Volume 94, Issue 79

Tuesday, February 13, 2001


SPORTS

Mustang defence holds strong

Seniors fight 'till bitter end

Fairweather leads in winning weekend

Slice and dice would spice the ice
NHL needs reconstruction

Sports Briefs

Slice and dice would spice the ice
NHL needs reconstruction

By Ryan Dixon
Gazette Staff


Too many teams, too many pathetic players and a lack of real rivalries has made the National Hockey League less exciting than a quilting bee. It's time to add some spice to the ice.

The first matter of business should be to slice the number of teams down to a nice round number. Let's say 15. Back in the days of the original six, the talent pool was limited to North America only, but now that clubs have the luxury of tapping the talented European market, the pool has become a lake.

Anybody who has seen an NHL game in the last decade cannot debate that it has become a diluted league, filled with players that are better suited to filling gas tanks than filling nets. Do you really think Gary Valk deserves to make a living at what he does?

After cutting the number of teams down, the next order of business would be to arrange them in two clustered areas of the continent. This might actually get some animosity built up between teams and resurrect a concept that once existed in hockey – rivalry.

Oh sure, once in a while we watch the hapless Habs play the overrated Leafs, and for one night we are duped into believing both teams would rather die than lose. The fact is, nasty rivalries are bred out of contempt, not tradition. If two neighboring teams with line-ups that included no AHL-calibre players, saw each other six times a year, and again in the play-offs, we might see the kind of balls-out hockey people have been longing for since the days of 'The Battle of Alberta'. (Those were the days when both Edmonton and Calgary were cup contenders, not play-off pretenders.)

Maybe the NHL could take a cue from the newly formed XFL. Players in Vince McMahon's new football league have the option to put whatever they want on the back of their jersey by which to identify themselves. Let's face it, seeing Sakic or Kariya on the back of a sweater does very little to stir up emotions. Maybe players should consider words that can conjure up some hostilities in their opposition. Derogatory remarks about opponents' mothers would no doubt do the trick.

Fighting is a contentious issue in hockey today. Some believe it has no place in the game, while others say it is simply part of the fun. Why not please both by banning fighting from the game itself and instead lowering a boxing ring onto the ice at intermission and let the tough guys go at it. At least that way I wouldn't have to watch Rob Ray try to convince people he can skate.

A few simple adjustments is all it would take to make hockey worthwhile again. Let the games begin.


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Copyright The Gazette 2000