Volume 92, Issue 3

Friday, May 29, 1998

big business


Creases are for kids

Get rid of the crease rule!

To put it bluntly, it is distracting for hockey fans and a scar on the face of hockey. No matter where you go, a true hockey fan is armed and ready to fire his opinion on the fuzzy rule about a half oval line surrounding the mouth of the goal.

Some say that crossing the line should never be allowed when attempting to score. Others say there should be leeway. Instead of bickering about it, just burn the paragraph from the National Hockey League rulebook and find something else more valuable to discuss. This rule has had no justification for ever being there.

Many crease rule supporters feel that by enforcing this out-dated command, franchise netminders will be protected from harm and injury. A safety zone for the masked men to prevent skaters, in fear of having a goal called back, from getting too aggressive around the net.

Think this through carefully. For a sport in which violence is accepted and players are allowed to throw each other into plexiglass, the space around the hockey net is not to be intruded when shooting. Remember the goaltender is padded five times better than the rest of the skaters on the ice.

It is time for the goaltender to get tough or go back to peewee hockey. A parallel to the goalie can be drawn to a catcher in baseball in that both are big dollar athletes held responsible for protecting a key component of the playing area. Yet Mike Piazza and his eight million dollars a season are willing to stand in front of a raging bull racing down the third base line with less body armor. If a ball player can handle the physical punishment, there is no reason why a netminder can't.

So if a speedy forward wants to fly down the ice like a kamikaze and drive the puck and himself into the net, so be it. The goaltender is just going to have to find a way to stop him. A little more pushing around the net could make things more interesting and everyone loves it when a goalie "starts it up" against someone.

But if you get rid of the crease line, the netminder will have trouble concentrating on the puck. This is an often used criticism when the subject of banishing the crease is mentioned. This is good! Good for the game. Good for the excitement level. Good thing the bullies beat you as a child.

More scoring will be an improvement for the game. Think about the current series between Buffalo and Washington with the Dominator, and Ollie and Goalie, respectively. There is no disputing they are great athletes but watching a game for three hours before someone scores is boring. I would rather have my teeth pulled while listening to Kenny G.

Forget about blue pucks and red streaks, if the NHL truly wants to increase fan interest then open up the game. There are few points in the game more exciting than when your favourite team fires up the red flashing light. Let the games be 5-4, instead of 2-1 – it will be better for hockey.

So let's recap. By eliminating the crease rule the NHL will bring more excitement and aggressiveness to hockey and at the same time eliminate Don Cherry and every other hockey puckhead from bitching about what the outcome of a certain game would have been if it weren't for the crease rule. From my perception all the arrows are pointing in one direction. It is just up to the NHL executive to walk the right way.

To Contact The Sports Department: gazette.sports@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998