Probe expected into boring system
All it takes is nothing to happen for the NHL world to get into an uproar. The aftermath of the Tampa Bay Lightning-Philadelphia Flyers still life Wednesday night is still reverberating in the hallways of rinks and the NHL offices. The cir*****stance where two teams decide not to play the game — hey, the Columbus Blue Jackets are actually trying — is expected to be discussed next week when the NHL’s general managers are in Toronto for the Hall of Fame proceedings.
“I haven’t seen a final agenda, but I’m sure it will be a hot topic,” one senior executive said. “But the last thing I want to see is something implemented quickly. You want to make sure if you do something — and I’m not sure we need to do anything — is make sure whatever you do is going to have a long-lasting, positive effect on the game.” The Lightning often uses a 1-3-1 defensive system in which the lead player seldom crosses the offensive blue line. The Flyers defencemen countered on several occasions by not bothering to move the puck out of their zone — playing the game of chicken — and the Bolts didn’t come after them. Teams have been playing different sorts of passive defences since Jacques Lemaire had a full head of hair. The slippery slope the NHL wants to avoid putting a foot on is dictating how teams should play the game. Implementing a rule about how players should move on the ice in even-strength situations is not something the league wants to do nor should it. At this point, according to a couple of team executives, the course of action likely will be to put together a small working group to look at the issue, a group that would include a couple of coaches. Detroit Red Wings star Henrik Zetterberg summed things up for most right-thinking fans of the game. “Hilarious,” Zetterberg said. “It was a good way to show how boring it could be if the other team doesn’t do anything. That’s the way we played in Sweden 10, 12 years ago. A 1-3-1, really strict, and the game became really boring.