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Hall-of-Famer Howie Meeker believes the NHL’s game has room for improvement

The Globe and Mail's Roy MacGregor spoke with former Maple Leafs player, coach and Hockey Night in Canada commentator Howie Meeker ahead of Meeker's 90th birthday on Monday. The Hockey Hall of Famer spoke very bluntly about the state of the NHL while reflecting upon his own attempts to improve the game:

Flow: “They dump it out, they dump it in. Lots of times, there is absolutely no reason for them to be dumping it in.”

Shot blocking: “It should be a penalty. If you leave your feet to go down to stop a shot, it should be a penalty. If you go down to block a pass, no problem, but to me it’s obvious that it should be a two-minute penalty if you go down to block a shot on goal. This isn’t entertainment. It just makes for dull hockey. It’s crazy. The NHL needs goals and here they’re doing everything possible to stop goals from going in. They’ve got to be out of their minds.”

Fighting: “The game doesn’t need it. I can’t understand it. There’s just no need at all. You don’t need fighting. The playoffs are wonderful entertainment – and there’s no fighting. Fighters are like the dinosaurs, they are history.”

Goon players and staged fighting: “It degrades the team. It degrades hockey. I just turn it off.”

Meeker continues at significant length, and I highly suggest that you give this article a few minutes of your time.

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DocF's avatar

George, you nailed it with this post.  Anyone who loves the game should read what Meeker has to say.  I remember him playing and I really did not like him (he was not a Red Wing). 

I especially like his thoughts on shot blocking.  In addition to making it a penalty to leave one’s skates to block a shot, the head coach should be fined a thousand dollars or so. 

He is right about bigger rinks.  The problem is that the buildings have almost all been built to hold the narrower rink and that is a problem.  What could be done is to make the arenas that can hold the wide ice use it and allow the others to use what they have until the facility is either renovated or replaced.  If you add box seats, you must redesign the place to fit the European size rink.

Meeker is right that severe penalties, like 20-50 game suspensions and massive fines for the coaches and teams would reduce or eliminate head shots.

He also is right that goonism has no place in hockey.  I would suggest again massive fines for teams that allow clowns like Scott, for example, on their roster.

Read this article and think about it.  Meeker wants to make the game better and the game needs to listen to one of the more thoughtful elder statesmen.

Posted by DocF from Now: Lynn Haven, FL; was Reidsville, NC on 11/02/13 at 11:21 AM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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