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Ken Hitchcock On The Lack Of Scoring In The NHL

via Seth Rorabaugh of Empty Netters,

Following his team's morning skate, Hitchcock was asked about the lack of scoring in the NHL this season:

"Well I think it's still a star-power driven league. I'd like to see guys get 100 points. I'd like to see 50-goal scorers again. I'd like to see all that stuff be brought in but one of the problems you have right now is there's just too much mobility in the game. Too many teams have four lines that can skate. They have four [defensemen] that are mobile. When the mobility in the game is at the level it's at now, they can recover ice. You don't get the odd-man rushes that you did before. I think this is the way the game is going to be played now. It really hard to get open offensively because people can recover ice so much.

You had, even three, four years ago, you had five, six guys on the team that were great skaters. Now, you've got a dozen on every team. You go look at junior hockey, you look at college hockey, it is really, really fast right now. Just the mobility is the key thing. Kids are being taught skating at a prime age and the mobility in the game has just changed so much right now. I just think this is the way it's going to be for the next 20 years."

Filed in: NHL Teams, St. Louis Blues, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: ken+hitchcock


Red Winger's avatar

I think Hitchcock makes some really good points. We are now seeing the results of one-sport athletes in hockey, who played the game eleven months out of the year growing up. In one sense we’ve never seen so many hockey players so good at what they do, so fast. On the other hand, scoring is down and there is a sense it is turning into the ‘quicksand NHL’ again.

So what do we do? I would hope the answer isn’t we need to stop producing such skilled players in the sport.

Players are such good skaters now they recover open ice at such a pace the game is suffering in goals scored. So has the answer ever been more clear that it is time to go to Olympic-sized ice surfaces?

I don’t follow the Russian or European leagues enough to know if this is an issue over there. I’d bet it’s not, though.

I know the arguments for the NHL not going Olympic-sized. But if the players have entered uncharted territory as far as so many being so good so quickly, then isn’t it time for the league to also enter uncharted territory, and expand the surface on which the game is played?

Sometimes I just don’t get the hockey mindset. It’s like we can have an answer staring us right in the face, and we couldn’t see it if our lives depended on it.

Players are faster, bigger, stronger, and much better able to recover ice to the point it has a detrimental effect on the game?

Then open up the damn nice!

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie, MI on 03/24/15 at 04:03 PM ET

perfection's avatar

absolutely agree making the ice bigger (and then getting rid of the stupid trapezoids!) would fix this overnight. I actually don’t really get the downside to that (other than changing a tradition).

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 03/24/15 at 04:51 PM ET

NHLJeff's avatar

Perfection, the downside of increasing the size of the ice, aside from whatever negative it might do to the game, is the cost. NHL owners are unlikely to get to the point where they’re willing to cover it. I believe it was reported that, when they were deciding what size ice to use for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, it would have cost the arena $10 million to change to international ice, not to mention the high revenue seats it would eat up. So whether it would be good for the game or not, I doubt it will happen.

Posted by NHLJeff from Pens fan in Denver on 03/24/15 at 04:58 PM ET

perfection's avatar

for sure. owner cost would be the major downside from their perspective.

I guess I meant more what negatives would it actually have on the game? I guess if it’s more open, there’s in turn less physicality, but with how brutal the game is in general, I can’t imagine it’d be all that less. It would still probably be pond rules in front of the nets.

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 03/24/15 at 05:18 PM ET

PDXWing's avatar

And I think the Olympic ice hockey game is a different brand of hockey. I’d like to see the rinks made bigger, just not Olympic sized. I’d also like the trapezoid gone.

Posted by PDXWing on 03/24/15 at 05:20 PM ET

TreKronor's avatar

The ice being bigger leads to more fatigued players.  Less goals.

I believe there is significant research showing no correlation between ice size and scoring.

Posted by TreKronor on 03/24/15 at 06:03 PM ET

WingsFanInBeanLand's avatar

Justin Abdelkader isn’t having any trouble scoring this year.  Just sayin’.

Posted by WingsFanInBeanLand from where free agents no longer dare. on 03/24/15 at 06:21 PM ET

Nate A's avatar

Never mind the financial and logistical problems with moving to bigger ice, the problem I have is what it will do to strategy.

When the goal line and blue lines were pushed back to make the attacking zone larger, it made it harder for the defending forward to pressure the point. As a result, teams collapse on the net more than ever before and almost nothing, shot or pass, gets through cleanly anymore.

The extra 15 feet of width will likely have the same effect. It’ll be that much more difficult to pressure the puck on the boards and especially the point, so everyone will stay in tight to the slot. Sure it’ll give forwards more room to move on the outside, but any shots from there will just make an already low percentage shot even lower percentage by being at a sharper angle to the net. Combine it with the resulting extra collapsed defense and those outside shots are even less likely to score than before. And you can forget about going to the middle in that scenario.

Making matters worse, the resulting collapse mentality means even fewer fast-break transition opportunities for the defense. That very opportunity is both exciting and a great opportunity for the skill guys to beat a goalie or defenseman with his abilities.

I’d rather see the nets grow by a few inches and the existing hooking/holding/interference rules better enforced.

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 03/24/15 at 06:32 PM ET

Steeb's avatar

To paraphrase Sean McIndoe of Down Goes Brown: There is extra ice in the wider rink, but it’s not in front of the net!

Posted by Steeb on 03/24/15 at 08:25 PM ET

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