UND RECAP: Youth Served in Exhibition Win


Photo via University of North Dakota’s Twitter

GRAND FORKS, ND– The kids were in full force for the University of North Dakota on Saturday, as the Fighting Hawks won their exhibition match-up against the University of Manitoba for a 14th straight season. The Hawks’ rookies had two goals and five assists from the freshman class, while the other newcomer, junior transfer Nick Jones, added an assist.

The start was a little rocky for UND, as they gave up the first goal after Manitoba’s Remi Laurencelle picked the puck off and went in to beat Cam Johnson five-hole almost five minutes in the first period. Manitoba controlled the game early, which shouldn’t be a surprise with the Bisons playing six games leading up to this match-up.

Things settled down once Ludvig Hoff fired a rocket of a wrist-shot from the top of the circle to beat Byron Striggs and tie the game up. It was the first of two goals Hoff would score in the game, as he was bumped to “top line” center for UND between captain Austin Poganski and Shane Gersich.


09/30/17 Ludvig Hoff (photo by Jen Conway)

“I felt very comfortable playing between those two,” Hoff said post-game of his two linemates. “They’re two really talented players and made it a lot more fun for me out there.”

After that, the rookies took center stage, with Grant Mismash potting his first goal of his UND career after a fantastic pass from fellow freshman Collin Adams, a play all started by spare freshman defenseman Matt Kiersted.


09/30/17 Grant Mismash (photo by Jen Conway)

“It was pretty surreal, though I kind of whiffed on it,” said Mismash, a Nashville Predators prospect. “Obviously, first period there were nerves, but once we settled down it was just like playing a good ol’ game of hockey.”

Aside from a goal by Manitoba three minutes in, the second period belonged to UND. Started by another great passing display by Adams, who found a streaking Christian Wolanin to put the third goal on the board for UND, while Hoff put up the fourth, freshman Jordan Kawaguchi scored UND’s fifth, and senior Johnny Simonson put up the sixth and final goal for the Hawks in a 6-2 final.

“We learned we’re not a one-line team,” mentioned head coach Brad Berry post-game. “Lot of good effort out there, but a lot we need to work on. We weren’t as sharp as we could have been. We need to have a good week of practice leading up to Alaska next week.”

The Ralph tonight had 10,682 to watch the game, which is something both rookies Mismash and Adams hadn’t seen in their junior playing days.

“You’re only getting, what, 3,000 or so people out in the USHL,” mentioned Adams. “To have this here for just an exhibition game was pretty fun.”

While this team has been a lot about the play of Cam Johnson, he didn’t have his best game, letting up two goals on 12 shots, one of which was a fluky, bouncing puck in the second that was credited to Calvin Spencer. Freshman Peter Thome took over for the third and stopped all five shots he faced.

“(Defensive zone) is one of the big things we need to clean up,” Coach Berry stressed. “We have to make sure we address the chemistry of the lines and know the importance of cleaning up in front of our house. It doesn’t come overnight, it’s something we have to instill on a constant basis.”

UND takes a long road trip to start the season, as they’ll travel to Anchorage to take on the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves next weekend in their first series, which is a non-conference tilt.

On the Topic of Greg Wyshynski

With the news of Greg Wyshynski leaving Yahoo, it’s the end of an era for everyone in the blogosphere. 
I consider Greg a good friend and really an inspiration for working and what’s he’s been able to build up for the alternative media to the point where blogs are (in most cases) legitimate media for the NHL. 

On top of that, the community he’s been able to build and the people I’ve met through the Puck Daddy parties has been great and something that’s long lasting.

Whether it’s driving up to Airdrie after the 2011 Heritage Classic for steak or debating “Titanic” as an action movie, Greg has been a great inspiration and a bit of a marker to reach for. 

It’s not the end, of course, but this chapter he wrote was a great one and I’m sure the next one will be just as good. Here’s to you, sir.

UND HOCKEY: Wolanin Ready to Step Into Experienced Role


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After winning a National Championship with UND in his first season, Christian Wolanin, along with the other Fighting Hawks, had to learn their way around a season without the veteran core they had to lead them to the National Championship. However, Wolanin took away the experience of both seasons with a solid vision for the future.

“We just learn what it takes,” said Wolanin during UND’s Hockey Media Day. “We were lucky in the National Championship season to have Troy Stetcher and Paul LaDue on defense and Drake Caggulia, Nick Schmlatz up front. It was a blessing to learn from them. Last year, we figured it out as it went along. We had a rough start, had some ups and downs. But we figured it out what it takes to win on a day-to-day basis. I think we deserved a better fate, but that’s behind us and we’re ready for this year.”

However, this year, Wolanin will be the senior most player on the blueline. With Gage Ausmus graduating and Tucker Poolman going pro, Wolanin will be looked at to be the leader on and off the ice for the younger defenseman, but it’s a role he’s more than willing to take up.

“I’m excited. I had great leaders and great people around me to help me in my first two years,” Wolanin mentioned. “At some point you expect the role to be dropped on you. I hope to exceed everyone’s expectations. Don’t get me wrong, I know the pressure is there but that’s what you play for.”

Wolanin sees this team a little different than the past two years and providing a line-up that may see this UND team have a higher internal competition between teammates than what has happened in year’s past.

“We’re deep, we have four lines we know can go,” said Wolanin. “Unfortunately, with how North Dakota is, we’ll have some great players will be out of the line-up; but that will create some better competition in practice. And that goes for every player from senior to freshman. New guys are great. They haven’t played a game yet, but their work ethic is there and they’re learning to buy into the tradition and culture of the team.”

During the summer, Wolanain went back to Ottawa Senators developmental camp, as the 2015 Fourth Round choice of Ottawa said he had gained the weight that Ottawa, as well as UND, wanted him to gain. While he keeps his eyes on the UND season, Wolanin knows that if he can play his game– both the Senators and Fighting Hawks staff will be more than pleased with his performance.

That performance could lead him to the NHL, which is something that is in his lineage, as Christian is a second generation player, with his father Craig playing almost 700 games in the NHL and was a member of the 1995-96 Stanley Cup winning Colorado Avalanche.

“My dad is the reason I’m here,” said Wolanin “He’s been so influential in my whole life, whether it’s turning hockey into life lesson or life into a hockey situation. I’m very thankful for him.”

While Christian has carved out his own path, having a father that has experience does help. That said, with more on his plate this season and his hunger to help get UND back into the National Championship picture, expect Wolanin to be better than he has been and make those around him up their games in order to keep up.

UND HOCKEY: Peski Ready For Bigger Role in Second Season



Life is tough for a freshman in college. Not just getting adjusted to living away from home, but learning to do your own laundry, Greek life becoming a thing, learning that ice cream is a good breakfast option and so on. But for a freshman college athlete, it’s all about earning your spot and being able to keep it. Just ask UND defenseman Andrew Peski about his freshman season last year.

“Coming to the NCAA is a big jump,” Peski told me during the UND Media Day. “You’re playing against full grown men and it took a little time to get used to the speed and strength that comes with it. But my teammates were there for me a lot. They told me to keep working and keep getting better, which helped a whole lot.

It showed in Peski’s performance. In and out of the line-up for the first half of the season, Peski became a regular in the line-up after the calendar turned to 2017. It also helped Peski as he was paired up with captain Gage Ausmus in that time to help him learn more about the college game.

Peski also played a big role in UND’s regional game last year, the two overtime thriller in Fargo that saw Boston University beat UND after many controversial calls on both sides of the puck, including an almost 15-minute offsides review that nullified the possible UND game-winning goal.

“That game is always in the back of our head,” said Peski. “I’ve watched the game a few times, but it’s a new year and a new us– we’re moving on. We want to get back to get back to that tournament and have a better outcome, especially since it’s in Sioux Falls (South Dakota) this year and we’ll have plenty of support.”

This year, UND will be without Ausmus, who graduated and is playing in the ECHL, while other top-defenseman statistically in Tucker Poolman left school early to sign his NHL contract. Peski is going to be given a bigger role on this team and knows that he’ll have to compete with the depth on this year’s team.

“I’m really excited to take on any roles I earn,” mentioned Peski. “And that’s it, right?? You get what you deserve. Our freshman class is very talented and we all want them to step in and get antiquated with the team.”

This summer also provided Peski the experience of an NHL developmental camp, as the Ottawa Senators brought Peski in as a free agent prospect to get a look at what he could do. The Orleans, Ontario (a suburb of Ottawa) native looked back at the experience with a new look on the pro game.

“Ottawa camp was an eye-opener for sure,” Peski said of his first camp. “It was an interesting kind of the atmosphere. There were a lot of similarities to what we get here at North Dakota, so I was very prepared for it. It was a great time and I learned a lot. It definitely helped with Christain Wolanin being there, as well as some Ottawa guys that I interacted with when I was younger.”

Peski also stated that the line for everyone across the board was to jump on things early and often.

“We don’t wait and get comfortable. We’re telling everyone, especially the new guys to do your best and make the right plays and it’ll come to you.”

UND HOCKEY: Depth Will Be Key to Hawks Success This Season


When it comes to this season, North Dakota head coach Brad Berry has quite the problem– but it’s one that he is probably glad to have.

“The difference of this team from the teams the past two years is the depth. It’ll be a challenge on a nightly basis to put a line-up together, and that’s a good thing,” Berry said during the annual UND Media Luncheon on Tuesday. “There’s going to be a lot of competition to be in our line-up night in and night out.”

Depth is something they might need. With the big losses of Brock Boeser, Tyson Jost, and Tucker Poolman, on top of the graduation Gage Ausmus left some holes in a line-up that was a bit of the envy of most teams in the nation. Yet, this year– the Fighting Hawks are without a 1st Round Draft pick on their roster and will really show off their character and make a name of themselves where there’s few big names to be found.

While it is out with the old, it’s definitely in with the new. Eight top-notch prospects are coming into Grand Forks with plenty to prove– especially Nick Jones, who is playing after sitting a year out after transfering from the Ohio State University. One of the most hyped players is Grant Mismash, a recent draft pick for the Nashville Predators and is another player to filter out of the US National Developmental program. Peter Thome could also be someone who battles incumbent netminder Cam Johnson for playing time at some point through the season.

“We have eight guys coming in, but one of them is a junior– so I can’t call them all freshman. We have one true freshman in Grant Mismash who is coming out of high school, but we have four guys who are 20-years-old and have some experience at the Junior A level, so they’ll be a huge part of our leadership going forward,” remarked Berry.

However, it’s all about not only how you start, but how you finish. Last year, UND was the tale of two teams. Though they started out of the gates quick, the hangover of a National Championship caught up to the Hawks. With struggles in the middle of the season thanks to injuries to Boeser, Jost, Poolman, and Johnson to name a few– the young team had to step-up quickly and find a way to develop even quicker.

“We started out of the gates last year strong going 5-0, but then we ran into senior-heavy teams like Duluth and Minnesota that kind of gave us a wake-up call,” said Berry. “We felt as a staff, we were playing the best hockey all year in the last two months of the season going into the national tournament. The NCHC, you all know what it’s all about. It’s a very tough league, but it helps us get prepared. Anyone who comes out of this schedule will have a great chance to hang a banner at the end of the year.”

While they stress the NCHC schedule, non-conference games are what Berry thinks the team needs to put a lot of stock in, as they go up against the Pairwise Rankings when it comes to at-large bids for the National Tournament. Yet in that time, it’s nice to have some of the old guard to come back and let this young team see the shoulders in which they are perked up on.

“We’re going up to Anchorage. We haven’t been up there in a number of years, but I think it’s going to be a good team bonding situation for us,” said Berry. “When we get back, we’ll be home to St. Lawrence, but what’s special about that weekend is that we’ll be honoring the 1987 National Championship team for a 30-year reunion. Guys like Eddie Belfour and Tony Hrkac will be back and it’ll be great to honor the foundation of our program back in our building. It’ll show the guys here what it take to win a National Championship and that that time passes by fast. We won the National Championship two years ago, but next thing you know– they’ll be back for their 30-year reunion. It’ll be a special weekend.”

Berry knows that his players needs to know that this season, while it may go quick, will be a marathon.

“When we open up against Manitoba this weekend, we’ll know a little more about our players and our depth. After that you have to stand by the process in every game and every practice and not get too ahead of yourself.”

Time to Let Jaromir Go


Jaromir Jagr is the hockey equivalent to a professional wrestler who doesn’t know when to retire.

That’s where I see him now as he’s trying his best to get signed to an NHL squad this year, going out of his way to make some comical videos that get to the masses and make them feel sorry for the 45-year-old veteran for not having a contract in the NHL or going elsewhere to get a contract to play hockey. With the reports of his decision day being October 5th, it doesn’t really bode well for Jagr to return to the NHL full-time, at least for right now. Considering camps are in full swing and that date is a couple days after the NHL puck-drop on the season– I doubt he would get signed to an NHL club if that was the case

I get that people want to hold onto that nostalgia. I mean, hell– he’s the last of the NHL94 guys still playing and that will kill a lot of people’s childhood. But, like most things– they have to come to an end some time. If not now, it’ll be down the road as we all can’t hold onto things forever. You have to let them go and remember the joy they brought to you when you had them.

While I can understand why he wouldn’t want to go on a PTO contract– it’s not really a matter of signing him because team’s don’t know what he’s about– which is what he told a reporter; but it’s a matter of trying him out to see if he fits into the team scheme. In Florida, he was able to be a leader on a young team, have a more possession style of play, and not have to worry about paying taxes…which I’m sure has no bearing on contracts he’s been presented so far.

The whole deal with the Florida Everblades was a fun marketing thing, but it wasn’t a serious consideration for Jagr. May have been for the ECHL and the Everblades, but not for the man himself. If Jagr wanted to play in the minor leagues, he would have signed on with someone already. He hasn’t played there before, doubt he’ll be playing there now.

Also, with this– he can play one last time with the Czech Republic at the Olympics…if they want him to. I mean, why not– he already broke his international retirement once to play in the Worlds— why not have him jack a spot on the Olympic roster for old-time sake. Hell, call up Dominik Hasek to see what he’s doing, get the whole 1998 squad back together.

It’s great he still has a passion for the game, but maybe it’s time to step aside from the big stage for a bit and stay in hockey in another capacity. He still owns his own team in the Czech Republic, so he won’t be completely detached from the game– plus he could pull a Roger Dorn and activate himself as he sees fit.

Yet, the point is this…we’re going to have to say goodbye to Jagr the same way we said goodbye to Teemu Selanne. Sure, he may be beloved by some, but it’s better to have him end the career, remember the good times he had, the highlights we saw, and the personality throughout the years he gave us than to see a broken man in the downside of his 40s struggle through the slog of the NHL schedule.

Rebooting the Avalanche


The odds are good that the Colorado Avalanche will be bad this season.

In all honesty, unless there’s some kind of change at the top, this will continue to be norm.

On paper, this is a team that should be competing for a Wild Card spot every year. However, something isn’t clicking. Sure, the defense is a bit thin, the goaltending has “FRAGILE” stamped over it, and their once star player seems like he’s going to sabotage the team from within if he’s not traded soon.

This team reminds me of the 2000s Edmonton Oilers. Old players were brought back into prominent positions in the front office, but didn’t know what the hell they were doing. That’s the road that Joe Sakic is going down right now. He doesn’t know what to do with Matt Duchene (though he could have gotten him for Travis Hamonic if he asked nice enough), his hires are very interesting, and it just seems like the cardboard cut-out that was Greg Sherman could do just as good a job as Sakic is doing right now.

The young talent on this team is real up front. Mikko Rantanen and Tyson Jost are the next wave to help compliment Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog. While it’s great to score goals, a problem is keeping them out. Like I said, very thin on the blue line and as of this point– only have four defensemen on their NHL roster under contract. As solid as Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie, Nikita Zadorov, and Mark Barberio could be…there seems to be a lot left to be desire. The outlook for the defense does look a little bright with Andrei Mironov and Nicolas Meloche coming into the fold– though you wonder if they’ll stand up or be in a holding pattern like Chris Bigras and Duncan Siemens have been in– which has been a couple years now.

However, the biggest issue is the amount of “glory days” Avalanche members in front office roles. Sakic is one of them, Patrick Roy was another before he left/forcibly resigned, and Craig Billington as the assistant GM, though he’s been in the organization for years now. When you look up and down the list– it’s amazing how many more of these guys are in the hockey ops side: Nolan Pratt (assistant coach, 2000-01), Brett Clark (player development consultant, 2003-09), and Brian Willsie (player development consultant, 1999-2003 and 2008-10). Adam Foote just left the organization in August, but it seems like he could have seen how downhill this team was going and wanted out.

This once great team is turning into a tire fire– if it’s not there already. One has to wonder how much longer the Kroenke family will allow this to go on. However, who knows how much the family is paying attention to the team with their other sporting interests they have to deal with. They should be paying attention and should be seeing that this is a team in need of a huge reboot. Get the nostalgia out of there, get some people who know what they’re doing in there, and fix this team that’s gone in such a tailspin that they may finish below the expansion team this year

Where are they going to get this new blood?? That’s a question for someone far smarter than me to address– but the loyalty needs to be thrown out the window if that’s the reason why Joe Sakic is still in his spot. Kroenke does owe something to Sakic for helping make Denver a true hockey town– but there comes a point where enough is enough and they need to do something to stay relevant in the hockey landscape rather than just be a laughingstock. You can’t look from within because there’s more of the same. The pickings could be slim outside because who knows how many people see the Avalanche as a desirable fit or just a dead destination. It’ll take a lot of convincing, money, and the idea they’ll get total control of their decisions to convince an assistant GM or someone like that to be the next GM of the Avalanche and really turn the ship around.

I’m sure there’s people out there willing enough to take on this task as a vanity project to show how smart they are, but at the same time– you have to hope they don’t get ahead of themselves to think it’ll be a quick fix. The roster may not need to be blown up, but it may need plenty of renovation to get it back to their glory they once had.



Trying Not to Loathe Las Vegas


We’re two rookie games into the Vegas Golden Knights tenure in the NHL and I think I’m already sick of expansion teams. Maybe social media is to blame and the ideal of blasting the hype out there, but man…the hype is almost too much. Whether it’s the league or the team itself…I’m growing tired.

And now this isn’t about their Twitter “feud” against the LA Kings— but it’s just the whole thing about it being a never ending season of “firsts” for the team and it probably becoming insufferable at some point– if that point hasn’t come for people already. That’s not to say they shouldn’t be doing such things– but at the same time, you have to wonder if the vast majority of people will become sick of it by mid-November.

The first player was cool– Reid Duke, who may only be notable on the team just for being the first player signed. Other things I’ll get is the first goal, first shutout, first win, and so on. However, knowing the climate we’re in where you need the retweets to really show off to possible sponsors– the first hooking call will be mentioned, the first TV timeout will be mentioned, the first time poker chips are thrown onto the ice will be mentioned. It might get old fast. But some people will eat it up. Then you fuel the beast and so it goes on and on because it gets likes, hits, retweets, whatever.

When it comes to creating a brand, I get why the NHL and the Golden Knights are doing what they are doing, but there’s such a thing as overdoing it. I will say I am a crotchety old man when it comes to all of this because I just don’t get how some things get so popular that it’s the guideline to make a name for yourself. There’s putting yourself out there and then there’s just acting a fool. There’s a fine line, of course. There’s committing to a bit and then there’s going to the well one too many times. Maybe it’s the fact there’s been all summer and all this build-up over the last two seasons– but I’m already ready for their first season to be over and done with.

The only poignant debate is whether a new team with a group of players who haven’t played before should have a captain in their first season. When you look up and down that list…yeah, no real leader on there that deserves the respect of the squad off the hop. It’s not like they had someone like who’s won the coveted Mark Messier Leadership Award multiple times on their roster– it’s a team that’ll grow together and shouldn’t have a captain for the first year. If they really feel the need for a captain– why not do a rotating captaincy like the Minnesota Wild had for their first seven seasons??  There’s a debate that actually as plenty to do with merit and something that could be bandied back and forth with people.

Maybe it’ll get better. Maybe, like the team, the social media aspect will be able to find its footing in ethos of NHL social media and not just rip-off what made other teams “successful” when it comes to their own Twitters or Facebooks and not just go to the lowest common denominator. I know who runs VGK’s accounts and he’s a good dude overall and I wish him all the best in what is an interesting time in history and all that jazz. Just don’t fall into the easy trap other areas do because it could come off as desperate if things aren’t going well on the ice.

Wider Lines and Trapezoids: The Rule Changes of the 2004-05 AHL Season


Let’s go back in time, shall we?? Back to the season that wasn’t for the NHL, 2004-05. Yes, the lockout year was one that still burns eternal for some people, but since then it’s been….alright, right??

In any case, that year also brought about an interesting design of the AHL, too. With the NHL out of commission, the AHL changed a heck of a lot in terms of their rules during that year. First, the most drastic of changes– which was doubling the width of the red and blue lines from 12 inches to 24.

“I think the reasoning behind the wider lines was to improve game flow by adding space to the neutral zone and reducing offside plays,” said Jason Chaimovitch, the Vice President of Communications of the AHL in an email. “The blue lines and red line went from 12″ to 24″ wide, and the goal line was moved back from 13′ out to 11′ out. The neutral zone went from 54′ to 58′ and it became easier to stay onside, in theory.”

While the look was anything but pleasing to those people who don’t like change, the idea of the wider lines, in hindsight, makes sense. It’s also something that would probably greatly reduce the offsides video reviews that seem to be popping up all over the NHL.  The biggest thing, however, was that the two-line pass violation was still in effect, but with the wider lines, the theory of less of those being called should be there.

Ryan Suter was in the AHL at the time with the Milwaukee Admirals and while he played with the wider lines, he didn’t seem to notice all that much. “You didn’t really notice the changes that much. I guess it still seemed like the same game for the most part,” Suter told The Tennessean in July 2005.

Patrick Sharp, who played with the Philadelphia Phantoms said, “It gives you a little more speed in the neutral zone. That is good for a forward like myself. Now you can really stretch those blue lines and go for the home-run passes.”

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins as a whole liked it with then GM Craig Patrick saying the “fat lines” made the zones bigger and better, while defenseman Rob Scuderi said it kept more pucks in the zone and kept the forecheck going.

The wider lines did appear in some games in the 2003-04 season, mostly on Canadian rinks, as those teams seemed most comfortable with adapting their ice surface. The players, coaches, and other involved gave it a positive review; thus allowing the AHL to fully adopt it during the 2004-05 season.  In the end– it was not across the board welcomed by the NHL, as they scrapped the wider lines at the end of the 2004-05 season.

On top of the wide lines, the tag-up offsides was re-instituted, no-touch icing was brought in, the shootouts became a thing again, and then there was that one rule that was a seven-week trial to start: the goalie trapezoid.

“I remember going over to the Olympia here in Springfield when a bunch of players, officials and hockey ops people were on the ice trying to figure out what the lines should look like. That’s where the trapezoid was born,” reminisced Chaimovitch. However, at the onset, some people were a bit outspoken about the trapezoid.

Then Hamilton Bulldogs goalie Olivier Michaud thought the worst of the trapezoid. “For a goaltender, it will mean that you’ll be less involved during the game,” Michaud told the Hamilton Spectator in Februrary of 2004. “But it’s going to be dangerous for defensemen because of the checking. There will be injuries because of it.”

Michaud’s goaltending partner, J-F Damphousse believed that he didn’t think doing something like that was possible. “Goaltenders have worked hard learning to handle the puck and you can’t penalize a goaltender for working hard at his game. You can make the equipment smaller if you want, but I don’t think you can apply this rule,” stated Damphousse in the same Spectator article.

Long-time AHL goalie Neil Little had the same worries about his teammates when talking to the Courier-Post in October 2004, as the trial had started: “These defensemen are going to get run through the glass. Those forwards are going full tilt and I can’t go out there to help them out. We played a (preseason) game the other night and it was a freak show. It’s going to cause all sorts of turnovers.”

Rochester Americans goalies Ryan Miller and Tom Askey were against the no-touch zone, while Hershey Bears goalies Peter Budaj and Tom Lawson were in favor of it. There were others that were in favor of it when all was said and done. Kevin Klein, who was with the Milwaukee Admirals at the time, was very much in favor of it from a skaters standpoint. “It was huge because as a defenseman you’ve got to get on your horse right away and track down pucks in the corner because the goalies can’t play it,” Klein said in July 2005. “When you get a good-skating team like ourselves, you can jump on teams and keep offensive pressure on them.”

From a coach’s standpoint, Mike Kitchen— then coach of the St. Louis Blues– was in favor of the rule change to the goalie movement. “I don’t mind the goaltending rule at all,” Kitchen told The Globe and Mail in December of 2004. “It keeps them from wandering out in the corners and protecting the puck. You can’t hit the goalies, so they get pretty bold by wandering all over.”

“We did a bunch of things that year: Shootout, stricter interpretation of restraining fouls, and stricter supplementary discipline on attempt to injure cases,” mentioned Chaimovitch. “The bottom line is that once the NHL started playing again, we needed to mirror what they were doing. With the portability of our players (more than 350 call-ups every year), it’s important that the rule book is the same in Hershey on Saturday as it is in Washington on Sunday.  The most notable result of that was the icing rule. We played no-touch icing in ’04-’05 and it was well received, but the NHL didn’t adopt it so we switched back to touch icing in ’05-’06.”

It was a drastic change from the norm. Not to mention the blue-ice experiment in Buffalo for the Rochester Americans games (which was very experimental and only approved for a couple games), but you can still see the changes today. The tag-up offsides and trapezoid were brought into the NHL when the lockout ended, while the others are just a fun memory for us all. But, who knows what could have happened if the NHL adopted the wider lines. Could the world class players been able to be more creative?? Would it have slowed down the speed of some of the younger players coming in?? Would there be reviews for interference as much as we have now?? The world will never know.

Thanks to Jason Chaimovitch for his help in this. Follow him on Twitter: @JChaimo

Reducing Seating Smart for Sens


Good for the Ottawa Senators.

Going the way of many NASCAR tracks, the Senators are going to reduce seating by 1,500 to make their capacity just over 17,000. To be honest, there’s not much else they could do. They are in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. They can either have people taking them to task for the empty seats or they can have people taking them to task for taking out the seats. They took the latter hoping that will make the arena look better.

While we’ve seen such a thing happen in Florida with the Panthers, the fact that it’s a Canadian team is why there’s so much guff. It’s not as if the Senators are THAT bad a hockey team, but much like Florida– their arena is way the hell and gone from the city center (or centre in this case), no one wants to make the trek out to the middle of nowhere to watch their team play. It’s amazing that the Washington Capitals had as many people come out to Landover when they played at the Capital Centre as they did because we see it doesn’t fly now.

Barring the move to downtown Ottawa that Eugene Melnyk wants, the Senators needed to do something because it does have a bad appearance to it when a playoff team, one goal away from being the Eastern Conference champions, can’t sell out their arena in Canada. And it’s a tactical move, too– by doing this, it’s showing the powers that be in Ottawa that they need to have this downtown arena they’ve been stumping for because if not– they’ll have to keep reducing the number of seats in the Canadian Tire Centre; which has a bad look on the city that they can’t support an NHL team despite the team being somewhat decent.

That said, if the Senators can’t get their stuff figured out attendance-wise, I have to wonder if they aren’t going to be put into the relocation discussion. It makes sense and they have the same problems that teams like the Coyotes, Hurricanes, and Islanders have faced, but it seems that because they’re in Canada– they get a bit of a pass. It would be something if the Sens were the first team to move only to move to Quebec City and have them really show up the Ottawa fans.

All in all, the move is odd– but I’m okay with them getting sick of the empty seats and saying the hell with it– here’s some tarps. This will either wake up the fans and have them rally around the team (or the team’s bid to get to downtown) or it’ll piss them off more and they become apathetic to the team’s plight.