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Hockey hodge-podge
Light at the end of the tunnel?
6/14/05 - by Steve Flores

Are we going to have hockey in 2005? With the word being reported last week that the NHLPA and the NHL owners close to agreeing on a salary cap structure, it would seem that there is some hope of an actual season taking place. I am trying to temper my elation with the fact that both of these combatants have been and continue to be so self-centered and clueless that anything positive could explode in our faces at any given time.

But on the positive side I am also willing to take the report as a sign that these two sets of boys might actually have broken through on the single key issue of cause for the current stalemate. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the apparent level of agreement continues to build higher levels of common sense upon the party of both parts.

The other rumors emanating from the meetings are the possible rules changes that will hopefully be a positive first step into moving the game itself from the sluggish, defensive , trapping game that it has become and turn it into the game that I more closely remember from the early 1980's.

A crackdown on the clutching and grabbing at mid-ice by defenders and forwards alike has all but destroyed the beauty, speed and grace of a game that has felt the repercussions most profoundly by the complete loss of its USA television market. The NHL has lost its ESPN contract and no amount of NHL spin is going to make that one go away.

I have read and re-read statements from fans, players and broadcasters who feel that there is nothing wrong with the game. It drives me crazy to hear this! If any of you were hockey fans prior to the rise of the grotesque 'zone-trap', then you remember a style of game that was exciting, upbeat and creative. A game where the artistry and imagination of highly-skilled players was a thing to behold.

Ticket prices have gone north while goal-scoring and open flow, have been all but eliminated.

The game needs to be re-tooled.

The Sharks coaching staff and management should also be commended for switching avenues 2 years ago and allowing Ron Wilson to step in and install a more open and up tempo style of hockey. Wilson knew his roster was youthful and full of speedy legs and he implemented accordingly. This is no knock on Darryl Sutter as he is a master tactician who coaches and adapts to the way the game is currently being played.

The Sharks are better at an open style of game and the proposed league-wide changes should make them even more dangerous, exciting and compelling.

Also on the drawing board of changes is the league's apparent plan to eliminate the use of tie-games. The league's proposed use of 'shootouts' as a way of resolving a contest has been a fan favorite in other minor league's in North America and may be implemented for the upcoming season. I, myself don't care either way but anything that can help inspire fanaticism is a plus for a sport that is clearly sputtering.

Other possible rule changes such as non touch-up icing would eliminate senseless and needless injuries while a more lenient set of rules regarding off-sides would also open up the ice for the league's more creative and skilled players to excel. Again the Sharks would stand to benefit as much as any team in the league from all of these changes.

On a related issue I am curious as to how many of you are going to be purchasing season tickets, should the San Jose Sharks take the ice later this year. I have read and re-read several message boards and it would appear that many people are going to be right back in the fold. I would love to hear from those of you that are on either side of the fence.


Contact Steve at stevybo@yahoo.com


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