We all have our thoughts, opinions and biases as to which teams have improved, which are sure-fire playoffs bound, and which are bound for a miserable season. But although a fan, I like to think and try my best to be one of the apparent minority that takes and makes well-founded criticism of his own team. And is that type of thinking that has led me to think about the articles that have been posted here on people’s take on how teams will fair. My thoughts are that given all being equal from other years we could answer these questions with a higher degree of accuracy, but so much has changed that in all truthfulness, we have to wait.
The rules have changed, goalies have to get used to new equipment and limitations on their play, the officiating has made changes.

1. The rules – Fact is that this will affect players and some might not be able to adapt as us as fans or their organizations expect them to. Would anyone be realistically shocked if some, even the consider upper echelon players (especially defensemen), struggled and found limitations they can not cope with due to the new rules? And you can see disagreement between the organizations as to how the rules will affect the play in just the free-agent signings. Now, this is just an example, but it is the one that really sticks in my head: The Flyers Defense.

The Flyers for once seemed not concerned to have several key pieces of their defense being not so mobile as compared to most teams. Will the new rules translate into lightning quick movements that people like Derian Hatcher will not be able to cope with? Will teams play one defenseman way back to counteract speed? Have the slower defensemen thought out a clever way to counteract the changes in the rules? Other teams obviously disagreed with the Flyers approached and have steered clear of slower players. I personally feel that the Flyers took the biggest gamble than any team in the entire league, because they spent a heck of a lot on this proposition. Will it pay off? Possibly, even though I tend to think it will not. But it is certainly a wait-and-see proposition as far as I’m concerned.

2. Even more is an issue with goalies. So MUCH has changed for these guys. Does everyone think Brodeur will be just as effective as he has been before? This is a man we have grown accustomed to seeing him thwarting the opposing team’s efforts to dumping the puck into the offensive zone with his stick work outside the crease. But the days of him playing the puck in the corners, is in the past now. And how their equipment has changed. I know this can be for many other reasons, but I certainly remember a certain Conn Smythe winner (obviously a goalie) simply disappear after some minor changes were mandated into the leg pads just a few years ago. Coincidence? Maybe. Am I willing to bet that NOTHING done to their equipment and the rules will affect the other goalies? NO WAY!! I wouldn’t even bet a soft drink. Everything is changing for them, pads, upper body, and catching glove. Even the size of their uniform! I have seen even reports where Martin Brodeur, arguably the best goalie in the league, has struggled with these changes, to where Lou Lamoriello commented to a radio station that he had never seen number 30 let in the net many pucks that in other years were a routine stop for the net minder. Which goalies will be affected by the extended time off, knowing that goalies are, by their own admission, much more efficient when they get regular play? If I think there is one thing that may be the one key thing that will throw everyone’s predictions in the circular file, is goalies.

3. But last and not least, is officiating. We have all heard it before. The promises: “This time will be different.” Just to be disillusioned once again. Will it last? How drastic will it be? Will the league coward once again at a long line of players waiting to get into the “sin bin”? And how will they interpret the new rules? Yes, we know they are spelled out in the rulebook, but we also know that each and every official has their own take on what and when to call an infraction. It is just simply part of what makes them human beings. And the teams are putting so much expectation and so many different views into this biased ruling. So many taking opposite views on how will the game be, upon the awaited return, that by the time the cup is raised again, inevitably many teams will have phone the league offices protesting and volunteering their view of how things should be. But officiating is a variable that we will not even get a good grip on, until perhaps 10 or 12 games into the season. Will each team react appropriately? Did they make the right personnel choices to intertwine with how the officials will make it all work?

So who is right and who is wrong in their predictions? Who has gotten the correct picture? Who’s made the correct moves? Or perhaps more importantly, who has made the least mistakes that will propel them into the history books.

Simply put, so much is a variable for this upcoming season, that it is hardly an exact science. We just have to wait-and-see.

But indoubtly there are people who feel they have a solid grip on it all. So please let me know how you feel the rules, goalies, and officiating will play out.

And while you are at it, I’ll take next week’s lottery numbers too.

9 Responses to Wait-and-see

  1. H_E_DBL_HCKY_STCKS says:

    I don’t know how much of an affect the removal of the red line is going to have, the size of the rink is still the same. I can’t see much being different other than maybe a couple more breakaways or odd man rushes from time to time. As for the officiatiing, I’ll believe it when I see it. I love the fact that they reduced the size of goalie equipment, I’ve been saying the equipment has been way to big for like 10 years now. We will definitely see more 100 points scorers this year along with 50 goal getters. I CAN’T WAIT FOR THE FREAKIN’ SEASON TO START. I’m salivating at the opportunity to watch pre season hockey games for God sake.

  2. WeedIan says:

    I say that the goalies equipment wil affect things just as much as the holding-clutching being cracked down.

    Goalies will no longer be able to flop around and hope part of their jersey changes the direction of the puck aand saves a goal.

  3. blindref says:

    As a minor hockey referee I can tell you right now that the responsiblity of keeping a consistent game throughout the year is the hardest thing for an official to cope with. The referees in the NHL need to have the support of the league to enforce the rules properly. The best way for them to do this is to fine the living daylights out of anyone critical of the referees in the media. The only way the rules can be enforced equally throughout the season is if the referees can be confident that the league will back up the officials and there judgement.

  4. quick_stick says:

    First, let me say I can’t imagine the stress of officiating. It’s a miserable job where you have every mistake (real & imagine) thrown in your face.

    Having said that, it’s frusterating because you’re never aware that they are made accountable when they do screw up. Fans and players have only their own voices (they think) to straighten out the refs. I think it has a lot to do with the perception (wrong, yet there it is) that the refs want to control the games and it derives an us vs them feeling. When a player makes a mistake, he gets a penalty. Fans on the opposite teams are angry, but know that he’s been dealt with. If he does a really stupid thing, he gets fined and/or suspended. Admittingly, I don’t have a solid proposal to fix this for officiating, but I think this is were a lot of angst comes from.

    For example, the ref that didn’t call Hull’s foot in the crease and the Stars go on to win the cup on the goal. What ever happened there? Certainly someone should have been suspended over that. Terrible judgement call. It happens to everyone, and refs are no more godly than the rest of us, but we never know if justice was served.
    I’m curious to read your thoughts on this, as you likely have a better (or at least different) perspective than mine.

  5. quick_stick says:

    Every season is a crap shoot — this one doubley so. Still, everyone seems to have the answers… some people provide reasons for their thoughts, and leave room for error. Other’s just blindly shoot down those ideas because they don’t cheer for that team.

    Good ariticle, by the way. I hope you managed to reach a few people… I’d much prefer that people voiced their opinions, and people would respond with reasons to agree or disagree, not just say “Ottawa sucks and Hasek can’t play anymore!!!” Being a Toronto fan, I’m greatly annoyed at every idiot that claims to know that Lindros, Belfore, Allison & O’Neil will go down in the first couple games. It’s annoying because most don’t even have a clue as to their injury history.

  6. blindref says:

    Yep, reffing is definitely stressful at times…though I still don’t know the pressures of real big league officiating, I can begin to imagine.

    It is unfortunate that the officials are not more publically chastised by the league for problems. Every ref will have his bad and good games, just like the players, and shouldn’t be overly punished for bad games. That being said, when they just aren’t up to league standards then they should be replaced, and publically so that at least it looks like something is being done and both fans and teams can see it.

    What most people don’t understand is the politics and background happenings in the officiating world. Unfortunately, politics play a bigger role than skill in a lot of decisions on who stays and who gets the big games but I guess that’s just part of the world we live in. The performance of officials during the season does affect their playoff hockey but I think it should be more based on how teams feel about the officials around the league rather than how the politic games are played. If there was some kind of vote, with possibly public results, among the teams so that officials could be ranked on performance through the year I think it would benefit everyone. I don’t have any kind of solid system but it’s an idea.

    As for the crease rule…it was a bad idea. The league’s heart was in the right place but they didn’t implement it well. It’s really unfortunate that the Cup was awarded on a goal like that but at least they fixed the rule. From what I heard in that game, the video review off-ice official was quietly fired but I’m not sure. Close things like that it’s sometimes unfortunate that we have such good video replay and that calls can be second guessed later rather than judged only in the moment. I know that every year I make split second calls that would be second guessed if they were on video but that’s what makes a good referee: the ability to make the right split-second decision.

  7. quick_stick says:

    It’s funny, but seeing the league be occassionally (but not unjustly) critical of refs might actually decrease the tension between fans/players & refs. It would be hard to impliment in a while that wasn’t perceive as humiliating though. Embarassiong officials would NOT work.

  8. shuffleonin says:

    The rule changes affecting goalies will be one of the most obvious by seasons end. Every single netminder in the league will see some minor change to a piece of his equipment. Some of the changes will be more dramatic than others. Not only will keepers be exposing more net and giving up more goals, but some will be exposed as frauds. They will have to alter their mental approach to the game. Shooters will fire with more confidence and can only get better when they inevitably score more often. Goalies on the flip side will have to learn how to deal with an inflated GAA. Goalies with a weak mental edge might allow more goals in bunches and be seeing more of the hook. The Vezina could be handed out to a goalie with a plus 3 GAA. Maybe having an ERA of 2 point anything will become the mark of greatness.

    It’s no wonder Theodore is holding out, the butterfly is most effective when you hold your arms out and prop the human sail that some jerseys provided up over your overstuffed pads. The changes should be exciting.

    Does anyone know if a goalies’ GAA is affected by anything that happens during the shootout?

    Here is my list of goalies sure to see they’re GAA go up and their Save Percentage go down.

    J.S. Giguere – it’s like the NHL looked the other way during his Conn Smythe run

    Kiprusoff – Uh oh Flames fans…

    Garth Snow – No more Queen size mattress on your chest with a fram propping his jersey up. Can his GAA really get worse?

  9. muckies says:

    As a leave fan you must be worried about Belfour first and foremast, because he holds the key to all sucess Toronto will/won’t have.

    That aside, Toronto’s biggest problem for years is the chemistry of the team.

    Tucker, Corson Green combo had no friends on the team and by the time they got to meet carolina in the conference finals the rest of the team wouldn’t even talk to them.

    Now they have the biggest distractions and poster boy for parental pressure in Lindros. He may be a good teamate, but the last thing they need in Toronto is a dad teeling the Leaves how to run the team

    Allsion is pretty much the most difficult locker rrom guy in the league and will want to be the number one guy and cause problems for Sundin and the coaching staff.

    Injuries aside these guys bring more to worry about then injuries, they bring division

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