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The Demise Of The Power Foward

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Old
01-20-2004, 11:00 AM
  #1
Jeff from Maine
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The Demise Of The Power Foward

Much debate has taken place here in the past week or so regarding the demise of the power forward.

We lament to extinction of this rare animal.

Why is he gone? Dillution of talent? Nobody is tough enough anymore? The way the game is officiated has taken that guy out of the game?

Many of those may be a part of it.

But yesterday, as I was reading the posts and threads reslting from the Lindros TKO of Thornton, I realized that there is much more to it than that.

I realized that many hockey fanatics dont want power forwards anymore.

That fight was EXACTLY what hockey is all about! 2 big, strong, tough, physical power forwards settling an on ice issue by dropping the gloves.

Unfortunately, Thornton got the worst of it. And now, as many posters said before, they dont want Thornton fighting like that.

He could be the most dominant power forward in todays game...but many here seem to want that piece of him extinguished.

When I read the things I read, I could help but think...what if Neely had had his butt handed to him by say Shanhan in 88...would we be wishing and hoping that Neely stop fighting?

Would we be crying out that we need an enforcer to do thsi work for him?

For such a long time I have read posts here stating that Thornton shouldnt fight. He should drop the gloves. We need an enforcer.

We essentially want to turn him into Glen Murray!

We dont want the power in the power forward.

He is our best player and he got TKO`d in a fight! We must hang the heathen that kicked his ass! How DARE Eric Lindros beat up Joe Thornton.

Dont fight again Joe! And death to the power forward who hit him!

Its sad...on one hand we lament the loss of the power forward, and on the other hand (when ours gets hurt), we decry the game to power forward plays.

No wonder they are going extinct...it seems that few people want them around!

Later

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Old
01-20-2004, 11:19 AM
  #2
WBC8
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I guarantee you this won't change Thornton in the least....As a matter of fact, I think this may make him meaner.....I miss the Joe Thornton with a chip on his shoulder....Now he's going to have one the size of a sidewalk....

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Old
01-20-2004, 12:51 PM
  #3
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Personally, I would love to see Thornton fight more.

He has something Neely had: when he is physical he plays better; when he is angry he plays better; when he is roughed up he plays better etc...it "wakes" him up for lack of a better way of saying it.

I think Joe NEEDS that chip on his shoulder to take it to the next level. Not once every twenty games, but every game. As long as he controls the stick work I'm all for Joe mixing it up (win or lose) now and then.

I would also love to see Murray get more physical but I know that will never happen. Just think what Murray could have been if he had Neely's heart and toughness. Samsonov throws more and bigger hits than Murray! Now that's sad.

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01-20-2004, 01:49 PM
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Rick Middleton
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Couple of quick comments:

1) How can you be a power forward in this league? Guys like Thornton and Bertuzzi have to put up with chippy little ****s like Tyson Nash hacking them, useless defencemen holding onto them for dear life, and if they retaliate .. the true essence of a power forward, they either get fined, suspended or both.

2) If anyone has contributed to the demise of the power forward, its the NHL and its instigating rule. No longer can players mete out the justice that some players truly deserve. Run our goalie? Prepare to get your head bashed in ... but no, wait, thats 2, 5 and a game. Plus your coach, who in this diluted talent league, is so paranoid of losing you're probably going to get benched tomorrow because of your actions ... if you're not already suspended. So forget about retaliating with your fists, just stick him like he sticked you ... and get another suspension.

3) Fans would love to see MORE power forwards. What gets you out of your seat more often when you're at a game? A solid defensive play? A nice poke check? Or a fight? Sure, people have written that they don't want to see Thornton fighting, but that's because he is the franchise. As great as Neely was, he was never the marquee player, it was Ray. And Ray could toss them when needed, but more often than naught, would do his "talking" with his hits (I'm looking at you, Mike Peluso).

4) The players association is 2nd in line in guilt for the demise of the power forward. There's an unwritten rule about taking revenge on a player nowadays. You can't hunt him down on the ice and beat the tar out of him. Not only will the NHL punish you, you'll be ostracized by that sham of a Players Association that only looks out for its own ass and not the collective good of the players it represents. Money talks, and seeing as the money players are more likely high skilled and a little soft on the physical play, they get the final say. The NHLPA is too much of a brotherhood. Too damned soft, too damned representative of its own interests.

5) Writers. Too god damned many writers out there *****ing and moaning about the violence of the sport. Well, if you knew that someone was going to give you a good shellacking the next time you sticked him in the head (I'm looking at you, Miro Satan, re: the Nolan incident), then you wouldn't have 1/2 of the "violence" in the league. The "violence" is due more to the stick work than anything else. And it's the stick work that causes the career ending injuries (read: Berard, almost Nolan, Mattias Ohlund, etc.). How often have you heard of a player having to retire due to injuries sustained from fighting? I can think of Tony Twist off the top of my head. Anyone else? Now, how about stick-related injuries?

Think you've hit a nerve Jeff? I'm actually glad you brought that up. While I agree that the game on the whole is making the power forward go the way of the DoDo, it's not because fans dont love them. It's because the game as it is right now loathes them, whether it knows it or not.

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01-20-2004, 02:45 PM
  #5
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I agree with Rick 100%.

I don't think the fans are eager to see the power forward leave but the NHL is inadvertently making it happen.

For the record, I happen to like when Joe drops the gloves. He lost to Lindros yesterday. Time for Joe to move on and make a mental note not to duck away when in a fight. Neely lost some fights, too. That certainly didn't diminish his pugilistic accomplishments. Hell, I saw Probert, Domi, O'Reilly get smoked. It happens.

IMO, the instigator penalty was the beginning of the demise of the NHL (and Power Forward) as we knew it. The third man in was another one. In the past, players policed themselves. If a third man jumped in, it was only mere seconds before the fourth joined. Things always seemed to even out. Just curious...was anyone's career ever ended as the result of the third man in? I can't seem to remember any.

Mandatory helmets and visors is another area that may have also contributed. Sure, on the surface they make total sense. Protect the heads & careers of the players.

However, a possible result has been a callous disregard for one's opponents head because "They have protection". Players today seem far too willing to raise their sticks & elbows (either in defense or as an act of aggression).

Players lost respect for the game and their opponents. They need to get it back.

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01-20-2004, 02:48 PM
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Middleton
Couple of quick comments:

1) How can you be a power forward in this league? Guys like Thornton and Bertuzzi have to put up with chippy little ****s like Tyson Nash hacking them, useless defencemen holding onto them for dear life, and if they retaliate .. the true essence of a power forward, they either get fined, suspended or both.

2) If anyone has contributed to the demise of the power forward, its the NHL and its instigating rule. No longer can players mete out the justice that some players truly deserve. Run our goalie? Prepare to get your head bashed in ... but no, wait, thats 2, 5 and a game. Plus your coach, who in this diluted talent league, is so paranoid of losing you're probably going to get benched tomorrow because of your actions ... if you're not already suspended. So forget about retaliating with your fists, just stick him like he sticked you ... and get another suspension.

3) Fans would love to see MORE power forwards. What gets you out of your seat more often when you're at a game? A solid defensive play? A nice poke check? Or a fight? Sure, people have written that they don't want to see Thornton fighting, but that's because he is the franchise. As great as Neely was, he was never the marquee player, it was Ray. And Ray could toss them when needed, but more often than naught, would do his "talking" with his hits (I'm looking at you, Mike Peluso).

4) The players association is 2nd in line in guilt for the demise of the power forward. There's an unwritten rule about taking revenge on a player nowadays. You can't hunt him down on the ice and beat the tar out of him. Not only will the NHL punish you, you'll be ostracized by that sham of a Players Association that only looks out for its own ass and not the collective good of the players it represents. Money talks, and seeing as the money players are more likely high skilled and a little soft on the physical play, they get the final say. The NHLPA is too much of a brotherhood. Too damned soft, too damned representative of its own interests.

5) Writers. Too god damned many writers out there *****ing and moaning about the violence of the sport. Well, if you knew that someone was going to give you a good shellacking the next time you sticked him in the head (I'm looking at you, Miro Satan, re: the Nolan incident), then you wouldn't have 1/2 of the "violence" in the league. The "violence" is due more to the stick work than anything else. And it's the stick work that causes the career ending injuries (read: Berard, almost Nolan, Mattias Ohlund, etc.). How often have you heard of a player having to retire due to injuries sustained from fighting? I can think of Tony Twist off the top of my head. Anyone else? Now, how about stick-related injuries?

Think you've hit a nerve Jeff? I'm actually glad you brought that up. While I agree that the game on the whole is making the power forward go the way of the DoDo, it's not because fans dont love them. It's because the game as it is right now loathes them, whether it knows it or not.
Terrific post. Good analysis. Nice examples. And a tragic but accurate conclusion. Maybe someday the NHL will figure out that their product just doesn't belong in more than 21 cities and that before they began expanding and implemented the instigator rule, the game was 100 times better (and a lot safer).

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01-20-2004, 04:06 PM
  #7
-Andy
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I think the vanishing power forward is due to how the game is called. Big hitting games are rare (at least for the B's) so much so that a big open ice hit seems so out of place the refs have to call something. And about 4 out of 5 hip checks get tagged for a penalty so people don't even try them anymore. Teams are afraid of taking a penalty and giving up a goal, then having to play against a trap the rest of the game.

A couple years back it seemed like there were alot of retaliation penalties happening, I dont even see that anymore. People hold instead of hack. Maybe the players like it that way. Funny there was more checking in the days of paper-thin equipment than now in the days of body armor. Maybe the holding has something to do with the lack of fighting\aggressiveness on the part of the everyday forward. How mad can you get at someone when someone they are holding your stick? Alot
less mad than if someone crosschecks you in the back I suppose. Kind of ironic but it seems as if everything the NHL has done to attract fans has had the opposite effect.

It's sad to hear someone call WEEI wanting to talk about hockey and basically get treated like a leper. Even Dale Arnold does it although I think he just doesn't want to... "poop where he eats" for lack of a better expresssion. I heard NASCAR get more time on the radio last week than hockey, and they absolutley go bonker for golf. Golf!!! If the most boringest game in the world besides tic-tac-toe can get fans, what is hockey doing wrong?

Somehow through all this Olympic hockey rocks, and playoff hockey is pretty damn good. Effort? Talent level? Probably. I read something recently where someone suggested paring the teams rosters down to get rid of goons. The sixty worst players would be out of jobs. Not sure I would disagree with doing that.

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01-20-2004, 04:30 PM
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Rick, nice post just one criticism,

Ohlund was struck by a puck in the eye, not a stick.

However, point to Ladislav Nagy recently if you want an example of how VERY close a player can come to losing his career.

As for power forwards, I can tell you something right now: As much as I enjoy watching Bertuzzi fight, I'm glad he doesn't do it every 3rd or 4th night. Bertuzzi fights about 3 or 4 times a year, tops. And it's probobly better off he does it that way, rather than fighting all the time. If a guy like Bertuzzi gets a broken hand from pounding some guy, and he's out for a month, that doesn't help the team.

On the other hand, I think you can still encourage aggressiveness without fighting. A good example is the aforementioned Ohlund. Ohlund has dropped the gloves about 2 or 3 times a year, but the guy plays an incredible physical game, and just wails on the opposition. For instance, last night Ohlund absolutely crunched Bill Guerin into the glass, and on their way up ice, Guerin slashes at Ohlund. Ollie could have easily turned around and dropped the gloves, but he didn't fight. Guerin went to the box for 2 minutes, and I believe Brendan Morrison scored on that power play.

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01-20-2004, 04:33 PM
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mizral
crunched Bill Guerin into the glass, and on their way up ice, Guerin slashes at Ohlund. Ollie could have easily turned around and dropped the gloves, but he didn't fight. Guerin went to the box for 2 minutes, and I believe Brendan Morrison scored on that power play.
heh - that's typical Bill Guerin. When he came to the B's I saw his penatly minute stats and thought what a tough guy he must be. Came to find out most of his penalty minutes were for things like that.

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Old
01-20-2004, 04:48 PM
  #10
sarge88
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wensink
I agree with Rick 100%.

I don't think the fans are eager to see the power forward leave but the NHL is inadvertently making it happen.

For the record, I happen to like when Joe drops the gloves. He lost to Lindros yesterday. Time for Joe to move on and make a mental note not to duck away when in a fight. Neely lost some fights, too. That certainly didn't diminish his pugilistic accomplishments. Hell, I saw Probert, Domi, O'Reilly get smoked. It happens.

IMO, the instigator penalty was the beginning of the demise of the NHL (and Power Forward) as we knew it. The third man in was another one. In the past, players policed themselves. If a third man jumped in, it was only mere seconds before the fourth joined. Things always seemed to even out. Just curious...was anyone's career ever ended as the result of the third man in? I can't seem to remember any.

Mandatory helmets and visors is another area that may have also contributed. Sure, on the surface they make total sense. Protect the heads & careers of the players.

However, a possible result has been a callous disregard for one's opponents head because "They have protection". Players today seem far too willing to raise their sticks & elbows (either in defense or as an act of aggression).

Players lost respect for the game and their opponents. They need to get it back.
I agree with your comments and I will add that the power forward has been negatively impacted by overreactive and overwhelmed on ice officials. Most of these guys simply have no idea about how to allow a game, especially a chippy/dirty one to flow.

They think that things will be better if they make calls based on what happened earlier in the game (i.e. the McGillis penalty yesterday) hoping that they will prevent things from getting out of hand. When all they are doing is delaying the inevitable and adding to the players frustration. If I was a referee scheduled to do tonights game, I'd be ticked at yesterday's officials for not letting things get settled then and allowing things to fester.

The 2 for roughing, 5 for fighting, 10 minute misconduct, which was once a rarity has now become as common as the cross-check call.

As Kevin Paul Dupont noted in his article last week about Neely, with the way the referees call the game today, one can assume that much of what he did would not be tolerated in todays N(ba)HL.

Nowadays, there is little incentive for the Neely type of player as they simply will get held, hacked, cross checked and baited until they retaliate and end up hurting their team by being in the box.

As Rick Middleton touched on above, the "disturber" of today is looked upon as someone who needs to be protected.

If Ken Linesman was playing today even he would be embarassed by today's agitator and how they are protected and babied. Call it the Tikkanenification of the NHL, do anything you want to do, short of dropping the gloves.

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Old
01-20-2004, 04:54 PM
  #11
wensink
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sarge88
Tikkanenification
I love it!!!

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