Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 11/18/13 at 09:22 AM ET
from Sean Gordon of the Globe and Mail,
The game has evolved since the days when fuzzy-cheeked offensive machines could throw on a uniform, fill the net, and learn the grunt work later – the classic example is Detroit Red Wings great Steve Yzerman.
According to former NHL and Team Canada coach Dave King, there are several reasons why.
“In the mid-90s, we went to zero-tolerance checking, having two referees, and we actually made the end zones bigger ... players are bigger, faster, and they have more room to operate,” said King, who now works in player development for the Phoenix Coyotes. “It used to be, separate the man from the puck; now you have to separate the puck from the man.”
The fact mistakes usually end up in the net lowers the coach’s tolerance threshold.
Of the players who have suited up for at least one NHL game this year, 77 are aged 21 or younger; 27 of them are listed at centre, only a handful regularly play there, with varying success.
Nathan MacKinnon, the 18-year-old top pick from last summer’s draft, has 12 points in 19 games and saw time at centre in Colorado, but now takes a regular turn at right wing.
Calgary’s Sean Monahan, 19, scored 9 points in his first eight games, and four points in his next 12, posting a minus-6 – he has taken the most faceoffs on the team, which is impressive, but has won 45.4 per cent of them, which is less so.
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