NHL Hockey Blog Beat – August 22, 2011.

In today’s roundup of notable blog posts: A look at the depth in the Canucks system, Scotty Wazz latest candidate for “Absurd Goalie Monday”, the mysterious death of former NHLer Ed Kea, five suggestions to improve the NHL game, a backlash toward some seating changes for certain Florida Panthers fans, a suggestion for which team Oilers fans should hate this season, the Islanders are apparently soon to announce a surprising “first”, and more. Read on, won’t you?

ARMCHAIR HOCKEY: Jason Chen isn’t buying into the hype that the Vancouver Canucks have a desirable pipeline of young talent.

“I think you have to be really careful about hyping up prospects for your own team because you have to be aware that 29 other fanbases are doing the exact same with their players. But like vancitydan said, it’s “just an opinion though,” to which I’d like to just add, “perception isn’t always reality.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  I know I was guilty of it for a number of years of over-rating the prospects of my beloved Habs, especially during the lean years from 1998-99 to 2002-03, when there wasn’t much to cheer about, and hoping for young prospects to rise into stars was the best Canadiens fans could hope for at the time. As with most teams, a handful panned out, and the rest didn’t. Chen goes on to provide some sober analysis of the Canucks prospects.

GREATEST HOCKEY LEGENDS: Joe Pelletier noted a recent National Post report which suggested former NHL player Ed Kea’s death in 1995 might not have been accidental drowning, but perhaps suicide.

“He talks about Ed Kea, a NHL defenseman with the Atlanta Flames and St. Louis Blues in the 1970s and early 1980s. If he is known at all to new generations of hockey fans it is as Joe Nieuwendyk’s uncle. His career ended after a major concussion, which Bidini (in another stretch) ultimately killed him.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The article Pelletier refers to was regarding mental health issues, and how some who suffer from them perhaps shouldn’t be exposed to the environment of youth team sports. The article, and Pelletier’s take, are worth checking out.

THE STRANGEST ONE OF ALL: Face Off Hockey Show co-host and all round good guy Scotty Wazz presents the latest in his series “Absurd Goalie Monday”. This week, it’s former Red Wing Kevin Hodson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Catch up on all of Scotty’s “AGM” segments here. You won’t be disappointed!

THE M-DASH: Jason Menard offers up five ways to cure the NHL’s “allergy to defense”, listing regulation of equipment size, Olympic size rinks, rescind the “Habs power-play rule”, eliminate icing the puck whilst shorthanded, and implementation of “no-touch” icing/allow goalies to play the puck behind the net.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Except for the fourth suggestion, I’m in agreement with Jason, though I doubt we’ll ever see the implementation of bigger ice surfaces, as that means costly arena renovations, which none of the owners would approve.

LITTER BOX CATS: Donny Rivette reports the Florida Panthers are getting some backlash from long time season ticket holders in certain sections of their arena, after being notified they would be moved in order to accommodate an “ultra-exclusive” section called “Club Red”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If you’re a big market club like the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens or New York Rangers, you could probably get away with this, since the wait list for season tickets for those teams is measured in years. Not when you’re a struggling franchise whose bad management for a decade has resulted in a mediocre product which has driven away fans. Read Donny’s full post for some of the reactions. It ain’t pretty.

HOCKEYBUZZ.COM: Richard Cloutier looks at potential candidates for Edmonton Oilers fans to hate this season (Vancouver Canucks, long-time rival Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets and LA Kings), and suggests the Kings to be their biggest rival, based on the botched handling of the Ryan Smyth trade, the Dustin Penner trade, and the fact the Kings will be much, much better than the Oilers this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t the Flames and Canucks can ever be supplanted as the teams Oilers fans most love to hate, and since the Jets still must play one more season in the Eastern Conference, there’s not much there to get upset over. The bungled Smyth trade and the Penner deal aren’t the magnitude of the Gretzky trade many moons ago, but the angry words which flew among the GMs of both teams in the wake of the Smyth deal could move the Kings up a notch or two on the “Oilers fans hate-o-meter”.

PUCKUPDATE: Steve Ovadia wondered if the Philadelphia Flyers invitation of Michael Nylander to training camp might be a sign they’re a bit nervous about Jaromir Jagr, whom they signed earlier this summer as a free agent. Nylander and Jagr had tremendous chemistry as linemates during their days with the NY Rangers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps not so much nervous, as “better safe than sorry”? No harm in seeing if these two can regain their offensive chemistry, even if it’ll likely be less than it once was on Broadway. 

BLEACHER REPORT: Gary Llewellin offers up six predictions for the Toronto Maple Leafs this season. Among them: Dion Phaneuf scores twenty goals, Phil Kessel scores forty, young goalie James Reimer keeps playing well…and they still miss the playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: To be fair, Llewellin believes they’ll narrowly miss the playoffs because they’re still one or two players short of making it, and lack star power, compared to many of their rivals in the Conference. While it’s possible the Leafs could steal a spot, I think they’re still about a year away from playoff contention.

THE HOCKEY WRITERS: Tom Kolupanowich offers up 30 questions, one for each NHL team, and in this particular post, he examines the 15 Eastern Conference clubs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good job by Kolupanowich, as most of those questions he asked are also being asked by other observers of those teams. Worth checking out.

HOCKEYBUZZ.COM: Dee Karl reports the NY Islanders are planning to do something which no one in the sport has done before? What, you might ask? Your guess is as good as hers!

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the sometimes circus-like atmosphere that seems to hang over the Isles front office, we can only imagine what it’ll be. Let’s see, they already set the standard for long-ass contracts by inking Rick DiPietro for fifteen years. They’re reportedly touching base with former Isles center Alexei Yashin, whom they bought out of his contract a few years ago. Dee suggests it’s likely something to do with sponsership, so stay tuned, Isles fans!


  1. What is the “habs powerplay rule”?

  2. Read the blog post to find out…;)

  3. lol 10-4.

  4. OK, just read it. I remember reading about that somewhere before too, just couldn’t put 2 and 2 together today I guess lol. Thx

  5. That whole panthers thing is a PR nightmare. What the hell are they thinking? If i was a Panthers fan I would probably try to hold a rally urging all season ticket holders to not renew. What they are doing to these loyal fans is so bs, some of them have been there since the start, ticket holders for 18 years, and they just go around and kick them in the ass. Bad management, man, I would be so choked, heck I’m choked just reading about it. I really feel for them. I don’t even know how they can justify this, the product they put on the ice is crap, and they don’t even sell out, nor ice a playoff team for over 10 years. i just don’t get it. talk about a slap in the face

  6. the fact that they did this, after holding a rally for fans to renew for 2 years in those very seats in question is just mind boggling

  7. I take pride in the fact us oiler fans, we hate every other team pretty much equally. But the old saying stays true.. ABC anybody but Calgary.

  8. Going to Olympic-sized rinks really is a terrible idea if you like goals. The wider ice does a lot more for strangling defensive strategies than offensive creativity.

  9. Re: Jason Menard’s “five ways to cure the NHL’s ‘allergy to defense”

    1. Equipment: Goalie leg pads should probably extend no more than an inch wider than the leg in each direction. Trappers and Blockers are also ridiculously large. Grapes is right about skater’s armor. Get rid of the plastic on the upper body and go back to foam using the newer technology. That plastic is a big reason concussions occur on clean shoulder hits. Enough is enough with ignoring these simple fixes.

    2. Olympic size rinks: Sorry, this slows the game down and kills the physicality. Playing the Olympics in Vancouver on NHL 85′ wide rinks was a big reason the games were so exciting. Ask Pavel Datsyuk what he prefers, and his answer has always been the NHL rink because it’s smaller and faster. However, that’s not so say 85′ is perfect. Perhaps 90′ would work well, or even 95′. I’d like to see the NHL follow baseball and allow teams to build their rinks using one of those three width options. That would bring back true home-ice advantage (like the corners in Boston). Teams would be able to build their teams around the style of hockey they want to play, and have a rink width best suited to that style at home. And new rinks could allow for adjustments in the summer should a team decide the wider rink is too wide and go a smaller size, or vice versa.

    3. Rescind the “Habs power-play rule”: This is something that has been talked about a lot, and the negatives have been overwhelming. But maybe there is something to a 2 minute major for some calls? Maybe instead of the double-minor the league should have a 2 minute major, so if blood is drawn on a high stick a PP can score until the time is up (though I think if blood is drawn on a high stick it should be a 5 minute major, get rid of the double-minor on that). I’m sure there are other penalties that are better suited to a 2 minute major than minor or double minor, like boarding and rule 48 (head shots). May as well add in charging as well. I read boarding is now either a 2 minute minor or a match. Why not a 2 minute major or a match? Same with head shots and charging (why is charging never called?). The current 2 minute minor is fine for roughing, tripping, hooking, holding, interference, etc. But for the more dangerous infractions (kneeing and slew-footing as well) I’d like to see a 2 minute major replace the minor, as well as replace the double minor. The fact is the biggest knock against making all 2 minute minors majors is too much of the game already is played with special teams (because of a combination of non-calls which officials want to solve with headsets and players being stupid which coaches can dent by benching). There is something to the idea, but so far I have not seen talk of applying it correctly.

    4. Eliminate icing the puck whilst shorthanded: This would kill the PK and artificially increase PP percentages. The idea I like is forcing the delayed penalty team to clear the puck out of their zone, not just have possession, before the whistle is blown to start the PP. Although I’m unclear on if icing the puck counts as part of this rule test, and I think that should count, but without the normal icing penalty of no line change. I have no issue with allowing the PK to ice, it’s the PP’s fault if they cannot maintain possession. The challenge right now is for teams to get better on the power play, not for the league to change rules to make it look like teams are better.

    5. Implementation of “no-touch” icing/allow goalies to play the puck behind the net: This is actually two rule changes. I am in favor of “no-touch” icing, but I like the hybrid concept, perhaps with a tweak unless I misunderstand how it works. If the icing team’s player is going to win the race at the hash marks, call off icing. If the defensive player is in the lead, or it’s too close to call (neck-and-neck), call “no-touch.” It’s really that simple, and I don’t see any judgement issues the way I’ve explained the concept. But I think the actual test is different, with a much closer judgement call, and I’m worried that could lead to not calling icing w/o touch because an official is afraid of being wrong over concern of player safety. As for allowing goalies to play the puck behind the net, get rid of the trapezoid. It has done nothing but get defensive players severely hurt because the goalie cannot get to the puck to stop the unnecessary race/hit. If the goalie uses his body to interfere with the play by turning around, etc. while handling the puck, call him for interference as that is no different than a player gloving the puck on the ice surface. While many fans have called for goalies to be fair play, I’d hate to imagine the injuries to goalies and players (especially considering the body armor that goalies would still be allowed to wear on their shoulders and elbows in particular while skaters should be wearing foam).

    Good conversation piece. Thanks!