It’s funny how people are using Cam Neely’s Hockey Hall of Fame induction to point out how a tough guy like Neely would never make it in the current NHL.
I think it’s because so much of the NHL braintrust only sees the game through the prism of Wayne Gretzky. The rule changes have been about making it possible for another Gretzky to somehow grow out of the game. Never mind that Gretzky was atypical in so many ways (his speed, vision, and anticipation).
The NHL has got to start thinking beyond Gretzky, though. Because basically he and Jari Kurri are the only two NHL stars I can think of who would thrive in this new physical crackdown. Gordie Howe would have lasted about two minutes. Bobby Hull? Bobby Orr? They couldn’t have dominated the way they did.
And what about guys like Jarome Iginla and Todd Bertuzzi? These are physical guys who use their bodies the way the same way Grezky used his vision and his passing. When you take away the physical game, you take away the tools of some truly amazing players.
Gretzky was the greatest but he wasn’t the league’s only star. The NHL might want to visit the Hockey Hall of Fame and look at some of the league’s other dominant players over the years. They might be surprised to learn the types of game they played.