The NHL is an interesting place.
The league talks about how much better the game is. The league talks about the skill and speed required to survive in the new NHL.
And teams continue to stock up on older defensemen. Over in New Jersey, they’ve signed 40-year-old Tommy Albelin, who was actually practicing with the team, waiting for his shot.
The US Olympic team selected 43-year-old Chris Chelios, who actually played in the 1896 Olympics.
So obviously, while skill and speed is important, these moves seem to indicate that maybe other skills are still important in modern hockey. Things like strength on the puck and the ability to read the play. And maybe, just a general awareness of how to bend the rules of hockey without invoking a whistle.
The Times had a long piece discussing what a great job the NHL is doing in terms of officiating. But it contains this interesting quote from Stephen Walkom, the league’s director of officiating:
We all hook and hold, because we all cheat to win; who doesn’t …It’s all a matter of getting caught.
And that made me wonder if teams are seeking out players who might be less about skill and more about not getting caught. These recent moves, as well as watching the officiating gradually shift from calling everything to calling the blatant, makes me wonder if the new NHL is less about skill and more about the appearance of skill.
Or maybe I’m just going stir-crazy.