Are today's players more fundamentally sound then the players from previous generations? A topic that has been raised in various forms in certain threads.Certainly with the advances in equipment,coaching, training, technology, diets they have many advantages but does this translate into a more fundamentally sound hockey player?
Skating. Basic to playing hockey. Today's players are faster short term(45 seconds max), linear skaters than previous generations. You do not see players that struggle with their skating, like Terry O'Reilly or distinct skating styles that go against the norm - Claude Provost. But this comes at a cost. Getting somewhere faster does not mean that the player will arrive with the proper body position to be effective.This impacts on offense - not being able to take full advantage of scoring chances and defense - making the check but not having the proper body position to control the puck afterwards.Also because skating today is linear - shortest distance between two points, wingers regularly mess-up scoring situations because they take the straight line that facilitates instead of an arc that would spread the defense forcing them to consider more options.
Shooting. Yes today every player has a slapshot. Fifty years ago a minority did. So players can shoot harder and faster but not necessarily quicker or more accurately or with greater variety.Count the number of scoring chances that are wasted every game because the offensive player's wind-up allows the defense and goalie to regain position or the number of times a player loses an opportunity because he cannot execute a backhand shot from in close.
Passing.Today the backhand pass is hardly ever used. Curved sticks killed the art of the backhand. Net result the trap is easier to play - reduced offensive passing options and it is possible to overplay the forehand in virtually all defensive situations. The two-zone blade to blade pass is a rarity. Usually a pass is made to an area with the receiving player having to adjust to the pass. This negates the advantage of linear speed, taking a pass without breaking stride.
Shot blocking.Lost art. Fundamentally the weakest skill. Don Cherry ranks about d-men deflecting shots into their own nets. Will let him have his niche. Problem is that very few forwards or defensemen know the proper technique to block shots. Revisit the Trent McCleary near tragedy: