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Brian Burke Wants A Bigger Ice Surface

from Bob McKenzie of TSN,

Brian Burke has held many titles in a lifetime of hockey - player, agent, general manager, league executive/disciplinarian and president of hockey operations. 

Now, apparently, he would like add another.

Architect.

The president of the Calgary Flames is on a mission - some would describe it as a difficult if not impossible uphill battle‎ - to make ice surfaces bigger in the NHL.

"I've felt this way for a long time," the 59-year-old Burke said this week. "When I was GM of the [Vancouver] Canucks, I felt the ice was too congested for the size and skill we had on our team. I thought the size of the ice surface affected my team's ability to excel. That's where it started for me."

Self-interest may have sparked Burke's initial look into bigger ice. Now, though, the quest is, as he sees it, much more altruistic. 

"It would," Burke said, "be good for the game of hockey."

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Calgary Flames, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: brian+burke

Comments

TreKronor's avatar

I have been anti-large-rink for…ever.  But I’m tired of these games where each team scores 2 goals or so.

Bring on the big ice!

Posted by TreKronor on 01/20/16 at 03:27 PM ET

Hank1974's avatar

Why don’t they just simply do it? The hockey rink has seen many different sizes over the years.
So why not have some home teams choose what they want? Just as long as it’s not below 200x85.
Especially if there are new buildings going up. Allow Detroit, Calgary and Edmonton to go larger?

Also, I think Burke is wrong on two accounts:
1. Why not expand to 100 right away? In 10 years, the players will be even bigger and faster, so why not accommodate for that now?
Or heck, go way outside the box and just push for 4-on-4 full time?

2. Making the rink bigger will make the game safer, but I don’t think it’ll help provide more offense.
Goals are still scored from 4’ outside the crease. Adding 5’ to the rinks won’t change that.
You want more offense? Slim the goalies, make the nets bigger, prevent players from leaving their feet to block shots, or maybe even adopt roller hockey rules where once the offensive zone is gained, the o-zone expands to the redline.
Any of those changes would do it, but making the rink 300x200 wouldn’t increase scoring.

Posted by Hank1974 on 01/20/16 at 03:30 PM ET

nEgativezEro's avatar

Why don’t they just simply do it? The hockey rink has seen many different sizes over the years.

Because with most current rinks, that would mean removing a whole slew of seats to accommodate the larger ice, meaning fewer ticket sales, meaning less revenue for owners. Won’t find many in favor of such a change.

International competition has shown pretty much the opposite, with larger ice reducing the offensive output.

Personally, I like Scotty Bowman’s idea of bringing the blue lines in closer, making the attacking zones smaller and the neutral zone bigger. It creates more chaos. It bring the defense much closer to the play, allowing for more movement and creativity. Right now, the D-men are mostly blocked out except on the power play. In any case, when Scotty Bowman speaks, the NHL should probably listen. The guy knows his stuff.

Posted by nEgativezEro on 01/20/16 at 03:54 PM ET

Hank1974's avatar

Because with most current rinks, that would mean removing a whole slew of seats to accommodate the larger ice, meaning fewer ticket sales, meaning less revenue for owners. Won’t find many in favor of such a change.

IMO this isn’t an issue.
First, Row 2 becomes Row 1. Do that all the way back.
Yes, you’ve now lost 2-4 rows of seats. Now you jack up the price to accommodate.
The Jets building only seats 15K and they sell out and make a great profit.
Other buildings would do the same.
Heck, teams like Florida and Arizona would probably benefit because now their home games wouldn’t look like a Flint Tropics game (ZING!).

The only people that would suffer would be poor slobs like me who would find it harder to find nose bleed seats.
But I can’t even afford to take my family now, so that wouldn’t really change things in my world.

 

Posted by Hank1974 on 01/20/16 at 04:05 PM ET

Primis's avatar

The old Boston Garden’s rink size was notably smaller than regulation.  I remember one of the big selling points EA touted about the original NHL Hockey game in the day was that the Boston Garden’s ice was smaller-in-game and with tighter corners, just like real life.

I Googled and found this:

Boston Garden was 193 x 83.
The Aud in Buffalo was 196 x 85.
Chicago Stadium was 185 x 85.

It would be neat to have teams choose to go bigger ice or not, kinda’ like in baseball where teams can move the fences in or out (the Marlins just moved their fences in, as an example).  The league would have to put a stipulation in though that any team committing to a change has to do so for x-number of years—like maybe at least 5.  None of this “change the size every offseason” crap that someone would otherwise undoubtedly try.

And then some more digging around, I found this quote from a player:

“The NHL doesn`t have any choice but to go to a bigger ice surface, and I feel the sooner the better… The game is just too fast now, and the players are too big.”

The player was Mark MessierAnd the year was 1987.

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1987-10-18/sports/8703190117_1_hard-checks-and-fights-bigger-rink-nhl-fans


This debate has been going on for a long time, and it’s probably time to put it to rest by letting teams choose.  I would not mind a bigger rink.  I just hope people don’t expect a bigger rink to take away some of the violence problems.  As we’ve seen in the Olympics and WC’s, it doesn’t and it won’t… it’s aplayer problem, not an ice size problem.

The Jets building only seats 15K and they sell out and make a great profit.

Posted by Hank1974 on 01/20/16 at 03:05 PM ET

Well no, they don’t now.  Honeymoon is over, and the reality is setting in.  They’re not selling everything out anymore, and empty seats are death with that small an arena.  Should be loads of fun in another couple of years when the move rumors fire up again!

Posted by Primis on 01/20/16 at 04:25 PM ET

Hank1974's avatar

Primis, I remember those old rinks, especially Chicago. I don’t know how Denis Savard survived in that tiny box. Not only did he survive but he thrived on it.

And that Messier quote is awesome. Thanks for posting that.

I still believe the future of the game is 4-on-4. They can only make the rink so big.
It’s like pinball out there, and with the knowledge and training that’s available today, players will just get faster and bigger.

I’m also in agreement with you about various rink sizes. Why not let the teams decide (just as long as it’s not smaller).
I love baseball and I love how teams will build around their park. Comerica is huge so you want to build a speedy outfield and strong pitching.
In Colorado, you want bats.

It’d be highly entertaining to watch a team build a roster with speed and skill in order to take advantage of a 200x100 rink and then play a slow bruising club some nights.

Sometimes I think the NHL goes out of its way to be milktoast. Everything is so boring from the players quotes, to the style of play to majority of goals (rebound/screen/deflection).
Why not give the league some spice by allowing some variety into it?

Re: Winnipeg, yeah, I’m sure that’ll become a discussion sooner or later - especially if the Loonie continues to plummet.
Hello Seattle Jets!! wink

Posted by Hank1974 on 01/20/16 at 04:34 PM ET

Avatar

1. Why not expand to 100 right away? In 10 years, the players will be even bigger and faster, so why not accommodate for that now?

I think that, right now and probably for the foreseeable medium-to-long term future (at least a generation or two), hockey is worse on 100-wide ice than on 85. Usually lower-talent pro leagues feature higher-scoring games than elite leagues, but the KHL and top leagues Sweden, Finland, etc. have all averaged even fewer goals per game than the NHL for a long time.

I support the general idea that the “sweet spot” for an ice hockey rink, width-wise, is probably somewhere between the NHL and Olympic standard, and probably closer to the North America side of the divide. That’s why I support the 90-foot idea.

Of course there’s no way to know for sure what the effect will be until it’s put into practice, but I think it would be great for the NHL to allow it for new buildings.

As for the idea that 10 years from now players will be bigger and faster—yes, they probably will to some extent, but I highly doubt that the change will be so dramatic that the “ideal” surface width is going to expand by 10 feet. Periodically adjustments may need to be made, but the game doesn’t change that fast.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 01/20/16 at 04:45 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

It’s the only thing that will truly open the game up

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie, MI on 01/20/16 at 05:44 PM ET

TreKronor's avatar

I’m not sure it will increase scoring - and I believe that was the basis of my argument against it for years.  Maybe a little bit, but it’s tough to say because there is no other league comparable to the NHL to benchmark the difference in scoring to it.

Doing an AHL case study would be interesting as well, before committing to it at NHL arenas, but the cost to modify the arena would likely be too much for nearly every AHL club.  Grand Rapids, for instance, has made it clear in the past they are an organization which makes no money, and yet they are 6th in the league for attendance.

The big draw to me now is just the space which is created which allows players to make a couple more moves.  I’m getting tired of watching hockey now that everyone is just so huge and all these plays are getting shut down because there isn’t much space.

Posted by TreKronor on 01/20/16 at 05:56 PM ET

shazam88's avatar

Jets show 15,294 avg attendance per ESPN, or just under 102% capacity.

Of course, as anyone that has watched a Red Wings game in recent years can attest, paid attendance can be a misleading figure, never to be confused with actual attendance.

Posted by shazam88 from SoCal on 01/20/16 at 06:54 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Jets show 15,294 avg attendance per ESPN, or just under 102% capacity.

Of course, as anyone that has watched a Red Wings game in recent years can attest, paid attendance can be a misleading figure, never to be confused with actual attendance.

Posted by shazam88 from SoCal on 01/20/16 at 05:54 PM ET

There was just an article (I believe here on KK) in the last week or two about how tickets were available day-of-game in Winnipeg now, there were some empty (unsold) seats at games for the first time (even against opponents you’d think would draw better), and that sales seemed to be cooling.

Funny thing about making people commit to 2 years out of the gate:  there’s no guarantee then they’ll pony up for the third year.  And that’s what they’re discovering now.

Posted by Primis on 01/20/16 at 07:48 PM ET

Nate A's avatar

If you want to increase scoring and think making the rink larger is the solution, you’d better make the nets larger too. The high percentage scoring area in front of the net doesn’t get any bigger if you simply push the boards out. All you do is pad goalie stats with more easy save sharp angle shots from way out on the walls. And defenders will be all too happy to let you take shots from there and will collapse just as hard as ever into the middle.

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 01/20/16 at 08:44 PM ET

Avatar

The Jets building only seats 15K and they sell out and make a great profit.

Posted by Hank1974 on 01/20/16 at 03:05 PM ET

Well no, they don’t now.  Honeymoon is over, and the reality is setting in.  They’re not selling everything out anymore, and empty seats are death with that small an arena.  Should be loads of fun in another couple of years when the move rumors fire up again!

Boy would I love to see a source showing that Winnipeg isn’t selling out the arena anymore. The amount of crap I put up with from Winnipeg fans when they took my beloved Thrashers deserves a nice fat retort. It’ll serve them right if poor on ice performance and a sagging loonie reduces attendance. Two of the same factors that killed the Thrashers.

Posted by evileye on 01/21/16 at 12:14 PM ET

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