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Brian Burke Favors Bigger Ice

from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,

Brian Burke, middle name Truculent, is thinking expansively these days. He is convinced he has seen the game’s future and it is slightly bigger — at least bigger than the standard NHL ice sheet that measures 200 feet long by 85 feet wide that has been around since water first froze.

The game and its players would be better served in the years ahead, the former Maple Leafs general manager believes, if new NHL buildings coming on line were designed with the capacity to accommodate an ice sheet up to 92 feet wide. That little bit more room between the sidewalls, he thinks, would add to the game’s flow and cut down on injuries, while at the same time preserve much of the body contact NHL fans crave.

“By and large, we’re still playing on the same-sized surface on which the 5-foot-9 Leo Boivin was deemed the feared hitter of his day,’’ said Burke, summoning the name of a former Boston defenseman of the 1950s and ’60s. “Our players are bigger and faster now, and if that changes, it’s only going to increase.

“A wider rink should allow for more playmaking, more scoring, better power plays . . . overall, a greater emphasis on skill, but still with plenty of hitting. No one wants to turn hockey into a non-contact sport.’’

continued plus additional hockey topics...

Filed in: NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: brian+burke


igrover's avatar

I’m all for it.  However, what about all the local rinks like mine that were built within fixed buildings with no room for expansion?

Posted by igrover on 06/02/13 at 11:12 AM ET

Primis's avatar

The problem I see here is that the game is Europe is facing the exact same problem still on those larger sheets.

I don’t think it’s an answer.

Posted by Primis on 06/02/13 at 12:32 PM ET

Wings_in_NYC's avatar

I wouldn’t want to be the one to tell owners that they will be losing a couple of rows of seats.

Posted by Wings_in_NYC on 06/02/13 at 02:03 PM ET

Steeb's avatar

Since the NHL seems intent on taking hitting out of the game, making the ice sheet bigger is a great logical step. The key word here being “logical”, meaning that it won’t happen in the Bettman era. For they’ll keep up their strategy of random, inconsistent calls and random, inconsistent suspensions.

Posted by Steeb on 06/02/13 at 02:36 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

When “bigger ice” was certain folks’ solution to the problem of too much defense/not enough scoring, I was against it. The bigger ice slows the game down, and while it does allow for more passing and stickhandling room, it also allows more time for defenders and goalies to see plays develop. I think we may see a one or two year bump in scoring if the NHL moved to the international ice, but once goalies got used to the new angles, and defenders adjusted to playing more passive and giving up that extra perimeter space, we’d be back where we are today, except with less seats in the arena and more ice to take care of.

Now that a factor is that the speed of the game and size of the players is causing a lot of injuries (regardless of “dirty” or “clean” hits), proponents of the international ice surface have a much stronger argument than they ever did about increasing offense. Opening up the ice out wide just might slow the game down enough to eliminate some of the brutal hitting that is in the game today (again, not even just dirty hits, but plenty of clean hits are now incredibly dangerous and violent because the players are so big, strong, and fast, and have almost no time to react any more).

But that’s really all I see it doing. To me, bigger ice is strictly a safety measure. I worry that not only will teams ultimately adjust defensively, and scoring will level out to where it has been, but that within a few years, the game will actually be more defensive and lower-scoring because with more ice on the outside, teams will be even more willing to surrender perimeter shots, collapse in a tight zone-style defense in a square that boxes in the circles, and basically just take the dominant D-zone style of the last decade to the nth degree.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 06/03/13 at 09:58 AM ET

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