it once was.

Players of the past were tougher, but today's are stronger (who have more of an ability to seriously injure one another).

Neither of which I would call 'soft'.

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01-11-2012, 10:54 PM
  #6
BenchBrawl
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Agree.Don't let the concussions and cheap shots illusion blind you , hockey is SOFT.I think it's a result of the feminization of society.I know I'm repeating myself , but then so be it.

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01-11-2012, 11:49 PM
  #7
Big Phil
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I think in some ways we can have different interpretations of "soft". Players are bigger yes, but are they tougher? If you watch old black and white games of the original six there is one thing you will never, ever see - a dive. Once the 1970s came around Bill Barber and the Russians sort of brought the "dive" to our attention. But that wasn't even all that bad. I don't like the dives, not even the ones Barber did, but it was a tactic more than anything. Barber wasn't trying to pretend he was hurt. He didn't lie on the ice and draw the trainer out and stop the play, he just drew a penalty and went down on a hook or a trip a little to easy.

The problem is, as harmless as this was, it was a gateway to other acts, some that were just downright offensive. Claude Lemieux, Alexei Kovalev, Mike Ribeiro, Slava Kozlov have all shown us some unmanly instances where they have faked injuries and lay on the ice embellishing a hit. I remember Dick Irvin (I do miss him) doing the colour for a game once in the 1990s and he turned to whoever the play by play man was (Bob Cole?) after a play where a player was extremely slow to get up on a harmless play. He said: "Do you remember the days when you got up from the ice because you didn't want anyone to think you were hurt?" It has always struck me, because all of the sudden it became fashionable to let on you were hurt when you weren't. Does anyone remember the disgrace that is Dan Carcillo on more than one occasion pretending he got high sticked in the face only to show that replays clearly show nothing hit him?

That kind of crap didn't fly a long time ago. The theatrics alone are what gives me reason to think the game is softer today than it has ever been.

Now look, there are times when I feel proud of the game still. When Brendan Shanahan has a broken ankle and he gets up and hops to the bench on one leg without stopping play or Yzerman gets a puck in the face in 2004 and despite it being such a horrific injury he tries to get up twice on his feet to get to the bench, it is stuff like that where I feel pride for the game. But when no one comes to the defense of Sedin getting punched repeatedly by Marchand or Pacioretty getting hit by Chara last year it makes me shake my head.

If our game is tougher, why are there so many instances when the players act like girls on the ice? Hockey IS a tough game and there are times when we make a mockery of it.

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Old
01-11-2012, 11:49 PM
  #8
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Couldn't disagree more.

The game is currently the fastest, hardest, most physical and brutal the game has ever been.

#1. Size and speed of the players. The game is so fast. Decisions have to be made in an instant. There is very little time and space out there.

Skating ability is so drastically improved. You can't hit what you can't catch. Every team had a number of plugs that could barely move, that's no longer the case.

#2. Depth. The 3rd/4th liners and 5/6 defenseman are much better than before. Also the 14th, 18th, 25th teams are all much better than before.

There aren't total mismatches on the ice very often anymore whether its top line vs. 4th line or #2 team vs. 24 team

#3. Every regular season game really matters. This isn't 4 of 6 or 16 of 21 making the playoffs any more.

It's not easy to make the playoffs, and it's damn hard to have home ice advantage.

Teams used to be able to coast during the regulations season and then really crank up the physical play, shot blocking, sacrificing and intensity come playoff time.

You can't do that anymore. Better coaching + greatly increased importance of the regular season means the intensity, sacrificing and pbysicality of regular season games has increased dramatically.

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Old
01-12-2012, 01:33 AM
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
I think in some ways we can have different interpretations of "soft". Players are bigger yes, but are they tougher? If you watch old black and white games of the original six there is one thing you will never, ever see - a dive. Once the 1970s came around Bill Barber and the Russians sort of brought the "dive" to our attention. But that wasn't even all that bad. I don't like the dives, not even the ones Barber did, but it was a tactic more than anything. Barber wasn't trying to pretend he was hurt. He didn't lie on the ice and draw the trainer out and stop the play, he just drew a penalty and went down on a hook or a trip a little to easy.

The problem is, as harmless as this was, it was a gateway to other acts, some that were just downright offensive. Claude Lemieux, Alexei Kovalev, Mike Ribeiro, Slava Kozlov have all shown us some unmanly instances where they have faked injuries and lay on the ice embellishing a hit. I remember Dick Irvin (I do miss him) doing the colour for a game once in the 1990s and he turned to whoever the play by play man was (Bob Cole?) after a play where a player was extremely slow to get up on a harmless play. He said: "Do you remember the days when you got up from the ice because you didn't want anyone to think you were hurt?" It has always struck me, because all of the sudden it became fashionable to let on you were hurt when you weren't. Does anyone remember the disgrace that is Dan Carcillo on more than one occasion pretending he got high sticked in the face only to show that replays clearly show nothing hit him?

That kind of crap didn't fly a long time ago. The theatrics alone are what gives me reason to think the game is softer today than it has ever been.

Now look, there are times when I feel proud of the game still. When Brendan Shanahan has a broken ankle and he gets up and hops to the bench on one leg without stopping play or Yzerman gets a puck in the face in 2004 and despite it being such a horrific injury he tries to get up twice on his feet to get to the bench, it is stuff like that where I feel pride for the game. But when no one comes to the defense of Sedin getting punched repeatedly by Marchand or Pacioretty getting hit by Chara last year it makes me shake my head.

If our game is tougher, why are there so many instances when the players act like girls on the ice? Hockey IS a tough game and there are times when we make a mockery of it.
I don´t watch a lot of female hockey but if it is comparable to female soccer in any way I would guess that girls dive much much less. or has anybody seen a lot of dives by female players?

so to your pleasure I would say that hockey is still a very "manly" sport.

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Old
01-12-2012, 03:51 AM
  #10
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Go watch game from the eighties, there is more fighting, but it just not as physical as it is now.There is huge hits too, but the average hit is not nearly as brutal as they are now.More speed=more brutal hits.A lot of players are looking like they are rather trying to kill the opposition rather than seperate them from the puck.Today has a lot more shot blocking too.This is just typical case of oldies bashing the new generation as weak.

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Old
01-12-2012, 04:05 AM
  #11
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I'm just going to say this about diving: the officials are absolutely clueless about calling it. As it stands now, you're an idiot if you don't dive. You might lose 1 call for every 50 you generate, with the odds going much higher if you happen to be any good (as either a player or a diver). Because of that, I don't think diving is a toughness issue. EVERY player dives. Until the officials wise up about it, every player SHOULD dive. Not diving puts you at a competitive disadvantage. I don't mean to sound like I'm encouraging diving, because I'm not, but it's silly to think that older era guys who would do anything to win would not dive because it's not tough or fair or whatever excuse you think fits. Until real steps are taken to drive it out of the game, diving is a part of the game as a skill that any worthwhile professional hockey coach would teach and encourage out of his players.

For a comparison that might only work in my head, I'd like to point to shot blocking. It's hard to have any concrete numbers of shot blocking between eras but since it's been counted it has definitely gone up and most people have said that it's a huge difference between the game in 2012 and how it's been in the past. At some point or another, EVERY player blocks shots. Are players today tougher because they block shots now whereas it wasn't as widely taught a skill as before? If you're going to argue that the mentality of the game has changed to encourage diving (and theoretically become less tough), wouldn't you also have to argue that the mentality of the game has changed to encourage shot blocking (and become more tough)? I would say that both diving and shot blocking are just parts of the game that are taught more now as they have been shown to have demonstrated value rather than being any statement of the toughness about the league or it's players.

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Old
01-12-2012, 04:09 AM
  #12
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Originally Posted by Saku11 View Post
This is just typical case of oldies bashing the new generation as weak.
Strongly disagree. I'm not very old, I just remember few games before 1st lockout. The players generally speaking aren't tougher than they were between lockouts. If someone has watched games from 70s I believe he has to admit current players are *******. Lucic and Phaneuf are just weak copies of Lindros and Stevens. And those were clean. Players had to deal with such cheapshot artists like Marchment or Lemieux. Now players dont deal with them, they just whine to the refs, media and hope someone gets a Shanaban. I dont say cheapshoters are good or something, I speak about some mental power which brings player through it. For me is not a coincidence that players like Sedins couldnt put it together before lockout.

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01-12-2012, 05:26 AM
  #13
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Strongly disagree. I'm not very old, I just remember few games before 1st lockout. The players generally speaking aren't tougher than they were between lockouts. If someone has watched games from 70s I believe he has to admit current players are *******. Lucic and Phaneuf are just weak copies of Lindros and Stevens. And those were clean. Players had to deal with such cheapshot artists like Marchment or Lemieux. Now players dont deal with them, they just whine to the refs, media and hope someone gets a Shanaban. I dont say cheapshoters are good or something, I speak about some mental power which brings player through it. For me is not a coincidence that players like Sedins couldnt put it together before lockout.
Thanks for proving my point.Lindros and Stevens were one of a kind, Did Mario , Gretzky, Jagr deal with anything?.No they had bodyguards.The reason that todays superstars dont fight as much is because they dont have quite the size to do so.There hasnt been players as big as Lindros blessed with that talent in a long time.

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Old
01-12-2012, 06:45 AM
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ishdul View Post
I'm just going to say this about diving: the officials are absolutely clueless about calling it. As it stands now, you're an idiot if you don't dive. You might lose 1 call for every 50 you generate, with the odds going much higher if you happen to be any good (as either a player or a diver). Because of that, I don't think diving is a toughness issue. EVERY player dives. Until the officials wise up about it, every player SHOULD dive. Not diving puts you at a competitive disadvantage. I don't mean to sound like I'm encouraging diving, because I'm not, but it's silly to think that older era guys who would do anything to win would not dive because it's not tough or fair or whatever excuse you think fits. Until real steps are taken to drive it out of the game, diving is a part of the game as a skill that any worthwhile professional hockey coach would teach and encourage out of his players.

For a comparison that might only work in my head, I'd like to point to shot blocking. It's hard to have any concrete numbers of shot blocking between eras but since it's been counted it has definitely gone up and most people have said that it's a huge difference between the game in 2012 and how it's been in the past. At some point or another, EVERY player blocks shots. Are players today tougher because they block shots now whereas it wasn't as widely taught a skill as before? If you're going to argue that the mentality of the game has changed to encourage diving (and theoretically become less tough), wouldn't you also have to argue that the mentality of the game has changed to encourage shot blocking (and become more tough)? I would say that both diving and shot blocking are just parts of the game that are taught more now as they have been shown to have demonstrated value rather than being any statement of the toughness about the league or it's players.
Shot blocking is higher these days because of equipment more than anything. If you have hard plastic padding... you are taking a risk to block a shot still and it hurts but it is still a much lower risk then if you are blocking a shot with skates with no protection, shin pads that are just a little bit of padding and so on.

I have see Hasek intentionally make saves with his mask, with his face. Does that make him tougher? Or is it just a piece of equipment you can use in game play at times because of how much it protects you. Gump Worsely is not going to intentionally save a puck with his face with no mask. It would be suicide. Nor could Ken Dryden or Tony Esposito with masks that just cover your face so if you got a puck in the face it didn't crush a dozen facial bones.

The game has changed... because of equipment. It doesn't make the NHL as a whole tougher or not tougher. It just is the way it is. There is less stupidity and better rules. Were the 1970's Flyers really the toughest team? Or did the NHL rules allow ridiculous tactics to be used at the time? Allowing stick swinging nd bench clearing brawls. If the rules were the same as then... there would still be bench clearing brawls. If you make a rule that you get a ten game suspension for anyone leaving a bench... then you don't get people coming off the bench... well you do but it happens once every couple of seasons that ONE player decided to do it.

Players today play through ridiculous pain. They are just as rugged and fearless and competitive as players ever were. And different players have different levels of toughness, as it has always been and always will be.

There have always been dirty rats cheap shotting guys and their always will be those type of guys. Are they more protected then before? Maybe ON the ice they aren't going to get beat up in a fight, but the NHL will suspend them now. Different way to get the same result of reducing that kind of dirty cheap shot play.

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Old
01-12-2012, 07:00 AM
  #15
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Thanks for proving my point.Lindros and Stevens were one of a kind, Did Mario , Gretzky, Jagr deal with anything?.No they had bodyguards.The reason that todays superstars dont fight as much is because they dont have quite the size to do so.There hasnt been players as big as Lindros blessed with that talent in a long time.
There was NEVER a player like Lindros before him.. or after his concussions.

Saying Mario didn't deal with anything is beyond stupidity. Have you seen what he dealt with? Watch a freaking highlight reel of his GOALS!!! and you will see him scoring with guys literally holding him for 3 or 4 seconds in a row. Have you seen the punishment Mario or Jagr or Bossy took just being in the offensive zone? Where do you think Bossy and Mario's back problems came from? Possibly being cross checked in the small of the back dozens and dozens and dozens of times?

Gretzky didn't get hit or cheapshotted because you couldn't catch him... more than any other player ever.. you just could not get him. It is true if you did really get him... or if say you cheapshotted him after a play ended... you would face Semenko or someone to beat you down. Mario? Jagr? Even Crosby in his first couple of seasons... Pittsburgh NEVER had guys like Edmonton and LA did to protect Gretzky. Saying they did is not paying attention at all. The abuse the Pens superstars played through is crazy. It is not like Mario or Jagr or Crosby played the same game as Gretzky. They went into the dirty areas. Jagr and Mario are two of the BIGGEST, STRONGEST players in NHL history.

Today's stars don't fight because hardly anyone fights but enforcers today. Fighting doesn't make you tough. Size doesn't make you tough.

Danny Briere is one of the smallest guys in the NHL. And he is tough as nails. Doesn't get in a ton of fights... but he faught Turris last weekend. He got a hat trick. He scored the goals by hanging behind the net until the play came in front of it and sneaking out and potting goals. Is that tough? It is using the Gretzky strategy of not being in the play until the play happens. But he faught. Briere is a great playoff guy because he is tough... the bigger the game.. the more pumpoed he is the better.

Doug Gilmour was one of the toughest players I ever saw. And he was like 165-170 lbs. He didn't fight... but he was never out of the play.

Was Lindros the toughest player ever? He might have been the strongest and the biggest. Not the toughest... though tough as nails he was until he got the concussions. There are hundreds of ridiculously tough players.

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Old
01-12-2012, 07:35 AM
  #16
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Saying Mario didn't deal with anything is beyond stupidity. Have you seen what he dealt with? Watch a freaking highlight reel of his GOALS!!! and you will see him scoring with guys literally holding him for 3 or 4 seconds in a row. Have you seen the punishment Mario or Jagr or Bossy took just being in the offensive zone? Where do you think Bossy and Mario's back problems came from? Possibly being cross checked in the small of the back dozens and dozens and dozens of times?
.
What i meant was they didnt "take maters in their own hands" like Lindros did and pound the **** out of the opponent.They never had to fight if they choose so.

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01-12-2012, 07:58 AM
  #17
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What i meant was they didnt "take maters in their own hands" like Lindros did and pound the **** out of the opponent.They never had to fight if they choose so.
And it is a better strategy to win to spend 5 minutes in the box when you are the best player in the world?

Lindros was intimidating.... but could be selfish. He wasn't the smartest about not taking PIMS and spending more time in the box then needed. Stevens WAS SMART later on in New Jersey. He was great because he stopped fighting and taking stupid penalties. In Washington Stevens was all over the place taking PIMS and trying to make big open ice hits that took him out of the play. Then in New Jersey he figured out how to play PERFECTLY for him. Stop worrying much about offence. Stop worrying about making the big hit or being so tough and just WAIT for the opportunity to way someone out. Lindros never figured out how to pick his spots and maximize his ability to be the most physical and strongest star player int he History of Hockey, before or sense. Why he had the concussions and the string of injuries before the concussions, and why he never became as good as he could have been.

Mario... well he maximized his ability I think. Jagr didn't miss games and won like 6 Art Ross trophies (or 5?). Hard to criticize Jagr or Mario. Them being tougher and fighting wouldn't have been tougher as much as it would have been stupider.

Could you imagine if Mario retaliated for all the crap he took, all the time? If he fought guys? He would have been bothered EVEN MORE. EVERYONE would have tried to get him in the box. Mario was the best player in the world. It is even a good tradeoff to have Ray Bourque or Cam Neely or Messier in the box with him coincidentally. If Jagr was a hothead... he would have got pushed even more to take penalties.

Sometimes it is TOUGHER to just take abuse and not retailiate. Is it tougher still to be like Gordie Howe and just wait for the opportunity came and be dirty and intentionally injure guys. But few are as mean or as dirty or as reckless in hurting people as Howe or Mesier were. It is more successful in winning.... but it is not "tougher" then Lindros was.... is it "tougher" then Mario to act like that?

Mike Bossy was not a fighter... but he was TOUGH... he took abuse to score... and he scored A LOT of goals. He whined about it... like MArio but he still did it.

I guess I don't know where you are going with this Lindros stuff. Is it better to be the most effective you can possibly be and score the most goals and let in the least and win the most games for your team? Or is it better to just be tough and mean and hurt people? I think it is tougher to take punishment and WIN.. then it is to dish punishment out selfishly and not benefit your team.

Stevens is a perfect example of learning to do just that.

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Old
01-12-2012, 08:37 AM
  #18
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^I`m on your side here buddy!. I replied like i did because the guy suggested that exceptionally big and tough players (Lindros, Stevens) dealing with cheapshots in their own way makes todays players softer and nowadays players just whine to the refs while the players have always done just that.I agree with you, there is no point in fighting just to show how tough you are.Superstars worked hard to get in their position so they deserve the protection that they get from their teammates.

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01-12-2012, 08:43 AM
  #19
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On a side note, in terms of diving, if you can get away with it you should do it as often as possible. I'm not sure if you guys know this, but powerplays can help your team win games. If it's a trade off of helping your team at the cost of the respect of macho, anti-pussification meatheads, then I say you take it every time. In fact, I support people who dive. Good job Sedin sisters, if you aint cheatin', you're not tryin'.

In terms of "softness," aside from diving, I don't see how they've gotten that way.

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01-12-2012, 08:58 AM
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Less fighting is an obvious point, but also constant and brutal battles in the front of the net are missing from the today's game. Less dirty stickwork than in the past, but the latter is a definitely a good thing. A bench clearing brawls are practically disappeard from the NHL, which is sad.

And there is more diving which makes the game softer and more lame. The diving and faking the injuries is an unavoidable result of the soccer influence bought in the NHL by us Europeans. Even René Fasel, IIHF president, admitted this not long ago - at least the diving part he did. While in North-Europe diving is less popular than in say Mediterranean and South-American cultures, it's still rooted deeply in here, Now there are divers and fake injuries eveywhere in hockey and if that is not soft, I don't know what is.

More speed and bigger players leads to bigger hits, yes, but injuries and suspensions will soon lead to the point where players are afraid to hit in a fear penalties, suspensions and eventually losing of money. Players soon starts thinking that hitting is not just worth it. I hope I'm wrong, though.

While the speed is good, sometimes it seems that there is too much speed. I miss the days when there where a real difference between fast, average and slow players. Now everyone seems like robots.

Imo some bigger hits, don't compensate the lack of general roughnesss and real animosity between the players and teams, which led to an entertaining riot games in the past. Modern day NHL is too pretentious. Players are just doing their jobs and the real passion is not usually there.

There are also some good elements and the game is definitely better than in early 2k and late 90's. But in no way it's tougher.

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01-12-2012, 09:15 AM
  #21
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On a side note, in terms of diving, if you can get away with it you should do it as often as possible. I'm not sure if you guys know this, but powerplays can help your team win games. If it's a trade off of helping your team at the cost of the respect of macho, anti-pussification meatheads, then I say you take it every time. In fact, I support people who dive. Good job Sedin sisters, if you aint cheatin', you're not tryin'.

In terms of "softness," aside from diving, I don't see how they've gotten that way.
This post is a great example of what is wrong with hockey and society.

If being a macho, anti-pussification meathead is the alternative to being a selfish, spineless jellyfish with no self-respect or respect for the game who plays to the referee instead of playing the game, then bring back the meatheads.

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01-12-2012, 09:39 AM
  #22
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By Greg Wyshynski "The last week has been a useful snapshot of the muddled fighting debate in the National Hockey League.

Progressive hockey veteran Jimmy Devellano of the Detroit Red Wings wants to abolish it; fellow progressive hockey veteran Brian Bruke of the Toronto Maple Leafs thinks it's essential to the rat-proofing of the NHL.

Columnist Howard Herman wants it banned for the sake of player safety; John Scott of the Chicago Blackhawks wants more fights and the instigator rule dropped, because "it's increased the amount of dirty hits and dirty plays. It's taken out the honor and respect for the guys."

Meanwhile, in the Washington Capitals' victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night, Matt Hendricks attempted to answer that timeless riddle of fighting's affect on a game's momentum: His fight win over Craig Adams was cited as a spark to his team in a frequently tedious 1-0 win. "When Hendy makes that good fight for us it just pumps the guys up," said Jason Chimera, who scored the game's lone goal after Hendricks' fight.

The debate rages about fighting in hockey, but here are the facts: It's down this season.

[mod edit]


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Old
01-12-2012, 09:48 AM
  #23
Epsilon
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Personally I find the term "soft" to be pretty vacuous, and often a borderline trolling term in how it gets applied.

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Old
01-12-2012, 10:06 AM
  #24
Sens Rule
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Epsilon View Post
Personally I find the term "soft" to be pretty vacuous, and often a borderline trolling term in how it gets applied.
Agreed. Some say Gretzky was soft. How many games did he miss in 20 seasons? How many playoff games? Did he EVER miss a playoff game? I am not sure he ever did miss a single playoff game. Who is the best money player in big games in the playoffs when it gets more gritty and more physical and lower scoring? I am thinking it is Gretzky.

Was Kent Nilsson soft? Maybe. Yashin, who disappeared in the playoffs when he was checked ferociously? Maybe.. but Yashin also NEVER missed games. Hard to believe he didn't play through a lot of nagging injuries when he played 80 games a season.

I think that you will see very few truly SOFT players. You don't get to the NHL and have any kind of longevity if you are a wimp. You would have to be extremely talented to get away with playing that way.

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Old
01-12-2012, 10:10 AM
  #25
SidGenoMario
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Originally Posted by overpass View Post
This post is a great example of what is wrong with hockey and society.

If being a macho, anti-pussification meathead is the alternative to being a selfish, spineless jellyfish with no self-respect or respect for the game who plays to the referee instead of playing the game, then bring back the meatheads.
There's no tangible reason to promote made-up fictional ideas of what a "real man" is, in sports or in life. That post is what is wrong with society. People that shy away from logic in order to cling to outdated, prejudiced ideas of how others should exist are what is wrong with the world.

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