I have to say, and say completely without sarcasm, that I think Tampa does a nice job with their young players.
Victor Hedman was starting to look a little overwhelmed and outmatched on the ice. Coach Rick Tocchet could have yelled at him or coddled him or told him to figure it out. But instead, he benched Hedman for a game and Hedman found the experience helpful.
Hedman noted being in the press box gave him a different perspective on the game. Literally. Because you can see more from above the ice than on it.
Tocchet also sat Steve Stamkos a few times last season, which seemed to give him some perspective on the game.
In general, I think more NHLers could probably use a night off from time to time. I know the last thing a player wants is to be benched, but sometimes even a night away from the ice can make a huge difference in how a player approaches the game. You see the benefits in baseball, where players tend to get more days off due to the grueling MLB schedule.
Sometimes players learn more about the game, and their game, when they’re not actually playing.
Tocchet should consider starting a foundation to remove the stigma of benchings. It doesn’t have to be a punishment. Maybe instead of saying a player is a healthy scratch, we can start saying he’s a mental health scratch. Or maybe just say a scratched player is on a special vacation.
It’s all in how you spin it.