When I was young my vacations always revolved around one thing; my mothers love of history. Now usually they were incredibly boring for me, save for one, our trip to Philadelphia. Instead of going to see where the Declaration of Independence was signed or gazing upon the cracked beauty of the Liberty Bell, we all stayed cramped in our hotel room to watch the playoffs between the Detroit Red Wings and the Philadelphia Flyers. What happened to those days? The strike is what happened! If there is one thing we can learn from the infamous strike of the ‘94-‘95 season it’s that they don’t work! But did we learn? No, there was another lockout in 2005 that lasted for 310 days. In my opinion, the first strike fell the once great tradition and the ‘05 lockout was the needle in the heart. Once the dust settled we were left with a broken fragmented form of the NHL we once knew. Gone are the days of entire team on team fights, devastating hip checks, and that oh so glorious breaking of glass. Now the glass issue I can forgive (it’s for the safety of the fans), but the other two, I believe, are pivotal to the resurrection of this once great sport.
Now when I say those two things are key to resurrection, ensure that you understand I mean the rules and regulations in place that prevent those things. Lets start with my feeling on player safety. Sorry guys, but you are being paid MILLIONS of dollars and you should be required to take as much punishment as the fans want. If that’s not for you then don’t play hockey! Furthermore, don’t tell me that no amount of money can warrant that kind of abuse because I have experienced far more in the military while getting paid a fraction of what they do. As a child I grew up thinking that the baddest mamma-jamma around was a hockey player. What happened? Be thankful you guys have helmets now! Look at the facial scars of some goalies from years passed and tell them hip checking hurts. Next up, five minute majors for fighting. *Sigh* Ok I don’t care what kind of class you may think you are adding to the sport but you are systematically destroying one of the best parts of hockey. Let them fight! And for god sakes bring it back down to a two-minute offsetting minor roughing penalty. Fighting show the fans that the players have passion, a lot of passion. That forms life-long fans and will definitely be talked about the next day.
In conclusion, hockey can be great again. The key word is CAN. The reforms of these rules are critical to the resurrection. Let the players express their passion for the sport. It has and always will be a rough and tumble sport. Give us something to show non-hockey fans to bring them into the fold. I can tell you from personal experience, once single fight will make every person that sees it an instant hockey fan. Well, I’m outta here for now, but remember, hockey can live again as long as it lives as it once did.