Hey now, today’s column is gonna deal with what I feel is an under the radar situation in the worlds fastest game: a rash of injuries to stars and grinders alike. As you can see from the photo, Bianca is concerned and rightly so because it seems like it is occurring nightly.
Let me toss out a few big names and see what youse think: Jonathan Toews and Corey Crawford from the Hawks, Johnny Hockey of the Calgary Flames, Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan of the Bolts, Tomas Hertl of the Sharks. How about Jonathan Quick of the Kings and Patrick Sharp from the Dallas Stars?
I could go on with the names but I won’t, because I’d like to explore more deeply what the root cause might be for this disturbing trend. It isn’t just one particular team or a particular injury. Almost every team has a star or significant player out for a long term severe injury and most have several players on long term IR.
I don’t see this reported in my extensive research of hockey publications today, I must be on the cutting edge of this trend. Get it cutting? Alexander Radulov of the Montreal Canadiens was injured in Friday’s Sharks/Habs game in San Jose by an errant stick in a scrum in front of the net. The blood was gushing from the cut above his eye and left a trail for about 50 feet until someone finally got him a towel.
He is described as “day to day”, but his injury is fairly common amongst those players that go to the dirty areas of the crease and score the greasy goals. However, dislocated shoulders, torn ACLs, hip surgery, broken legs and hands are the type of injuries I’m talking about. In todays new NHL, those at the top want to see the game get faster. They want to see more scoring, they want the millennials to be titillated, the video to be gorier, and ultimately make more money.
Those at the top are Gary Bettman and the owners. They removed the redline from the game, they removed clutch and grab, they allow blue paint play. All these changes have led to more speed, but unfortunately not more scoring. The average amount of goals per game for both teams is 5.3. Roughly, an average score of 3-2, which doesn’t exactly seem like a lot of goals to this guy.
It’s my contention that all these rule changes to increase scoring have led to more injuries, across the board. The mainly north/south play is in direct contrast to the style from 10 years ago where there were 3 zones and the puck could only be moved one zone at a time. Now a d man can pass from behind his own goal line to the front of the far blue line.
This allows for and encourages more speed, though not necessarily a better game and definitely not more scoring. I know I sound like an old fogey or maybe that I’m pining for the old NHL. A small part of me is but the main point is this: players are getting hurt more often and the game is not better IMHO, and scoring is not the only good part of our beloved game.