Even in juniors, the pace of the game is incredibly fast. I could barely even make my pass out of the zone playing against some junior guys. It doesn't help that my skating has gotten worse due to lack of playing time.
You really need to have top-level conditioning to play at that level. Either that, or have extremely sick skills to make up for it.
When 19-year old Brad Stuart played with us a couple years ago, none of us could touch him. He'd go behind the net with the puck, and that was it. When the other team had a delayed penatly, he would just skate all over the rink, no one could get a handle on him.
Well, as a goalie, I get the most "objective" view on the ice of the speed of the play as it is coming directly at me and going away from me. At some point, I've subbed in for teams at approximately all 5 levels of play (as you laid them out) at my local rinks, and there is a HUGE difference in play just between the levels. The level of speed and skill between B and C2 is somewhat eye-opening to someone who's never seen it. When I've spend a while playing B- or A-level, and then I fill in at the C2 level, it's like having to put my head through a time warp and just completely change the pace of my play and the reactions.
That being said, without making too many outlandish excuses the game is also much slower than the pros for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with the talent and conditioning of the pros.
We've all watched what happens to NHL players who get stuck on the ice for over a minute, or who've been unable to get a change while on the PK. 0:45-1:00 shifts of full sprinting would be a nice luxury to have.....but you can't do that when there's only 7 skaters who show up.
I wonder how fast the New York Rangers would look if they only had 2 guys available on the bench, and Sean Avery had to play in goal because Lundqvist's car wouldn't start.
I wonder how crisp the Ottawa Senators would look if Daniel Alfredsson showed up to the rink a few minutes into the game with no warmup after working a 14-hour day to meet all his company deadlines and then getting stuck in traffic.
I wonder how good the Dallas Stars would look and how willing Sergei Zubov would be to stand in front of and block a Zdeno Chara slapshot, knowing that he needs to be awake and on site in 7 hours and working on the 5th floor of his company's construction project.
And I wonder how fast the Anaheim Ducks would look if George Parros and Teemu Selanne got the same amount of ice time. In the NHL, you'd never let those guys both play for about 15 minutes, but regardless of how talented each player is, if they were both paying $500-1,000 per year for the opportunity to play, they both deserve approximately the same ice time.....particularly if George at least showed up to play every game of the season, and Teemu only finally decided to start coming to the games halfway through after his extended ski vacation was over.
Man I know what you mean about the differnt levels. At my rink we have 4 levels A, B, C and D. I've been playing in C for awhile now and I'm just about sick and tired of playing with people who can't play basic hockey. Won't pass the puck, Skate with their head down until they run into the D men and lose the puck etc. I wish I could just play with some people who can do basic stuff better. I am by no means a hockey guru but I can do everything pretty well. The problem is B leaguers are much more serious and I just don't get to get on the ice enough to feel like I have to endurance the keep up with them. So I guess I'm stuck. It just gets frustrating after awhile and really starts to take away the fun and intensity.
Last wed I had a guy like that. He was playing the lw and i was the other lw so I was pissed that he was taking 3-4 min shifts so i made him stay out for 12 mins. it was great he puked all over the bench. Then I asked do you want to change a 1 1/2 mins? and he shook his head yes. This guy is def. a better skill player than me but he doesnt skate hard and doesnt like to go in front of the net. I had no problem sitting for most of the 2nd period to teach him a lesson.
I hate when people stay on for extended amounts of time. My regular team is fine since our coach will rip into you if you stay to long. For shinny though there is always one kid who never comes off and complains every time he does. It pisses me off every time since he is garbage in the first place and after 30 seconds just sits at the red or blue line and yells for a pass. A lot of the time I come off in shinny is just so that other people can go on, not because I am that tired.
I wish I could just play with some people who can do basic stuff better. I am by no means a hockey guru but I can do everything pretty well. The problem is B leaguers are much more serious and I just don't get to get on the ice enough to feel like I have to endurance the keep up with them. So I guess I'm stuck. It just gets frustrating after awhile and really starts to take away the fun and intensity.
Yeah. I'm 26, and skill/challenge-wise, I really prefer the higher levels. The lower levels can be mind-numbing at times. But strangely enough, the most fun team I've ever played on is my C level team (upper or lower C, depending on the season).
Just a good fun group of guys. Most of the guys are in their 30's and 40's (and some older), so they can't move that fast and their skill set isn't at it's peak. But they fight hard on every shift, always come to my defense....and they're just a cool group of guys who are funny as heck and really down-to-earth. We drink after the games, talk about work and families.....and it's an awesome group.
The higher levels tend to be filled with a LOT of young arrogant punk teen and college-aged kids who just don't have a clue about anything in life. Their skill set is much higher as one would expect.....but I'd much rather play for a team that turns the puck over in the D-zone because the guys CAN'T skate well, rather than becuase the guy wanted to try to skate the puck right up the middle of the defensive slot and try a spin-o-rama move and deke through three forecheckers while everybody else was already up past center ice.
Or some kid takes a stupid slashing penalty at a critical moment because the opposing player stood him up after his fancy toe drag move didn't work.
Or the way that they play their absolute best and skate their hardest only when up by 5 with a few minutes to play and sense a chance to pad their stats.
Or the way they can never just keep their cool and not take a retaliatory penalty. Or the way that 5 of the last 6 games have ended with skirmishes in the final 2 minutes, because neither team has players who can look at the time left and just skate away from a random hooking call.
Or that every single goal, move, penalty, or borderline play has to be accompanied by some idiotic trash-talking form of machismo.
It's like....."Seriously?! A series of cross-checks to the head of a guy who slashed you on your way to the net with 2 minutes left and we're up by 5 goals in a rec league game with work/school tomorrow morning? Really?!"
I find myself identifying a lot with the folks talking about elite players and the speed at which they can execute plays. What I mean is like others have posted I'm a strong skater and I wouldn't look all that out of place during a warmup among high-level players; it's the execution speed that really separates those guys from pretenders like me. To this effect I'll share a story about a pickup game I used to frequent a few years back which was also attended by ex-Gatineau (then Hull) Olympique Marty Johnson. He was one of those undersized Brandon Reid-types who light up the Q as a 19 year old or overager but don't get much of a sniff at pro cuz of their size/strength. Anyways I was playing defence one game, not what I usually play, and had to deal with him in open ice on a rush. He skates almost right in front of me, flips the puck straight up in the air, then when it was around waist-height he bats it back down between my legs and walks around me. I might as well have not even been there. That's the kind of stuff I'd be hard pressed to pull of at the outdoor rink where there's limited skating and emphasis on hands. He did it in the middle of blowing by me. The way I think of it is the best guys I ever played with were probably good enough to eventually play a regular shift for two or three years in the CHL. To think of the skill difference between those guys and dudes who actually made it to the NHL, and then the skillset of elite NHLers...it's just a completely different plain of hockey existence.