Chris Chelios is a smart guy (login info.).
He’s blaming the coaches for the lack of offense in the NHL: “As long as coaches play their marquee players for 15 minutes a game, it’s not going to change…Let them play 25-30 minutes and let them score, that’s the way it should be. But it’s coaches and their systems.”
It’s a great point that hasn’t been made enough: coaches have done a lot in terms of breaking hockey. They’re super-conservative, micromanaged systems are the reason why a lot of hockey has been just awful to watch the past few years.
And Chelios brings up another interesting, if probably unintentional point: just about every NHL team carries too many players.
Today’s players are in great shape. Most forwards can play 20 to 30 minutes a gane, even if they never get the chance. That leaves the other half of the game for nine forwards. Fourth lines are no longer checking lines. That role is now usually served by a third, or even second line. Most fourth lines are now so-called energy lines, made up of pesky, dirty players whose only role is to piss off opponents for six to eight minutes a game.
The fact of the matter is, if you cut most teams to nine forwards, they’d do just fine.
And I think that would have been an interesting negotiating point for the players. Why not give up 90 jobs? Sure they’d be selling out some of their brothers, but it would make the league 90 players better.
After all, is the NHL a sports league or an FDR program?