It's broke, so fix it
Not only does the NHL need to revise its financial structure, hockey - at all levels - needs to be infused with more offense, Everett coach Kevin Constantine says.
By Nick Patterson
EVERETT - The Everett Silvertips are known for defensive hockey.
They used their defensive system to forge a path to the Western Hockey League championship series in their inaugural season. Consequently, for some around the league Everett has become synonymous with no frills, unexciting, low-scoring hockey.
So, it might surprise some to find out who's advocating overhauling the game to open up the offenses - Everett coach Kevin Constantine.
Now that the NHL has cancelled its season, hockey should seize the opportunity not only to revise its financial structure, but to revamp the game itself, Constantine suggested.
"The game needs help right now," Constantine said. "Not only on the NHL financial scene, but the game itself needs to get fixed at all levels of hockey, including our league, which is supposed to mirror the National Hockey League.
"This is an opportunity to not only fix the finances, but improve the game and make it better."
Scoring is down all along the hockey spectrum. The WHL already has shattered the single-season record for shutouts in a season and is on pace to set a record for fewest goals per game. Constantine is of the opinion that hockey at all levels needs to infuse the game with more offense.
"We go to watch talented players skate and score, a good open-ice hit and a fight," Constantine said. "That's what's exciting about the game. But right now the offensive players are being abused by sticks and illegal hitting from behind. Those guys don't have the chance to show the tremendous gifts they have for the game. That's where I think the game has to take a serious look at itself and give those guys a chance to do their thing."
Hockey has discussed several remedies for opening up the game, including the removal of the red line to eliminate the two-line pass, widening the offensive zones and limiting the size of goaltender equipment. Constantine advocates considering those changes, but he believes much of the problem can be solved simply by following the rulebook.
"The No. 1 thing that has to happen in this game is the rulebook has to start being enforced - specifically in the use of the stick as a defensive weapon other than to stop passing lanes and poke check the puck," Constantine said.
"The use of the stick to slash and hook is outrageous and it's gotten worse, and there's less and less calls related to that."
Constantine also believes those calls need to be made to ensure the health of the players.
"The amount of concussions in the last five years is epidemic beyond belief," Constantine said. "We could enforce more rules about how you can contact a guy when he's defenseless against the boards, and we need to do those things."
Ultimately, Constantine hopes the NHL uses the cancellation of the NHL season to help evolve the sport.
"In the NBA they outlawed zone defense because it smothered offensive talent," Constantine said. "The trend in the last 10 years in hockey is the production of goals has gone down. We need to counter that, and the No. 1 way to counter it is to enforce the rules in the rulebook."
I'm glad to hear this being discussed again. Sure it comes up when Kariya or Lindros get concussed but the number of Major Juniors sitting out day to day is becoming a matter of concern as mentioned in the previous post. The WHL lists their injured but the OHL and the Q do not so we do not have a true picture of the seriousness of the problem. I've heard commentators in the WHL say how well documented concussions are but that is closing the door after the horse is gone. Prevention should be the priority.
Concussion in the medical text books is under traumatic brain injury and then further categorized as to mild etc. It will interesting to watch the Steven Moore case against Bertuzzi to see what the lawyers will bring up as long term effects of concussion. The broken vertebrae will heal-likely with minimum impact but the after effects of microscopic shear injury to the brain caused by impact will be the main focus of the legal team.